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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

In this guide, we'll explain what lobbying is and what you need to include when setting up a lobbying register.

Many people ‘lobby’ in order to be heard by Parliament. It is a fundamental part of our democratic process. It allows organisations and individuals to inform and influence decisions made by our elected representatives and policy development by our government. Lots of voluntary organisations lobby on behalf of the people and communities they represent.

Regulated Lobbying

‘Regulated lobbying’ is lobbying which takes place face-to-face with MSPs, Ministers and Special Advisers. It can happen at any time, not just in formal meetings.

All regulated lobbying has to be recorded in The Lobbying Register.

If you answer yes to all five of these questions your meeting is likely to count as regulated lobbying:

  • I have communicated orally and face to face with an MSP, Member of the Scottish Government, Permanent Secretary or Special Adviser.
  • I have communicated about Scottish Government or Scottish Parliamentary Functions
  • I used the opportunity to inform or influence decisions on behalf or my organisation (or those I represent)
  • I am paid representing the views of my organisation (or those I represent)
  • The exemptions under the Lobbying Act 2018 do not apply to my organisation

Common Exemptions

There is a list of thirteen different exemptions, which cover situations which might not count as registered lobbying so may not need to be recorded. Those most common to voluntary organisations include:

  • Where the meeting was not face-to-face or by video link.
  • During formal parliamentary proceedings of the Scottish Parliament (e.g. a committee meeting)
  • During a meeting of a Cross-Party Group
  • For the purposes of journalism
  • Where your organisation has been asked to meet with an MSP or the Scottish Government to provide factual information or views on a topic.

You can read the full list of exemptions in this lobbying information leaflet from the Scottish Parliament.

Setting up a lobbying register

Organisations are required to set up an account and then record details of all registered lobbying. Key information you must capture includes:

  • Date of meeting
  • Name and role of the person(s) lobbied
  • Name of the person(s) from your organisation carrying out the communication
  • Presence of any other individuals and their organisation name
  • Specific location where lobbying took place
  • Description of the interaction
  • Purpose of the interaction and the lobbying carried out

This guide from Scottish Parliament provides a number of in-depth examples of good practice when completing returns on the lobbying register.

Last modified on 5 September 2023
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