Minister promises to work with charities on lobbying act

Charities minister Tracey Crouch says she will help them understand the act in the wake of the government's decision not to follow the reform recommendations of Lord Hodgson

Tracey Crouch
Tracey Crouch

Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Civil Society, has pledged to work with charities to help them understand the lobbying act after outrage at the government’s decision not to amend the legislation.

Last week it was revealed that the government did not plan to enact reforms of the lobbying act proposed by the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, whom the government had commissioned to review the act.

The lobbying act sets spending limits and makes it a legal necessity for all organisations that spend more that £20,000 in England or £10,000 in Wales on regulated campaigning in the year prior to an election to register with the Electoral Commission.

More than 100 charities had called on Crouch to enact Hodgson’s recommendations, which included reducing the regulated campaign period to four months before an election and reducing the scope of the act to include only activity intended to influence how members of the public vote.

Voluntary sector organisations described the decision not to enact the reforms, which sources said was taken because there was not enough space in the legislative programme to pass the necessary law, as "deplorable" and "unacceptable".

But in a statement Crouch said she would support charities to enable them to campaign within the law.

"Charities play an essential role in our democracy," she said. "Non-partisan campaigning helps to raise awareness and funds for important issues, and I will work with voluntary bodies and the charity sector to ensure that rules are well understood and they have complete confidence to continue non-party political campaigning."

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