Lobbying bill not fit for democratic purpose

By Press Office
October 29, 2013

Commenting on the new report from the independent Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, said today (29 October 2013):

"There are numerous problems with the UK government's Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14 as it presently stands.

"In terms of calling powerful corporate lobbyists to account, it is too weak. But in Parts 2 and 3 it institutes limits on the freedom of expression of charities, civil society organisations, think-tanks, advocacy groups and trades unions that effectively amount to a gagging order against many non-party commentators at election times.

"The independent Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, which we are pleased to support, has brought together civic groups from across the spectrum and produced a detailed, thoughtful and constructive appraisal of section two of what the government is proposing.

"Sadly, the Minister leading on the Bill has so far refused to engage properly with a huge coalition of concern and with the framework of independent scrutiny across the country provided by the independent Commission.

"This Bill is an issue of major public concern, and we hope that politicians can be made to listen before going down what looks to be a significantly anti-freedom of speech route. At present it is not fit for democratic purpose."

* Read the full CCSDE report here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19330

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