Amendment 8

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Harris of Richmond Baroness Harris of Richmond Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 4:45 pm, 15th July 2019

My Lords, I support my noble friend on this amendment. When we were discussing this issue on 27 February last year, we made it clear that we wanted any loans and donations to be published as from 1 January 2014, not at the later date of 2017, as we have already heard. We were very pleased to support the Transparency of Donations and Loans etc. (Northern Ireland Political Parties) Order 2018 with that one proviso. It made clear that, for the first time, the Electoral Commission would be allowed to publish information about loans and donations dating back to July 2017. The Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 allowed that, and we have still not been given a satisfactory explanation as to why the Government held back from it.

Why did we ask for this? As we have heard, conveniently during that three-year period there were two general elections and the EU referendum campaign. We know that, during that referendum campaign, £425,000 were given to a party in Northern Ireland. I think we should name that party—it was the DUP. We have had no indication from it about whether that money was spent in Northern Ireland or elsewhere.

We need to know what all political parties receive in loans and donations to avert that very real fear of money laundering—of parties receiving moneys that are in any way illegal. Our amendment simply seeks to introduce this new clause to provide for regulations to ensure transparency in political donations and loans from 1 January 2014, if the Executive has not been formed by 21 October this year.