Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Gagged? We shall see...

So after brave attempts by the Lords to change the 2 most obnoxious remaining bits of the Lobbying Bill we will now have a Lobbying Act. We may live to regret this day.

The real shame was that the staff costs amendment was a tied vote and so fell; which means we only needed one more peer and this would have been carried. It's a lesson for our sector to be more joined up and avoid mixed messages that are used against us.

There are other lessons to learn. Not all bad.

So, for example the work of the cross-sector Commission on Civil Society ( showed how we can come together across the wide diversity of our many, many charities when faced with a challenge.

However our work is not done. We now need to:

  •  give advice to charities and campaigning bodies on what they can and can't do
  • encourage charity leaders not to impose their own gag on what they do. As the recent report of the Independence Panel chaired by Sir Roger Singleton showed, there are strong dangers of self censorship; that CEOs and trustees are frightened off doing any campaigning for fear of falling foul of this new law or the bureaucracy it involves
  •   we must monitor the effects of this new law. This was one of the key recommendations of the Commission. We'll ensure we have the evidence to persuade the next Government to make necessary changes.
  • and finally ACEVO - and colleagues in our sister bodies - need to provide the support and advice charities need to get through this new minefield of red tape and to encourage all sector leaders to continue to speak truth to power. Knowing my members as I do I'm sure they won't be put off doing what's right by a piece of mean-minded legislation!

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