The Gagging Bill: time to think again

The Government was given a hard time in yesterday’s House of Lords debate on the Lobbying Bill.  And rightly so.  The Bill is a stinker.  Its declared aim is to keep big money out of politics, but it fails to do anything much about lobbyists.  Instead, it will have the effect of deterring charities and other civil society organisations from campaigning, particularly around an election. 

Like a lot of bad legislation, the Bill was introduced in a hurry.  It would certainly have benefited from a proper process of pre-legislative scrutiny.  Ministers say that concerns about the Bill are misplaced and that there is no intention to deter campaigning.  The trouble is that it is hard to find any organisation that may be affected – from the Countryside Alliance to the League Against Cruel Sports, from the Taypayers’ Alliance to 38 Degrees – that believes this. 

When watchdogs such as the Sustainable Development Commission and the Commission on Rural Communities were abolished, Ministers said that civil society should perform their role of scrutinising the Government and holding it to account.  Now But charities and other campaigners now feel that in all sorts of ways they are being discouraged from performing this role – see, for example, Chris Grayling’s extraordinary attack on charities using the judicial review process. 

The intent behind the Bill may be good – Ministers say its aim is to keep big money out of British politics – but almost everyone who has looked at it, including plenty of government supporters, agrees that it is very badly thought out.  The Bill will make lots of money for lawyers and cause lots of grief to those who want to get involved in the political process to campaign for what they think is right.  It should be withdrawn.  

2 Responses to “The Gagging Bill: time to think again”

  1. 1 Arthur Franks October 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    This bill is designed to stop ANYONE or ANY organisation from speaking out against government policy and must be stopped. We are becoming more like extremist governed countries every day I liken what is happening to us as being similar to 1930’s Germany or any of the communist states.

  2. 2 Arthur Franks October 25, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I am amazed that no one else has commented on this important piece of legislation. It affects everyone of us so we should all be protesting and writing to our MP to tell them what we think. Are we all that complacent that we think nothing should or cannot be done

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