Lobbying bill receives royal assent and becomes law

Jane Hobson, head of policy at the Charity Commission, urges charities to register for updates from the Electoral Commission, which will work with charity regulators to produce guidance for the sector

Jane Hobson
Jane Hobson

The lobbying bill has become law after it gained royal assent yesterday.

Charity campaigners are concerned that the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 will significantly impair their ability to speak out on issues that could be regarded as party political in the run-up to elections.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission, which will regulate campaigning activity in the year before elections, said it expected to produce guidance on the act for all non-party campaigners by early July. The organisation is working with the UK’s charity regulators to produce specific advice for charities.

The Charity Commission said it would update the guidance it has produced on charities and elections, which sits alongside its broader CC9 documentation on campaigning and political activity. 

Jane Hobson, head of policy at the commission, urged charities to sign up for updates from the Electoral Commission.

"This legislation changes the rules that apply in the run-up to general elections, but does not challenge the important principle that charities are free to campaign, so long as they do so to further their missions," she said.

The government has already said that the regulated period for the next general election, which is scheduled to take place in May 2015, will not begin until 19 September, the day after the referendum on Scottish independence.

The regulated period for elections, during which measures such as the spending limits will apply, will usually be 12 months.

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