“Scrap the Gagging Bill”, says Owen Smith

Pontypridd MP and Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has reiterated call for the UK government to drop its controversial Lobbying Bill after it emerged over the weekend that Ministers may have been forced into a re-think.

The Bill, which imposes stringent restrictions on third party campaigning in the run-up to an election, has been met with wide widespread opposition from charities, voluntary organisations and trades unions.

Following a public outcry, the government is thought to be prepared to offer concessions to some parts of the Bill.

Earlier today, Owen Smith met with Welsh campaigning groups to discuss the impact of the legislation, to co-ordinate a response and to explain amendments that have been tabled to the Bill.

Commenting before the meeting in Cardiff, the Shadow Welsh Secretary said:

“By rushing this legislation through parliament, Ministers were hoping to avoid scrutiny of a Bill that’s all about how they can avoid scrutiny, you couldn’t make it up.

“Over the last week, we’ve seen just why the government wants to deflect attention away from its policies and limit the national debate in the run-up to an election.

“The public and campaigning groups have posed a formidable opposition to the Gagging Bill and such is the strength of feeling that the legislation now appears to be unravelling.

“We will have a close look at the detail of the government’s concessions when they’re published in full.

“But, at the meeting I’m having with Welsh campaign groups later today, my message will be clear: this bad Bill doesn’t need a bit of tweaking here and there, the whole things needs to be scrapped and the government needs to start again.”


N.B. Photo shows Owen Smith addressing representatives from Welsh third party campaign groups