The Government's lobbying bill: follow-up - Political and Constitutional Reform Contents


4  Conclusion

83. We continue to regard the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill as an example of how not to make legislation. It cannot be desirable that Parliament is put in the position of being asked to agree a Bill that is acknowledged to be imperfect, with the promise that it will be reviewed and improved at a later date. The Government and Parliament have a joint responsibility to ensure that legislation is got right the first time. This Bill should serve as a reminder to successive Governments that consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny are not mere formalities that can be dispensed with if the Government chooses, but essential elements of the process of producing good legislation. They need not take undue amounts of time, and they add genuine value.

84. Significant changes have been made to the Bill during its passage through Parliament. It is far from perfect, but it is undoubtedly better than it was, thanks to the efforts of parliamentarians, Committees of both Houses, the Electoral Commission, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement and many others. We agree with many of the amendments that have been made in the House of Lords. In some instances, we think amendments to these amendments are necessary. In particular, in Part 1 we would like to see the Bill amended to include Senior Civil Servants within the list of people with whom contact counts as lobbying. In Part 2, we would like the maximum expenditure limits to be restored to their current levels in England, Scotland and Wales. We are content with the proposed increase in the limit for Northern Ireland. We would also like the reporting and accounting requirements in Part 2 of the Bill to be made less bureaucratic. We will be tabling amendments to this effect and urge Members to support them.


 
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