WEST Oxfordshire councillors have criticised district council leaders for “gagging” a debate about a lobbying bill currently under scrutiny in Parliament.

At a meeting of the full council last Wednesday, independent councillor David Snow claimed the bill, aimed at curbing corporate lobbying, was “hugely disrespectful to the electorate”.

But the motion was referred to a cabinet meeting on February 12 by chairman David Cotterill.

Charities and campaign groups say they could be seriously affected by the proposed law.

Mr Snow said: “This bill has slipped under the radar for some, but is intended to be passed into law before the General Election.

“People have every right to exercise their democratic right.”

Labour councillor Duncan Enright supported Mr Snow.

He said: “We were not allowed to debate the motion. We have been gagged when we were trying to debate the gagging bill.”

Mr Cotterill defended the move and said: “It’s a complex issue. There needs to be a wider debate and cabinet is the opportunity to do it. We did not ‘gag’ the debate.

“It would have just been aimless and empty outbursts.”