Media House International, the Scottish media relations company, has attacked Scottish Government proposals for a new lobbying register and code of conduct,

In a submission to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, which is gathering the views of its members on the Holyrood draft legislation, Media House chairman Jack Irvine has said the exercise smacks of “control freakery” by the government. He says the effect on his organisation would be “lots of man hours being expended as we try to comply”.

Registration as a lobbyist would be triggered only by a paid assignment as an employee or consultant and not cover individuals lobbying on their own behalf, the CIPR has noted.

Mr Irvine, a former Scottish newspaper editor, has commented: “It is an attempt to stifle challenges to government policies and it will encourage lobbyists to ‘go round the back door’ to avoid the restrictive rules. In other words lobby could go further underground, and driven into even darker corners.”

The CIPR is asking whether the bill has the “right balance between capturing information of value and ensuring that access and participation with the work of Parliament and government is not discouraged”.

Mr Irvine responds that the system as proposed would be “over-complicated and will thus be a legal minefield”, and on the draft Bill’s aim of a ‘light-touch approach’ with criminal offences and penalties as a last resort, he says: “There is nothing ‘light touch’ about it and criminal penalties appear to be enshrined in the bill.”