Campaigners welcome pause to lobbying bill
6 November 2013
The NUJ has joined charities, voluntary groups and trade unions in supporting a six-week pause to the lobbying bill, but believes huge changes will still be needed.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"This is the first piece of good sense since this disastrous piece of legislation has been launched. Everyone from the Salvation Army, Greenpeace and the House of Lords Constitution Committee has condemned the lack of consultation and the substance of the bill. Ministers must make major concessions.
"As it stands, this bill will not clean up the lobbying industry unless the statutory register includes all lobbyists, including those in-house. The limits on third-party spending during election periods must be revisited to prevent unions and charities from breaking the law merely by campaigning. The unnecessary red tape and the intended intimidation to unions in the third part of the bill must also be dropped."
Part three of the bill regulates trade union membership (even though there is already a strong legal duty on unions to hold accurate membership data) and it is in unions' interest to do so. But what is really worrying is that the bill introduces risks about the confidentiality of trade union membership. Recent revelations about blacklisting show that employers still discriminate against union members.
And, while the pause in part two is to be welcomed, it means the government has rushed forward part three from consideration in December to Monday November 11 which means there has not been time to brief peers properly.