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Charities should not be on proposed lobbying register, argues NCVO

Umbrella body's submission to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee represents reversal of Sir Stuart Etherington's position in January

Sir Stuart Etherington
Sir Stuart Etherington

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has reversed its position by saying charities should not be included in the proposed statutory register of lobbyists.

In January, Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said charities should appear on the government’s proposed register because they ought to obey the same rules as everyone else.

But in its submission to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, which is scrutinising the proposal, the umbrella group now says that charities should not be included.

In its submission, the NCVO says the scope of the proposals is too narrow and that including charities on the register will add nothing to overall transparency and accountability.

It says that many small charities are already "incredibly nervous about taking up their democratic right to engage with the political system" and that it is important the new proposals do not discourage them or place any additional administrative or financial burden on the sector.

The NCVO submission says it favours stronger legislation that would highlight the financial backing of different lobbies and "enable the public to understand the impact lobbyists are having on the public policy process".

It says these stronger rules should apply to all lobbyists, including "in-house" lobbyists who work for a single company and multi-agency lobbyists who represent many clients. The NCVO would be in favour of charities being required to register on any register operated under these stricter rules, the submission says. 

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