Labour asks Baroness Sherlock to review the lobbying act

The party, committed to repealing the act, has asked the former charity chief executive, now a Labour peer, to consult charities and campaigning groups

Baroness Sherlock
Baroness Sherlock

The Labour Party has asked the Labour peer Baroness Sherlock, a former charity chief executive, to lead a review of the lobbying act as part of the party’s pledge to repeal the controversial legislation.

The lobbying act, which became law in January, set tighter caps on the amounts organisations can spend on campaigning in the run-up to elections. The first period regulated by the act will start on 19 September, before the next general election in May 2015.

In April, Angela Eagle, shadow leader of the Commons, said that if it was victorious at next summer’s general election, the party would repeal the act and replace it with a universal register of all professional lobbyists backed by a code of conduct and sanctions.

The party today announced a wide-ranging review of the legislation, which will involve consulting widely with charities and campaign groups on what regulation there should be.

Stephen Twigg, the party’s shadow minister for constitutional and political reform, said in a speech this morning: "The premise of part two of the act was that the rise of energetic campaigns and charities was a mischief that must be solved.

"Labour wants a healthy and thriving campaigning and charity sector that can stand up to vested interests. We will build a regulatory framework that encourages this."

Sherlock has been a peer since July 2010. She has been the chief executive of the National Council for One Parent Families and, more recently, the Refugee Council, and spent two years as president of the National Union of Students.

In February, Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the charity leaders group Acevo, wrote to the leaders of the three main political parties to ask them to pledge in their general election manifestos to repeal part two of the act, which contains the measures that most concern charities.

Eagle’s immediate response to this letter was that the party was committed to "undoing the damage" of the act, but did not at that time commit to repealing it.

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