Scottish Parliament backs off on lobbying regulation

The Scottish Parliament has backed down over its plans to regulate

the lobbying industry.



Following evidence from PA consultants - who said that the regulation

would be unfair and in contravention of the Human Rights Act - the

committee has recommended that a watered down set of regulations be put

in place instead.



The Parliament's standards committee had wanted to force lobbying firms

to disclose a raft of details about clients, budgets and fees - or face

prosecution.



The proposals only applied to lobbying firms and not other companies

that give PA advice, such as law firms. The committee has now decided

that lobbyists only have to disclose names of their firm, staff and

clients.



The rules will now apply to other companies that practice public

affairs, not just dedicated lobbying outfits.



The committee has thrown out plans to prosecute lobbyists engaging in

sharp practice, instead favouring a public naming and shaming

policy.



Scottish Association of Professional and Political Consultants secretary

Robbie MacDuff said: 'We are pleased. What they are asking for now is

what we require in our own code of conduct anyway.'



A final report will be presented to the committee early next year and is

expected to be ratified by the full Parliament later in 2002.



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