The Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 requires that any organisation – including charities and other third sector organisations – that seeks to influence Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and a few others (see below) face-to-face, records this information on the Lobbying Register. This is to ensure that the public can easily find out who is engaging with their MSPs.
How do I know if I need to register?
The Scottish Parliament have provided 5 Key Steps to decide whether you need to register. In short, if your organisation has any face-to-face or video conferencing engagement with MSPs, members of the Scottish Government, Special Advisers or the Permanent Secretary outside of formal Parliamentary proceedings; and this engagement is carried out by paid members of staff, then you may well have to register.
Obviously, this depends too on what you spoke about – the key here is whether you discussed Scottish Government or parliamentary functions; and, if so, whether you tried to inform or influence decisions on behalf of your organisation or those your organisation represents.
There are exemptions for small organisations (those with fewer than ten full time paid employees), except where those organisations are “representative bodies”. If you think this may apply to your organisation, then look at the relevant section in the official guidance and in the common scenarios document.
What do I need to do?
If, having looked at the 5 Key steps and the official guidance, you believe that you do need to register, you will need to do so on the Scottish Parliament’s Lobbying Register website. The process is relatively straightforward, and all information is provided on the site.
There is no charge for registration.
Once you are registered, don’t forget that you will have to record information on the register (“submit returns”) at least every six months. You will get an automatic reminder email about this from the system.
If you do not have access to the internet, or struggle with internet forms, help with registration and guidance can be obtained from the Scottish Parliament’s Lobbying Registrar’s office, on 0131 348 5408.
Do I need to know anything else?
The legislation and regulations on the register are up for review in 2020, so even if you don’t need to register now, check back again in a couple of years to see if your organisation is still unaffected.