Compare and contrast

by Stephen Tall on March 29, 2007

The Electoral Commission on the Lib Dems and that £2.4m donation from Michael Brown:

“The Electoral Commission has previously made clear its view that it was reasonable for the Liberal Democrats – based on the information available to them at the time – to regard the donations they received from 5th Avenue Partners Ltd in 2005, totalling just over £2.4m, as permissible.

“It remains the Commission’s view that the Liberal Democrats acted in good faith at that time, and the Commission is not re-opening the question of whether the party or its officers failed to carry out sufficient checks into the permissibility of the donations.”

The House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges on David Cameron’s use of his taxpayer-funded Commons office for Tory Party fundraising:

33. The lack of a specific rule saying that Members’ offices, provided at public expense for Parliamentary purposes, cannot be used for party political fundraising needs to be seen in the context of the overarching principle that offices and facilities on the Parliamentary estate are provided to enable Members to carry out their Parliamentary duties, that is, to facilitate the discharge by them of the duties and functions of the office of Member of Parliament. This principle is, I submit, clear…

39. […] The fundraising purpose of [David Cameron’s] Leader’s Group is clear from the promotional literature circulated at the Conservative City Circle, and the incentives offered to prospective members specifically include the opportunity to meet the Leader “in his office after Prime Minister’s Questions”. Furthermore, it is clear that this benefit has been taken up by Group members on a number of occasions. In my submission the Parliamentary estate is not provided out of the public purse to be used as part of a device to attract party fundraising and the suggestion that it is so being used is not one likely to enhance the public reputation of the House.

42. While there is no reason in principle, I submit, why Mr Cameron cannot meet, in his office or elsewhere in the Parliamentary estate, those who donate to his party, what neither he nor his Party (nor indeed any other Member or party) can properly do is employ their Parliamentary office as part of a party fundraising stratagem. In my view, that is, on the facts, precisely what happened in this case. I therefore recommend that [Lib Dem MP] Mr Baker’s complaint be upheld.

It’s only fair to point these things out…