Lobbying bill 'could undermine democracy'
Date published: 29th October 2013
The bill, which is due to be scrutinised by the Lords later this week, imposes broad limits on how much time and money a range of groups can devote to campaigning which might influence the outcome of an election in the year before polling day.
Charities and pressure groups say the cumulative effect will be to have a “chilling effect” on their legitimate activities.
The report is backed by an unusually broad alliance of groups ranging from campaigners against the badger cull to the Countryside Alliance and from Christian groups to the National Secular Society.
In a foreword, the commission’s chair, Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, warns: “There is no doubt, from the evidence that this Commission has gathered, that … the Bill risks profoundly undermining the very fabric of our democracy by significantly limiting the right of organisations – from charities and community groups to think tanks and blog sites – to speak out
on some of the most important issues facing this country and the planet.
“Whether we agree with these organisations or not, their role is essential in order to have an informed, engaged electorate.”
Urging the Coalition to allow a pause, he adds: “It is a mark of bad governance for legislation to be bounced on Parliament and those directly affected without any consultation.
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