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Political Party Funding

Volume 542: debated on Tuesday 20 March 2012

6. What recent discussions he has had on political donations arising from the proceeds of crime as part of his proposals for the reform of party funding. (100627)

The Government are committed to reform of party funding and believe that this is best achieved, where possible, through consensus. I recently wrote to party leaders asking them to nominate representatives for cross-party discussions. Arrangements for those discussions are being finalised, and I hope that they will commence shortly.

I am very pleased that the Deputy Prime Minister has answered this question. I want to ask him about the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, which allows for the recovery of money from crime. Money stolen by fraudsters such as Michael Brown is surely tainted within the spirit of the Act, and as such it should be recovered, as I am sure the Deputy Prime Minister agrees. Will he apply the principles of the Act to his party funding reforms?

As the hon. Lady knows, the Electoral Commission looked in great depth at the donation made by Mr Brown five, six or seven years ago and concluded, as the watchdog that oversees these things, that the money was taken in good faith by the Liberal Democrats and all the reasonable checks were made by the party at the time.

If we are going to talk about party donations being tainted, is it not important that we ensure that tax avoiders and non-domiciles who supported the Labour party are also dealt with?

It is quite gutsy of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) to raise this when prominent members of her own party such as Ken Livingstone seem to have very exotic tax arrangements, and when the Labour party now relies for 90% of its funding on trade unions that then write the parliamentary questions that Labour Members read out in this Chamber.