Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill — After clause 20 — 29 Nov 2000

Mr John Gummer MP, Suffolk Coastal voted in the minority (No).

Lords amendments considered.

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 2, line 46, at end insert--

("(3A) A person may not be appointed as an Electoral Commissioner if the person--

(a) is a member of a registered party;

(b) is an officer or employee of a registered party or of any accounting unit of such a party;

(c) holds a relevant elective office (within the meaning of Schedule 6); or

(d) has at any time within the last ten years--

(i) been such an officer or employee as is mentioned in paragraph (b), or

(ii) held such an office as is mentioned in paragraph (c), or

(iii) been named as a donor in the register of donations reported under Chapter III or IV of Part IV.")

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Deputy Speaker:

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 2, 3, 12, 357 to 368, 370 and amendments (a) and (b) thereto, 371, 372 and amendments (a) and (b) thereto, and 373.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 2 and 3 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 4, in page 3, line 36, after ("17(1)") insert

(", ( Transfer of functions of Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland )(1)")

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

29 Nov 2000 : Column 1048

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 5 to 25 agreed to, one with Special Entry.

Lords amendment: No. 26, in page 12, line 4, at beginning insert ("Subject to subsection (2A),")

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 27 to 33, 40, 41, 46 to 51, 53 to 55, 57, 61 and 62, 68 and amendment (a) thereto, 69, 71 and amendments (b) and (a) in lieu thereof, 73 to 79, 81 to 83, 97 and 131, 132 and amendment (a) in lieu thereof, 133 and amendments (a) to (g) thereto, 134, 142, 149, 213, 214, 218, 265, 267, 329, 333, 339, 343, 345, 376 to 378, 380, 390, 407, 436, 437, 487, 488, 541, 542 and 642.

You should be aware that already many potential donors to political parties here do not donate due to fear. Even with the huge endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement, the problem with public declaration will still exist.

Over a number of years, because of the political situation in Northern Ireland, people did not want to be identified with political parties . . . because of the risk factor in Northern Ireland . . . We are happy enough to put forward those people who give us donations of £5,000 or more but it would be important for them that it was kept private or confidential to an electoral committee or something like that, rather than be made public in the press.

in relation to donations to political parties in Northern Ireland, the definition of a permissible source should also include a citizen of the Republic of Ireland resident in the Republic subject to compliance with the Republic's Electoral Act 1997.

politics in Northern Ireland is not yet conducted on quite the same basis as it is in Great Britain.--[ Official Report, House of Lords , 10 October 2000; Vol. 617, c. 246.]

The Government are not expressing the view of the vast majority of the people in the island of Ireland by permitting contributions to be brought from America to support the different factions in the IRA--and making excuses for doing so . . . I know from my experience at the SDLP's yearly functions in the Republic that the amount that we received from people there to help our political objectives would not bankrupt the exchequer.--[ Official Report, House of Lords , 27 November 2000; Vol. 619, c. 1119.]

The most obvious example from my point of view is that the Irish diaspora, predominantly that in America, will be allowed to donate to Sinn Fein but the Scottish and Welsh diaspora will not be allowed to donate to the SNP or to Plaid Cymru. In that respect at least, violence has paid.--[ Official Report, House of Lords , 27 November 2000; Vol. 619, c. 1114.]

I do not want terrorists parties on either side of the argument in Northern Ireland to flourish, but I recognise that a significant amount of funding of some of those parties, on both sides of the divide, comes not from foreign sources but from rampant protection rackets in the Province. There are other sources of money flowing into the political body.

This clause is based on the wrong underlying philosophy and the wrong legislative theory.--[ Official Report , 14 March 2000; Vol. 346, c. 196.]

(a) a registered party of which one or more members are members of the Northern Ireland Assembly; or

(b) a registered party of which one or more members are Members of the House of Commons elected for constituencies in Northern Ireland.

to provide parties both locally and nationally with a central, collated and up-to-date version of the electoral register.

The simplest solution would be some form of "on line" access so that parties and the Electoral Commission could check whether a donor was on a register when the donation was made.

The aim would be to have such a system in place for next October--

I support the amendment moved by the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Walter).

The Government have finally bitten the bullet and, through this Bill, have introduced provisions that will control national expenditure on elections. It is perverse therefore that we should say that there is one part of the United Kingdom where we cannot find a way of getting on top of the problem and that we need clause 63--

to run away from it. This clause is based on the wrong underlying philosophy and the wrong legislative theory.--[ Official Report , 14 March 2000; Vol. 346, c. 195-6.]

I do not discount the period suggested in the amendment, but I would ask the Committee to reject it at this stage, so that we may see what emerges from the discussions.--[ Official Report, Standing Committee G , 27 January 2000; c. 183.]

Labour has made clear that if it wins the next election it will outlaw contributions to party funds from overseas donors. While this would not prevent Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams raising funds for their new Washington office, it would stop his party using the money in Northern Ireland.

senior party sources have confirmed that

believes that these rules would apply to any party contesting elections in the United Kingdom.

Sources have indicated that Mr Straw is "relaxed" about the fact that it would now extend to the republican party.

We are pleased that you have felt able to accept our recommendation in relation to an exemption from the reporting requirements in respect of donations made to political parties in Northern Ireland.

It then set out some of the arguments. It continued:

One matter of concern arises . . . The protection afforded by clause 63 of the draft Bill is to be made available only to those political parties which have succeeded in winning seats either in the Northern Ireland Assembly or in the Westminster Parliament . . . We are concerned for two reasons. First, your proposal implies that a political party which, for example, achieves only one seat in an election and loses it in the next will, in losing that seat, lose the clause 63 protection. We believe it to be unsatisfactory that the protection should, in these circumstances, vary in this way. Second, we believe that as regards those parties which have (so far) unsuccessfully fielded candidates at elections, their exclusion from clause 63 would place them at an unfair disadvantage.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 27 to 31 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 32, insert the following new clause--

("The registers of political parties

The new registers

.--(1) In place of the register of political parties maintained by the registrar of companies under the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998, there shall be the new registers of political parties mentioned in subsection (2) which--

(a) shall be maintained by the Commission, and

(b) (subject to the provisions of this section) shall be so maintained in such form as the Commission may determine.

(2) The new registers of political parties are--

(a) a register of parties that intend to contest relevant elections in one or more of England, Scotland and Wales (referred to in this Act as "the Great Britain register"); and

(b) a register of parties that intend to contest relevant elections in Northern Ireland (referred to in this Act as "the Northern Ireland register").

(3) Each party registered in the Great Britain register shall be so registered in respect of one or more of England, Scotland and Wales; and the entry for each party so registered shall be marked so as to indicate--

(a) the part or parts of Great Britain in respect of which it is registered; and

(b) if the party is a minor party, that it is such a party.

(4) A party may be registered under this Part in both of the new registers, but where a party is so registered--

(a) the party as registered in the Great Britain register, and

(b) the party as registered in the Northern Ireland register,

shall constitute two separate registered parties.

(5) In such a case--

(a) the party shall for the purposes of this Act be so organised and administered as to secure that the financial affairs of the party in Great Britain are conducted separately from those of the party in Northern Ireland;

(b) the financial affairs of the party in Great Britain or (as the case may be) Northern Ireland, shall accordingly constitute for those purposes the financial affairs of the party as registered in the Great Britain register or (as the case may be) the Northern Ireland register; and

(c) any application for the registration of a party in accordance with subsection (4) shall similarly be made and determined by reference to the party's organisation and activities in Great Britain and Northern Ireland respectively.

(6) The Secretary of State may by order make provision for the transfer to the Commission of any property, rights and liabilities to which the registrar of companies is entitled or subject in connection with his functions under the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998; and an order under this subsection may in particular provide for the order to have effect despite any provision (of whatever nature) which would prevent or restrict the transfer of the property, rights or liabilities otherwise than by the order.")

Motion made, and Question put, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.-- [Mr. Mike O'Brien.]

The House divided:-- Ayes 380, Noes 143.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Con0 134 (+2 tell)085.0%
Ind0 1050.0%
Lab347 (+2 tell) 0083.9%
LDem31 0066.0%
PC2 0050.0%
SNP0 2033.3%
UUP0 6066.7%
Total:380 143081.8%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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NameConstituencyPartyVote
no rebellions

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