The shadow leader of the House of Commons has pledged that Labour would repeal the controversial lobbying bill, which she says restricts freedom of speech in the UK.
The lobbying bill was dubbed the “gagging law” by opponents when it was introduced last year. Critics claim that it will severely restrict the amount of money that can be spent on campaigning in the run up to a general election.
Such concerns have led the shadow leader of the House of Commons, Angela Eagle, to pledge that a Labour government would repeal the act.
“Earlier this year, the Tories passed the so-called gagging law: an act that limits your rights to campaign on the issues you care about, and curbs charities’ and campaigners’ ability to speak out against government policy,” she said.
“I believe strongly that this law is bad for our democracy, and restricts freedom of speech in our country”.
Many campaign groups rallied against the bill when it passed through parliament. Some charities and NGOs said that they were facing their “biggest ever threat”.
It was initially introduced as a way to increase the transparency in lobbying, the process by which organisations attempt to influence the opinions of members of parliament and legislators.
After a ministerial “rethink”, amendments were made to the bill over concerns that it would gag other groups, but Labour have said that this is not enough.
Eagle added, “If Labour wins the next general election, we will remove it from the statute book. In its place, we will legislate for real reform of lobbying, and we will consult with charities and campaigners on the reforms we need to both ensure transparency and protect freedom of speech”.
Earlier this year, a survey found that only 4% of top lobbyists in the country felt that the legislation would increase the transparency in lobbying. Experts said that the bill would not cover in-house lobbyists, who account for around 80% of the industry.
Photo: shining.darkness via flickr
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