Tag Archives: committee on standards in public life

Opinion: Party funding plans to be kicked into the long grass – but what’s the alternative?

Proposals from the Committee on Standards in Public Life for state funding of political parties were kicked into the long grass by all three major players before the report was even officially published.

Reaction from various interested sources and commentators has been almost unanimously opposed to the idea with some, notably the Taxpayers’ Alliance, outraged by the proposals.

The key thrust of most of the arguments against the plan is simply that the time is wrong to burden tax payers with state funding of politic parties at a time when so many budgets are being cut, jobs being lost and deficits being …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 16 Comments

Opinion: What right do politicians have to decide rules on their own jobs?

The party funding report by the Committee for Standards in Public Life was barely off the printers and politicians from all parties were saying they were broadly supportive, but more importantly could not back the main suggestion that state funding of political parties be increased.

Party funding will always be tough to square given the reliance of Labour on union money and the Conservatives (and increasingly the Liberal Democrats) on major donors. State funding is inevitable to reduce sleaze, real or inferred, and trust in politics. It only costs  the equivalent of a couple of first class stamps a year, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Clegg and Farron on party funding: yes to action now, no to more taxpayer contributions

Sir Christopher Kelly’s report for Parliament’s Committee on Standards in Public Life was published yesterday, Political Party Finance – Ending the big donor culture: you can read it and the evidence considered by the inquiry here.

Here are the main proposals:

  • A cap of £10,000-a-year on donations from any individual or organisation — including trade unions — to any political party with at least two MPs or two representatives at the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. Trade union affiliation fees could be counted as a collection of small individual payments, but only if members are required to
  • Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 14 Comments

    Parliamentary candidates asked to publish their financial interests and tax status

    Sometimes good intentions don’t quite result in the good outcomes you’d wish. In this case, the issue is a recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life that general election candidates should have to publish their financial interests just as MPs do.

    The logic is a good one: if you’re a voter wanting to chose between candidates, it’s a bit odd if you only know about the financial interests of an MP standing for re-election but not of the people they’re up against. You want to know the interests before you cast your vote, not find out afterwards whether or not you should regret your choice.

    However, as the committee recognised, its proposals came out too late to change the law for the 2010 general election. Therefore instead the Ministry of Justice has just published a voluntary scheme, detailing a recommended set of questions that candidates should answer about their financial interests.

    Perhaps the most controversial will be the section on tax, where people are asked if:

    I confirm that, for the tax year 2008/09, I have not claimed to be, or been treated as not resident, not ordinarily resident or non-domiciled in the UK for tax purposes.

    Non-doms are a controversial issues anyway; the appearance of this recommendation just before an election is unlikely to cool such partisan passions. When neither Parliament nor the Committee on Standards in Public Life have decided on such a rule (so far – and I hope they do in due course), should the Ministry of Justice unilaterally be slipping it in to a report so soon before an election?

    Overall, the recommendations themselves acknowledge that they go beyond what is currently required of MPs. To require candidates to publish the same information as is required of MPs makes obvious sense; for a government ministry to go beyond that off its own bat could turn out to be quite controversial.

    With a voluntary code, published rather late in the day and plenty of scope for individual candidates to partially answer the questions, we’re unlikely to see a triumph of transparency that results in voters being significantly better informed. However, it will at the very least provide a test of the different provisions which should make for better legislation when the whole process most likely becomes law during the next Parliament.

    You can read the full guidance below:

    Declarations of Interests by Parliamentary Election Candidates

    Posted in Election law | Also tagged and | 4 Comments
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