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While the government has had its way overall, as parliamentary arithmetic finally dictates, the 130 NGOs gathered under the banner of the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement (CCSDE) won some very significant concessions from government earlier in the process, as a direct result of their campaign.
The UK government may believe it has triumphed by overturning even the House of Lords’ modest amendments to the Lobbying Bill. When this becomes law, it will gravely damage democracy and human rights. But defenders of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association will not give up easily.
The Lobbying Bill returns to the House of Lords today, Tuesday 28 January 2014, and the Commons shorty afterwards, as the 'ping pong' process follows the Commons decision to overturn key Lords amendments - ones with the overwhelming backing of charities, NGOs, voluntary organisations, civil society campaign groups, unions, and hundreds of thousands of members of the public who have been pressing parliamentarians on the issue.
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.
A poll of lobbyists found that only four per cent believe that the lobbying bill will increase transparency. This widely-criticised measure may block voluntary and community organisations and trade unions from flagging up public concerns. But clearly it will not achieve what is supposed to be its main purpose – making lobbying more transparent.