Impact of the Lobbying Act on civil society and democratic engagement

Abstract

This third report from the Harries Commission, of which Ekklesia is an active member, indicates that even before the regulated period started in relation to the 2015 General Election, in September 2014, the new Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Act has been limiting charities and advocacy groups from speaking out on important public issues.

This is the third report of the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement (CCSDE), comprising the first evidence of the limiting impact of the Lobbying Act 2015 on charities and campaign groups. It draws evidence from 50 charities, faith and advocacy groups across the UK, representing a wide range of issues. Ekklesia is among those that contributed and are cited.

CCSDE was established in September 2013 in response to concerns about a potential ‘chilling effect’ on campaigning of the Transparency in Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill – now an Act of the UK parliament relating to the General Election 2015.

The Commission consulted with stakeholders, including charities, campaign groups and the Electoral Commission, who were not consulted by Government before it tabled the legislation. Two evidence-based reports were subsequently published (also made available through Ekklesia). The first was a critique of part two of the Lobbying Bill, which resulted in the Bill being paused in Parliament to allow time for further scrutiny. The second was a set of recommendations for changes to part two of the Bill – many, though not all, were adopted by
Government.

This third report, Impact of the Lobbying Act on civil society and democratic engagement, indicates that even before the regulated period started, in September 2014, the Lobbying Act has been limiting charities and advocacy groups from speaking out on important public issues.

The Harries Commission, as it is known after its chair, former Anglican Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, is supported by over 150 charities and campaign groups. Ekklesia has been, and is, an active member of CSDE, along with a range of Christian and belief-based agencies.

Evidence was gathered for this report:
• Through an online survey drawing evidence from 53 charities, campaign and voluntary groups, and faith organisations – promoted very widely within the third sector.
• Through interviews with and written submissions from individual charities and advocacy groups
• In writing from the Electoral Commission, and in a meeting with them

Full details of the evidence are on the Commission website: www.civilsocietycommission.info

* Read the full report (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat, 1.8mb) here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/civil-society-commi...