As Paul Hutcheon rightly points out, 442 of the 514 responses to the lobbyists bill consultation came through the Unlock Democracy website and just 72 were sent to the office of Neil Findlay MSP (Calls for lobbyists to declare their dealings with MSPs, News, November 18).
Organisations from the third and private sectors have real concerns that the bill will lead to more bureaucracy and do nothing to actually improve transparency. Neil Findlay talks a lot about the need to avoid the scandals that have plagued Westminster but the last 10 years have proved that this is not an issue in Scotland. The one scandal that has hit the Scottish Parliament – around MSPs' expenses – was dealt with following a media campaign led by the Sunday Herald in a simple and straightforward manner.
The solution was to publish the details of MSPs' expenses and it has worked well. That's why the SCVO is calling for the diaries of MSPs, cabinet secretaries, ministers and senior civil servants to be published as a simple first step towards protecting the transparency of the Scottish Government and Parliament's decision-making process.
SCVO strongly supports greater transparency in decision-making in both the Parliament and Government. However, we believe Neil Findlay's proposed bill won't achieve this. Ultimately, distrust in politics and politicians is a direct result of the increased alienation the people of Scotland have experienced from the decision-making centre. The real solution to instilling trust in politics is by bringing the decision-making process closer to people.
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
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