Lobbying Bill passes committee stage

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The government's controversial Lobbying Bill has passed committee stage despite broad criticism, on 11 September 2013

During the final session of the committee stage on the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill the MPs discussed new regulations that would require trade unions to appoint an independent figure to examine and verify its membership lists.

Clause 37 of the bill would establish the role of an 'Assurer' - who would be responsible for making sure a trade union provides an accurate and up to date membership list.

Labour MP Ian Lavery felt creating such a role was "completely unnecessary" as trade unions are already required to provide accurate membership lists .

"I'm troubled, discombobulated perhaps" Mr Lavery said. "Please somebody tell me why we're now looking to operate with an Assurer. I'm assured already"

Shadow business minister Ian Murray told the chamber that the new role could result in the improper use of sensitive information and accidental disclosures.

On behalf of the Labour party Mr Murray tabled several amendments, which were ultimately defeated, to ensure that future 'Assurers' would be "covered by existing data protection laws"

Responding to the debate Business Minister Jo Swinson told the chamber that 'Assurers' would simply provide the kind of assurance that Auditors provide for financial submissions.

Ms Swinson defended the new role as "necessary to provide independent assurance of the maintenance of large an complex registers"

Labour amendment 107, which would create a statutory duty of confidentiality between the assurer and the trade unions and their members., was defeated by 290 votes to 226.

A second Labour amendment 112, which would exempt trade unions from providing the assurer with up to date membership lists if they had not received them from employers, was defeated by 284 votes to 223.

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