Cameron’s Lobbying Bill Faces Criticism From Tory Lawmakers
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s attempt to introduce a register of lobbyists was attacked as inadequate by lawmakers from his own Conservative Party, and as a restriction on free speech from his Labour Party opponents.
Cameron pledged the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill in June after a series of news reports alleged lawmakers were offering parliamentary services in return for cash. It tied the compulsory registration of some lobbyists to restrictions on the political activities of labor unions.
The bill sets a 390,000-pound ($606,000) cap on the amount any organization that isn’t a political party can spend during an election. This would restrict labor-union campaigns in support of Labour. Charities have questioned whether it would catch them too. Meanwhile, it doesn’t cover in-house lobbyists.
“Lobbying scandals have mostly involved the power nexus between Whitehall and big corporations,” Tory lawmaker Douglas Carswell wrote on his Twitter feed. “The bill does nothing about it, does restrict the freedom of local campaign groups to engage in elections.”
Conservative Andrew Lansley, leader of the House of Commons, defended the bill as lawmakers began debating the proposals in the House of Commons. “We are very clear that we are in no sense seeking to change the boundary between campaigning on policies and issues which charities do and third parties do to a substantial extent,” he said.
For Labour, Angela Eagle told the chamber it was “one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve seen any government produce in a very long time.”
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