UK to ban taxpayer funded lobbying

The Telegraph reports:

Charities in receipt of Government grants will be banned from using these taxpayer funds to engage in political lobbying, The Telegraph can disclose.

A new clause to be inserted into all new and renewed grant agreements will make sure that taxpayer funds are spent on improving people’s lives and good causes, rather than covering lobbying for new regulation or using taxpayers’ money to lobby for more government funding.

We  need to do this in NZ also. In theory NGOs are not allowed to use taxpayer funds to lobby, but the rules are so loose, they get easily avoided by just calling their lobbying campaigns “information campaigns”.

The Institute of Economic Affairs, a right of centre thinkank, has undertaken extensive research on so-called “sock puppets”, exposing how taxpayers’ money given to pressure groups is paid to fund lobbying campaigns on policies such as a sugar tax and the environment.

Officials are hoping that the clause will ensure that freedom of speech is protected, while stopping taxpayers’ money being diverted away from good causes.

Matt Hancock, the Cabinet Office minister, told The Telegraph: “Taxpayers’ money must be spent on improving people’s lives and spreading opportunities, not wasted on the farce of government lobbying government.

It is constitutionally repugnant for the Government to spend money funding campaigns to tell Parliament and the Government what the law should be.

The exact phrase that will be inserted into all new and renewed grant agreements reads: “The following costs are not Eligible Expenditure:- Payments that support activity intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, Government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action”.

At a minimum this should go into all contracts here.

I’d go further and deem any NGO that is 90% or more taxpayer funded as a de facto public organisation that the OIA applies to.

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