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Mr. Walter: Does the Minister agree that there is something slightly incongruous in the placing of a £250,000 limit on donations made by "permissible donors" to British political parties, when, under the European convention on human rights, foreigners are allowed to make contributions of up to £500,000 as third parties in general elections and as permitted participants in referendums?

Mr. Tipping: The hon. Gentleman is following the path of my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller). I understand that his amendment has not been selected, and that he has used this as a peg on which to hang his point.

The hon. Member for Beaconsfield said that hon. Members might want to pursue the issue, which does, I think, involve some uncomfortableness and tension, and I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston that we shall consider what he said.

Ultimately, my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea said that £250,000 was an arbitrary limit, and I agree. I think it right, in this context, for us to be judged on and guided by what the Neill committee said, and I think it right to maintain a libertarian spirit.

Given all that, I hope that my hon. Friend will withdraw his amendment.

Mr. Linton: My hon. Friend the Minister defends a £200 maximum for teenagers, but rejects a £250,000

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maximum for over-18s. I would rather liberate teenagers and restrain millionaires; but, as I am clearly getting nowhere with that argument, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 15, in page 29, line 32, leave out subsection (4).--[Mr. Pope.]

Clause 55

Reports to be made by registered parties

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I beg to move amendment No. 16, in page 35, line 14, at end insert--

'(10A) However, for the purposes of subsections (3) to (7) in their application in relation to the central organisation and any year by virtue of subsection (10), any donation--
(a) which is accepted from a permissible donor by any of the accounting units during that year, but
(b) which is not required to be recorded under subsection (4) or (6) (as they apply by virtue of subsection (10)) as a donation accepted by the accounting unit,
shall be treated as a donation accepted from the donor during that year by the central organisation.'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 94, 95 and 17 to 21.

Mr. O'Brien: Last summer's White Paper said that a disclosable donation should include a series of donations, which together total £5,000 or more, from a single source, made either to the central party organisation or to a number of accounting units, or to both, within the same year. Clause 55 as it stands does not meet that objective; amendment No. 16 will remedy the deficiency.

Amendments Nos. 94 and 95 make consequential amendments to schedule 5, which details the information that a party must submit to the Electoral Commission in its donation reports. Where the new aggregation rule applies, a party will declare the donations as if they had been accepted by the central organisation of the party. That will avoid the bureaucracy of having to record in a donation report each and every accounting unit to which a donor has made his or her donations.

Amendments Nos. 18 to 21 are essentially technical amendments to clause 59. The clause sets out the form of the declaration that a registered treasurer must make when submitting a quarterly or weekly donation report to the Electoral Commission. Subsection (2) is defective as it stands, in that the terms of the declaration do not fit the case of a treasurer making a nil return--that is, a return stating that there were no recordable donations in the period concerned. Amendment No. 21 therefore introduces a new subsection (2A), which sets out the form of the declaration to be returned in such circumstances.

Amendments Nos. 18 to 20 are paving amendments for amendment 21. Amendment No. 17 is a drafting amendment. The substance of clause 58(8) is already covered in clause 57(9), so the former provision is unnecessary.

Mr. Walter: The amendments reflect the spirit of the Standing Committee, where a number of proposals were made and a number of flaws in the Bill identified. The substance of the amendments does not concern me

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greatly; many are consequential and drafting amendments. However, I was somewhat surprised by amendment No. 94, which inserts "(i)" and by amendment No. 95, which inserts a provision beginning with "(ii)". I thought that something was slightly odd, because paragraph 4 of schedule 5 appears to contain two sub-paragraphs (a). The Minister might also like to consider that as a drafting amendment at a later stage. Otherwise, we are relatively content with the amendments.

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I will certainly consider that.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5

Details to be given in Donation Reports

Amendments made: No. 90, in page 109, line 5, leave out--

'the following provisions of this paragraph'

and insert--

'sub-paragraphs (2) to (8) and (10) below'.

No. 91, in page 109, line 8, at end insert--

'or, in the case of a donation falling within sub-paragraph (9) below, the information required by that sub-paragraph.'.

No. 92, in page 109, line 38, leave out "falling within section 48(4)(a)" and insert--

'to which section (Payments etc. which are (or are not) to be treated as donations by permissible donors)(2) applies'.

No. 93, in page 109, line 39, at end insert--

'(10) In the case of a donation to which section (Payments etc. which are (or are not) to be treated as donations by permissible donors)(3) applies, the report must give the full name and address of the donor.'.

No. 94, in page 110, line 5, after "report)", insert--


No. 95, in page 110, line 6, at end insert--

', or
(ii) in the case of a donation to which section 55(10A) applies, indicate that it is a donation which falls to be treated as made to the party by virtue of that provision.'.

No. 96, in page 110, line 6, at end insert--

"(1A) In the case of a donation to which section (Payments etc. which are (or are not) to be treated as donations by permissible donors) (3) applies, the report must in addition give--
(a) the date or dates on or between which the visit to which the donation relates took place, and
(b) the destination and purpose of the visit.'.--[Mr. Pope.]

Mr. Tipping: I beg to move amendment No. 136, in page 110, line 20, after "each", insert "recordable".

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 101, 102, 137, 32, 33, 107, 108, 57, 64, 112, 113, 115 to 117 and 83.

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Mr. Tipping: The amendments are merely minor technical and drafting points. I would of course be happy to respond to any specific points--dotted i's, small a's, or any other ways in which the Bill can be improved.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 58

Submission of Donation Reports to Commission

Amendment made: No. 17, in page 38, line 3, leave out subsection (8) and insert--
'(8) Section 57(9) applies for the purposes of this section.'.--[Mr. Pope.]

Clause 59

Declaration by Treasurer in Donation Report

Amendments made: No. 18, in page 38, line 10, after "(2)", insert ", (2A)".
No. 19, in page 38, line 11, after "55", insert--
'(other than one making a nil return)'.
No. 20, in page 38, line 19, leave out "so".
No. 21, in page 38, line 19, at end insert--
'(2A) For the purposes of subsection (2) a return under section 55 makes a nil return if it contains such a statement as is mentioned in subsection (9) of that section; and in the case of such a report the declaration must state that, to the best of the treasurer's knowledge and belief--
(a) that statement is accurate; and
(b) during the reporting period no donations from any person or body other than a permissible donor has been accepted by the party.'.--[Mr. Pope.]

Clause 62

Register of Recordable Donations

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I beg to move amendment No. 22, in page 40, line 2, after "6" insert "(a) or (c)".

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 56, 70 and 123.

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