Transparency Bill – nearly there, a little more to do

Lord Tyler

The Transparency Bill – on which I seem to have spent most of my waking hours, excluding the few days with our grandchildren over Christmas – has had some very positive results for the House of Lords.

Setting aside the particular areas of agreement and disagreement the reputation of the House has been improved in four ways.

First, a large number of charities, campaigning and pressure groups have become much more aware of the significance of Parliament, and of the Lords itself, in our role as scrutineers of Government proposals. That must be good.

Secondly, they have worked together to a much greater extent than previously in ensuring we were well briefed. The independent Commission led by Lord Harries of Pentregarth was especially effective in this respect, but so too were the Charities Aid Fund, Bond, AVECO, and individual organisations like the Royal British Legion, OXFAM and Friends of the Earth. That too was very helpful.

Thirdly, the result was a whole package of sensible amendments on which we worked together, with support from various parts of the House. A number of these were first tabled by me at the Committee stage but this week we shared responsibility for leading on them, with Lord Harries making the first case, and others of us following on, and some with me taking that role. We therefore had signatories from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat benches as well as from Crossbenchers. We also had Labour supporters when we voted, and carried the day as a result.

Fourthly, the combined effect of the above was that we have been securing some really useful improvements and clarification from Ministers. In particular, my colleagues Lord Wallace of Tankerness and Lord Wallace of Saltaire (no relations !) are to be commended for not only listening so carefully, but in seeking to meet the many concerns expressed by so many organisations – and expressed by us on their behalf during the Committee stage – before the Christmas Recess.

My only disappointment is that a cross-party attempt to exempt charities from the provisions of this Bill altogether was stillborn when the Opposition indicated it would back the Government in voting to keep charities inside the regulations. After all the complaints about the inadvertent effect the Bill could have on charities, I was perplexed by their decision.

We still have Third Reading on Tuesday, and I expect further improvements to be made at that point in relation to the operation of constituency spending limits. It is only to be hoped that the Prime Minister does not then wish to instruct colleagues in the Commons to vote against any of the amendments sent to them by the Lords. All are carefully considered and should be accepted. All in all, the end result will be a MUCH better Bill than the one which came to us from the other end of the building… and a very healthy reminder of the value of the House when it truly represents opinion outside.

3 comments for “Transparency Bill – nearly there, a little more to do

  1. Gareth Howell
    21/01/2014 at 1:25 pm

    Somebody suggested that I become involved with “Transparency”. Had I known that the noble lord Tyler is/was the leading light, I might well have taken a little more interest, when I was in the committee rooms in November, although the charities are not my strong suit.

    May he be well informed!

  2. maude elwes
    21/01/2014 at 5:17 pm

    How about this little talk for some honest transparency. It’s called ‘inequality for all.’

    Next election is taking far too long to arrive. No wonder the coalition wanted to set themselves up for a full five years with no right to scream ‘no confidence’ in order to nip this bunch of duffs hard in the bud.

    This must not ever be permitted to happen again. No, to a full five year term cast in stone never, ever.

  3. maude elwes
    26/01/2014 at 9:23 am

    What issue of transparency was discussed? Did it include all the topics that are conspicuously and illegally being withheld from the public arena?

    For example: How the wealthiest are removing the standard of living of all our classes from the poorest to the middle class? Housing is at an all time low forcing our children into homelessness, poverty and ill health not seen since Victoria sat on the throne?

    Was the true issues of unemployment outed at your discussions, thereby revealing that lies being told by those who run this show, in respect of those thrown off job seekers allowance, have no employment at all, and that the figures are massaged to keep you all afloat and the lot of you out of jail for the deception?

    And lastly but by no means least how this is exacerbated by our lack of border control? The one aspect of transparency that nobody wants to open up or address at all?

    Note so few replies to this thread, now I wonder why that is when so many of the population find the secrecy we live under oppressive and unbearable in its present form?

    And the follow up.

    Something has to change in order to stop this rot of secrecy on what is the truth taking place in our society and as a result making it impossible to resolve the issues before much longer.

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