Press release

Statement on amendments to the Transparency Bill

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Andrew Lansley, Leader of the House of Commons, has announced that the government will publish amendments to the Transparency of Lobbying Bill.

Andrew Lansley has today announced that the government will be publishing amendments to the Transparency of Lobbying, Third Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, aimed at addressing misunderstandings about government’s intentions on third party campaigning.

The Leader of the House of Commons said:

During the committee stage of the bill, we undertook to see if we could make clearer in the bill that, unless a third party engages in what can reasonably be regarded as intended to promote or procure the electoral success of a party or candidate, its activity in relation to policies or views would not be regulated.

I can confirm now that I intend to table government amendments to this effect at the Report Stage of the bill on 8 and 9 October.

It remains the case that it has not been - and is not - the government’s intention to change the substantive test of what is expenditure for electoral purposes.

The government has continued to work closely with the Electoral Commission and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) on how the legislation can be made clearer whilst maintaining the reforms to electoral law.

The amendments will:

  • remove the additional test of “otherwise enhancing the standing of a party or candidates” from clause 26. This is to provide further reassurance to campaigners as to the test they have to meet in order to incur controlled expenditure. A third party will only be subject to regulation where its campaign can reasonably be regarded as intended to “promote or procure the electoral success” of a party of candidate
  • replace the separate listings for advertising, unsolicited material and manifesto/policy documents with election “material”; this is the language used in the current legislation that non-party campaigners and the Electoral Commission are already familiar with, and on which the Electoral Commission have existing guidance
  • make clear that it is public rallies and events that are being regulated; meetings or events just for an organisation’s members or supporters will not be captured by the bill. We will also provide an exemption for annual events – such as an organisation’s annual conference
  • ensure that non–party campaigners who respond to ad hoc media questions on specific policy issues are not captured by the bill, whilst still capturing press conferences and other organised media events
  • ensure that all “market research or canvassing” which promotes electoral success is regulated

Mr Lansley added:

We have listened and acted, as I said we would do. I am confident that these changes will ensure that the concerns raised about the effect of the bill on campaigning activities of charities have now been met.

In doing so, the bill will continue to meet the necessary objective of giving transparency and proper regulation wherever third parties seek to have an influence directly on the outcome of elections.