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Welsh Peers urged to vote for pause to Lobbying Bill, 05/11/13 [W]

Catriona Williams, Chief Executive of Children in Wales, urges Welsh Peers to support amendment to pause Part 2 of the Lobbying Bill to allow for proper consultation this afternoon.

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill (Lobbying Bill) starts committee stage, the first chance for line by line scrutiny, in the Lords today.

Charities, trade unions and other campaign groups are concerned that the Bill has been produced without proper consultation, and will prevent them from engaging in the democratic process through their campaigns.

The Bill as proposed limits the amount of money charities can spend on campaigning in the year before an election, even if they don’t intend to influence the result. Currently, only organisations who seek to influence the result of an election have to register with the Electoral Commission and have their spending regulated.

In particular, there are concerns that many of the changes proposed will have unintended consequences, particularly as the definition of non-party campaigning leaves it unclear which activities which be regulated. There is further uncertainty about the proposed changes in the Bill to the regulatory threshold, spending cap and new constituency cap, and whether much of the Bill would be workable.

The Bill would have an even more serious effect in Wales, as three sets of elections are held here, rather than just General Elections and European Elections in England. This would mean more time during which our campaigning opportunities are limited, raising fears about the Bill’s effect on democracy.

Children in Wales therefore supports a pause in the progression of this legislation, to allow the voices of the organisations affected by the change in the law to be heard.

The full text of the Lobbying Bill can be found on the Parliament UK website.