Cambridge Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert failed to attend Parliament for yesterday’s crucial debate on the Gagging Bill which many voluntary organisations believe will have a chilling effect on their activities.  On a key vote, the Government secured only a narrow majority.

Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee noted:  “had 19 more colleagues voted for the amendment rather than against it, it would have been carried. I am sure that that will be noted by the thousands of people who have sent in requests to colleagues to consider their plight seriously.”

The Bill has been strongly criticised by a wide range of charities for being rushed and poorly thought-through, and the Electoral Commission has warned that lack of clarity will leave many organisations uncertain about what they can or cannot do in the run-up to the General Election.

Cambridge Labour Parliamentary candidate Daniel Zeichner has warned that many Cambridge voluntary organisations will now find that they have to spend time considering carefully whether what they do takes them outside the new law.

 “I was astonished to see Julian Huppert at the Kelsey Kerridge Sports Hall attending the University Freshers Fair yesterday at the same time as MPs were debating the Gagging Bill. This is a highly illiberal measure which Cambridge people do not support. The MP should have been in Parliament representing them -; he has betrayed Cambridge.”

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