COMMENTING on a press release from Monmouth Constituency Labour Party regarding the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, Monmouth MP David Davies said:

“It is ridiculous for the Monmouth Labour Party to claim the Government’s new Lobbying Bill will make it “illegal” for charities and voluntary organisations to speak out on government policy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Lobbying is commonplace amongst companies and charities and the Bill will make the process more transparent. There is absolutely nothing in the proposed legislation preventing organisations from continuing to lobby government and campaign on issues which are important to them.

“Monmouth Labour allege I have “followed party orders” in voting for the Bill. I have spoken out and voted against my own party on a number of occasions since being elected, most recently when I opposed military action in Syria. If there were the slightest truth in the suggestion that the Lobbying Bill would “gag” charities, then I would never vote for it.

“Monmouth Labour also claim there has been little consultation on the Bill. In fact, there has been widespread consultation by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee and in both the House of Commons and House of Lords.

“If it were true that the Government was about to pass a law to make it “illegal” for organisations to speak out, there would be uproar and condemnation throughout the world. The Council of Europe, on which I sit, was set up to ensure freedom of speech and democracy throughout Europe. They would be urgently investigating if there was any truth in the wild claims being made by Monmouth Labour. They are not.

“Monmouth Labour Party has recently selected a parliamentary candidate and is understandably looking for issues to campaign on. However, I would advise some caution in making wild claims. The Lobbying Bill has broad support from Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and will probably be passed before the general election.

“During the election campaign, all manner of organisations will (as usual) be loudly commenting on different policies and campaigning for their own. I look forward to triumphantly drawing this to the attention of Monmouth Labour at the public meetings and hustings which will take place, and contrasting it with the ludicrous claims they are currently making.”

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