Clause 17

Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 25 April 2006.

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Modifications during prescribed period

Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour, North West Leicestershire

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 28, in page 12, line 40, leave out subsection (3).

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

We will probably speed up again now, and there will probably be greater consensus than there was on clause 15.

Amendment No. 3, which is in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll and Bute, is designed to meet a specific concern. As we said, we are disappointed by part 4. Under clause 14, Northern Ireland political parties will have to disclose donation returns on a confidential basis, but that will still not achieve the full transparency that we would all like. Under the Bill, full disclosure will not occur until 2010; indeed, the Government might decide to muck about with the provisions and postpone it even further. The more I hear in Committee, the more likely I think it is that they want to give themselves wriggle room to string the loopholes out even further.

That is why we are particularly concerned that subsection (3) gives the Secretary of State the ability to delay full disclosure by extending the prescribed period, during which parties need disclose their donations only to the Electoral Commission. Ideally, we want the system to be as close as possible to the one that operates in the rest of the United Kingdom. We want openness and transparency to be achieved as soon as possible.

It being One o’clock, The Chairmanadjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at Four o’clock.