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Public Issues

Related pages: Parliament

Working in politics

Quakers, at all times, seek to balance active campaigning with constructive dialogue with government and MPs, in the United Kingdom.

This dialogue takes the form of responses to government consultations, submissions to government and Select Committees and meetings with MPs.

If you or your Meeting contact with your MP, another elected representative or a member of the House of Lords, please do email Jessica Metheringham, parliamentary engagement officer, at jessicam@quaker.org.uk.

Update on parliamentary and political work

Download a monthly parliamentary update on a few of the issues covered. Not everything covered in the month makes it on to the update, and new PDFs will be uploaded at the end of each month.

Recent events: 2014 elections

On 22 May elections were held for the European Parliament. Around 150 local councils in England also held elections on the same day.

Some meetings helped to raise awareness of the elections and encouraged Friends and friends alike to vote on 22 May. Other meetings organised hustings, where voters to meet the candidates and ask questions about their party policies or personal views. For future use, a briefing on how to hold a hustings event is available here.

The new MEPs took their seats on 1 July. For more information about the European Parliament, visit the website of the Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA), which works in Brussels to promote Quaker values at a European level. You could also watch this web-based seminar hosted by the QCEA British Committee.

Opportunity for action: Replacement for Trident nuclear weapons

On 1 July an independent and cross-part Trident Commission published a report. It stated that it could not see a credible alternative to Trident. Quakers in Britain strongly disagree, and made comments about Trident in this press release.

Meetings and individuals are encouraged to meet with their constituency MP to voice their concern over a measure that would encourage proliferation and waste billions of pounds at a time of austerity. A Quaker briefing including a template letter is available here.

The Joint Public Issues Team of Baptists, Methodists and the URC produced this excellent and still-relevant briefing on Trident.

Use this material:
  • To write to your MP, MEP, MSP/AM or parliamentary candiate regarding Trident
  • In dialogue with councillors, parliamentary candiates, and any community groups or other faith groups discussing Trident
  • To encourage discussion in your Local or Area Meeting
  • For reference and discussion in local and national meetings (including public meetings hosted by other organisations)
  • For context in work with local media and on-line debate

Legislation: Lobbying Act

Faith groups outside Parliament to protest against the Lobbying BillQuakers in Britain have been actively involved with the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill (now an Act), and are one of many organisations supporting the Civil Society Commission chaired by Richard Harries. The picture to the right shows faith representatives, including Quakers, outside Parliament to protest about the Lobbying Bill.

The Bill has passed through both Houses of Parliament and is now an Act. It was disappointing that an amendment to exclude staff costs was rejected in the last stages of the Bill. A number of organisations including Quakers in Britain will be seeking a meeting with the Electoral Commission to clarify what the impact of this new legislation will be. The Electoral Commission is expected to publish guidance in summer 2014.

In September 2013 thirteen faith-based organisations signed a letter asking the Government to delay passage of the Bill. In November 2013 Quakers in Britain provided a briefing to Peers in the House of Lords. Although the timescales have moved since this briefing was written, the key points are still relevant. On 22 January 2014 the House of Commons disagreed to Amendment 108 regarding the exclusion of staff costs, and we produced a template letter for writing to MPs for Friends.

If you would like to know more about implications of the new legislation, you could read the Civil Society Commission's useful analysis of the Act. Quakers in Britain remains one of the key organisations behind the Civil Society Commission and over the next few months will continue to work with them to understand the Lobbying Act.

Use this material:
  • To write to your MP regarding the Lobbying Bill/Act
  • In dialogue with MPs and Peers discussing the impact of the Lobbying Bill/Act
  • For reference and discussion in local and national meetings (including public meetings hosted by other organisations)
  • For context in work with local media and on-line debate

Political guides

Elections and hustings: a guide for meetings and individuals

Coming soon: more short guides covering topics such as campaigning, writing to MPs and identifying elected representatives

Briefings

Briefings for Quakers giving background on political issues

Submissions

Submissions to parliamentary committees and commissions

Articles

Articles from The Friend, giving more background on the issues

Some useful governmental and political website links