Progress, but Lobbying Bill remains dangerous

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Commenting on the UK government's defeat in the House of Lords (15 January 2013) on a significant issue in Part 2 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14, Simon Barrow, co-director of the think-tank Ekklesia, said:

"Great credit must go to crossbench peers, a handful of rebels and stalwart civil society organisations for pushing the government back on NGO staff costs in the Lobbying Bill, and for extracting other concessions and promises of engagement.

"This endeavour precisely illustrates the importance of the kind of non-party campaigning that, ironically, the Bill itself threatens.

"However, despite these gains, the core problem remains. Poor process, lack of consultation and absence of scrutiny has produced bad legislation that fails adequately to address serious abuses of lobbying by big money interests, while harmfully shackling voluntary organisations.

"The government must now look to its own claims about free speech and democratic participation and have the courage to undertake a fundamental rethink about an unjust and ill-balanced Bill: one which is also, in parts, unworkable and unenforceable."

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

* Ekklesia actively supports the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement: http://civilsocietycommission.info