Brighton MP defends ‘gagging’ bill

Posted On 29 Dec 2013 at 10:57 am

The Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown has spoken out in defence of the government’s “gagging bill”.

Simon Kirby also said that he would try to attend a public meeting about the bill in his constituency next month.

Mr Kirby wrote an article for the Brighton and Hove Independent headlined: “Balanced legislation is needed to restore public confidence in the political system.”

He said that he took seriously the comments of charities about the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.

Mr Kirby wrote: “The fundamental objectives of the Transparency of Lobbying Bill are widely supported.

BHIndy 20131227“The bill aims to make it clear who is lobbying the government and for whom, to make third-party campaigning at election times subject to clear rules and to provide assurance that trade unions know who their members are.

“I have received correspondence from constituents and charities who are concerned with part two of the bill, which deals with third-party campaigning.

“These concerns relate to the potential unintended consequences the bill might have for charitable organisations campaigning on an issue in the run up to an election.

“There are a lot of fantastic charities in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven that carry out vital work on behalf of my constituents.

“I take their comments very seriously and I have always been sure to make ministers aware of their input and the level of concern that has surrounded the bill.

“I believe the amendments made to the bill in October show that these criticisms have been taken on board, and improved the legislation.

“These amendments provided clarification and reassurance to charities, voluntary organisations and community groups that their normal engagement with the political system will not be regulated unless it specifically promotes the election of a candidate or party over another.”

Mr Kirby also said in his article for the Brighton and Hove Independent: “I’m pleased that more time has been allowed for consultation on the bill while it is before the House of Lords.

Simon Kirby

Simon Kirby

“And I will continue to represent the views of my constituents to ministers.

“I know that that there is a public meeting in my constituency to discuss the bill in January and I will try to attend if my diary allows.

“Meanwhile, I will continue to welcome the contributions of my constituents as I try my very best to represent everyone in my constituency.”

The public meeting has been organised by 38 Degrees, which encourages people to become involved in political campaigning.

It is due to take place on Thursday 9 January at 8pm at St Mary’s Church in St James’s Street, Brighton.

The organisation’s Facebook page said: “On Thursday 9 January 38 Degrees members in Brighton and Hove are meeting with the city’s MPs to discuss the gagging law.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, has confirmed and Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown, has the date in his diary and is aiming to make it.

“We’re still waiting to hear back from Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove.

“Everyone is welcome to come along, so please bring your friends and family.

“Even if you don’t want to ask a question, it will be interesting to hear what the MPs, the speakers and other members of your community have to say have to say on the gagging law.”

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