Lobbying Bill might be changed after charity outcry

The controversial new lobbying Bill may be amended to ease charity fears about their freedom to campaign, a Liberal Democrat source has claimed.

The new Bill has already seen strong opposition from charities such as The Royal British Legion, Countryside Alliance and the Salvation Army.

There is concern that the legislation could stifle free speech, and that Christians could be unable to engage in the democratic process as they have in the past.


Following the outcry an unnamed Liberal Democrat source told The Guardian that an amendment to the legislation would “make it crystal clear this Bill will in no way stop charities doing their normal campaigning”.

And the source added: “It confirms that any charity not affected in the 2010 general election will not be caught by this legislation in the future if they continue to campaign as before.”

The source said that Nick Clegg and the Government both supported the idea of changing the Bill.


The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill sets a cap on the amount any organisation – excluding political parties – can spend in the year preceding elections.

If a group is campaigning throughout the UK, this works out at around £600 per constituency, including staff-time.

The legislation would also give sweeping new powers to the Electoral Commission.

But the Commission, which regulates elections, said it has major doubts over the Bill’s “workability”.


Earlier this week MPs on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said the lobbying Bill had been “unnecessarily rushed” and was introduced without “adequate consultation”.

And leading human rights lawyer, Helen Mountfield QC, has warned that the legislation would create a “chilling effect”.

The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert said Christians have, “a proud heritage of promoting good causes, and speaking truth to power”, but the Bill “effectively monopolises politics for the politicians”.

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