A consultation that will inform Lord Hodgson’s official review of part 2 of the lobbying act has opened.
Part 2 of the act, which was given royal assent at the start of last year, tightens the spending rules for particular "regulated activities" by charities and other groups in pre-election periods. The act itself mandated that an official independent review of part 2 be published by November 2016, but Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, the Conservative peer appointed to lead the review, has said he will do so by the end of this year.
After gathering information from those questionnaires, the review has put out a call for full submissions of evidence, with charities, campaigning groups and other stakeholders invited to answer a total of 33 questions by the end of 31 July.
The questions cover issues such as whether regulation of third-party campaigning is necessary, what if anything is the difference is between "advocacy", "political campaigning" and "electoral campaigning", and what types of organisations should be regulated in this way.
The review also asks about the clarity of the Electoral Commission’s guidance on definitions of regulated activity and relevant spending, and about the experience of organisations that have registered as non-party campaigners.
In his introduction to the consultation document, Hodgson writes: "The value of this review will be greatly increased if I am able to gather views from as wide a range of people as possible. I have been heartened by the engagement I have had so far and hope that you will feel able to contribute further by answering the questions in the call for views and evidence.
"I have tried to frame the questions in such a way that you will be able to express your views freely and fully. If you think that there is something that we have not addressed, or not quite got right, then please write and let me know."