Graham writes open letter to MPs regarding lobbying bill
The Lobbying Bill returns to the House on Tuesday and Wednesday next week for its Remaining stages and I hope this note may help simplify what will be a crowded Order paper.
On Part One related to Lobbying and lobbyists. Once again on an all party basis members of the House’s PCR Select Committee are putting down a series of amendments arising from our unanimous concerns highlighted in our Report [see attached]to the House.
On Part Two related to Charities and their freedom to campaign, I am tabling two amendments below and would be grateful if you would sign one or both of them with me [just reply with the word “Yes”]
1.]The NCVO representing 200 charities has asked that I table the following amendment. The attempt by Government to restrict campaigning [from which it has retreated since Report] has left Charities remaining anxious that the law and the Government remain confused and that charities traditional activities could get caught unless the law is clarified. They feel Charities should not be restricted unless the “Primary purpose “of any of their expenditure is party political. The NCVO say;
“ Our approach is to push once again for a rewording of clause 26 that requires that “the primary purpose” of the expenditure should “reasonably be regarded as intended to” promote or procure electoral success. The latest legal advice that we have received indicates that this is a possible approach to amending the bill. The rationale for this is to ensure that expenditure aimed at highlighting a particular issue or issues, rather than promoting a particular party or parties or candidate or candidates is not caught by the expenditure controls. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if there is anything you would like to discuss further. Elizabeth Chamberlain Senior Policy Officer I 0207 520 2559”
The amendment reads
Clause 26, page 12, leave out lines 37 to line 4 on page 13 and insert—
“For election purposes” means activity which can reasonably be regarded as intended for the primary purpose of—
(a) promoting or procuring electoral success at any relevant election for—
(i) one or more particular registered parties;
(ii) one or more registered parties who advocate (or do not advocate) particular policies or who otherwise fall within a particular category of such parties; or
(iii) candidates who hold (or do not hold) particular opinions or who advocate (or do not advocate) particular policies or who otherwise fall within a particular category of candidates.
2.] I am also retabling the simple amendment upon which the main vote took place on last time, to remove Clause 27 which introduces new limits on expenditure on campaigning by Charities. If just 16 more colleagues to vote for this than last time, we win it. Many Charities in the field are lobbying MP’s to support us this time.
Page 13, line 37, leave out clause 27.