Charities right to campaign and lobbying laws, UK and Scotland

Scotland’s voluntary sector body SCVO has claimed a significant victory on new legislation intended to increase transparency around lobbying of the Scottish Parliament.

There will now be a review period after the law comes in, to check for any unintended consequences, such as discouraging charities from legitimate contact with law makers. The committee which is scrutinising the proposed legislation also agreed to restrict activity which requires to be registered to face to face or video contact with MSPs.

Read more on Third Force News, or the official news release ‘Lobbying proposals enhanced‘, which says:

“Following the SPPA Committee’s Stage One recommendations, we are committing to creating a two-year review of any new legislation and to extending the proposals to register lobbying of ministers to include lobbying of special advisers.

“We are also proposing the revision of our Bill by exempting all communication by a trade union or employer that forms part of, or relates directly to, terms and conditions of employment. We also propose extension of the definition of ‘lobbying’ to include video conferencing, as well as face-to-face communication.”

Previous VoluntaryNews coverage on the proposals.

Impact of UK lobbying law

Sector thinktank New Philanthropy Capital has a new article ‘An echo chamber of worry: How charities are responding to the Lobbying Act‘. A couple of quotes:

‘I hope…NGOs and other organisations won’t hold back.’  These were the Prime Minister David Cameron’s words when he encouraged debate about Britain’s place in the European Union at the World Economic Forum a few weeks ago

and

The Lobbying Act may have had a “chilling effect” * on charities’ campaigning activities, but charities have a chance to respond in a determined manner.

Worth a read if this issue worries you.

* See our September 2015 news item.