June 15, 2017 : Jenny Bloomfield

What isn’t covered by the Lobbying Act?

As we progress further and further with the Lobbying (Scotland) Act, I thought now would be a good time to tell you when you can give your notepad / laptop / other memory aid a rest, knowing that you do not need to record the names of who you spoke to and what you said.

There are various times where that is the case, but the biggest ones for our sector are probably:

  1. When you are speaking to a Councillor. Local politicians are NOT covered by the Act, so you do NOT need to register any engagement with them at all. Same goes for civil servants (except Special Advisers), MSPs’ staff, parliamentary staff or political party staff. You will though need to register any lobbying conversations you have with MSPs at political events such as party conferences.
  2. When you are speaking to anyone by telephone, email, facebook, etc. – if it’s not face-to-face or video conferencing, you don’t need to register it. British sign language conversations (along with semaphore or any other gestures, in case you were wondering…) will need registering.
  3. When you’ve been asked by a Minister or MSP to give them information, even if you’re doing that in a face-to-face meeting. You also don’t need to register what’s said in quorate CPG meetings, nor in formal evidence sessions to committees. But lobbying at parliamentary receptions will need registering.
  4. When your volunteers are speaking to MSPS or Ministers or anyone else. Charity board members, as long as they’re not paid (expenses are fine), are of course volunteers – so they don’t need to register any conversations they have.
  5. When you’re speaking to an MSP (regional or constituency) who works in the same geographic area as your organisation. My current understanding is that the conversation here can be on local or national issues.

Of course, these are just the ones that spring to my mind – if you have any others that you’re not sure about, email me at jenny.bloomfield@scvo.org.uk, and I’ll update this list.

By the way, if you haven’t already, it’s worth you reading my updated blog on the main points about whether or not your organisation needs to register. The register is likely to launch early 2018, with guidance due at some point this Autumn, so it’s definitely worth getting all your ducks in a row (as far as you’re able) just now.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Jenny Bloomfield