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Clause 27 — Changes to existing limits

Part of Access to Mental Health Services – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 10th September 2013.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative, North East Somerset 5:15 pm, 10th September 2013

The British Legion will not become a third party in a general election because it is against charity regulations for it to do so. It would be an outrage if one of the most admired and apolitical bodies in this country suddenly started saying that people should vote Conservative—let alone say that people should vote Labour, heaven forefend! Charities are not there to intervene in general elections. They have specific tax benefits and their ability to fundraise is dependent on them being charitable, not political, and there is a clear difference. There is no question of the Royal British Legion becoming a third party in a general election. That is the classic scare story that we hear again and again from the Opposition, who wish to obfuscate and confuse matters because they are worried that their trade union masters will, under this clause, have the amount they can spend reduced. They hide it; they camouflage it under this complaint on behalf of the Church of England, the Royal British Legion, and so on.

We should be concerned about third parties spending money in a way that is less regulated than political parties themselves, or having the ability to spend more and with lower effective limits on what they are able to do. The clause succeeds in doing that and would make no difference at all to charities or the Church of England. My amendment would further tighten the clause. As I have said, the Opposition should be enthusiastic about it, because it is wrong for Government money to be used by third parties when they have received it not for political activity but for their general activities of whatever kind.