MP presented with gagging law petition

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A campaign group has met Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett to petition against a bill that they say would silence charities in the run up to an election.

Local members of 38 Degrees, an online campaigning community that works for a better and fairer society, presented him with a petition against the Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill – known as the ‘gagging law’.

The group said the bill, if passed as law, would pose a serious threat to the freedom of speech by stopping groups and charities run their campaigns in the year before an election.

The national petition has been signed by more than 200,000 people.

Mr Trickett, who voted against the bill in the House of Commons, accepted the petition at his Hemsworth constituency office last month.

He will continue to campaign against the law, which will be examined and discussed in the House of Lords next week.

Mr Trickett said: “I have received many e-mails and this petition from constituents who are angry about this proposed government legislation, which will permit lobbying by the rich and powerful to continue in an unregulated way while at the same time it seeks to silence wider civic society.

“Big tobacco’s voice will still be heard in the seats of power, while the voices of cancer activists will not. The voice of arms manufacturers will be heard, but not that of the Royal British Legion.

“The voice of private medicine will be heard, but not the unions representing nurses and hospital cleaners.

“No wonder the public feel so strongly about the unfairness of it and believe that the government is standing up for the wrong people.”