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As we reach the final stages of the Lobbying Bill in parliament, the UK Government has started to respond to the overwhelming opposition from charities, NGOs and advocacy organisations. The pressure is working.
But the Bill is still a serious threat to democracy and very important changes are still needed to allow campaigners to speak out. Members of the House of Lords need to understand the scale of concern remaining about the Bill.
Ekklesia is urging our friends (and, indeed, detractors!) to sign this petition, which we are co-sponsoring with more than 60 other organisations, asking Peers to back changes to the law when it is debated on Wednesday 15 January 2014.
The key amendments will be tabled by former Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries, chair of the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, which is now backed by over 130 organisations, including ourselves.
The petition text reads:
To Members of the House of Lords:
The Lobbying Bill would stop charities and campaigning groups from speaking out on some of the most important issues facing the country and the planet, even once recent Government changes to the Bill are taken into account.
It remains an unacceptable threat to democracy and freedom of speech.
We call on you to vote for Lord Harries’ amendments to the Bill.
Sign the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/support-changes-to-the-lobbying-bill
[Note that the campaign group 38 Degrees have also set up their own portal for the same petition, here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/signup/fix-the-gagging-law#petition, and Unlock Democracy likewise: http://act.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1810&ea.... You should only sign one. They will be collated on the Commission site.]
To add your organisation's endorsement to the Commission petition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with an endorsement and a logo.
Belief-based organisations supporting this petition so far include CAFOD, Christian Aid, Ekklesia, Islamic Relief UK, Micah International, Muslim Council of Britain, National Secular Society, British Humanist Association, Progressio, Quakers in Britain, Salvation Army and Tearfund.
Ekklesia also supports the TUC-backed petition about Part 3 of the Lobbying Bill, calling on the government to drop its 'data grab' on union membership records: http://action.goingtowork.org.uk/page/s/lobbying-bill-my-union-membershi...
* More on the Lobbying Bill from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/lobbyingbill
* Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement: http://civilsocietycommission.infoTweet