Email Campaign

I am delighted that the misunderstandings have al been resolved and that the government has moved to satisfy the concerns of the voluntary sector.

It was never the government’s intention to curb campaigning activity, simply to control expenditure designed to secure the election of particular candidates or parties..

As this letter I reproduce below from Andrew Lansley to all MPs, which I received yesterday, shows, the matter is now resolved.

Dear Colleague,

Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill

At second reading, I said that the Government would listen carefully to the concerns of both the charitable sector and Members of Parliament in respect of specific aspects of the Bill.

It has not been, and is not, the Government’s intention to change the substantive test of what is expenditure “for electoral purposes”, but we have heard the concerns being raised.

Under the provisions in the Bill, the Government sought to bring in changes that would align the test for third parties with party campaign expenditure.

After discussions with the NCVO and others, and in order to make the point as clear as possible whilst maintaining the reforms to electoral law, we now propose to revert to the situation as set out under existing legislation, which defines controlled expenditure as expenditure “which can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure electoral success”.

A number of amendments have been tabled on this subject. We intend to respond in a way which meets both the principle and spirit of these. We will work with the relevant select committees and MPs at the next stages of the Bill in the Commons to ensure it can be amended to give this effect.

It is important to reiterate that the Bill will still bring down the national spending limit for third parties, introduce constituency spending limits and extend the definition of controlled expenditure to cover more than just election material, to include rallies, transport and press conferences. It will remain the case that if third party events, activities or literature can be seen as supporting a party or its candidates, that expenditure including staffing costs, will be regulated.

The Government has worked with the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform committee to draft an amendment which would exempt MPs on the basis of acting in the normal course of their duties as an MP. MPs who break the Code of Conduct and engage in consultant lobbying would still face the same penalties as members of the public.

Following my meeting today with Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the NCVO, he said: "I am pleased the Government has listened to and significantly met the concerns of charities and community groups. I understand the Government's intention was not to make their normal work subject to this regulation. We will work closely with the Government and the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in order to deliver this intention."

Yours ever,

Andrew Lansley
Leader of the House of Commons

Back to Email Campaigns