It is vital that MPs vote to keep Lobbying Bill changes

It is vital that MPs vote to keep Lobbying Bill changes

The Lobbying Bill completed its House of Lords stages today (21 January 2014) with a large vote in favour of an amendment tabled by Lord Harries of Pentregarth, chair of the Commission of Civil Society and Democratic Engagement.

The amendment was to reduce the regulatory burden on non-party campaigning in constituencies. The vote was won by 248 to 222.

This follows a vote last week at lord Report stage in which an amendment tabled by Lord Harries on reducing the scope of staff costs subject to regulation was passed by 236 for 193 against.

The changes follow recommendations from the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement supported by a petition of over 130 NGOs and over 160,000 people, sign petition here. http://civilsocietycommission.info/petition/

MPs will debate the amendments made to the Bill in the House of Lords tomorrow afternoon (22 January 2014). MPs are urged not to overturn changes made in the House of Lords. Important changes have already been made to the Bill in the House of Lords proposed by Ministers and Lord Harries.

See the briefing for MPs ahead of Commons consideration of the Lords amendments, below, and also the constituency amendment briefing for MPs. Furthermore, we encourage Ministers to accept amendments to the 'Henry VIII clause', which gives the government power to change the act without primary legislation.

Baroness Shirley Williams spoke in the debate today in support of the Harries amendments. Her message will be important for MPs, especially those Liberal Democrats who we need to vote to uphold the changes.

She said: “I think the recent amendments put forward not least the ones put forward by my noble friend and by the noble and Right Reverend Lord Harries of Pentregarth, do further improve the Bill and I think we should be pleased to having produced that effect as the matter goes to the other place.

“The gap between the deliberations in this House and the deliberations starting in the other place tomorrow, are frankly ludicrous. They do not enable the other place to take into account the very careful and deliberate thoughts that have been given in this House, not least by the Right Reverend Lord Harries of Pentregarth and his very impressive Commission, which most people in here agree went in great detail into this Bill, produced some excellent amendments.

“This is the best attempt we can make to simplify an extremely complex Bill and to keep as largely as we can the concept of constituency limits.

“in a very constrained situation this house can legitimately say, and the Commission [on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement] can legitimately say that it’s made a very substantial contribution to make this complicated Bill as good as it can be made.”

* Briefing on why MPs should not overturn changes made in the House of Lords (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/commons-briefing.pdf

* Briefing on what is wrong with the Henry VIII clause (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/henry_viii_clause_briefing.pdf

* Briefing on constituency regulation for MPs (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/constituency-regulation-briefing.pdf

* The Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement is funded by donations from charities and campaigning organisations and individuals. Please donate to help make our work possible: http://civilsocietycommission.info/donate-2/

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

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© Liz Hutchins is senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, and has been wring hard on the Lobbying Bill with Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement - of which Ekklesia is a supporter.

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