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Clause 27 — Changes to existing limits

Part of Access to Mental Health Services – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 10th September 2013.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 6:30 pm, 10th September 2013

Thank you for assisting with that, Ms Primarolo.

I suspect that the plaudits—admittedly some were lukewarm—the Government Front Benchers received for shifting the ground on clause 26 will not be repeated in relation to clause 27. This is perhaps not the occasion to ask Jacob Rees-Mogg to explain how it is that someone who went campaigning with his nanny has become such a fervent critic of the nanny state. We may have to delay that clarification.

On the substance of the hon. Gentleman’s proposals, amendment 101 would amend clause 27 so that third parties in receipt of public funding would, 12 months before the commencement of a regulated period up to an election, be prohibited from incurring controlled expenditure in that regulated period. It would be an offence for them to do so. Many individuals and organisations receive public funding to undertake work—for example, providing services or carrying out research—that also further the Government’s aims. Preventing such individuals or organisations from campaigning during the regulated period for parliamentary elections, as the amendment requires, would be an excessive and unnecessary restriction. We have been clear that we are not seeking to stop organisations campaigning on policy issues, and we are not seeking to stop them campaigning politically, although we are seeking to reduce the cap in the way referred to by other Members. The intention of the Bill is to bring greater transparency to third party campaigning. It will not prohibit campaigning altogether, as the amendment seeks to do. I therefore urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.