Andrew Smith MP

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Andrew speaks out against the Lobbying Bill

Andrew Smith MP has spoken in support of charities and campaigners who could have their voices gagged.

Andrew said: "This Bill seems to me to represent an attempt to use an issue which is understandably a matter of public concern -- the lack of regulation of Parliamentary lobbyists -- to try to get through in addition a hodge-podge of restrictive measures for the Coalition parties' own narrow advantage, some of them profoundly anti-democratic.

"Many if not most charities and campaigning groups in Britain have expressed grave concern about the sweeping restrictions the Coalition Government wants to impose on anyone campaigning for a year before a general election, including trade unions, churches, campaign groups, and even charities trying to draw politicians' attention to the needs of the people they serve.

"There is already sensible and proportionate regulation of activity designed to influence the outcome of an election, and the Tory/Lib-Dem Government's proposal of additional very heavy restriction is deeply worrying. We must preserve the idea that for citizens to get together to express an opinion, and to seek to influence others including politicians, is a legitimate activity at any time. I take this to be a fundamental value of our democracy.

"Along with my Labour colleagues I will be voting against the Lobbying Bill, which would place onerous restrictions on civil society without properly regulating lobbying, to the great detriment of democracy in this country."

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