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Candidates (Declaration of Donations)

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 8 May 2008

6. If the Electoral Commission will take steps to ensure that candidates for directly elected office declare donations made to them separately from donations made to their political party. (204056)

The rules on reporting donations by parties and candidates are set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. The commission’s role is to ensure compliance with those rules. The commission informs me that it publishes guidance for parties, candidates and agents, provides advice on request, and takes enforcement action in accordance with the Act if the rules are not followed.

It is unacceptable that a candidate for, and the incumbent of, a directly elected office, particularly that of, for example, the elected mayor in London, do not have to declare donations, especially if that person is a sole-person planning authority meeting in private. We really must have transparency to see who is funding that person. I urge the Electoral Commission to have another look at that.

The rules for declaring donations overlap and are not consistent. Donations over £1,000 made to an individual in connection with political activities must be reported to the commission within 30 days of acceptance. Donations over the value of £50 for use by a candidate during the regulated period must be reported in the candidate’s election expenses return. For the mayoral election in London, the expense return is due 70 days after the election result is declared. Meanwhile, donations over £5,000 received by a party must be reported in the party’s quarterly donation report to the commission.

Perhaps I may add that the commission received a number of complaints alleging a failure by Ken Livingstone to report donations in connection with the mayoral election. The commission concluded that there was no evidence of a breach of the donation reporting requirements.