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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Guest blog piece by 38 Degrees about the 'Gagging Law':

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Today the House of Lords start to debate the controversial gagging law. It’s a law that would mean ordinary people, campaigning groups and charities would be severely restricted in how they can campaign in the year before an election.

The bill was rushed through the House of Commons at breakneck speed, without any of the normal public consultation, and although there was a rebellion, it wasn’t enough to stop it. Everyone from the Royal British Legion to Oxfam has called for the government to stop and rethink the bill. [1][2]

With this in mind, dozens of charities and campaign organisations set up an independent commission to do the research that the government should have done in the first place. [3]

It’s called ‘The Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement’ and it has been holding evidence sessions up and down the country listening to how the gagging law will affect a huge range of campaign organisations and charities. [4] Now they want to hear from you too.

Can you fill out a short survey telling the commissioners what you think about freedom of speech and campaigning, it won't take long:

The range of people on the commission shows how widespread concerns about the gagging law are. They come from organisations across civil society, including Mumsnet, the Countryside Alliance and the NUS. And the chair is a retired bishop.

You don’t have to be an expert to answer any of the questions. You just need to tell the commission what you think. It’s really important that they hear from as many people as possible. Imagine how powerful it will be for them to say they've heard from thousands of members of the public. It will mean Lords will feel more pressure to listen to their recommendations.

Let’s make sure that the government and Lords hear what thousands upon thousands of us think before this bill is rushed through any further.

Can you fill out a short survey and make sure the commission hears evidence from individual people as well as organisations:

Thank you for everything you do,

Robin, Blanche, Suzy, Ian and the 38 Degrees team.

[1] The Royal British Legion - http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/news-events/news/campaigning/lobbying-bill-why-asking-politicians-to-back-our-troops-could-be-stopped-under-this-sloppy-law
[2] Oxfam - http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/latest-campaign-news/2013/10/lobbying-bill-update
[3] http://civilsocietycommission.info
[4] http://civilsocietycommission.info/consultation/

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