The Lobbying Bill will make things worse, not better

John Denham speaking in WestminsterYesterday John Denham challenged the Leader of the House Commons over the employment of a paid lobbyist of the tobacco industry – Lynton Crosby – as the head of the Conservative party election campaign.

This was during a debate on the Government’s Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.

You can watch John’s comments in the House of Commons by clicking here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b039smv4/?t=40m33s

John said:

May I remind the Leader of the House that the reason the Government decided a few months ago to bring forward the lobbying Bill was because they had dropped their proposals for plain packaging of cigarettes following the employment of a paid lobbyist of the tobacco industry as the head of the Conservative party election campaign? Given that that is the origin of this Bill, can the Leader of the House explain why no provisions in this Bill would shed any light or give any transparency on the involvement of Lynton Crosby in these matters?

There needs to be real lobbying reform to help make our politics more accountable and transparent and to help restore public trust. John shares the disappointment of many that after three years of inactivity the Government have now brought forward a Bill – the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill – that will make things worse, not better.

The Government’s Bill is too weak, too narrow and too divisive. It also risks gagging charities and campaign groups and diminishing the quality of our national debate.  The Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of these attempts to limit community and charity organisations speaking up about local and national problems.

That is why john Denham will not be supporting the Government’s Bill as it stands and why he will be urging the Government to think again.

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