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Leader of the House

Volume 575: debated on Thursday 6 February 2014

The Leader of the House was asked—

Voluntary Sector

6. What recent discussions he has had with the voluntary sector on the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014. (902438)

The Government met nearly 50 organisations to discuss the provisions of the Act before it received Royal Assent. Those discussions led to a number of changes being made to the then Bill to reduce the burden on smaller third parties who campaign at elections, to ease the transition to the new regime, and to clarify the rules.

Notwithstanding the unseemly haste to rush this legislation to Royal Assent last week, many voluntary sector organisations have deep misgivings about the effect it will have on the way that they operate. Will the Minister show equal haste in committing to post-legislative scrutiny of the legislation so that the House can assess the damaging impact that it will have on our charities?

We have surely now reached the time when the hon. Gentleman and other Labour Members should accept that the Act does not do what he has claimed. He may not be aware that the National Council for Voluntary Organisations recently said:

“We are grateful that the government has listened to the concerns charities have raised in recent months…The”


“provides a much more sensible balance…between creating accountability and transparency in elections while still allowing for charities and others to speak up on issues of concern.”

Pre-legislative Scrutiny

The Government are committed, wherever possible, to publishing legislation in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny. We published 17 draft Bills or sets of draft measures in the previous Session, which is more than the previous Government did in any Session.

I thank the Leader of the House. It is clear that there have been some benefits. The recent Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill ended up with a lot of provisions that were recommended on pre-legislative scrutiny, although the process would have been faster if they had been included straight away. Does he agree that the principle should be that, unless there are exceptional reasons, all Bills should go through some sort of pre-legislative scrutiny?

We endeavour to publish legislation in draft, but it is not always possible. My hon. Friend and the House will understand that, for example, at the start of a Parliament, or sometimes for reasons of policy, measures have to be brought in at a pace that does not permit the kind of pre-legislative scrutiny that we would generally seek. Let me point out that only this week we debated the Deregulation Bill on Second Reading, and that was scrutinised in draft form; and in the previous week, the Consumer Rights Bill came to the House, and that had had substantial pre-legislative scrutiny. I commend to the House how we are continuing to engage in that.