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Political Parties: Funding

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 30 March 2010

Statement

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Jack Straw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

At the request of Sir Hayden Phillips, and on his behalf, I am today placing in the Library of the House the agendas, papers and minutes for the five meetings which he chaired and which were attended by representatives of the three main parties in 2007 on the funding of political parties. (These items are also being placed on the Ministry of Justice website, at www.justice.gov.uk.) Sir Hayden has asked me to say that, as far as the minutes of the meetings are concerned, only those of the first meeting were agreed by the parties. The other four were drafts from the secretariat to the talks, authorised for circulation and comment to the parties by Sir Hayden. The agendas, papers and minutes are released in their entirety. There is one substantive exception to this: a paper produced following the fourth session of the talks which contained legal advice from Ministry of Justice officials on donation caps. The advice was given in confidence and Sir Hayden judges he should respect that. However Sir Hayden wishes to make it clear that the content of the advice relates to the lawfulness of a proposal to impose a cap on political donations, and the advice given was that a cap was capable of being compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, provided that it was prescribed by law and sought to achieve a legitimate aim in a proportionate way. The CVs of two advisors to the talks have also been removed as they do not relate to the substantive discussions.