Thursday, 9 January 2014

Lobbying Bill; breaking news!

Today the government will table significant amendments to their ill thought through Lobbying bill. ACEVO and key Commission members had a helpful meeting yesterday to be told of the concessions. Good.

ACEVO resolved to help set up the Commission on Civil Society with more than a hundred civil society organisations because the charity sector works best when we work together. We now have begun to see the fruits of that engagement. Greg Clark MP (leading on Bill) and Nick Hurd MP have done a great job of listening to the Commission’s concerns.

So credit where it is due. Too often the sector can seem grudging when we achieve change. Or we turn a victory into defeat. So ACEVO is happy to acknowledge the major shift since this Bill was introduced.

We recognise that the government has listened and we welcome the amendments proposed. I thank Lord Harries of the Commission and its members (who include our ACEVO Chair, Lesley-Anne Alexander) for their excellent work in the last few months on the sector’s behalf.

Clearly, there remain outstanding issues with the bill. And we will continue to push for change. We would still like the government to consider removing staff costs from the bill’s restrictions. We must continue to make the argument against the proposed £10,000 cap on spending in one constituency by a charity or campaign group. But we believe that the commission has established a positive dialogue with government and we look forward to discussing these matters going forward.

 But our campaigners believe defeat is still likely in the House of Lords next week unless there are further concessions on the a2 key issues we have raised.

It all proves again just how much clout the Lords can wield with sufficient cross-party backing. Yesterday saw the 84th Government defeat in the Lords since 2010 (on the ‘criminalise annoyance’ plan), which given the Coalition’s increase in peers is all the more remarkable.

Our revising chamber is doing its work. And our charity world has risen to the challenge posed to our right to speak truth to power; another example of the danger that awaits any Government that attacks the charity sector. 

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