Business committee criticises Lobbying Bill union restrictions

By staff writers
31 Oct 2013

The section of the controversial Lobbying Bill attempting to shackle trade unions has been declared unfit for purpose by a red tape advisory committee.

The UK government has been asked to withdraw and start again in its assessment of the impact of part three of the Bill, concerning union membership systems.

The Regulatory Policy Committee, set up by government to advise on the impact of regulations, a majority of whose members are from a business background, has given the Bill’s regulatory impact assessment a rare red rating.

In their decision they say: "The impact assessment lacks a sound evidence base and is insufficiently robust to justify RPC validation of the estimated costs to civil society organisations (trade unions). The IA needs to provide a more detailed assessment of all likely costs to trade unions, including all familiarisation costs and recurring costs to small unions. The assessment should be supported by further evidence that was gathered from consultation with stakeholders, in particular quality assurers."

Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O’Grady commented: “Part three of this dreadful and friendless bill imposes needless red tape on trade union membership systems. But no-one has explained why.

"The law already regulates union membership and the union regulator, the Certification Officer, has plenty of power, but has received no complaints since 2004.

“This unnecessary Bill will make union membership lists open to further state scrutiny despite recent evidence of extensive blacklisting.

“This committee is effectively saying that the impact statement has been written on the back of an envelope. That will not come as a surprise to anyone interested in this party-political partisan Bill that has been attacked from all sides as it goes through parliament.”

Part two of the Bill, which would impose severe limits on the freedom of speech of charities, advocacy groups, think tanks and other civic organisations a year from election campaigns, has also been strongly criticised on civil rights grounds.

Ekklesia is a supporter of the work of the work of the independent Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, which is critiquing Part Two of the Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, and also backs union criticism of Part Three.

* The Regulatory Policy Committee decision is available at http://regulatorypolicycommittee.independent.gov.uk/rpc-publishes-2-red-...

* A TUC briefing on the Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill is available (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document) at: www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/LobbyingBillbriefing.pdf

* Non-party campaigning ahead of elections: a response from the independent Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19330

* More from Ekklesia on the Lobbying Bill: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/lobbyingbill

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