Outrage continues at Government plans for Lobbying (Gagging Act) Bill

Local campaigners met with Steve McCabe MP to protest about the government’s determination to press ahead with the Coalition’s Lobbying Bill which will have minimal impact on commercial lobbyists who work for major corporations and big business but will have the effect of severely impeding the activities of small charities and other lobbying and campaign groups.

The protestors presented Steve McCabe with a petition containing 190,553 signatures of people who feel aggrieved about the government’s plans. A new report by the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement has made a series of recommendations on how to improve the Bill which campaigners fear the government is set to ignore. The Bill is currently ‘paused’ for six weeks while the govt considers issues that have been raised.

The Commission Report recommends: that staff costs of charities and other bodies as well as market research and canvassing costs should be excluded unless clearly related to political campaigning; that the total spending limits for non party campaigns need to be increased; that constituency spending limits should be dropped; and that, additional reporting requirements for charities and other small lobby groups should be excluded.

Steve McCabe said:

“This is an appalling piece of legislation. The Prime Minister promised that he was going to tackle the risk of a lobbying scandal and instead he has let commercial lobbyists off scot free but seems determined to gag trade unions and small charities. This is the kind of thing that will stop people lobbying politicians about children’s hospices, cycle lanes or tuition fees.

“It is a complete scandal and the government ought to drop this disgraceful legislation. I was struck by the number of people who came to see me about it on the last Saturday before Christmas. They deserve to be listened to.”

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