Why is the government dragging its heels over party funding law?
Author: Zoe Stavri
Published on Sep 20, 2012
In 2009, the Political Parties and Elections Act was passed. It included a provision that donations and loans to political parties of over £7500 must be accompanied by a declaration that the donor is resident and domiciled in Britain- i.e. they must be liable for British income tax. The rationale behind the law was simple: MPs across all parties agreed it was not right for parties to be funded by donors who did not pay tax in Britain.
Three years after receiving Royal Assent, the law is still not being enforced. First, Labour decided to delay its enforcement until after the general election. Two years after, it is still awaiting a commencement order from a minister in the current government so the Electoral Commission can begin to enforce the law and give it teeth.
Why is it taking so long to enforce this relatively simple tweak to party funding law? A report from the Times today (£) reveals that the cracking down on party funding from non-domiciled donors might not be beneficial for one of the Coalition partners.
The Conservative Party has received donations of £227, 000 from from entrepreneur and Monaco resident David Instance in the last ten years, and £73, 000 from property billionaires and Monaco residents the Candy brothers between 2009 and 2010. Also living in Monaco is Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay, who has donated £5million to the party since 2001, but promised to stop in 2009. His company, Abbey Business Centre has picked up the slack, having donated £53, 000 since then. Do you know of any other large donations to political parties from non-domiciled donors?
Donations like this are in keeping with the law as it is currently enforced, and the government is showing little sign of making any changes to this state of affairs. When they are dragging their heels so much on enforcing existing law, what hope is there for introducing new laws, such as introducing a cap on donations?
If you’re interested in keeping an eye on party funding, check out our Donor of the Week series, shedding light on who is funding whom. You can also write to your MP demanding they put on the pressure to change this scandalous state of affairs.