Submission to the Scottish Standards Committee: Inquiry into lobbying
The size of the UK lobbying industry - now worth £2bn - has steadily increased over the last decade. There are good reasons to believe that Scotland has attracted more than its fair share of that growth.
As devolution has matured, the Scottish Government and Parliament have become more assertive, and therefore a more important arena for lobbying. This trend is only likely to continue with the prospect of further changes in the future. The lobbying industry has also diversified, with lobbying increasingly done by think tanks, in-house teams, and law and accountancy firms as well as more traditional public affairs agencies.
Although Scotland has not seen lobbying scandals on the same scale as Westminster, this should not be seen as an indication that Holyrood is immune. Many of the same issues apply in Scotland: for example, around the funding of cross-party parliamentary groups, or lobbyists with parliamentary passes.
A comprehensive register of lobbyists would bring information about who is lobbying, about what, and how much money they are spending on it into the public domain. This would allow the public to make judgements on whether there has been undue influence on the decisions of politicians and government. Transparency would motivate politicians and lobbyists alike to act, and be seen to act, properly.