Labour amendments to lobbying bill defeated by committee of whole house

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett says bill as it stands would exclude 99 per cent of meetings between lobbyists and ministers, and charities should be included on the proposed register

Jon Trickett
Jon Trickett
Amendments to the lobbying bill that would require many charities to join a register of lobbyists were defeated in the committee stage of the lobbying bill last night.

During a committee of the whole house to look into the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, Labour proposed a series of amendments designed to widen the scope of part one of the bill, which deals with a register of lobbyists, to include many more types of lobbyist, including those lobbying on behalf of charities.

Jon Trickett, Labour MP for Hemsworth and shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, spoke in favour of the amendments and said the bill was too limited.

"By suggesting that the register should include only consultant lobbyists, the register would exclude 99 per cent of meetings between lobbyists and ministers, 80 per cent of lobbyists and 95 per cent of lobbying activity," he told MPs.

Trickett said he had met charities and explained they would have to register under his amendments.

But all of the amendments were defeated by vote or withdrawn.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations originally said that charities should appear on a register of lobbyists but changed its position because it felt the scope of the register was too narrow.

A debate will take place tonight on part two of the bill, which charity campaigners say contains a "gagging clause" likely to restrict the ability of charities to campaign.

Mark Durkan, the Social Democratic and Labour Party MP for Foyle, said that the attack on charities in part two of the bill had been introduced to draw attention away from part one.

"Many of us suspect that those charities, voluntary organisations and public advocacy campaign groups that will find themselves in line of danger under part two are being used as a human shield to protect those that should have been targeted in part one but have deliberately been given free licence and allowed to escape," he said.

- Read other stories on the lobbying bill by visiting our Big Issue

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