I fully agree with my hon. Friend’s remarks. I will come on to that point in the later part of my contribution.
The Bill misses the Lynton Crosbys and the Lord Ashcrofts, and will allow them to plough millions and millions of pounds into constituencies while other people are constrained in how they want to do their business. Not only does it fail to deal with corporate lobbyists, but it effectively stitches together the lips of the big society, in the year before a general election, for fear of breaking the rules. In her excellent contribution, my hon. Friend Ms Eagle mentioned that my hon. Friend Mr Allen, the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, who has just left the Chamber, described the reforms as a dog’s breakfast. Mr Carswell disagreed, saying
“He is wrong, of course. Far more thought has gone into pet nutrition than into this Bill.”
The hon. Member for Clacton has great experience of being a Government attack dog and someone here is barking up the wrong tree. For a Government who created a Minister for the big society to create such a Bill would be laughable if it was not so frightening. It has been described as having a chilling effect on the work of charities, pressure organisations and local community groups. This is an unprecedented attack on our national institutions of democracy and on individual free speech.