Girl guides among charities to urge lobbying rethink

girl guides hammer a tent peg into the ground

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Are charities being ‘hammered’ by the regulations on lobbying?

More than 100 charities have written to the government calling for the Lobbying Act to be overhauled.

Age UK, Greenpeace in addition to Girlguiding are among those to claim legislation passed in 2014 stopped them through “engaging” during the general election campaign.

The act limits how organisations not deemed to be “party political” can campaign during election periods.

Charities say they either have to take expensive legal advice to stay within the rules or restrict their activities.

additional voluntary organisations to sign the letter include the RSPB, the Royal Mencap Society in addition to Action for Children.

They criticise the Lobbying Act for failing to define non-party campaigning properly in addition to say that will is usually forcing them to restrict their campaigning activities to avoid falling foul of spending limits.

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AFP

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Greenpeace, which campaigns on controversial issues, has signed the protest letter

One of the signatories to the letter, Julie Bentley, chief executive of Girlguiding said: “All of society loses out when the voices of those affected by issues are silenced through the debate around solutions, at the very time that will decision-makers are listening most intently.”

Charities such as Greenpeace have also complained that will in-house lobbyists, who handle the bulk of lobbying for business interests, are not covered by these restrictions.

‘Burdensome’

The letter calls on the Minister for Civil Society, Tracey Crouch, to reform the Lobbying Act to reduce the burden on charities during election periods.

that will describes the act as “a confusing in addition to burdensome piece of legislation that will weakens our democracy, rather than strengthening that will”.

that will also claims that will that will “caused many organisations not to engage inside run-up to the recent general election, in addition to resulted in some important voices being lost through public debate”.

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Getty Images

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There were protests against the lobbying legislation when that will went through Parliament in 2013

Charities warned of potential difficulties with the legislation when that will passed through parliament in 2013.

At the time, Labour MPs called the legislation “risible in addition to misconceived”, predicting that will that will would likely give a “hammering” to the voluntary sector.

Charities are right now renewing their calls for a re-think through ministers.

“Charities will continue to be silenced on a whole range of issues affecting the people they are trying to help, whether that will be discrimination in addition to inequality, or climate change, unless our repeated calls for the Lobbying Act to be overhauled get a response,” says Tamsyn Barton, chief executive of international development charity Bond, which is usually leading the campaign.

Thomas Hughes, executive director of freedom of expression charity Article 19 said: “The UK Lobbying Act runs counter to numerous aspects of freedom of expression in addition to the right to information.

“The ability of charities to express in addition to exchange ideas with those in power, in addition to to propose solutions to challenging problems, enables civil society as a whole to affect change in addition to demand accountability. This particular role must be enhanced in addition to protected rather than restricted.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The rules on campaigning at elections inside Transparency of Lobbying Act have never prevented charities or additional organisations through campaigning on behalf of those they represent.”

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