Cheltenham MP votes for Lobbying Bill despite charity concerns
Cheltenham’s MP voted in favour of the government’s provocative Lobbying Bill despite also backing a defeated amendment to water the legislation down.
Martin Horwood helped the bill make its way out of the House of Commons and on into the House of Lords on Wednesday.
The bill, which will introduce new restrictions on lobbying, has drawn the ire of charities and voluntary organisations which believe it will limit their ability to campaign.
The government has already granted some concessions to campaigners to try and appease the charity sector but concerns that the amendments do not go far enough were raised at the bill’s third and final reading.
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Mr Horwood voted for another amendment which would have excluded charities from the legislation.
The amendment suggested charities be excluded on the grounds the “primary purpose” of their campaigns is not to directly influence or benefit a party or candidate.
However, the amendment was defeated by 261 votes to 298 before the main bill was passed with a majority of 44.
“In the end I looked at the concerns of organisations like Oxfam and I did vote for the amendment,” Mr Horwood said.
“I did vote for the bill as a whole because I don’t think we can throw the baby out with the bath water.
“Most of the bill is about regulating the lobbying industry which I think people recognise is a scandal waiting to happen.”
Mr Horwood is hoping the House of Lords will funnel some of the concerns raised in the defeated amendment into the legislation.
“Though the amendment did not get passed hopefully the House of Lords will take those concerns on board,” he explained.
“Charities are still worried about the restrictions on this bill but I really do not think it is a gagging bill.
“It is a complete myth that it is a gagging bill.”
The bill will now have to successfully navigate its way through the House of Lords before it becomes law.