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Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: I was comforted by the concluding words of the noble Baroness. As one looks

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at the schedule, it is hard to imagine that the Government did not believe that the parliament would make standing orders for the reporting and publishing of proceedings but nevertheless have included a particular provision for that. I cannot imagine that the Government would be happy if the parliament did not have some mechanism in place for reviewing secondary legislation. Indeed, it has been implied that that is expected.

In that situation, I cannot see that any harm would be done by including a provision along the lines outlined in the amendment. As my noble and learned friend Lord Hope said, it is a matter of the very greatest importance. Everyone wishes to ensure that the legislation is as secure as possible. I hope that on further reflection the Government reach the view that the provision should be included.

Lord Renton: I am pleased that the Minister has said that the Government are willing to consider the issue again. It is very important. She made one comment about which I hope she will be cautious in future. She said that we must assume that the parliament will be a responsible body. That greatly depends upon which party is government in that parliament. It is safer for us to get things right rather than to take chances of that kind.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her last few words. At first I thought that we were going to get a "No, no, no". However, we got a "No, no" and then a "Maybe". Of course I appreciate that the Bill largely deals with procedures for primary legislation, but I hope that that does not imply that secondary legislation is of less importance. It can be of the greatest importance, especially as this parliament--and I have no doubt in future the Scottish parliament--tends to pass Bills of a more skeletal nature than was once the case with many order-making powers. Some Bills that were passed through this Parliament by my own party were very dependent on secondary legislation, and I have little doubt that the same will be true of the present Government. Therefore, the issue of secondary legislation is important.

While the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee rightly stated that the correct procedure must be highlighted in any legislation which the Scottish parliament passes for secondary legislation--the procedure that should be used and whether it should be an affirmative or a negative-type procedure--it did not say much about the control that the parliament might exercise on that secondary legislation.

The noble Baroness was wise to suggest that the Government would ponder on what was said because the noble and learned Lords, Lord Hope and Lord Rodger, had intervened to highlight the real problem about the vires and the requirement to make delegated legislation as secure from attack as possible. My noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Drumadoon pointed me to Schedule 6, paragraph 1(b) where it seems clear that the courts might be asked to judge legislative competence even before the parliament has agreed to a piece of secondary legislation by whichever mechanism it is to decide on that. Therefore, the noble Baroness

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was wise to say in conclusion that she would take the matter away. With those first words of comfort which we have received from her in the course of the Committee stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.30 p.m.

Baroness Linklater of Butterstone moved Amendment No. 129A:

Page 62, line 5, at end insert--

(""Regulation of lobbying activities

6. The standing orders shall include provision for the regulation of the lobbying activities of individuals and companies in relation to the work of the Parliament.").

The noble Baroness said: The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that lobbying in the Scottish parliament is regulated properly. That subject has become extremely topical once again with the Prime Minister being reported in The Times today as backing the idea of a statutory register of lobbyists and the introduction of a quarantine system for ex-political advisers before they join lobbying firms.

Whether we like it or not, lobbyists have increasingly become part of the paraphernalia of political life and have a role to play when they behave properly. When they abide by the rules, they can play a helpful role in such matters as interpreting Bills for companies or acting as go-betweens between industry and other groups and Parliament. However, they are go-betweens and in many ways, by coming between government and the electorate, they can interfere with the process of communication and even emphasise the gap between the two.

How a government communicate with their electorate says quite a lot about them and this Government seem to rely increasingly on that form of communication to interpret and spin, from Mr. Mandelson down.

The experience of the recent past--the zeal and enthusiasm for dealing in government information and selling it to clients and even selling access to a Minister--has demonstrated the risks associated with that activity. Such a way of dealing with government information is not something that we wish to see in Holyrood. Only last week the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie--I am sorry to see that he is no longer in his place because I should like to hear his views--launched a new lobbying group of his own from the august premises of the New Club in Edinburgh. So, already the bees are preparing to swarm around the new honeypot. But the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, has pledged that he would back a code of ethics and a system of regulation by the Scottish parliament.

The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Richard Wilson, is reported to be drawing up a new code of conduct for lobbyists in the next few days, an initiative which can only be warmly welcomed. I understand that it is on the cards that the Neill Committee could be asked to examine the role of lobbyists. So now at Westminster action is being taken to tighten up on the activities of that layer of political consultation.

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Before the Scottish parliament comes into being we should like to see it laid down clearly that:

    "The standing orders shall include provision for the regulation of [such] lobbying activities".

The Government may take a lead from the Association of Political Consultants. Its code of conduct recommends, for example, that its members should not have passes to the Palace of Westminster and should not,

    "place themselves in a position of a potential conflict of interest by appointing any MP, MEP or sitting Peer to their main or any subsidiary board or by paying any retainer or commission",

to any of those people. One may well add MSPs to the list.

However, as we have already been discussing and agreeing at some length, precisely what form the regulations should take must be for the Scottish parliament to decide. But it is important that from the word go the new parliament is seen to protect itself as far as possible from the excesses that we have seen in the recent past at Westminster. I beg to move.

Lord Renton: I believe that the noble Baroness deserves support for this amendment as far as it goes. However, the trouble that we have learned about in recent months and about which I had a Starred Question last week is not merely the lobbying of Members of Parliament. The problem was--we are all very glad to note that the Government are doing something about it--that there was lobbying of civil servants and lobbying in relation to the work of the Government. Therefore, if this amendment is passed, on Report we should add an amendment to the effect that it should apply to the work of the parliament or of the executive.

Lord Watson of Invergowrie: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for raising this important subject. Perhaps I should declare an interest in that I am what she described as one of the "bees" who will perhaps be swarming around the "honeypot" of the Scottish parliament in years to come. As an alternative, I should very much like to be an elected member of that parliament, but that is for others to decide.

As the noble Baroness said, it is a topical issue and I welcome the very measured tones in which she introduced the amendment. In the light of media coverage over the past 10 days or so, I had become rather alarmed that it might be another "rant". I do the noble Baroness no disservice in suggesting that; indeed, that is not normally the way that she addresses this Chamber. However, there have been many contributions in that vein, so I welcome this proposal.

Not only have I no objection to there being regulation of lobbying within the Scottish parliament--indeed, I would welcome it--I am also an advocate of self-regulation for many of those involved within the lobbying profession, if I may use that expression, and in the wider sense. It is a much wider sense than is often understood, and that is not something which has come out in the recent media coverage over the past few days. There are many organisations, apart from lobbying

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companies like the one of which I am a director, which are involved in lobbying in and around this place, in local government and in the European Parliament--there are quangos, local authorities, charities, voluntary organisations, trade unions and trade associations--all of which indulge to a greater or lesser extent in lobbying.

It is part of the hypocrisy of the press coverage over the past few days that two of the most assiduous lobbyists of the Newspaper Publishers Association indulge in lobbying in respect of regulation of what they are or are not allowed to print, the ownership of the media, and the BBC in terms of its licensing fee. I am sure that a great deal of it goes on behind the scenes in a way that they have criticised others for employing. I reject that approach.

It is important that the Scottish parliament should start on the right footing. I believe that the noble Baroness mentioned an organisation called the Association of Professional Political Consultants. That is a self-regulatory body which operates in and around these Houses of Parliament. Unfortunately, it has been shown to be ineffective. I understand that two of the three organisations highlighted in the Observer reports last week were in fact members of that association. Therefore, the dangers or limitations of self-regulation are evident for all to see.

Having said that, I and several other people concerned with lobbying in its various forms in Scotland have been involved over the past six months in putting together a self-regulatory organisation aimed at operating around the Scottish parliament. I am sure that that will continue until its conclusion, but I believe that it could quite easily be complemented by some form of regulation from the parliament. I cannot really see that there could be any objection from those who operate any form of lobbying. The way in which I operate when I have to approach someone on behalf of a client, whether it be a Member of Parliament or a Minister, is to be absolutely open and transparent. I say what I am doing, outline the argument and say on whose behalf I am making it. I firmly believe that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. If you are up front and open, there is absolutely no reason to fear any kind of regulation as to what you do. It is only those who want to operate behind the scenes and under cover who have something to fear. It is within that context that I support the noble Baroness's amendment.

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