Welsh charities face stranglehold.
Wayne David, MP for Caerphilly and Labour’s Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, has launched a scathing attack on the Westminster Government’s plans to curb the activities of charities in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.
Under Part 2 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, which has its Second Reading in the Commons next week, charities in Wales could find their ability to campaign severely curtailed.
At a UK level a number of charities including Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB have signalled their worries. The impartial Electoral Commission has expressed “significant concern” about the draconian measures being proposed.
In Wales, the Council of Voluntary Youth Services (CWVYS) has indicated that the legislation could have a hugely negative impact on aspects of youth work in Wales. Similarly, Oxfam Cymru has expressed concern that their work could be curtailed. The Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) has also added its voice to the growing criticism of the Bill.
Wayne David will meet the Electoral Commission in London and he will be leading the Opposition to Part 2 of the Bill during its Committee Stage on the Floor of the House of Commons.
Wayne David said, “The Government is placing massive restrictions on the campaigning ability of charitable organisations. This Bill will be a stranglehold on charities throughout the UK, but the impact in Wales will be particularly severe. It is extremely important that everyone realises that these debilitating measures will seriously damage our democratic process. This Bill seeks to prevent charities having their public say on a whole range of vitally important issues”.
The Bill before Parliament does 3 things:
1. It introduces a very limited register for lobbyists,
2. It introduces specific curbs on trade unions,
3. It introduces new regulations on so-called third party organisations; campaigning is now to be defined in a very broad way in the run-up to the General Election. And in Wales, charities who wish to campaign will have to comply with very strict controls if they wish to use more than £2,000 of campaigning ‘material’. In England the figure is £5,000. There are also to be a large number of other restrictions.