Lobbying Bill: My column in the Morley Observer

Sometimes in politics things come up which unite people from all kinds of different walks of life. The Government’s Lobbying Bill is one such issue.

Never before have I had so many people contact me from such a range of backgrounds. From the pensioner who’s been a member of the RSPB all her life to the man involved in a local motorcycling organisation. Small local groups, national voluntary organisations and trade unions have joined forces with huge international charities. I’ve been inundated.

I met a group of those who contacted me at an open surgery last Friday. They told me how angry they are about the damage this legislation will cause. It won’t do anything to prevent lobbying scandals like those we’ve seen in the past. Nor will it make Government more transparent. But it will impose huge new bureaucracy and restrictions on small organisations who are trying to inform MPs about the impact of policies – from cancer research to cycling. They will incur significant extra costs and many won’t be able to continue.

As one of those attending said, “It will stop freedom of speech for ordinary people and that can’t be right.”

He’s right. This would be a dreadful and damaging law for our democracy.

Labour have been pressing the Government to go back to the drawing board. Lobbying needs to be much more transparent. We need to regulate those who have unfair access to politicians with a universal register and a code of conduct with sanctions when people break the rules. But ordinary people must still be able to have their say on issues they’re concerned about. The Government needs to think again.

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Posted November 13th, 2013 by Ed