FORMER MSPs will be required to sign a “no lobbying” declaration if they want a special pass that gives them access to the Scottish Parliament.

Holyrood pushed through the measure to guard against suggestions that ex-politicians could promote their commercial interests in the parliamentary complex.

According to official figures over 50 former MSPs have a pass providing access to the Garden Lobby and the exclusive Members’ Restaurant.

Pass-holders include former First Ministers Jack McConnell and Alex Salmond, as well ex-Cabinet Ministers.

However, after MSPs recently passed legislation to regulate lobbying, Holyrood’s governing corporate body decided to tighten the obligations of former members who want a pass in the future.

A paper stated: “In light of the changes arising from the new lobbying legislation, the Corporate Body will want to safeguard against the suggestion that former Members’ passes are being used for the purposes of lobbying.”

Former MSPs who apply must now sign a declaration confirming a pass will not be used in connection with any lobbying activity.

The terms under which existing passes have been provided make clear they cannot be used for lobbying, but this change goes further. However, ex-MSPs who already have a pass will not need to sign the declaration.

A number of former MSPs, who are listed as having passes, work for organisations that may come into contact with Government and MSPs.

Ross Finnie, who served in the Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition, is the chair of the Food Standards Scotland body.

Others, such as Margaret Smith and Euan Robson, are listed as working for Caledonia Public Affairs.

There is no suggestion of impropriety by any former member, but Labour MSP Neil Findlay welcomed the reform.

He said: “The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body is right to take these steps. An ex-member’s pass is a privilege not open to members of the public. It should not be used as a means to gain access to Ministers and politicians".

Under the Lobbying Scotland (Act) 2016, which will become operational later in this parliamentary term, face-to-face lobbying of MSPs, Scottish Government Ministers and special advisers will have to be declared.

However, the legislation was criticised over the exclusion of digital communication, such as email, from the disclosure requirements.

Alastair Ross, the convener of the Association for Scottish Public Affairs, said: “We welcome this change to the Parliament’s rules in light of the Lobbying Act. It’s important to clarify what is and what is not permitted under the new lobbying regulations when they come in. Everyone issued with a Parliamentary pass needs to abide by the rules.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “Our passes for former members reflect that they are very welcome at Holyrood. We do also make clear that the passes cannot be used for any lobbying purposes.”