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Deposit by Candidates at Parliamentary Elections

Part of Orders of the Day — Representation of the People Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 14th February 1985.

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Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 4:45 pm, 14th February 1985

The alliance also feels that it is necessary to vote against the motion. I have never believed that money is a test of a candidate's political seriousness. I differ from the Government on that fundamental issue of how one tests a candidate's political seriousness.

In a way, I am not surprised that the Government should place money higher on their list of tests than I do. My party believes that it is the breadth of support that a candidate can demonstrate which, if a test be needed, is the best test. That is why we have argued consistently for signatures.

I welcome the fact that the Government have sought to compromise and have considerably reduced the proposed increase in the deposit. I welcome also the conversion of the Labour Front Bench to the view that there should not be a deposit at all. That conversion has occurred under the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), who has exercised a beneficent influence on his party's thinking.

Above all, I welcome openness, democracy and the opportunity to demonstrate when people are wrong and are not going to win support. I welcome the fact that the Ecology party is able to stand in elections and that we can demonstrate that the Liberal party is a far more convincing proponent of concern for the environment than that party. I welcome the fact that, when the National Front stands in elections, it is shown that it commands only minimal support. I wish those who have views to advance to stand in elections. I do not wish them to suffer under a financial penalty in their attempt to do so.