Scots Parliament lobbying conduct code in quandary

The Scottish Parliament may be acting illegally in its attempts to

regulate lobbying.



The Parliament's standards committee wants to put in place a statutory

code of conduct on lobbying firms. This code could force lobbyists to

disclose details of clients, budgets and fees and may not apply to

in-house public affairs teams.



But after seeking legal advice, the PRCA's public affairs group believes

the proposals could contravene three articles of the 1998 Human Rights

Act, relating to privacy, discrimination and freedom of expression.



Public affairs associations including the PRCA and the Association of

Professional Political Consultants(APPC) have this week submitted

written evidence to the committee and further oral evidence may be asked

for later this year. Both the PRCA and the APPC are urging the committee

to keep their own self-regulatory systems.



Simon Nayyar, PRCA public affairs group chairman, believes the code

could allow 'big business' with in-house public affairs units to go

unchecked while placing unfair constraints on smaller organisations who

use lobbying firms.



He said: 'This could lead to the opposite of what the committee hopes to

achieve.'



Leader, p10.



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