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Gagging Orders: Charities

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 7 March 2019

14. What assessment he has made of the effect of gagging orders on the freedom of expression of charities in receipt of public funds. (909654)

It is vital that charities feel free to speak on behalf of everyday people and continue to develop the right policy with Government. Government contracts will include provisions to ensure that providers adhere to the high standards that we expect. However, those provisions are in no way gagging clauses.

In my constituency, we have a large number of charities and advice agencies dealing with the fallout of Government cuts, universal credit, and, of course, the after-effects of Grenfell. Does the Minister truly believe that those frontline organisations should be silenced rather than being able to share their justified concerns, which could then be rectified? I draw particular attention to some of the groups involved in Grenfell that have been told, “Play nice, and you’ll get what you need.” They should be allowed to speak out.

I reiterate that this is not a gagging clause. I repeated that when I met the charities group in December and spoke at its event here in Westminster, and the Prime Minister wrote to Sir Stuart Etherington and reaffirmed the point. If the hon. Lady wishes to meet me to discuss those who feel that they cannot speak out, I would be very happy to do so. It is absolutely right that we should be able to hear the sector’s voice and to hear its expertise, its insight and everything that it can bring to Government to tackle burning injustices. As I say, I am very happy to meet her to discuss the matter.