Public meeting – fighting to defend free speech
West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, will promote the right to free speech when he attends a public meeting in Penzance tonight (Friday 18th October 2013) on the Government’s Lobbying Bill.
Hundreds of constituents have contacted Mr George to express concern that the Bill will prevent charities, community groups and campaigners in promoting debate on issues of deep public concern.
The campaign pressure group, 38 Degrees, has organised the meeting which will take place at St John’s Hall at 7.30pm, in response to concerns raised.
Mr George said: “I voted against the Government. I am strongly opposed to any measure which may threaten free speech. Indeed I was a primary sponsor of key amendments to the Bill. I object to the way the Government introduced these proposals at the last minute. I have told Ministers that I am not happy that they did not properly consult the charitable/community sector beforehand.
“The original and still primary purpose of the Bill is good and sound; we must take big money out of politics and prevent our political system from ending up like the USA – where opaque and unaccountable groups spend billions attempting to influence the political system (often very successfully!).
“I still strongly urge the Government to withdraw Part 2 of the Bill, the part which campaigners are concerned about. Ministers should then properly consult the charity sector before coming back to Parliament with any new proposals.”
The Bill will now be scrutinised in the Lords before coming back to the Commons for final approval at the end of this month.