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Issue #1634      April 9, 2014

Gagging law repeal pledge

BRITAIN: Trade unions and charities welcomed Labour’s pledge to repeal the “gagging laws” if it comes into power. The Trades Union Congress as well as the British membership body for non-governmental organisations, Bond, were quick to hail the Labour Party’s pledge that when it comes to power it would scrap the “illiberal” Lobbying Act.

The organisation’s chief executive Ben Jackson said Bond welcomed the announcement and that it has always “maintained the need for legislation that enables groups to campaign in a transparent and accountable way on the big issues that face our country and planet, not a law that gags civil society.”

The Act – labelled the “gagging law” – would give government full access to membership data of all bodies involved in political campaigning.

Trade unions were particularly worried about the personal information of their members being passed on to government in the wake of a blacklisting scandal.

“The Act does nothing to curb the power of corporate lobbyists, yet hinders free speech, shuts campaign and community groups out of the democratic process and ties unions up in needless red tape,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.

If elected in 2015 Labour is now set to create an alternative.

According to shadow leader of the Commons, Angela Eagle, Labour would “introduce a universal register of all professional lobbyists backed by a code of conduct and sanctions.”

The Act comes into force in September, but thanks to several passed amendments it will only apply until the end of the election period in May 2015.

Morning Star

Next article – Solidarity moves

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