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The Scottish Parliament
4 December 2020
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Lobbying

In 2016, the Scottish Parliament passed the Lobbying (Scotland) Act, which is designed to bring about greater openness and transparency about the face-to-face lobbying of MSPs, Ministers and certain Government officials.

Under the act, face-to-face oral communication with any of the following people, when discussing Scottish Government or parliamentary functions, may count as “regulated lobbying”: 

  • a member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP)
  • a member of the Scottish Government (Cabinet Secretaries and Scottish Law Officers)
  • a junior Scottish Minister
  • a Scottish Government Special Adviser; or
  • the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary (aside from Special Advisers, the only civil servant covered by regulated lobbying within the Act)

Unless certain exemptions apply, such lobbying will require to be recorded by the individual or organisation doing the lobbying (not the MSP or official) in the publicly accessible Lobbying Register.  This register is maintained by the Scottish Parliament and found at www.lobbying.scot.

It is common for MSPs, Ministers and certain Government officials to attend the Business in Parliament conference. Although it is for each individual to consider whether they engage in regulated lobbying, it is worth noting that, the Business in Parliament conference invites the contributions of participants and is therefore making requests for factual information or views on behalf of the Parliament.

Communication during the structured parts of Conference – Q&As for example – is therefore likely to fall under the category of “Communication made on request”. Any such communication is exempt from registration as regulated lobbying.

There is a distinction to be drawn with informal communications that take place at the edges of the event – virtual networking, for example. Such communications may count as regulated lobbying and should be registered as such.

Full information on the lobbying register can be found at www.lobbying.scot.

Any attendee that has any queries on any conversations had with those individuals covered by the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 should contact the Lobbying Register Team to discuss at lobbying@parliament.scot


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