Don’t gag our right to campaign

Campaigners with their petition outside Stephen Barclay's office
Campaigners with their petition outside Stephen Barclay's office

A group of worried constituents lobbied Stephen Barclay MP recently about their concerns over the government’s so called Gagging Law.

Campaigners claim the Transparency of Lobbying, Non Party Campaigning and Trade Union Bill isn’t just a mouthful in its name but will actually prevent charities, pressure groups and trade unions from campaigning on issues they see as important by restricting what they can say and how much they can spend on campaigning within a year of an election.

Ann McGuire, a former nurse from Guyhirn, who organised the meeting, with the support of lobbying pressure group 38 Degrees, was very concerned that in future the campaigns she supports would be prevented from having their voice heard effectively.

The money that non-political organisations can spend on campaigns would be considerably reduced. It isn’t just openly political campaigns that would be affected by this but charities such as Scope and Oxfam would also find lobbying on behalf of their campaigns restricted.

Campaigners believe another major flaw in the Bill is that while it restricts the ability of charities and unions to campaign for their legitimate causes it allows no limits on private lobbying companies working for big multinational companies.

Mr Barclay agreed to read through the evidence provided by the campaigners and to consider how he would vote on the Bill in its second reading.

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