Yesterday the Government in the Lords ensured the defeat of amendments which would have gone some way to protect the rights of charities and campaign groups like the Alliance to campaign on our members’ interests. The final vote was a dead heat, but in such circumstances the rules dictate that the Government wins. Countryside Alliance President, Baroness Mallalieu QC, who also served on the Commission for Civil Society and Democratic Engagement sums up the feeling of all those involved. She comments: “While all our work and campaigning over recent months has forced the Government to make some significant improvements, the Bill remains badly drafted and will be hugely damaging to democratic engagement in this country. It only needs to be said that if the law this Government has just passed had been in place back in 2000/1 and 2004 we could not have marched, rallied, demonstrated or campaigned as we did against the ban on hunting. This is not just my opinion but is based on clear legal advice given to the Countryside Alliance at the time and the advice of the Electoral Commission as the statutory regulator.
“With this new law we now have a situation where for one year in five of every fixed term parliament, future governments will now enjoy a “safe” period when they can pass controversial legislation and know that they will face less opposition than they might otherwise have done. I find it hard to believe anyone could see the Lobbying Bill as anything other than an objective lesson in how not to make law and as a bad day for the “Big Society”.