Skip to main content

Doctors warn government that lobbying proposals could limit public health campaigning.

There has been much concern expressed that the Lobbying Bill could limit the campaigning activity of charities. Now, doctors’ leaders have warned that the Government’s proposed legislation lacks clarity, is excessively bureaucratic and could severely limit organisations, such as the BMA, campaigning on public health issues, including smoking, during an election year.

The warning comes in a new BMA House of Lords’ briefing, released today (21/10/13) ahead of an important debate in the second chamber on the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill on Tuesday 22 October 2013. 

The Lobbying Bill would severely limit the ability of charities to campaign in a year in which there is a general election. The proposals have received widespread criticism and most recently from the Joint Committee on Human Rights and Lords Constitution Committee amid concerns that the proposals will curtail public debate by preventing charities, pressure groups, think tanks and other organisations from presenting information in the run up to an election. 

Some of these concerns have been recognised by the government, but the Bill still lacks clarity.  

Key points from the BMA’s briefing include:

Potential adverse impact on freedom of expression: The combined effect of vastly reduced spending limits and continued uncertainty around what activities fall foul of the Bill, such as production or publication of material made available to the public, would have a ‘chilling effect on freedom of expression.’

Lack of clarity: Despite the Government’s changes, it is still not evident from the wording of the Bill whether or not apolitical organisations, like the BMA, will be unduly restricted in what they can do. Absolute certainty is needed on whether and when the cost of activities will count towards ‘controlled expenditure’.

Excessive bureaucracy: The Bill currently proposes a system that would result in new administrative and regulatory procedures that would prove an immense administrative burden.

Dr Mark Porter, Chair of BMA Council said:

“Despite some improvements to the Government’s proposals, the Lobbying Bill still threatens to dramatically curtail the ability of organisations like the BMA to speak out on vital issues during the year before an election. This would include preventing doctors’ leaders from raising key public health issues, such as those related to smoking.

“The Government should not ignore the potentially huge and damaging impact of the legislation as currently drafted on all non-party political organisations. It cannot risk limiting our ability to speak on issues of public interest.

“We urge the Government to pause, listen and think again, rather than rush ahead with this ill-thought through piece of legislation.”

The government legislation as it currently stands could have the perverse effect of allowing lobbying by major corporations whilst restraining the ability of charities and other non-political organisations from campaigning. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Prioritising people in nursing care.

There has been in recent years concern that care in the NHS has not been sufficiently 'patient centred', or responsive to the needs of the patient on a case basis. It has been felt in care that it as been the patient who has had to adapt to the regime of care, rather than the other way around. Putting patients at the centre of care means being responsive to their needs and supporting them through the process of health care delivery.  Patients should not become identikit sausages in a production line. The nurses body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has responded to this challenge with a revised code of practice reflection get changes in health and social care since the previous code was published in 2008. The Code describes the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Four themes describe what nurses and midwives are expected to do: prioritise people practise effectively preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. The

When Finance Drives Destruction

Tackling climate change means stopping the funding of rainforest destruction, says a significant study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund.  The UK's financial services have provided directly over £8.7 billion to 167 different traders, processors, and buyers of forest-risk commodities (cocoa, rubber, timber, soy, beef, palm oil, pulp & paper) from 2013 to 2021.   With direct and indirect investment,  the figure rises to a staggering £200 bn.  Whilst not all that investment is in destructive projects,  the study concludes there is little transparency on the risk.  Finance is the oil in the economic machine.  But it also drives decisions. We all know the importance of money. We borrow to invest. So much depends on it, such as company pensions.  Do we really know what our pension pots are doing? We invest for the future. But what kind of future? Is all investment good?  Much investment is bad. Investment drives the nature of our economy. It drives our decisions as individuals,