Practical solidarity for a world that puts people first

Lobbying Bill part 3: Stop the personal data grab

Andrew Lansley, reading data on a computer

The government's controversial Lobbying Bill is currently in the Lords, as Andrew Lansley attempts to push it through Parliament against overwhelming public opposition.

Part one of the Bill fails to introduce a comprehensive register of lobbyists. Part two is a chilling attack on the free speech of groups other than political parties during elections. Unions are just one part of the wide coalition that has forced the government to ‘pause’ consideration of this.

But this means that the Lords debate on part three of the Bill has been brought forward to next Monday.

Action on this is urgent. Please read on to find out more about this attack on trade unionism and how you can help resist it.

Part three of the Bill regulates trade union membership (even though there is already a strong legal duty on unions to hold accurate membership data, which in any case is in their own interest).

But what is really worrying is that this adds up to real risks about the confidentiality of trade union membership. Of course we are proud to be trade unionists, but recent revelations about blacklisting show that employers still discriminate against union members.

The Bill will give the Certification Officer – a regulator appointed by the government – new powers to access membership records. Unions will have to appoint a membership assurer – from a list chosen by the government – who will have new powers to access membership records. Anyone will now be able to make complaints about union membership records – even employers in dispute with a union – or those with an anti-union political agenda. Those complaints will be assessed by investigators who also get new powers to pry into union membership records.

Of course the government claim that there will be safeguards, but when the full extent of the construction blacklisting scandal has yet to be investigated, we simply can't trust them with a change of this significance.

We welcome the pause in part two, but it means the government has rushed forward part 3 from consideration in December to next Monday November 11 which means we have not had the time to brief Peers properly or even make sure all of those on our side will be there.

We need to move quickly. Please help ensure the Lords are ready for this hastily called vote.

Adopt a Peer

You can help raise concerns about part three of the Lobbying Bill by writing to a member of the House of Lords. They aren't as used to individual lobbying as MPs, so receiving personal contacts from members of the public should really get their attention.

Of course, one of the reasons they don't get much contact is that they don't have a direct group of constituents. We can help get around this, using this tool to adopt a Peer. We'll match you at random to a member of the House of Lords and help you to contact them, either directly with a posted letter if you have time, or by email.

To get started, add your email address here:

(We'll use your email to update you on this campaign and related actions)

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