– Scottish Parliament written question – answered on 22nd March 2011.

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Des McNulty (Clydebank and Milngavie) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it plans to participate in the UK Public Affairs Council’s scheme for the voluntary registration of lobbyists and with the UK Government in its plan to establish a statutory scheme.

Fiona Hyslop: The Scottish Government is aware of the voluntary registration scheme launched by UKPAC on 1 March. The scheme is run independently of government. Membership is currently confined to UKPAC’s three founding bodies – the Association of Professional Political Consultants; the Public Relations Consultants Association and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

The UK Government indicated last year that it intends to "tackle lobbying through introducing a statutory register of lobbyists". No further details has been published. Action to establish a statutory scheme was not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech. In the absence of concrete proposals, or of any approach from the UK Government, the implications for Scotland of such a scheme remain unclear.

Lobbying of members of the Scottish Parliament is a matter for the Parliament itself to regulate. The Code of Conduct for MSPs defines the standards to which MSPs are expected to adhere. The overriding objective is to ensure transparency and probity in the way the Parliament conducts its business. The Scottish Ministerial Code also contains provision about contacts with lobbyists. It would be open to the Parliament to extend existing arrangements, including by establishing a statutory register, should it so wish.