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…

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3 comments

Nice one!

by Paul Walter on March 29, 2007 at 7:45 pm. Reply #

The difference is that there is something missing from the first post. It is the rest of the Electoral Commission’s statement:

“Nevertheless, we have always said that if any additional information that has a bearing on the permissibility of the donations comes to light, for example as a result of the ongoing police investigation or legal proceedings relating to the affairs of 5th Avenue, we would consider the matter further.

It is not clear to the Commission that 5th Avenue Partners Ltd was carrying on business in the UK at the time the donations were made. If not, then the donations were impermissible. Under Section 58 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the Commission has the power to apply to a court for an order that the party must forfeit to the Consolidated Fund an amount equal to the value of any impermissible donation. We are considering the available evidence and expect to reach a decision on whether to apply for such an order in the next few weeks.”

by Anonymous on March 29, 2007 at 9:59 pm. Reply #

Anon – whether the money Michael Brown donated to the Lib Dems was his to give away is a *very* different question from whether the Lib Dems broke any rules or acted in good faith.

by Stephen Tall on March 30, 2007 at 8:27 am. Reply #

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