Timeline of developments on the Lobbying Act

compact voice image4 April 14: Labour have announced that they will repeal the Act if they win power. A useful blog from NCVO explains why this is isn't as straightforward as it sounds. 

March 14: NCVO have published a useful resource called 'Charities and the Lobbying Act: Frequently Asked Questions' which can be downloaded from their website

29 January 14: Lords have failed to reinstate the two amendments put forward by Lord Harries. This means that the bill will become law without amendments on constituency spending limits and some staff costs, which were intended to limit the impact of the bill of charities. Read more on the Third Sector and Civil Society websites. NCVO and ACEVO will continue to monitor the impact of the Bill.

23 January 14: House of Commons votes to remove Harries' amendments from the Bill.

During a debate into the amendments mentioned in the post from the 16th January, MPs voted to reject them. More information available via Third Sector and Civil Society.

16 January 14: The Bill is at the reporting stage in the House of Lords. 

An amendment put forward by Lord Harries of Pentregarth to exclude "background" staff costs for putting on events such as public rallies or meetings was voted through in the Lords today, despite opposition from the government. The amendment intended to "simplify the bureaucracy involved in complying with the legislation", according to Lord Harries. 

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO, has issued a statement on this development, which can be read here.

09 January 14: The government has put forward a number of changes to the Bill, prior to it being debated in the House of Lords later in January. 

The spending threshold at which voluntary organisations will have to register with the Electoral Commission has been raised to £20,000: this in effect removes the need to register for many smaller organisations. There has also been other changes made, including reducing the length of the period that organisations need to follow the rules, and committing to reviewing the legislation after the 2015 legislation. 

There are still concerns about some elements of the Bill, but this is a considerable step forward. See NCVO's press release for more information.

11 December 13: The Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement have published their second report, 'Non-Party Campaigning Ahead of Elections' (PDF). It's a useful overview of what improvements to the Bill are needed.

NCVO's Elizabeth Chamberlain has published a blog on 'Where now and What's Next' for the Bill, which is being debated in the House of Lords on 16th and 18th December. The blog also provides details of how to influence the next stage.

7 November 13: The government has agreed to pause the Lobbying Bill for six weeks, in order to allow ministers to rethink plans to regulate the way charities campaign, especially during general elections. More information via the Guardian.

21 October: Compact Voice have published a short briefing on the Lobbying Bill. It is intended to be particularly useful to people who may not have a background in policy - it provides an overview of what the Bill is and what the perceived problems with it are. It also contains a couple of practical examples of lobbying activity undertaken by charities historically, which led to a significant change in law. Read the briefing here.

17 October 13: Simon Blake OBE, Chair of Compact Voice, met with Tom Brake, the deputy Leader of the House of Commons, to discuss the Bill and raise our concerns.

9 October 13: MPs debating the Lobbying Bill in the House of Commons raised the Compact a number of times during the debate. The focus was particularly on Principles 1 and 2 of the Compact, which focus on effective and transparent design and development of policies, programmes and services and of on the importance of a strong, diverse and independent civil society.

Read more:
Stephen Twigg MP mentioning the Compact in parliament
Jenny Chapman MP mentioning the Compact in parliament

September 13: Compact Voice wrote to Chloe Smith MP, outlining concerns about the Lobbying Bill. The letter, signed by Compact Voice’s board members, including NAVCA, NCVO, Acevo and Social Enterprise UK, points out that the first principle of the Compact commits government to uphold the independence of voluntary organisations to deliver their mission, including their right to campaign. 

The letter raised concerns that the Bill has the potential to place restrictions on this independence, and points out that the broad nature of this bill could adversely affect how voluntary sector organisations are able to campaign during election periods, and encourages government to give serious consideration to the threat this poses to the sector.

The letter is available to download below.

September 13: Compact Voice submitted evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee's inquiry into the bill, which is also available below. 


NCVO’s Elizabeth Chamberlain has also written a series of blogs exploring the bill in more depth, which can be read here – the letter sent by NCVO on behalf of a number of voluntary sector organisations can also be accessed via that link. We’d also encourage our members to support NCVO’s campaign against the lobbying restrictions. 
 

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Compact Voice letter - Lobbying Bill (.pdf)198.32 KB
Submission to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (.docx)49.33 KB
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