10 January 2014
After a brief pause in developments, the Government now plans to amend the gagging bill to exempt smaller charities ahead of the 2015 general election. This latest u-turn will increase the amount campaigners can spend on the election.
Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring added in an article published by the BBC: “We’re pleased ministers have stepped back from the brink and promised to significantly reduce the bill’s chilling effect on democracy”.
Labour has maintained its position that it is a bad bill and the TUC believes that it is still an attack on free speech.
However despite some concessionary amendments, Part Three of the bill has not been changed and remains an issue for trade unions as well as the Labour Party. The main issue for the TUC is that the government wishes to impose changes that are unnecessary and that threaten the confidentiality of union membership.
As clearly pointed out by the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady in a TUC press release:
“After uniting the whole of civil society against it, the government has today been forced to make further concessions on the Lobbying Bill.
“But it would be a mistake to think that the changes meet the concerns raised or end the attack on free speech. Nor do they undo the damage done through lack of consultation, or the failure even to attempt to try and build consensus.
“The attacks on trade unions in part three remain unchanged. This is despite the red flag from the Regulatory Policy Committee, the government’s continuing failure to spell out why changes are needed and the clear threat to union membership confidentiality.
“This is a bad, partisan Bill entirely devoid of merit. It should be scrapped.”
Campaigning organisation 38 degrees is calling on those opposed to the gagging bill to sign a petition, which they will deliver to the House of Lords next Wednesday when the Bill returns for discussion.
You can add your name to that petition here