Commission launches second round of consultation

The Commission is launching a second round of consultation during the week beginning November 25th, in order to inform and shape its second report in advance of the Bill’s return to Committee stage in the Lords.

The Commission would like to to invite you or a representative of your organisation to give evidence.

Details of all four events are below.

Belfast – Monday 25th November

Time: 12pm ’til 2pm
Location: Room B, Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action
61 Duncairn Gardens
BT15 2GB

Commissioner: Georgette Mulheir

London – Monday 25th November

Time: 12pm ’til 2pm
Location: Seminar Room
Amnesty International
25 New Inn Yard

Commissioner: Lord Richard Harries

Edinburgh – Tuesday 26th November

Time: 2:30pm ’til 4:30pm
Location: Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue
16 St Marys Street

Commissioner: Professor Andrew Chadwick

Cardiff – Wednesday 27th November

Time: 2pm ’til 4pm
Location: Harbour Room, Wales Council for Voluntary Action
Baltic House
Mount Stuart Square
CF10 5FH

Commissioner: Toni Pearce, National Union of Students President

Alternatively, to submit evidence in writing, please use the following form. Please submit by close of business on Thursday 28th November, to allow time to incorporate your evidence into the report.

Thank you very much to those organisations who submitted written or verbal evidence during the last round of consultation.

The Commission would like to encourage repeat attendance, and also would like to invite organisations who have so far not inputted their views to help shape its second report.

RSVP at your earliest convenience to Bryony Walker:; 07865495440

Government puts part 2 of the Lobbying Bill on hold

The Government has delayed discussion of part 2 of the Lobbying Bill by five weeks, pushing Committee stage back until the week beginning December 16th.

During the pause, the Cabinet Office spokesman in the House of Lords, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, said Government would draw on the work of the Commission in considering whether and how to amend the Bill.

Lord Harries, Chair of the Commission, has warned that the five week window is a “very, very short period indeed” and that the legislation is still “totally unacceptable in a democratic society.”

The news was covered in the Independent here:

The Independent: Tories put Lobbying Bill on hold over fears of embarrassing defeat in the House of Lords

Click here to read the full article

Independent article screen shot

The pause was also covered in The Guardian, on the BBC, on PR Week, and in The Telegraph.

Lord Ramsbotham seeks lobbying bill delay

Influential cross-bench peer Lord Ramsbotham has tabled a motion in today’s Lords committee stage to pause the Bill and refer it to a select committee.

Full text of the motion:

Lord Ramsbotham to move, that, in the light of recommendations of the 7th Report from the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (HC Paper 601-1), the 5th Report from Joint Committee on Human Rights (HL Paper 61) and the 3rd Report from the Constitution Committee (HL Paper 62), and the report on Non-Party Campaigning ahead of Elections from the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement], so much of the orders of the House of 22 October and 28 October as relate to clauses 26-35 and Schedules 3 and 4 be vacated, and that those clauses and Schedules be instead committed to a select committee; and that the select committee do report by 13 February 2014.

The Commission has produced the following briefing for Lords, laying out its central recommendation that the Bill be paused:

The Commission: briefing for a pause

Click here for the full text

Commission pause briefing cover image

The pause motion has been covered in the Guardian today:

Peers seek to delay lobbying bill for three months

Click to read the full article

Commission pause briefing cover image

Electoral Commission recommend delay to the start of the regulated period

In a briefing published 4th November 2013 and intended to inform preparations for the Bill’s committee stage in the House of Lords, the Electoral Commission have recommended that should Parliament delay the Bill for further consultation, the start of the regulated period should be pushed back. Otherwise, they’ve warned that they’d be unlikely to have enough time to either produce appropriate guidance or to enforce the new regulations effectively.

“Following the publication in late October of a report on the Bill by the Commission for Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, which recommends a period of consultation before the Bill makes further progress, we have been asked for our views of the impact such a delay in the Bill’s progress could have. We have previously agreed with the views put forward by bodies such as the Lords Constitution Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee that Part 2 of the Bill would have benefitted from further scrutiny before it was introduced. However, given the complexities of the regulatory regime around third party campaigning, we have also been clear that any changes to the regime should be in place in good time before the beginning of the regulated period for the 2015 UK Parliamentary general election. The Bill currently provides for that regulated period to begin on 23 May 2014, the day after the 2014
European Parliament elections.

Should Parliament decide that a period of consultation is desirable before the Bill makes further progress, we would recommend that the start of the regulated period for the 2015 general election be delayed by an appropriate period. Unless this is done, we would be unlikely to be able to put in place appropriate guidance for campaigners before the start of the regulated period, or to prepare to implement an effective enforcement regime. Similarly, campaigners need to have time to understand and prepare to comply with the regime before it comes into effect.”

Full text of the briefing is available here:

Electoral Commission: Briefing Note Electoral Commission briefing cover image