Energy firm is first out of the traps as Scottish lobbying register goes live
The PRCA has welcomed the broad scope of the new register
Energy giant E.ON was the first organisation to sign up to the new Scottish lobbying register which went live yesterday.
As the new scheme gets off the ground, the lobbying register team in the Scottish Parliament has revealed that E.ON was front of the queue to register an account.
E.ON’s lobbying team is led by senior public affairs manager Dan Meredith. Unusually, it does not use a public affairs agency for external support.
Asked why E.ON had signed up so quickly, Meredith told PAN: "E.ON’s belief that the future of energy is low carbon, decentralised, and with customers in control, tends to be well received in Scotland. We supply thousands of homes and businesses across the country, have won awards for our energy efficiency work in the Highlands, and are continuing to develop ever more renewable energy sources for the country.
"We think it’s important Scotland’s energy future is debated properly and we want to make sure that we abide by all the proper rules and regulations when engaging in that debate."
The Lobbying (Scotland) Bill was introduced in 2015 and came into law in March 2016. Billy McLaren was hired as head of the new regulator later that year, promising to make the register live by April 2018.
Unlike the Westminster-focused register implemented by David Cameron, Holyrood's version covers in-house lobbyists as well as consultants. It also covers communication with all MSPs, Scottish ministers and special advisers.
Responding to the launch of the register in Scotland, the PRCA welcomed its broad scope.
PRCA director general Francis Ingham said: "The inclusion of in-house lobbyists, who represent 80 per cent of our industry, combined with the fact that the lobbying register in Scotland covers MSPs, rather than simply ministers, demonstrates a far better grasp of the realities of lobbying than a majority of statutory regimes."
But the PRCA boss added a note of caution, calling the Scottish register "far from perfect".
He continued: "By including only face-to-face communication, it ignores a great deal of lobbying conducted through letters, emails, petitions, and campaigning websites. By not extending to all of those who are lobbied, it creates the false impression that civil servants and local government somehow sit outside of the decision-making dynamic.
"By requiring a burdensome and unnecessary amount of information from registrants and creating a statutory code of conduct, there are clear risks that the Lobbying Register in Scotland could dissuade experts and interested parties from engaging with Holyrood while lowering the ethical bar for those who do."