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Election Expenses: Northern Ireland

Volume 639: debated on Thursday 26 April 2018

5. To ask the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, what discussions the Committee has had with the Electoral Commission on the decision to publish election expenses in Northern Ireland submitted since July 2017. (904967)

On 12 March 2018, the Electoral Commission published the first information about political donations and loans in Northern Ireland following the necessary legislation coming into force. This gives details about donations and loans received from 1 July 2017. The Electoral Commission welcomes this transparency, but continues to urge the Government to bring forward additional legislation to enable transparency from 1 January 2014, as envisaged by the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014.

I am grateful for that answer, because it confirms the clear view of the Electoral Commission that full transparency requires donations from 2014 to be fully declared, including the £425,000 donation that was effectively laundered through the good offices of the Democratic Unionist party, which was almost certainly raised in mainland Great Britain and almost entirely spent in mainland Great Britain. Will the hon. Lady tell us whose interests can possibly be protected by keeping that particular donation secret?

The law requires the Electoral Commission to keep confidential all information about donations and loans in Northern Ireland before 1 July 2017, and it is unable to make any comments about donations to the DUP prior to that point. However, it remains of the view that donations and loans from 1 January 2014 should be published and continues to urge the Government to bring forward the necessary legislation.