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Change the Lobbying Bill Now

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The government has 'paused' its Lobbying Bill. It did so after widespread - one might say universal- criticism.

Now, it is unusual to say the least for governments to knife their own Bills at Lords Committee stage. So we might reasonably ask why this has happened.

The answer is pretty straightforward: this is a bad Bill. Brought forward for absolutely the wrong reasons.

A bad Bill because it will address none of the issues it is supposed to -it will not cover one single person caught up in the 'lobbying' scandals of the past years. It will not do so because nobody involved has actually been a lobbyist. Failed MP? Yes. Ex-cabinet minister? For sure. Defence chief? You bet. But not lobbyists. And nobody with any liability over the past few years for dragging our industry through the mire will be covered.

The wrong reasons because even the government in its honest moments surely accept that this is a Bill without a purpose. Three and more years on, this Bill is before Parliament purely to fulfil a coalition agreement. Nothing else. It serves little if any purpose.

So. Our advice to the government here?

You have paused. A pause is an excellent moment to amend direction. This is an unloved Bill. Change it now, while still the opportunity exists.

Because as it exists, it is - as we have said said previously - a bastard of a Bill. Devoid of anybody willing and proud to stand by it, and claim it as theirs.

This is no petty issue. The government needs to get it right. Governments need to know when to stand firm; and know when to change course. And now is most definitely a moment to change course.

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