The right to speak?

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14 seems to be creating quite a stir, uniting in opposition many groups and organisations that would not normally been seen sharing the same agenda.

The Lobbying Bill, as it is more commonly known, is being debated again in the House of Commons today (3/9/13) with many urging a serious rethink. A good description of key points and impacts is provided by the Hansard Society, who summarise the Bill as follows:

“There are some serious policy intentions behind the bill and the problems are not quite as bad as the heated language of some of its opponents might suggest. But as currently drafted there could be important unintended consequences for it seriously underestimates the value and importance of ensuring that civil society has a voice during an election.” (see full article here

As others have pointed out, this Bill was not in the Queen’s Speech, it has not been through the usual scrutiny procedures and appears to be an over-reaction to a very specific problem, that of political lobbyist companies. A previous discussion around this issue, back in 2009, resulted in a Lobbying report ( with general support from all Parties that was aimed more at these political lobbying companies than it was at other third party organisations, local groups and charities, which seems to be the biggest problem with the current proposals.

The answer seems to be for the House to stop the progress of the Bill and spend some real time at Committee stage coming up with some more sensible and reasonable solutions.

NB – following this weeks debate in the House, will we now see a redrafting of the Bill, see article in The Independent on Thursday

Let’s hope so!



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