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Implications of FOI extension on RSLs and Lobbying Act

The effect of the 2002 act’s extended coverage is that registered social landlords which fall under the definition in the Housing (Scotland) 2010 act will therefore no longer be engaged in ‘regulated lobbying’ for the purposes of the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016.   

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The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (Designation of Persons as Scottish Public Authorities) Order 2019 came into effect on 11 November 2019. It provides for the extension of coverage of the 2002 Act to any registered social landlord as defined in section 165 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010, and to any connected body under section 164(c) of the 2010 Act.

This has implications so far as the position of registered social landlords engaging with the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 are concerned. As you will be aware, the 2016 Act exempts communications made by, or on behalf, of a local authority, and also, per paragraph 22(d) of the schedule, communications made by, or on behalf, of any other Scottish public authority within the meaning of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. The effect of the 2002 act’s extended coverage is that registered social landlords which fall under the definition in the 2010 act will therefore no longer be engaged in ‘regulated lobbying’ for the purposes of the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016.   

Any organisation that is an active registrant on the Scottish Lobbying Register, and to which this new order may be relevant, should therefore take steps to satisfy itself that it is no longer required to submit instances of regulated lobbying after 11 November. This will involve checking whether the organisation falls under the definition of a registered social landlord under section 165/164(c) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010.

Until this date, organisations should continue to fulfil their statutory requirements to submit any instances of regulated communications under Section 11 of the act.

Section 12 of the act permits an organisation to make an application to the Clerk of the Scottish Parliament to have its status reclassified as an inactive registrant after this date. Please note that organisations will require to follow closely the requirements of section 12 in making such an application. These are quite detailed, and the Lobbying Register Team will be happy to assist organisations in regard to the process under section 12.

Organisations may also wish to note that the option to register as a voluntary registrant under Section 14 of the act will be available following confirmation by the Lobbying Register Team that it is now classified as an inactive registrant. Again, the team would be happy to discuss further with any registrant that wishes to take up this option under section 14. Please contact us at lobbying@parliament.scot or 0131 348 5408.

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