For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Willie Sullivan, ERS Scotland Director, on 07940523842 or . Alternatively, contact Katie Gallogly-Swan ERS Scotland Campaigns Organiser, on 07930862497 or katie.galloglyswan@electoral-reform.org.uk

The Scottish Government has lodged a series of amendments  prior to the final reading of the Lobbying (Scotland ) Bill  this Thursday  (10th March ) One of these amendments  provides  a general exception of communications made by legal persons, on their own behalf, which have fewer than 10 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff . SALT has carried out some research to determine which organisations would now be excluded from the need to make public the fact that they lobbied government .Of the 83 trade associations, unions, professional societies, NGOs and charities researched, there were 45 that would not be covered. (Attached is a list of organisations that probably lobby listing those under 10 FTE .The full spreadsheet can be viewed here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1co8SLBXWPqiweUV49kC7BQKgr7XviD9uig_uZQyWfrI/edit#gid=1014841802 )

Some stand out ones are :  Association of the British Pharmaceutical  Industries (Scotland), institute of Directors , Law Society , Federation of Small Businesses,  Scottish Retail Consortium and the Educational Institute for Scotland .

Willie Sullivan, Scottish Director of Electoral Reform Society said

‘ The Scottish Government have caved in  to lobbying  and  prolific lobby organisations out of a  requirement to show the public when they are meeting government to try and change policy.  It seems the pharmaceutical industries lead body (APBI)  and one of the main business lobbies the Federation of Small Businesses    can now continue to lobby in secret. 88%  of  Scots  believed that lobbying posed a big or significant risk to the policy-making process when asked by YouGov in December . The government  has chosen to  blow smoke in the publics face with these changes’

Robert Barrington, Executive Director at Transparency International UK

“Recent changes to the lobbying bill have opened up unfortunate loopholes that would keep the public in the dark about access and influence in Scottish politics. Research  has shown that the public overwhelmingly want greater transparency in Holyrood, but they’re still waiting for MSPs to deliver, rather than give in to the lobbying industry. It would be farcical and ironic if the Bill to regulate lobbying were to be neutered because MSPs have been lobbied by the lobbying industry. If Scotland really wants to lead the UK by doing politics in the open, these new loopholes need to be removed.”

Robin Mcalpine , Director of Common Weal said

“It is simply not possible to see what has happened to this legislation in the last few weeks as anything other than a capitulation to the lobbying industry. New loopholes have been built in which will let a whole list of key lobbying organisations entirely avoid registering their lobbying activity. Nearly nine out of ten Scots have said they are mistrustful of the kind of influence lobbying has over government and this weakened legislation will do nothing to change their opinions.”

Ends

The Scottish Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (SALT) is an alliance of civil society groups who are concerned about the growing influence of lobbying on decision-making in Scotland. We believe only increased transparency can begin to restore trust in policy making and make ministers, elected representatives, and officials more accountable to the public. 

For more information on SALT, please visit http://www.lobbyingtransparency.org/salt/

Notes

1)      Yougov poll results :https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/58nl82937x/ElectoralReformSociety_Scotland_Results_151221_Website.pdf