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Published date : 24 January, 2014

The Scottish National Party has described the UK Government Lobbying Bill as a “shambles” as it is debated in the House of Commons.

The UK government’s proposals would place heavy legislative burdens on charities and third sector bodies that campaign on political issues. Particularly onerous are significant new restrictions on what charities will be able to spend in the year before General Elections. It has generated widespread concerns among charities and voluntary organisations.

The Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) have previously supported Scottish National Party amendments to the bill. 

Commenting Pete Wishart MP said:

“This bill is a shambles. 

“An active, challenging and politically engaged civic society is a hallmark of democracy and the lifeblood of live political culture, every bit as much as a free press and free and fair elections. I have grave concerns that a side effect of the Bill will be to restrict the space where citizens can ask questions about public policies that affect their lives.

“The cross-party Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has already commented that the lobbying bill had been "unnecessarily rushed".  In their report, the committee said: "We do not believe that the government has... provided a satisfactory account of the basis on which the new levels for registration and expenditure by third parties have been set.

“Despite modest improvements being made in the House of Lords- they are in no way satisfactory. And the Government still continued to resist the more significant improvements. 

“While I recognise the need for a lobbying bill which encourages openness and transparency, the legislation as it stands pleases no one save the government. It is not surprising we have received unprecedented inquiries about this. We value and welcome the contribution third parties and charities bring to debates and I will continue to argue for a sensible lobbying bill”.

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