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The “Dog’s Breakfast” Bill

Scores of local people have contacted me over the past week to share their concerns on the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, which received its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 3 September.   

This Bill has achieved the unique feat of uniting charities, transparency campaigners, trades unions and the lobbying industry against it, all saying it will make the problem worse, not better.  Critics believe that the Bill’s aim to create register of consultant lobbyists is only scratching the survace of the problem, as it will only actully cover a small minority of those who lobby the Government.

The second part of the Bill is what most of my constituents have raised concerns about. Hundreds of charities and trades unions up and down the country are expressing their fears that new limits to their expenditure and activities in the year before an election will ‘gag’ them from campaigning and policy work. Local people are rightly worried that the Bill will  have a chilling effect on our national debate in an election year.

As there is simply no doubt that this is an ill-conceived Bill which has not even been given adequate time for debate, I voted against it. Graham Allen MP  the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform has called the Bill a “dog’s breakfast” – and urged the Government to withdraw it.  The Government needs to think again, and come up with new proposals that will strengthen transparency and accountability, instead of interfering with the essential work of charities and other campaigning organisations.