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.
Even with the changes agreed as result of the Report Stage in the House of Lords this week, the UK government's Lobbying Bill remains a huge restriction on civil society campaigning compared to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
There has been a united, determined campaign against the gagging impact of the Lobbying Bill on the part of voluntary groups and NGOs. Some will therefore think it a shame that a minority of charities, and the Charities Aid Foundation, have at this late stage chosen the path of seeking exemptions for themselves rather than focussing on the wider considerations.