Changes to controversial lobbying Bill rejected by Peers

Campaigners are “bitterly disappointed” that Peers have not insisted on lobbying Bill changes which would have eased restrictions to pre-election campaigning.

One of the amendments – to exclude certain staff costs from spending limits – resulted in an unusual tie of 245 votes to 245, which meant it was defeated.

And a further change to ease limits on campaigning within an individual constituency was also narrowly lost by 249 votes to 231.


Liz Hutchins, of Friends of the Earth – one of the groups that opposed the Bill – said: “We are bitterly disappointed that Ministers did not listen to the united voice of charities and campaigning groups on this poorly thought out legislation.”

The former Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries, who tabled the amendments, said: “The fact that the vote on background staff costs was tied indicates how unconvinced members of the House of Lords were by the Government’s arguments”.

He said the Government is “inflicting unnecessary and unenforceable regulation on campaigning groups, who now play such a key role in keeping our democracy alive”.


Earlier this month, Peers voted for an amendment to exclude certain staff costs in pre-election spending limits but this was overturned by MPs in the House of Commons.

The Bill will now become law without the changes because they were not reinstated in the latest round of votes in the House of Lords.

But the Government had previously made important changes to the Bill in response to concerns from the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement.


The commission, chaired by Lord Harries, is backed by more than 130 organisations including The Christian Institute. Many of the groups involved will be caught by the legislation.

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 increases the UK-wide pre-election overall spending cap from £390,000 to £450,000 – which is still less than half the current limit of £988,500.


The Government also reduced the regulatory period from one year to 7.5 months for the 2015 General Election, and are introducing a review of non-party campaigning rules after the next General Election.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said the lobbying Bill is “bad news” for democracy and could have the “unintended effect of burdening and weakening” civil society agencies.

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