Select committee chair Graham Allen calls for lobbying act review after election

Allen, Labour MP and chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, says the loose drafting of the act is having a 'chilling effect' on charity activities

Graham Allen MP
Graham Allen MP

The chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has called for an urgent review of the lobbying act after the general election because of the "chilling effect" it is having on the daily activities of charities.

Graham Allen, the Labour MP for Nottingham North, made his comments in response to a letter, signed by more than 160 charities and campaigning organisations, that was sent yesterday to the leaders of eight political parties calling on them to repeal the lobbying act in the next parliament.

Allen, whose party has already committed to scrapping the legislation if it comes to power in the election in May, said: "Charities are rightly complaining that the loose drafting in this legislation is burdening them with administration and compliance requirements connected with the May election, which are having a chilling effect on their normal work."

He said he could not believe this was what parliament intended when it passed the legislation.

"As my committee has consistently said, the government should have published its bill in good time to allow proper pre-legislative scrutiny to take place," he said. "That process would have identified the flaws in the legislation that are now affecting the campaigning work charities believe they are allowed to do around an election."

The committee published two reports on the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 during its passage through parliament.

The committee’s second report said that the bill had been "an example of how not to make legislation".

It said the bill had been rushed through parliament and the timetable for its passage indicated "a contempt for parliament and a lack of belief in the value of parliamentary scrutiny".

The report said: "It cannot be desirable that parliament is put in the position of being asked to agree a bill that is acknowledged to be imperfect, with the promise that it will be reviewed and improved at a later date. The government and parliament have a joint responsibility to ensure that legislation is got right the first time."

Allen said the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, who has been appointed by the government to review the workings of the lobbying act, should listen to the "legitimate concerns of the third sector".

He said: "His review of how the legislation has been operating must be a priority for the new parliament, and all options, including repeal, must be on the table."

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