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House of Lords approves new law on lobbying and campaign spending

The House of Lords has narrowly approved a new bill aimed at reforming the rules on parliamentary lobbying and charity campaign spending, reports the BBC.

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill is currently undergoing its passage through Parliament, and had previously been amended three times by the upper house, only for all three amendments to be overturned by the House of Commons.

The Lords has the power to amend or reject bills presented to it by the House of Commons but, as the only elected chamber, ultimately the power to drive through new laws rests with the Commons.

The Lords was voting on whether to reinstate the three amendments, which would have sent the bill back to the House of Commons for further debate.

However, the Lords voted to pass the bill without the amendments, by just one vote, effectively meaning the bill will now become law in its current, final form.

The purpose of the bill is to tighten the rules on campaign spending during elections. The idea is to prevent charities and organisations not running for election directly from spending vast sums campaigning on particular issues.

The bill will mean that charities which spend over a certain threshold on campaigning will now have to register with the Electoral Commission, even if they are not putting up a candidate in the election and are not a political party.

The limit on spending by non-political parties will be £9,750 in a single constituency during an election period.

A spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth said the charity was disappointed with the ruling.

"We are bitterly disappointed that ministers did not listen to the united voice of charities and campaigning groups on this poorly thought out legislation," the spokeswoman said.

"Instead the Government has forced through a bad bill in record time that will limit groups like Friends of the Earth from speaking out on behalf of their supporters ahead of elections."