Gagging legislation becomes law

Thu,30 January 2014
News Equality & Rights

Disability Rights UK has been extremely concerned about the legislation on lobbying that has been going through Parliament.

In particular we have been concerned about clauses that will severely restrict the ability of charities to campaign during the period running up to a General Election.  Unfortunately, despite the efforts of parliamentarians such as Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, one of our ambassadors, attempts to overturn the gagging of charities has failed.

When the legislation came before the House of Lords the amendment to delete the gagging clause was passed with a substantial majority.  However in the Commons MPs voted to reinstate the clause.  Last Tuesday the Bill returned to the House of Lords who had to decide whether to face down the Commons or let the clause stand.  The Lords voted 245 for the clause and 245 against.  The clause therefore stands and becomes law as, in the event of a tied vote, the Government gets its way.

Sue Bott, Policy and Development Director for Disability Rights UK comments:

‘I find it deeply concerning for our democracy when the government feels the need to try and stop charities, even small charities, from having a say on the issues that concern them and their members.  What do political parties have to fear?  We are also concerned about how little attention this has received in the media.  In fact in its report on parliament the day after the Commons voted for the gagging clause, the BBC Today programme chose to highlight how much government departments spent on biscuits at meetings instead.  We will be watching carefully to see how the legislation will be implemented but are determined to promote the interests of disabled people both now and in the run up to the next General Election.’