Before the debate started, I was quite optimistic about the Bill, because I thought it was a positive step forward. As Mr Allen, the Chairman of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, said, it would be quite nice to have a consensual way forward. I am pleased that we are debating the Second Reading of the Bill, because it gives us the opportunity next week to try to make some amendments, if people feel the Bill needs amending, and allows the charities dealt with in part 2—I shall come to that in a moment—to get commitments from the Minister at the Dispatch Box on what the provisions in the Bill mean.
Before I go through the bits of the Bill that I want to discuss, I should point out that a lot of those charities’ concerns apply to the law as it stands, as opposed to what is in the Bill. If the Bill did not go through, those charities and third-party organisations would still have a lot of those concerns about the current law, because of what we heard earlier about regulated expenditure. We have an opportunity to have the Bill spoken about on the Floor of the House next week, to get as many of us as possible involved and ask as many questions as possible, and then to get those issues out in the open, so I welcome the Bill in that sense.
I also welcome the fact that the Bill establishes a statutory register of professional consultant lobbyists. I know that it does not do enough for some of us, but it is the first step along the way.