Wind turbine opponents, charities and even the Durham Miners’ Gala all risk being silenced by the Government’s lobbying bill, MPs have warned.
The Government’s attempts to regulate those who lobby MPs came underfire from all sides yesterday amid accusations the hastily drawn up Bill would ban groups from promoting their cause.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery was among the many to warn of a threat to honest campaigners as well as unions and charities. The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill was introduced following allegations about the influence of lobbyists on government decision-making as well as the involvement of peers and MPs with lobbying groups.
But strict proposals on who would have to be regulated could see the move backfire, Mr Lavery warned.
The Labour MP said: “The Bill is an unprecedented attack. Charities, campaigning organisations and local groups are frightened by the Bill, but they should wait until they hear the detail and see how it develops. There will be no voice for the local opposition to wind turbines, fracking or anything else.”
He added: “The National Trust, a big organisation, often has an input into major infrastructure projects such as High Speed 2. Will those organisations be covered by the legislation? People are frightened about what it means, and they have not even begun to understand the consequences of the legislation.”
Amid concerns that the Bill would gag groups seeking to fight for a cause, Mr Lavery added: “Under this legislation, the TUC could be outlawed—it could be criminalised in the year running up to the election.
The Durham Miners’ Gala, which I am proud to attend every year and which upwards of 100,000 to 150,000 people attend, people from all walks of life, could be outlawed and criminalised because of this legislation.”
Commons leader Andrew Lansley played down the concerns earlier, saying: “We are very clear that we are in no sense seeking to change the boundary between campaigning on policies and issues which charities do and third parties do to a substantial extent.”