Companies (Political Donations)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th March 1994.

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Photo of Mr Derek Enright Mr Derek Enright , Hemsworth 12:00 am, 9th March 1994

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what further assessment he has made of the operation of the Companies Act 1985 in relation to the use of associated companies to make political donations.

Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton

The responsibility for reporting political donations rests with the companies making them. Under section 234 and schedule 7 to the Companies Act 1985, parent companies are obliged to disclose in the directors' report political donations exceeding £200 in aggregate made by it and all its subsidiaries, including foreign ones. I have no plans for any further review.

Photo of Mr Derek Enright Mr Derek Enright , Hemsworth

Does that not show staggering complacency? Is the Minister aware that, arising from the contracts for the Pergau dam, which were let to firms contributing to Tory party funds, there is considerable suspicion here that the bribery was not in Malaysia but on the part of the United Kingdom Government?

Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton

Only those who are easily staggered will be staggered by my response, but we are not surprised at the hon. Gentleman's.

Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry , High Peak

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the staggering wisdom of his last reply. Will he confirm that during the 1980s British industry, under Conservative policies, grew faster than industry in any other country? Under Conservative policies, British industry is now coming out of recession faster than industry in any other country. Does that not show that investment in the Conservative party is a sound commercial decision and the best investment that companies can ever make and that investment in any other party is the shortest route to bankruptcy yet devised by man?

Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton

I agree with my hon. Friend. It is staggering that the Labour party has still not learnt the lesson that improved competitiveness is the way to increase employment. As Labour Members are incapable of learning that lesson, they will never be in a position to form the Government of this country.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Is the Minister aware that, in response to parliamentary questions about 41 quangos that I tabled last year, we were told that 127 members of those bodies were connected with companies that donate to the Tory party? Is it not clear that what is going on is an auction for places on quangos— appointments in return for donations to the Conservative party?

Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton

That matter was comprehensively debated in the House recently, and the Labour party was comprehensively trounced.