The controversial Lobbying Bill is set to become law after Peers narrowly failed to defeat it in the House of Lords last night (January 28) by just one vote.
The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Bill, dubbed the Gagging Bill by opponents, is aimed at reforming lobbying and charity campaign spending, but has already spent three periods in the Lords during its passage and on all three occasions Peers defeated MPs.
However, all three amendments were later overturned by ministers in the Commons and, since the changes were not reinstated when the Bill returned to the Lords, the bulk of the original Bill will now become law.
The aim of the Bill is to tighten regulation on campaign spending during election periods but campaigners have argued that it could restrict campaigns by bodies, such as charities, that are not party political.
Opponents of the Bill said that they were bitterly disappointed by the outcome and a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth declared it a “bad day for anyone wanting to protect the environment or oppose tuition fees”.
Meanwhile, Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), added that the matter “does not finish today”.
He said that ACEVO will be monitoring the impact of the bill and will be asking its members how the legislation affects their work, as well as continuing to agitate for political parties to revise the Bill in light of their evidence after the 2015 election.
However, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, Deputy Leader of the Lords argued that the Government believes that very few third party organisations, such as charities, will be caught up in the new law.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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