Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would overturn controversial legislation which restricts charity campaigning, if the party wins the next General Election.
An alliance of charities and campaigning organisations opposed the Lobbying Act – which received Royal Assent earlier this year – because it introduces strict rules on pre-election campaigning.
Mr Miliband said in an email to Party members: “I have been clear from the start that I oppose this gag on charities and campaigners, which was introduced with little consultation.
“If Labour wins the next election, we will remove it from the statute book”, he added.
Angela Eagle, the shadow leader of the Commons, said the Act “gags charities and grassroots campaigners who want to hold the government to account”.
She explained that if Labour were elected, they would “consult with charities and campaigners about how to ensure transparency”.
The Lobbying Act introduces a spending limit of £9,750 per constituency for third-party campaigning in the months leading up to a General Election.
It also includes staff costs within spending caps, whereas staff costs are excluded for political parties.
Initially, changes had been made to the legislation in response to free speech concerns from a commission supported by more than 130 groups, including The Christian Institute – but in January Peers rejected the changes.
The former Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries, who chaired the commission which opposed the Lobbying Act, said the Government is “inflicting unnecessary and unenforceable regulation on campaigning groups, who now play such a key role in keeping our democracy alive”.
However, certain changes were made to the legislation and were welcomed by the commission.
The Government raised spending thresholds so that groups in England can now spend £20,000 – up from £10,000 – before needing to be registered with the Electoral Commission, and those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are allowed to spend £10,000 – up from £5,000.
Another change increased the UK-wide pre-election overall spending cap from £390,000 to £450,000 – which is still less than half the previous limit of £988,500.
The Government also reduced the regulatory period from one year to 7.5 months for the 2015 General Election, and is introducing a review of non-party campaigning rules after the next General Election.
MPs from smaller parties such as the DUP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party were also against the Lobbying Act.