BMA welcomes government U-turn on lobbying bill

The BMA has welcomed a government pledge to change proposed legislation that critics feared could silence charities and lobbying groups ahead of the next general election.

Andrew Lansley: former health secretary back in BMA firing line
Andrew Lansley: former health secretary back in BMA firing line

Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Lansley announced on 6 September that amendments will be made to the controversial Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill after he met with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

The legislation was introduced in a bid to curb the influence of private lobbying firms, but concerns emerged that a proposed cap on spending during elections could also affect campaigning activities by organisations such as charities and unions.

BMA chairman Dr Porter wrote to Mr Lansley on 6 September. The letter said: ‘We were pleased to see media reports today that the government is planning to amend the bill to clarify intentions around third party campaigning activities.

'While the BMA would welcome any move to reconsider key aspects of the bill, we want to highlight the potentially huge and damaging impact of the legislation as currently drafted on all non-party political organisations, not just registered charities.’

Mr Lansley said: ‘I heard what charities and voluntary organisations had to say. While we always were clear that we had no intention of preventing them campaigning on policies and issues as they always have, I wanted the bill to be as clear as it could possibly be.

‘So, I am very glad that I have been able to meet the concerns of voluntary organisations, while ensuring that the bill still regulates effectively when organisations directly try to promote election candidates and parties.’

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