Government retreating on gagging bill ?>

Government retreating on gagging bill

Owen Smith MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, and Lindsey Williams, WCVA, meeting with representatives of charities and campaigning organisations in Cardiff.

Following determined opposition from over 200 organisations, including many household names like RSPB and Royal British Legion, the government has been forced to rethink the section of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill that would impose draconian rules on charities and campaigning groups in what looks like a blatant attempt to silence any criticism or dissenting voices.

Speaking  in the House of Commons yesterday in support of amendments put down by Labour’s Shadow frontbench team, Nia Griffith MP said

“I am very grateful to the many constituents who have written to me on this bill and to the charities and campaigning groups who have provided briefings. In particular I would like to thank the Wales Council for Voluntary Action and representatives of organisations in Wales who attended a meeting we convened at short notice on Monday morning in Cardiff. At the meeting they spelt out their anger at the way the government has sprung these proposals upon them with NO consultation, and the disastrous impact this bill would have on their freedom to speak up for the people they represent, to work together in coalition with other groups on big issues like climate change  and to help shape future policy. There are additional complications for organisations operating in Wales who would be caught by the new rules both in the year before a general election and in the months leading up to Welsh Assembly elections

I welcome the Minister’s commitment to rewriting part of the bill and their promise to consult with us, but we need to see exactly what they are proposing in good time before the next stage of the bill in October – their record to date gives me no grounds for confidence – and we will need to keep up the pressure on government ministers on this issue which goes to the very heart of our democracy.”

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