Penzance turns out in force to debate gagging bill
WELL over 100 West Cornwall people who are passionate about the concept of free speech attended a meeting in St John’s Hall on Friday.
Organised by the campaign pressure group 38 Degrees, the meeting discussed the Government’s Lobbying Bill about which many people are concerned that it will prevent charities, community groups and campaigners in promoting debate on issues of deep public concern.
Among those speaking was St Ives MP Andrew George who 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.
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“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.
“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.
Also speaking was Blanche Jones, from 38 Degrees, who said she was delighted with the turnout.
“It shows how important the issue is to people,” she said.
“It’s great that something so Westminster villagey as the Lobbying Bill is being discussed – we’ve had great attendances at all the dozen or so public meetings we’ve had around the country.
“This is a very complex issue and it was good to be able to get to the heart of it.”