Saturday, 26 October 2013

Gagging Law backed by local MPs reaches House of Lords

The House of Lords have started to debate the controversial "gagging law" we reported on earlier this year, which in its current form will put a stranglehold on campaign groups in the run up to a General Election.

Backed by both local MPs (see news story), a huge range of campaign groups including the Countryside Alliance, Christian Aid and the Guide Dogs for theBlind are among those who argue  Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill is a law that would mean ordinary people, campaigning groups and charities would be severely restricted in how they can campaign in the year before an election. 

The bill was rushed through the House of Commons at breakneck speed, without any of the normal public consultation, and although there was a big rebellion, it wasn’t enough to stop it. Groups that include the Royal British Legion and Oxfam have called for the government to stop and rethink the bill, currently to little avail.

With this in mind, dozens of charities and campaign organisations have now set up an independent commission to do the research that the government should have done in the first place.

The Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement has been holding evidence sessions up and down the country listening to how the gagging law will affect a huge range of campaign organisations and charities.  Now they want to hear from you too.

Have a look at the short survey telling the commissioners what you think about freedom of speech and campaigning on 38 Degrees, or contact them via

You don’t have to be an expert to answer any of the questions. You just need to tell the commission what you think.

The government has, so far, declined to involve itself in this charity-led initiative. Earlier this month Andrew Lansley MP, Leader of the House of Commons and the Minister leading the Transparency in Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill,  declined to give evidence to the Commission. This also meant that Tom Brake MP, who had agreed to give evidence to the Committee,  subsequently been withdrawn from giving evidence by Lansley.

Angela Eagle, Shadow Leader of the House, Graham Allen, Chair of the Political and Constitutional Select Committee, and Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights gave evidence on Monday 14th October.

Previous Stories

Gagging Bill backed by local MPs passes to 'Report Stage' 

Local Tory MPs back "Gagging Bill", Third Reading next week, protest tomorrow in Lancaster

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