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Electoral Commission Committee

Volume 573: debated on Thursday 9 January 2014

The hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission was asked—

Payments to Candidates (Speaking Engagements)

1. If the commission will take steps to ensure that political parties are fully accountable to the commission when receiving payment made to candidates for speaking engagements. (901873)

The Electoral Commission informs me that political parties have to report to it every three months regarding all donations they receive above a certain value, which would include any donation to a candidate that is then passed on to that candidate’s party. The law sets out clearly how political parties and individual politicians are responsible for reporting the political donations they receive, and the Electoral Commission is not aware of any issues that would require a change to the current system.

There is a scam that we all know has been going on for some time and it runs like this: a politician has a book ghosted for them—a biography or whatever—and it is then published, and that person is invited to go on a highly paid tour of the United Kingdom talking about the book that was ghost-written by somebody else, and the money flows either to leading candidates of the party or to the party itself. It is a scam. We know it goes on, but what is the hon. Gentleman doing to stamp it out?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for clarifying the purpose of his question. I must confess that I am not aware that that is a matter for the Electoral Commission at the moment, but if he would like to write to me setting out his concerns in more detail, I will ensure that the commission investigates the matter thoroughly and responds to him.