Government funded charities can discuss research findings, Bridges confirms

Cabinet Office Minister Lord Bridges has announced to Parliament that the anti-lobbying clause will not be used to curb freedom of speech, and maintained that recipients of government grants can continue to discuss the findings of publicly funded research.

The news comes after the Cabinet Office announced in February that a clause would be inserted into all new or renewed central government grant agreements from 1 May. The clause was intended to prevent government funds from being used to lobby or influence parliament, local government or political parties.

The clause was met with strong opposition from charities, with over 150 organisations writing to Matthew Hancock, minister at the Cabinet Office to call for the plans to be discarded.

Lord Bridges of Headley, a parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office, said that grant recipients could speak to the media or write press articles ‘so long as that does not incur costs to the public purse’.

Bridges said: “Grant recipients can continue to discuss the findings of publicly funded research with government or parliament, whether that be by giving evidence or in an advisory capacity.

“Regarding curbing freedom of speech by charities, that is not the case. Let me remind your lordships that charities make up only seven per cent of grant spend. Charities can continue to use any other funds to lobby government.

“Indeed, in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), where this clause has been in place for the past 18 months, Shelter, which has been receiving a grant from the DCLG, has continued to lobby this house and the other place on the contents of the housing bill, for example.”