Dear Lord Wallace,

Open letter on transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14

We write to express our opposition to parts of the above Bill and to call on you to withdraw these draft regulations which we believe will cause great damage to democracy in the UK. In our view there are fundamental aspects of this whole exercise which have been the subject of insufficient scrutiny and pre-legislative consultation. It is not too late to retreat.

In Scotland, as elsewhere, the third sector and wider civil society play a crucial role in our democratic processes. Charities and other voluntary groups bring non-party political perspectives to bear on issues of the day, including giving voice to service users and helping otherwise marginalised citizens to articulate their views. This Bill directly threatens the campaigning voices of our sector and the people we work with in a most sinister way.

Particular concerns have been highlighted, including uncertainties about the definition of non-party campaigning and the broadening of materials and activities subject to regulation. Disproportionate reductions to registration and spending limits in Scotland are both unfair and unnecessary and have been advanced without due process. This is bad legislation, badly prepared.

It is clear to us that the non-party campaigning part of the Bill is beyond amendment. We call on the UK Government to drop this part of the bill without delay so that this affront to democracy and inappropriate challenge to the rights of civil society can be removed.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Sime
Chief executive
SCVO