Trade Union Funding

Oral Answers to Questions — Deputy Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 13th May 2014.

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Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel Conservative, Witham 11:30 am, 13th May 2014

What steps he plans to take to reform the system of party political funding and donations to political parties by trade unions.

Photo of Nick Clegg Nick Clegg The Deputy Prime Minister , Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office), Leader of the Liberal Democrats

The Government have always been clear that any reform of party political funding is best achieved by consensus. Despite seven meetings, it is disappointing that, as on previous occasions, there has been no agreement between the three parties on beginning party funding reform.

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel Conservative, Witham

Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree that new laws to restrict the money and influence of trade unions in British political life are required? Will he join the Prime Minister in supporting reforms to strike laws to protect the public from unnecessary industrial action?

Photo of Nick Clegg Nick Clegg The Deputy Prime Minister , Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office), Leader of the Liberal Democrats

I certainly agree that all parties need to get big money and vested interests out of party funding. That can best and only be done through consensus. It did not happen this time; I very much hope that all parties will make a commitment that everyone will stick to in the next Parliament.

Photo of John Cryer John Cryer Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

Will the Deputy Prime Minister confirm that trade union funding has been given a clean bill of health by three public inquiries, whereas his own party has taken large amounts of money from a convicted fraudster?

Photo of Nick Clegg Nick Clegg The Deputy Prime Minister , Lord President of the Council (Privy Council Office), Leader of the Liberal Democrats

It is really important that vested interests representing one part of society or another do not dominate the funding of one major political party, as with the Labour party. That does not seem to be right for the Labour party or for the quality of democracy in this House.