Changes to lobbying bill not enough, says CAFOD - urgent action still needed

12 September 2013

Parliament at night

Parliament at night

This week’s MP’s debate on the controversial lobbying bill has resulted in some welcome changes, but the bill remains deeply flawed. Unless further changes are made, it won’t increase transparency in lobbying, or protect fair, legitimate campaigning activities.

The bill was debated in Committee earlier this week and will be debated in the House of Commons once more on 8 October before being sent to the House of Lords. CAFOD has been raising concerns that the bill would potentially restrict campaigning activities by organisations like CAFOD, as well as church and community groups. It also doesn’t do enough to promote transparent lobbying activities.  We’re still calling on MPs to make vital changes to the bill so that it is fit for purpose.
Encourage your MP to ensure that all concerns are addressed.

During the Committee debate, MPs from all parties recognised the deep flaws in the bill. David Davis, Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden, said: “I know of no previous bill that had ranged against it Christian Aid, CAFOD and the British Humanist Association, Greenpeace and the Countryside Alliance, or the Royal British Legion and the Salvation Army.  It is a bill that has attracted opposition precisely because it goes to the heart of all that those organisations do—not what they stand for, but what they do and how they execute their duty in society.”

It is a bill that goes to the heart of all that those organisations do—not what they stand for, but what they do and how they execute their duty in society.”

David Davis MP

Some amendments have been made to the bill: on part one, the government have offered a series of changes to clear up ‘drafting errors and confusion’. But the bill still doesn’t cover the activities of in-house lobbyists and would therefore have very little impact. 

On part two of the bill, a welcome concession was the promise that the proposals relating to new spending rules, the restrictions around the election period and the regulatory requirements will not apply to organisations like CAFOD. It’s vital that the government keeps this promise through further amendments to the bill.

Our concerns about the impact of the bill on coalition campaigning, and the implications of the hasty drafting of the bill still remain unaddressed. 

We continue to call on the government to pause and rethink and allow more time for proper scrutiny.

Clare Lyons, head of campaigns at CAFOD, said: “We have received an overwhelming response from our supporters on this issue. They share our disappointment that this bill does little to address the real issues of insider lobbying, and our concerns that this bill has the potential to be hugely damaging to legitimate campaigning that helps to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people.

“Whilst we welcome the changes that have been proposed so far, a rewrite is still desperately needed if this is to be a fair and useful piece of legislation.”

Contact your MP ahead of the next stage in parliament on 8 October and ask for changes to be made.

Already taken action? Follow up with your MP using our template letter.

For a detailed breakdown of our concerns over the bill and the changes required, read our briefing for MPs.

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