Lobby bill ignores big money abuses, but attacks civil society & trade unions

The government comprehensively lost the argument on the Lobbying Bill yesterday in the Commons. The Labour attack was relentless and well targeted, and the Tory defence weak, hesitant, and defensive. We must press hard for significant amendments in next week’s 3 days of committee stage on the floor of the House.

It was called the worst bill ever presented to the House of Commons – a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Everything about the bill is wrong. There was an item in the Coalition Agreement in 2010 promising a statutory register of lobbyists. Nothing was done in 2010, or in 2011, or in 2012. Then in 2013 on the last day before the Commons adjourned for the summer recess – always a bad sign – this bill was published with a notice that the government intended to force it through in the minimum time possible.

The bill as published abruptly added in two additional sections, both highly damaging, which had never previously been discussed or consulted on. The relevant Select Committee, on Political and Constitutional Reform, had sought details from the government a full year before, but it took that long for the government to reply – and then only in two paragraphs! Continue reading