Moved by Lord Carlile of Berriew
51: After Clause 16, insert the following new Clause—“Foreign interference in elections: duties on political parties(1) A UK-registered political party must, within three months of the passing of this Act, publish a policy statement to ensure the identification of donations from a foreign power (whether made directly or through an intermediary), and must keep that policy updated in accordance with guidance issued under subsection (2). (2) Within three months of the passing of this Act the Secretary of State must publish guidance on the provisions of this section.(3) A UK-registered political party must provide the Electoral Commission with an annual statement of risk management that identifies how risks relating to donations from a foreign power (whether made directly or through an intermediary) have been managed, and what measures have been put in place by the party to such effect.(4) In this section, “UK-registered political party” means a political party registered under Part 2 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.”
My Lords, I am very grateful to all those who have contributed to this debate. It is notable that around the House, apart from the Government Front Bench, everyone has spoken in favour of this amendment and nobody from the Conservative Party chapel, as it were, has spoken against it.
I was particularly taken by the metaphor from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, about knowing your donor—KYD. It is analogous with KYC—knowing your client—which, as she said, is universally applied by businesses these days when they receive funding from abroad.
The Minister is trying to be as helpful as he can. However, can I say kindly to him that he has missed the point of this amendment? Amendment 51 seeks to place an overarching responsibility on political parties to say how they will deal with direct or indirect foreign donations if they are offered to them. That makes it much easier for a candidate or a party official to say, “Sorry, we can’t take that because it’s in our statement of principle as to what we do”. Even though this is a relatively modest step, it would enhance the transparency of an honourable political process. We have lost some ground, compared with some other European countries in particular—not just western European countries but some central European countries too—in the transparency that we offer in elections. People are uncomfortable about it and the media are hounding on it.
With that in mind, and despite the blandishments of the Minister, I wish to test the opinion of the House. I beg to move.
Ayes 209, Noes 170.