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A cheap muzzle is still a muzzle, Dr Cullen

A cheap muzzle is still a muzzle, Dr Cullen

Green MP Sue Bradford said today that the Government’s proposed rewrite of the Charities Bill has ignored the real concerns of the community and voluntary sector that the bill poses a significant threat to the sector’s autonomy and freedom from government control.

“Reducing the compliance costs is only part of the sector’s concerns over the Charities Bill,” said Ms Bradford, the Green Party’s Community and Voluntary sector spokesperson.

“The Charities Bill still poses a direct threat to the democratic and independent voice of the sector.

“That’s what the community and voluntary sector is really concerned about. It’s not just about the compliance costs, its about ensuring the sector is free from excessive government control - and under the Bill’s current form, any government could wield undue influence in return for tax exemptions.

“Had the Government adequately consulted with the sector, it would have realised that the compliance costs were only one of a number of factors in the sector’s opposition to the bill,” she said.

“The Government needs to redeem itself to the sector by throwing out the Bill, starting from scratch and - this time - talk to the people who work in the sector that is directly affected by this deeply flawed legislation.”

Ms Bradford said predictions that the Bill would likely be enacted within the final two months of the year raised fears that history is bound to repeat itself.

“Michael Cullen and Margaret Wilson must realise that this Bill is a total botch-up that was founded on little consultation with the sector. By setting an unrealistic deadline for the Bill’s passing, it seems obvious that the Government is still not interested in consulting widely on this legislation.

“The revision of the Charities Bill looks like it will be as inadequate as the original draft,” she said.

“I hope that no other political party will see any sense in supporting the revised Charities Bill. We should stop it dead in its tracks and send a clear message to the Government that it needs to start all over again and give a clear commitment to the sector that it will consult widely and thoroughly.”

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