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Political Levy

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 17 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how the Certification Officer oversees political funds and finances of trades unions. (179427)

[holding answer 16 January 2008]: The certification officer determines complaints brought by members alleging breaches of political fund rules or about the conduct of political fund ballots or the application of general funds for political purposes. He also considers for approval the draft political fund rules of a trade union and the draft rules for ballots concerning political funds.

The certification officer receives, examines and makes available for inspection the annual returns of the financial affairs of trade unions, which include accounts of political funds. I refer to my answer to question 2007/968 about the certification officer's treatment of the annual returns of trade unions. He may, in specified circumstances, appoint an inspector to investigate and report upon the financial affairs of a trade union (except certain federated trade unions). He may also, if he thinks there is good reason to do so, require a trade union to produce relevant documents and explanations of the documents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what proportion of the Certification Officer’s time is spent overseeing political funds and finances of trades unions. (179428)

[holding answer 16 January 2008]: The certification officer (CO) estimates in broad terms the proportion of time spent by his staff (not including the CO’s time) in certain areas of his statutory duties. His annual reports for the past five years show the following in relation to the proportion of time spent by his staff on finances of trade unions and political funds. The column headed ‘Political Funds’ will mainly relate to the approval of political fund ballot rules and political funds rules. However, some political fund work may also be included in the other two columns.

Percentage

1 April to 31 March

Political funds

Annual returns of trade unions and employers’ associations and the maintenance of the lists of TUs and EAS

Complaints and trade union finances

2002-03

12

57

37

2003-04

5

50

41

2004-05

7

51

35

2005-06

2.5

57

35

2006-07

2

54

41

1 Political funds and trade union independence