Lobbying changes paused after pressure from peers


The government has agreed to delay part of the Transparency of Lobbying Bill's passage through Parliament in order to allow more time for it to be scrutinised.

The announcement followed pressure from a number of peers led by crossbencher Lord Ramsbotham, who tabled a dilatory motion before the bill entered committee stage on 5 November 2013.

His efforts focused specifically on part two of the bill, which introduces new rules on political campaigning by non-party groups such as charities.

Under the government's plans, charities wishing to spend £5,000 in England or £2,000 in each of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales would have to register with the Electoral Commission and prepare a quarterly reports on donations.

"This is a saving motion designed to save the government from doing untold damage to a very precious part of the very big society that it claims to champion, namely the voluntary sector," explained Lord Ramsbotham.

He advocated a pause until February while a select committee took evidence and reported on part two of the bill.

'We are listening'

Cabinet Office spokesman Lord Wallace of Saltaire announced the government was prepared to compromise by permitting further examination of the new rules affecting charities to take place off the floor of the House, until 16 December.

He said: "I stress that we are listening and want to listen. We have already shown willing."

Outside the House, Lord Wallace outlined, he and other ministers responsible for the legislation would "consult widely all of the interested parties, members of this House and the many others outside".

Speaking for the opposition, Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town objected: "If we make it just a breather rather than a serious pause, it will not achieve what the government wants."

She argued that "the third sector is not just looking for reassurance, it is looking for change".

But Lord Ramsbotham, responding, said he was prepared to accept the government's proposal and withdrew his motion.

The bill then continued to committee-stage consideration.

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