Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:41 pm on 3rd September 2013.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 1:41 pm, 3rd September 2013

I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from “That”
to the end of the Question and add:

“this House affirms its belief in the need for greater transparency in the lobbying industry and in British politics, and considers that there should be a universal register of all professional lobbyists backed by a code of conduct and sanctions, clear rules on third party campaigning, and real reform to get the big money out of politics;
but declines to give a Second Reading to the Transparency of Lobbying, Third Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill because the proposals on lobbying cover only a tiny minority of the industry and will make lobbying less transparent, and the proposals on third party campaigning amount to a gag on charities and campaigners who have a democratic right to participate in important debates in the run up to elections;
and strongly believes that the publication of such a Bill should have been preceded by a full process of pre-legislative scrutiny and consultation with affected parties.

This is one of the worst Bills that I have seen any Government produce in a very long time. The last Bill this bad might even have been the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and the Leader of the House of Commons had his fingerprints all over that one, too. To be fair to him, he has found himself in a very difficult place. He has been landed with this risible and misconceived Bill and told to ram it through the Commons with unseemly haste in time for the next election.

I am told that it is not a Bill with many champions in government, where a history of previous employment in the lobbying industry is common. Nothing wrong with that, we might say, but it has created a notable reluctance on the part of all sorts of Ministers to touch the Bill with a bargepole, and this afternoon we all understand why. They have looked at the ceiling; they have looked at the floor; they have muttered among themselves in the hope that they would not be chosen to pilot the Bill through the House. The Leader of the House has drawn the short straw, along with the ever-willing Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Miss Smith.

This is Bill is hurried, badly drafted and an agglomeration of the inadequate, the sinister and the partisan. From a Government who solemnly promised that they would fix our broken politics, the Bill will do the complete opposite.