The Lobbying Bill – How Lib Dem MPs voted

The controversial Lobbying Bill got a clear majority on its third reading has now moved to the Lords. The current text of the bill was robustly defended by Tom Brake in the Commons but many MPs expressed their dissatisfaction with the current drafting, especially Part 2 which constrains the freedom of charities to campaign in election periods.

Forty Lib Dem MPs voted for the bill. Seven voted against: Greg Mulholland, John Pugh, Alan Reid, Adrian Sanders, David Ward, Mark Williams and Roger Williams.

Here is our team voted on the third reading:

Greg Mulholland Leeds North West Against
John Pugh Southport Against
Alan Reid Argyll and Bute Against
Adrian Sanders Torbay Against
David Ward Bradford East Against
Mark Williams Ceredigion Against
Roger Williams Brecon and Radnorshire Against
Danny Alexander Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey For
Norman Baker Lewes For
Alan Beith Berwick-upon-Tweed For
Gordon Birtwistle Burnley For
Tom Brake Carshalton and Wallington For
Jeremy Browne Taunton Deane For
Malcolm Bruce Gordon For
Paul Burstow Sutton and Cheam For
Lorely Burt Solihull For
Vincent Cable Twickenham For
Menzies Campbell North East Fife For
Alistair Carmichael Orkney and Shetland For
Nick Clegg Sheffield Hallam For
Michael Crockart Edinburgh West For
Edward Davey Kingston and Surbiton For
Tim Farron Westmorland and Lonsdale For
Don Foster Bath For
Stephen Gilbert St Austell and Newquay For
Duncan Hames Chippenham For
Nick Harvey North Devon For
David Heath Somerton and Frome For
John Hemming Birmingham, Yardley For
Martin Horwood Cheltenham For
Norman Lamb North Norfolk For
David Laws Yeovil For
Michael Moore Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk For
Tessa Munt Wells For
Dan Rogerson North Cornwall For
Bob Russell Colchester For
Robert Smith West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine For
Andrew Stunell Hazel Grove For
Ian Swales Redcar For
Jo Swinson East Dunbartonshire For
Sarah Teather Brent Central For
Mike Thornton Eastleigh For
John Thurso Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross For
Steve Webb Thornbury and Yate For
Stephen Williams Bristol West For
Jennifer Willott Cardiff Central For
Simon Wright Norwich South For
Mark Hunter Cheadle Teller For
Annette Brooke Mid Dorset and North Poole Absent
Lynne Featherstone Hornsey and Wood Green Absent
Andrew George St Ives Absent
Mike Hancock Portsmouth South Absent
Simon Hughes Bermondsey and Old Southwark Absent
Julian Huppert Cambridge Absent
Charles Kennedy Ross, Skye and Lochaber Absent
John Leech Manchester, Withington Absent
Stephen Lloyd Eastbourne Absent

 

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Friday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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27 Comments

  • Peter Watson 10th Oct '13 - 5:01pm

    Which principles of liberalism, democracy or Lib Demmery have been served by the 40 who supported this policy?

  • A former member such as myself might ask – what is the point of the Lib Dem’s any more when they vote for tripe like this?

  • Mark Yeates 10th Oct '13 - 5:42pm

    I find this very disappointing – disappointed that the bill has been passed and disappointed that so many Lib Dem MPs have so obviously been blinded by power and office that they’d support anything now. From benefit caps to this, The leader of the Party supporting MI5 in a spurious way against the Snowden Files…..
    Tell me, why am I a member of the party? We have become a willing partner to a harsh right-wing ideological government that has no time for anything remotely liberal except neo-liberal economic theory.

    I’m Out!

  • It’s easy to complain about the MPs who backed this Bill – I would prefer to focus on thanking those who voted against it instead. It’s not easy standing up against the Whips, and thank goodness there are some who do it.

    I think the particular worry for LibDems is they are often the focus of campaigns against this Government – I recognise that must be hard. But MPs ought to understand this is in fact a compliment – many people still think if you put some pressure on, LibDems MPs are decent enough to block the worst excesses of the Government. They are therefore focussed on rather than worrying quite so much about Conservative MPs they think will never change their mind.

    It is that which makes me think the worst LibDem fears of being unfairly singled out by campaigners at the next election (which I suspect is why Tom Brake and others have been so firmly behind this legislation) are tactically wrong as well as rather anti-democratic. People will see the difference between lobbying a LibDem MP hard on an issue and deliberately attempting to jeopardise their election chances an risk replacement by a Conservative.

  • Martyn

    I agree we should welcome those who voted against but don’t go too overboard. It was 7 against 40!

    Also, we see the brave Simon Hughes again being absent from a vote like this – he knows what he should do but lacks courage

  • Never thought the day would come when a LibDem would vote for a bill as dreadful as this.

    Shocking.

  • Robert Wootton 10th Oct '13 - 6:57pm

    So it is important for the Liberal Democrats to win a landslide victory in the FPTP general election. Only then can a Strong Liberal society be established on a solid foundation of Economic Fairness and Justice. Then we can overwrite illiberal legislation with liberal legislation based on Freedom, Justice and democracy.
    The party must fight harder.

  • paul barker 10th Oct '13 - 7:01pm

    My only problem with The Bill as it stands is that it doesnt go nearly far enough. Voters dont pay money to Charities or Unions so that a small, self-selected, vastly overpaid bunch of officials can use to campaign for the Parties they like, usually Labour.

  • paul barker

    How do you know what people have paid the money to the charities or unions for? What does a charity like Greenpeace or Charter 38 spend their money on if not campaigning? Why shouldn’t unions pay for campaigning – anyone who joins a union and doesn’t know that they campaign is a bit dense don’t you think?

    What about the vastly overpaid chief executives of companies who decide to use company money to campaign for political parties, usually the Tories?

    What about political parties that appropriate the legacy from an old lady’s will to spend on party campaigning?

    Finally, isn’t it an indictment that campaigning charities and unions do not support the LD position – or did you make this up as enough charities spent their time campaigning against Labour – often aligning themselves with LD views!

  • Robert Wootton

    Nice weather in the world you are living in?

    It seems we will be waiting a long time for the things you suggest to pass so how about we start nice and easily. Do not vote for bills that are manifestly biased and illiberal, as well as not doing what they were supposed to.

    It may have escaped your notice, but this is a LD bill of whom the most vocal proponent is Tom Brake.

    It is this sort of sophistry that causes dislike of the LD

  • Peter Watson 10th Oct '13 - 8:34pm

    I really despair for the party now. In parallel articles on Lib Dem Voice today we see Tom Brake as the champion of this bill, David Heath (and Tim Farron before him) promoting the badger cull, Danny Alexander as the face of Help to Buy, …
    This is no longer the Lib Dems I used to vote for.

  • David Thompson 10th Oct '13 - 9:01pm

    One of the reasons I used to vote Lib Dem is because they voted against bills such as this. One of the reasons I now will never support the Lib Dems again is because they now vote for bills such as this in spite of the fact they go against all the principles they formerly supported. This is a disgraceful bill.

  • Strict rules for unions and voluntary organisations but nothing to hinder corporate lobbying – it sounds like a Tory right winger’s dream bill to me.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Oct '13 - 10:21pm

    I’ve always been against all caps and limits on campaigning or donations so I definitely agree with those who voted against the bill. I would be interested to know what the vote would have been if it wasn’t for the whip system.

    I think the worst thing about the bill is that it makes politicians more powerful because if anyone wants to do any more lobbying than the bill permits then they have to go direct to them instead, therefore increasing the likelihood of scandals. If I am wrong let me know, but that it was I have deduced from it.

  • Tony Greaves 10th Oct '13 - 11:21pm

    Do not knock MPs who abstain. It may seem odd but it is a legitimate part of the system. (I declare an interest as a sometime abstainer).

    Let us be clear, This is a lousy Bill, but it’s mainly a lousy Bill because it is badly written, very complicated (lots of it amending in detail other equally obscure and complex legislation) and generally very hard to understand. No doubt this is why different analysts come to different conclusions about what it means.

    The Government amendments passed in the Commons were almost all improvements and would not have happened but for the Lib eral Democrats. But the Bill is still problematical. Part 1 (Transparency of Lobbying) does not appear to do what it says on the tin. Part 2 seems to still have lots of unintended consequences.

    And of course the Bill as a whole (or rather in all its intricacies) has not been properly scrutinised – no Pre-legislative Scrutiny which for a Bill like this is just wrong; and the Commons don’t do that even in Committee.

    It has probably had its First Reading in the Lords today and is due for its Second Reading on 22nd October. It will be disappointing if there are not further changes before it passes.

    Tony

  • Tony Greaves

    I agree that abstention is a legitimate tool but there are a number of MPs who seem to use it often in important bills. Non presence is also not uncommon

    Abstention should be used rarely, I see it as being much more credible to make an active decision whether for or against a controversial policy or lousy bill (as you rightly said)

    I hope to see the Lords helping to turn round a situation where the Commons has not covered itself in glory

  • Simon Bamonte 11th Oct '13 - 2:25am

    @Paul Barker: “Voters dont pay money to Charities or Unions so that a small, self-selected, vastly overpaid bunch of officials can use to campaign for the Parties they like, usually Labour.

    Who are these “voters” you speak of? Union members and charity donators are voters, too, you know. As a union member, I fully expect my union to campaign and lobby on my behalf and for general workers’ rights. Same with the charities I choose to donate to. If I donate to a charity dedicated to housing the homeless, you’re damn right I expect them to lobby the government of the day on housing policy. This bill is all about curbing grassroots, charity and union-led campaigns while allowing the lobbyists of the City and International Corporations to continue to exert their disproportionate power.

    If you support this bill, Mr. Barker, can you tell my why you think it is ok for union and charity power to be diminished while corporate power is left to continue as is? Are you saying the lobbying efforts of multinational corporations are more important and worth more government attention than that of unions fighting for their workers or charities, on behalf of their donors, fighting for their own causes?

    Or are you just bitter that, since 2010, many social-justice based charities have abandoned the Lib Dems and therefore they must be punished?

  • Why should newspapers enjoy exemptions from electoral law when most of them are explicitly partisan, whereas broadcasters are required to provide balanced coverage.

    Charities and trade unions (and companies) should be allowed to operate on a similar basis (to broadcasters not newspapers) ie campaign for the environment or workers rights but don’t tell people to vote for a political party.

  • @ Paul Barker
    I stopped supporting the Lib Dems in 2010 and very occasionally I wonder if I was too hasty but I only have to read one of your posts to know I did the right thing. It’s not that you fully support the current leadership that bothers me it is the fact that they think like you do.

  • A lot of the organisations people have mentioned on this thread aren’t charities but pressure groups and they fund raise on that basis. Charities regulated by the charity commission have restrictions on what and how they can campaign i.e. on issues not on behalf of candidates anyway. David Boyle’s annalysis of some of the issues around this bill is well worth a read http://davidboyle.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/gagging-koch-brothers-and-38-degrees.html

  • David White 11th Oct '13 - 5:46pm

    Now we know which LD MPs are worthy of truly liberal support at election time – and, conversely, those who I shall never support!

  • Andrew Colman 12th Oct '13 - 5:29pm

    This is another bad bill.Has nothing been learned from the experience of Syria. If the government try to repress opposition, the opposition will go underground, the law will no longer be respected, governments will result to nastier and nastier ways of keeping c ontrol until eventually everything collapses.

    Is this what Li b Dems really want? How can the 40 Mps who voted for this measure sleep at night!

    I hope to God , the charities such as 38 degrees campaigning over this are proved wrong, and no one in practice
    tries to censor them otherwise, the scenes we see to day in Syria may be seen in the UK in a few years time

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Oct '13 - 5:35pm

    Well said Andrew.

  • Andrew Colman 12th Oct '13 - 5:41pm

    If this bill does go through and our fears are realised.

    I hope there will people who will stand up against this bill, going to prison if necessary (they will be prisoners of conscience, something I hope I would never see in this country).

    Perhaps then the people, will wake up and “punish” those who have tried to subvert our hard won freedoms and democracy through this lobbying bill.

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