Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish had given notice of his intention to move, as amendments to Amendment No. 63, Amendments Nos. 63A to 63J:

    Line 10, leave out ("registers") and insert ("register").

    Line 10, leave out ("are") and insert ("is").

    Line 11, leave out from ("elections") to end of line 16 and insert ("as defined in section 20(3).").

    Leave out lines 17 and 18.

    Line 19, leave out ("so registered") and insert ("registered in the register").

    Line 20, leave out paragraph (a).

    Line 23, leave out subsection (4).

    Line 29, leave out paragraphs (a) to (c) and insert ("parties registered as minor parties shall only be authorised to nominate candidates for elections as defined under section 20(3).").

The noble Lord said: I do not intend to move any of these amendments because they all deal with the Irish situation. When I indicated earlier that I was irritated by the way that the Government had absolutely failed to spend the time between the 11th May and today on separating the issues in this group, I said that I would be minded to seek to divide the Committee if only to register my displeasure in the Division Lobby--even though I was pretty certain that the Government would win.

I am still so minded because the more that that debate went on during that hour and a half, the more it seemed to me that I was right. When the noble Lord accused me of not wanting the "Green Party" amendment because I was moving against the rest of them, that just confirmed my view. My objection is a matter of principle regarding the way that the amendments are "bundled". However, this will not in any way prevent me returning on Report on the major issue of the Northern Ireland parties. I shall not allow this amendment to pass without objecting to it.

[Amendments Nos. 63A to 63J, as amendments to Amendment No. 63, not moved.]

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I wish to test the opinion of the Committee on Amendment No. 63.

10.17 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 63) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 59; Not-Contents, 16.

Division No. 3


Acton, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Goodhart, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Judd, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McNally, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Nicol, B.
Parekh, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Turnberg, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitaker, B.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Young of Old Scone, B.


Astor, V.
Attlee, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Blatch, B.
Burnham, L.
Caithness, E.
Fookes, B.
Henley, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Montrose, D.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
Onslow, E.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Skelmersdale, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

10 Oct 2000 : Column 277

10.27 p.m.

Clause 21 [The register]:

[Amendment No. 64 not moved.]

Clause 21 negatived.

Clause 22 [Office-holders to be registered]:

Lord Rennard moved Amendment No. 64A:

    Page 13, line 30, at end insert ("; and

( ) for ensuring the compliance with the provisions of Parts V and VII (campaign expenditure and referendums)").

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment I speak also to Amendments Nos. 66 and Amendments Nos. 197D to 197G, 199A to 199D, and 201A.

Amendment No. 64A divides responsibility for the financial concerns of the treasurer and the parties' nominating officer who is more properly in control of parties' elections and campaigning. The nominating officer will be responsible in this legislation for supplying lists of candidates and the issuing of certificates and approval of descriptions, emblems and so on. The amendment would also ensure compliance with the provisions of Parts V and VII of the Bill on campaign expenditure and referendums. Amendment No. 66 leaves the treasurer with the responsibility for the overall financial affairs of a particular party.

I speak as the nominating officer of the Liberal Democrats, so of course I have an interest. I am not seeking an extra work load, but I believe that it is more appropriate for me as nominating officer in charge of the election campaign to be held responsible for the

10 Oct 2000 : Column 278

election campaigning and accounts. Treasurers are often wonderful people. My party has a wonderful treasurer in Mr Reg Clarke, but the person who is responsible for taking round the begging bowl is not necessarily the one who should be held responsible for the party's detailed campaign expenditure and accounts, which follow from the declared election expenditure. Treasurers can often be a little remote from the day-to-day election process.

I note some sympathy from the Conservative Party on the issue. I am sure that they are anxious not to have "Lord Ashcroft of Belize" in charge of their day-to-day campaigning. It is more sensible for party treasurers to deal with party accounts and fundraising and for party nominating officers to be held responsible for election accounts. I beg to move.

Lord Norton of Louth: I was responsible for Amendment No. 66, which appears in this grouping, so I shall explain why I tabled it. I have two problems with the aspects of the Bill regulating the funding of political parties. One is that the provisions on donations are too complex. We now have official confirmation from the Minister that this is a complex and bureaucratic Bill. I prefer a simple and transparent system. I shall return to that on later amendments.

The other point that is central to the amendment is the scale of the responsibilities invested in party treasurers. The duties imposed by the Bill are onerous. Some of the amendments that the Government have tabled go some way to conceding that point, but not far enough. The provisions of Clause 58 are particularly onerous. We shall doubtless return to that on the clause stand part motion. That and related clauses, combined with the provisions on party donations, are likely to drive people away from serving as party treasurers. Why should anyone want to take on such a burden, having to comply with complex regulations and fearing having to face the courts if they make a mistake?

In debates on other measures we have touched on the difficulties facing political parties. There is nothing unique to this country in that respect. Political parties in the western world are under pressure. People are channelling their political activities in other ways and not getting involved in political parties. We have touched on the need to address that.

The Bill is designed to restore faith in the parties, yet the provisions on party donations and the reporting of campaign expenditure will threaten the capacity of local parties to function effectively. The Government need to address that. We shall doubtless return to that in detail on later amendments, but I wanted to raise it at this stage. I support much of what has been said. I should like to hear the Government's response and give them time to reflect on the issue before we discuss later amendments.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots: I share the concern about the confusion of roles between fundraising and fund reporting. That is a serious defect in the Bill. In the City, where I work, we have what is known as the "four eyes" principle, which means that those who

10 Oct 2000 : Column 279

carry out one function must be checked by somebody else. That division of control is an essential part of any commercial enterprise. Shareholders in Barings Bank will recall what happened when Mr Leeson not only did the business, but checked it and looked after it afterwards.

We need to find a way of separating fundraising and fund reporting. I am not sure whether the amendments go to the heart of the issue. The title of nominating officer contains a different implication. A commercial enterprise would probably have a compliance officer, but that may be adding yet another layer of bureaucracy. Certainly, I believe that what is being proposed and considered here both by my noble friend Lord Norton and by the proposer of the amendment is a significant improvement on the Bill as it stands at present.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page