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That leave be given to bring in a Bill to regulate the system of funding of political parties ; and for connected purposes. I introduced a similar Bill in the previous Session. Events since then have made such a Bill even more relevant, especially in view of the excellent work being undertaken by the Home Affairs Select Committee. Much of the material on the subject has been brought together in Martin Linton's recent well-publicised pamphlet for the Institute for Public Policy Research, although I must stress that the Bill is not concerned with the state funding of political parties. The Bill has three main aims. The first is to prohibit donations by foreign nationals who are not normally resident in this country, and by overseas companies and overseas Governments. The second is to ensure the recording and publication of donations above a certain limit ; I suggest about £1,000, but I am not too tight on that. The third is to require political parties to publish income and expenditure accounts, in the way in which companies and trade unions do.
Those objectives should commend themselves beyond the Opposition Benches. We know that many Conservatives are becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of accounts and accountability in their own party. Even the Prime Minister does not seem to be fully informed. When I asked him at Question Time on 19 October about Tory party finances, he said :
"There are a great many secret sources and they are all cheese and wine parties up and down the country."-- [Official Report, 19 October 1993 ; Vol. 230, c. 144.]
There was £440,000 from Asil Nadir and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, from Greek shipowner John Latsis, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing and fugitive from justice and ex-Nissan boss Octav Botnar. That is a lot of big cheeses, let alone glasses of wine. Perhaps the Prime Minister thinks that the dinners that he has been persuaded to put on again at No. 10 are just a few chums popping by for a snack. Perhaps his party officers do not tell him how the bite is put on subsequently for party funds. The Bill would help him to know how his party is funded, even if it would not help him to know other matters about his party. After all, his attitude is that we should not ask him because he is only the Prime Minister. The Bill would also help the Tory party to dispel unjustified accusations about its funding. Tories have been very upset recently by the allegations by my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) about Saudi funding. Open disclosure would clear that matter up ; my proposed ban on foreign funding would have saved them from the embarrassment in the first place. We would not have to concern ourselves with the rumours which were circulating long before the current story on the Malaysian dam that there were payments into Tory party slush funds from Malaysian arms deals. Everything would be there in the open. We would not have to worry about whether funding had come from right-wing foundations in the United States or from the Government of Brunei. Is not it ridiculous that a major political party in this country should be dependent on money from people who cannot even vote in our elections? That is why the United States, Canada and most European countries ban foreign donations ; we should follow their example.
Column 766At one of the famous Downing street dinners, almost half those present benefited from foreign domicile tax status, a nice little loophole that costs ordinary taxpayers £1 billion a year. It makes the United Kingdom one of only four western European countries--I say "countries" in inverted commas because the others are the Channel Islands, Luxembourg and Switzerland--which has that status. The right hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont), as Financial Secretary, initiated a review of that loophole. The initiative was stopped by the then Chanceller of the Exchequer, the present Prime Minister. I am sure that the recipients were grateful. We would like to know how grateful. How many pounds' worth of gratitude did they express?
For domestic donors, there is the honours system. The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) rather pompously claims that honours cannot be sold because of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. However, some unkind person has noticed a rather strong--how can I put it delicately?--statistical correlation between companies' donations to the Tory party and honours to their chairmen and managing directors. If we knew about individual donations, we might be able to make an even better match.
The Tory party might say that we are being unfair : we should let the public know and we should let them draw their own conclusions. It is not only Opposition Members, but the public and Tory party members, who are concerned. I do not refer only to the Charter Group, which has been most prominent in the campaign for proper accounts. After all, the House passed a resolution in 1949 saying that political parties should have proper accounts. Perhaps it is time that we put that into practice. I refer also to individual Tory party members across the country. Membership of the Tory party is collapsing. When, for example, it was revealed that party funds had been used to pay the legal expenses of the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames in his attempts to evict an undesirable tenant, the vice-chairman of the Tory party estimated that the party had lost £500,000 in donations. Why should ordinary Tory party members fund such excesses? Why should they bother even with wine and cheese parties when they believe, probably rightly, that the super rich at home and abroad will bail the party out? That is why the Tories have become increasingly dependent on donations to central party funds--£7.5 million in 1989, £15.8 million in 1991 and a whopping £20.7 million in 1992.
It is also a matter of public concern that the Tories seem to be becoming increasingly cavalier about the few rules that we have. While attention has rightly been focused on the auditor's report on designated sales in Westminster, we should not forget the question marks over the financing of the Tory campaign in Westminster and the money that may have to be paid back on the instructions of the Charity Commission. My hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle) is only too well aware of a similar undercover channelling of money to her opponent's campaign.
I remember the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 being debated because I was a member of the Committee. Conservative Members called for more detailed accounts. In their own affairs, however, it is clear that they claim the right to silence. In the recent debate on the Criminal Justice Bill, Tory spokesmen speaking on the so-called "right to silence" have been fond of the slogan : "Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear."
Column 767That is why they so strongly oppose these changes and that is why they claim the right to silence. They have a lot to hide. I hope that the Bill and the Select Committee report will help to lift the corner slightly on the dark, sleazy world of Tory party finance and expose it to some scrutiny and sunlight. Sunlight, in the words of the American Supreme Court of Justice, is, in a democracy, the best disinfectant. We need to clean up political funding in this country ; we need the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. John Spellar, Mrs. Barbara Roche, Mr. Mike O'Brien, Mr. David Winnick, Ms Angela Eagle, Mr. D. N. Campbell- Savours, Mr. Andrew Mackinlay, Mr. Gordon McMaster and Mr. Chris Mullin.
Mr. John Spellar accordingly presented a Bill to regulate the system of funding of political parties ; and for connected purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 11 March, and to be printed. [Bill 40.]
That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Bill :--
--Committee of the Whole House
1.--(1) The Proceedings in Committee of the whole House shall be completed at this day's sitting and shall be brought to a conclusion at Ten o'clock.
(2) When the Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into a Committee on the Bill, the Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any Question and the House shall resolve itself into a Committee forthwith whether or not notice of an instruction to the Committee has been given ; and Standing Order No. 64 (Committee of whole House on bill) shall not apply.
(3) Standing Order No. 80 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to the proceedings to which this paragraph applies.
2.--(1) The Standing Committee to which the remainder of the Bill is allocated shall report the Bill not later than 29th March. (2) Proceedings at a sitting of the Standing Committee on 29th March may continue until Ten o'clock whether or not the House is adjourned before that time, and if the House is adjourned before those proceedings have been brought to a conclusion, the Standing Committee shall report the Bill to the House on 30th March.
--Report and Third Reading
3.--(1) The proceedings on consideration and Third Reading shall be completed in two allotted days and shall be brought to a conclusion at Ten o'clock on the second of those days.
(2) On the first of those days, paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall, notwithstanding sub-paragraph (a) of that paragraph, apply to the proceedings on the Bill for only one hour after Ten o'clock.
(3) The proceedings on Third Reading may be proceeded with at the conclusion of the proceedings on consideration, notwithstanding the practice of the House as to the interval between stages of a Bill brought in on ways and means resolutions.
4.--(1) For the purposes of Standing Order No. 80 (Business Committee) this Order shall be taken to allot to the proceedings on consideration such part of the allotted days as the Resolution of the Business Committee may determine.
(2) The Business Committee shall report to the House its Resolution as to the proceedings on consideration of the Bill, and as to the allocation of time between those proceedings and proceedings on Third Reading, not later than 14th April.
(3) Any Resolution of the Business Committee may be varied by a further Report of the Committee under Standing Order No. 80, whether before or after 14th April and whether or not that Resolution has been agreed to by the House.
(4) No Motion shall be made as to the order in which proceedings on consideration are taken, but the Resolutions of the Business Committee may include alterations in that order.
Procedure in Standing Committee
5.--(1) At a sitting of the Standing Committee at which any proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee, the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee under any Order relating to the sittings of the Committee until those proceedings have been brought to a conclusion. (2) No Motion shall be made in the Standing Committee relating to the sitting of the Committee except by a Minister of the
Column 769Crown, and the Chairman shall permit a brief explanatory statement from the Member who moves, and from a Member who opposes, the Motion, and shall then put the Question thereon.
(3) No Motion shall be made as to the order in which proceedings are to be considered in the Standing Committee, but the Resolutions of the Business Sub-Committee may include alterations in that order. Report of proceedings in Committee
6. On the conclusion of the proceedings in any Committee on the Bill, the Chairman shall report such of the Bill's provisions as were committed (or re-committed) to that Committee to the House without putting any Question.
7. No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of proceedings on, the Bill shall be made in the Standing Committee or on an allotted day except by a Minister of the Crown, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.
8.--(1) On the first of the allotted days mentioned in paragraph 3, any period during which proceedings on the Bill may be proceeded with after Ten o'clock under paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 20 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) shall be in addition to the period of one hour mentioned in paragraph 3(2).
(2) If that allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) stands over from an earlier day a period of time equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion shall be added to the period of one hour.
9. Any private business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on an allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill on that day, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or, if those proceedings are concluded before Ten o'clock, for a period equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the conclusion of those proceedings.
Procedure at time for conclusion of proceedings
10. For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee or the Business Sub-Committee and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or the Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others)--
(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair ;
(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed (including, in the case of a new Clause or new Schedule which has been read a second time, whether before the time so appointed or in pursuance of paragraph (a), the Question that the Clause of Schedule, or the Clause or Schedule as amended, be added to the Bill) ;
(c) the Question on any amendment or Motion standing on the Order Paper, whether in the name of a Minister of the Crown or not, which is moved or made by a Minister of the Crown ;
(d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded ;
and on a motion so made for a new Clause or new Schedule, the Chairman or the Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.
11.--(1) Proceedings under paragraph 10 of this Order shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.
(2) If an allotted day is one on which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20
Column 770(Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) would, apart from this Order, stand over to Seven o'clock--
(a) that Motion shall stand over until the conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion at or before that time ;
(b) the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion after that time shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion.
(3) If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 stands over from an earlier day, the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee are to be brought to a conclusion on that day shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion. Supplemental orders
12.--(1) The proceedings on any Motion made in the House by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order (including anything which might have been the subject of a report of the Business Committee or Business Sub-Committee) shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced.
(2) Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to those proceedings.
(3) If on an allotted day on which any proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before that time no notice shall be required of a Motion made at the next sitting by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.
13. Nothing in this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee or Business Sub-Committee shall--
(a) prevent any proceedings to which the Order or Resolution applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by the Order or Resolution ; or
(b) prevent any business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day after the completion of all such proceedings on the Bill as are to be taken on that day.
14.--(1) References in this Order to proceedings on consideration or proceedings on Third Reading include references to proceedings at those stages respectively, for, on or in consequence of, recommittal.
(2) On an allotted day no debate shall be permitted on any Motion to recommit the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise), and the Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment moved to the Question.
15. In this Order--
"allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government Order of the Day, provided that a Motion for allotting time to the proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day, or is set down for consideration on that day ;
"Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee ; "the Bill" means the Finance Bill ;
"Resolution of the Business Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House.
I make no apology for moving the motion, although I do so with regret. The plain fact, as anyone who followed our proceedings yesterday would acknowledge, is that the tactics that were then pursued made the motion inevitable. Let me put my position in words that would be much
Column 771approved of and appreciated by the Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure, my right hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), if he were able to be in his place :
"I should have preferred that we completed our proceedings on the Finance Bill with no need for a timetable motion. I wish that the two sides of the House could have agreed on sensible arrangements for allocating what is by any standard a generous amount of time for the remaining stages of the Bill. That would have allowed us to complete our consideration of it in a sensible manner. Unfortunately, such an agreement proved to be unobtainable. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary sought such an understanding last week in discussion but could not obtain it."--[ Official Report, 4 March 1975 ; Vol. 887, c. 1288.]
My right hon. Friend the Chairman of the Procedure Committee would have appreciated those remarks because he was present when they were uttered. That was almost 20 years ago when the then Mr. Edward Short moved the guillotine motion on the Finance Bill of 1975. The only words that I have left out are the reference to the person with whom the then Chief Secretary had had discussions--my right hon. and learned Friend who is now Lord Howe. With the exception of that reference, if I had substituted the name of the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman), the same words would apply exactly to the position that we have today.
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes) : Order. Before we continue, I should make it clear that Madam Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood).
Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) : Will the Leader of the House admit, that on that occasion when the Finance Bill was guillotined, there had already been 160 hours of debate in Committee? We have had precisely five hours in Committee on this Bill, which is the longest Finance Bill in history, containing 244 clauses and 24 schedules. We were only on the first clause.
Mr. Newton : First, the position then was not one in which the Opposition were declining co-operation of any kind on any matter. Secondly, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) said on Second Reading, against the background of obvious obstruction and delay that we saw yesterday, the case for an early guillotine is strengthened to ensure that this important and lengthy Bill is properly discussed.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : Does the Leader of the House accept that the motion is an affront to the British people? Does not he recognise that today, and throughout the Bill's passage, we are supposed to debate the largest tax hike in British history, but the Government are ramming the legislation through the House with a guillotine motion? That is an affront. How can he possibly come to House with the guillotine measure today?
Mr. Newton : I do not accept that it is an affront and I do not think that most hon. Members on either side of the House believe that it is. If the hon. Gentleman believes it, I will quote him the words of hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms Armstrong), who I believe specially assists the Leader of the Opposition. In a debate a couple of years ago, the hon. Lady said that she agreed that
those of the Opposition--
"are critical for democracy and civil rights. However, sitting all the hours available is not the most effective way in which to
Column 772defend those rights. If the House cannot organise itself effectively, what right do we have to pretend that we can organise the rest of the country?"--[ Official Report, 2 March 1992 ; Vol. 205, c. 110.]
That is the problem that I am addressing.
Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) : We can consider the matter rather more coolly this afternoon than we could at 10.30 last night. The Leader of the House talks about obvious obstruction and delay. I sat through some of the debate yesterday afternoon and evening. We were talking about a totally new tax that has not been introduced before and that is a major innovation by the Government. I heard speeches that were not extensive, for example, that of my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald), who has a great constituency interest in the proposal. My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham), who is here today, spoke for only 10 minutes and his constituency contains Glasgow airport. It was a genuine debate conducted by hon. Members with constituency concerns. Some of my hon. Friends did not even have the opportunity to voice their views on a major new tax. That is not obstruction ; it is democracy and debate, which is what we are not getting from the Government.
Let me make it clear, as I did on the last occasion when such a motion proved necessary on a Bill in this Session, that we have not arrived at this position for any want of effort by my right hon. and hon. Friends to achieve agreement on how the Bill should proceed sensibly. As the House knows, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary wrote to the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman) before Second Reading to suggest arrangements that were very much in line with the conventions of recent years. Those would have provided for two full days in Committee of the whole House to discuss clauses that the Opposition seemed likely to think were appropriate for that forum rather than for a Standing Committee.
The reply that my right hon. Friend received was swift, short and sharp--I can readily record it in full. The letter stated : "Dear Michael
Thank you for your letter of 20th January.
As you rightly say the Opposition is not willing to enter into informal discussions this year.
I have passed a copy of your letter to the Chief Whip."
Despite that rebuff, we continued to do everything that we could to act in a reasonable way. We did not seek to use the Opposition's attitude as a pretext for guillotining the Bill at once or for taking all of it in Committee, as we could have sought to do. We took account of the views of those who were prepared to discuss the proposals--the Liberal Democrats--in deciding which clauses to commit to the days on the Floor of the House. My right hon. Friend wrote once again to the hon. Lady to keep her informed of our proposal. Even then our efforts did not cease ; on the contrary, further contacts were made, which I have no reason to doubt were conducted in good faith. They led us to believe that, in practice, the business could be handled in a sensible way and in line with precedent and reasonable expectation, with the debate on clause 28 running until about 7 pm and debate on clause 46 running until about 10 pm. My right hon. and hon. Friends could not have done more to avoid the need for the motion. Unhappily, the only
Column 773return that they had for their endeavours was what we saw yesterday. Anyone looking into the Chamber would have realised that yesterday's events were a transparent exercise in artificially extending debate. It became clear that there was no serious prospect of this important Bill being discussed in the way that most hon. Members would like and those outside the House are entitled to expect.
Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde) : Has the Leader of the House looked at today's Hansard and read the comments and statements made by Opposition Members, which I felt were serious? Five million passengers come into Glasgow airport. We are working to increase that number to 8 million. More than £400 million will be spent locally to make the place vibrant once again after the 14 years of Tory Government. It is important that a new tax receives a full hearing. My constituents demand it. The 15,000 people who work in Glasgow airport--and I am sure the hundreds of thousands who work at other airports--wish to see a full debate in Parliament. Yesterday's three hours of debate were not a lot to offer those folk.
Mr. Newton : There is no doubt that we fully accept that the tax proposal deserved proper debate. It could and should have had proper debate in the time that we had expected to it to take. I understand that, when the Front Bench team had finished their speeches at about 5.30 pm, there were only four Labour Back Benchers in the House and there was widespread doubt as to whether the debate could be kept going until 7 pm. Of those hon. Members who spoke later, many--four, I believe--were among those who had not been present at the outset of the Back Bench debate. Several of them made speeches ranging from lengths of half an hour to, at the extreme, 50 minutes. I am not suggesting that it was unreasonable for hon. Members to make speeches. I am saying that, as a matter of judgment--having been here for part of the time myself, having followed the debate on the screens, and having talked to some of my hon. Friends who were in the Chamber--I know that there could be no doubt in the mind of any reasonable person that the debate was deliberately spun out and delayed.
Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central) rose
Mr. Calum Macdonald (Western Isles) rose