Candidate clashes with Clegg over new lobbying bill

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A war of words has broken out between Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg and a candidate vying for his seat, over proposals to ‘stifle’ free speech.

Labour’s Oliver Coppard has accused Mr Clegg of attempting to prevent criticism on his position on university tuition fees through the heavily-criticised lobbying bill.

Part of the proposed legislation includes new controls to limit the overt political activities of campaign groups and trade unions, which Mr Coppard believes would ‘significantly hamper the democratic right of people to organise campaigns and challenge government policies and actions’.

He said: “There is significant and legitimate concern in Sheffield Hallam that Mr Clegg is using this legislation as a misguided opportunity to stop criticism of your position on student fees, and to restrict the ability of the National Union of Students to hold the party to account for so brazenly abandoning the pledge not to raise fees.”

A spokesman for Mr Clegg said: “Labour had 13 years and numerous lobbying scandals in government but failed to regulating lobbying or take big money out of politics. It is a shame they are failing to support this Government’s efforts to start doing just that.”