The Scottish Government are claiming that Scotland doesn’t need regulation of the lobbying industry because it already releases all meetings that Scottish Ministers have, including with lobbyists. Except that in the Craighouse case, they haven’t.
You may remember that after a tip-off, we knew that Mountgrange (the owner of the Craighouse site) and their lobbyists had got a private meeting with John Swinney in 2013, but wanted to know more, so we submitted a Freedom of Information Request. It took a huge amount of campaigning and appeals over several months to get the Scottish Government to honour that FOI request and release some information about that one meeting. So, hardly the transparency that the Scottish Government claim there.
But what about the public register of Ministerial Engagements? Well, for May 2013 (the month of the Craighouse meeting) John Swinney’s appointments are nowhere to be found. Instead, the meetings for June 2013 appear twice. OK, so you might think it was an honest mistake. So, we asked them. They ignored the request to correct the information, instead claiming “the Scottish Government is committed to increasing transparency”.
Here are the engagements, but I wonder if you can see any commercial lobbyists in this list. It looks to us like they list the clients of the lobbyists, but not the lobbyists themselves.
The campaign to release this information continues, as does the campaign to get the Scottish Government to commit to a *real* lobbying transparency bill, such as those in other countries, like the USA.