Political Parties: Finance

Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission written question – answered on 24th June 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Labour/Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth

To ask the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, whether the Electoral Commission plans to review the ability of UK political parties and campaigns to receive micro-funding from overseas donors.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South

Electoral law allows parties to adopt a fundraising strategy that focusses on raising funds in small amounts. A positive aspect of this is broad engagement of people in politics.

Parliament set a threshold of £500, above which donations must be from permissible sources. This is to limit influence from outside the UK on our elections and democracy. Below the threshold, sums given to parties and campaigners are not considered to be donations under law, but recipients still need to satisfy themselves who is giving these sums. Multiple sums from a single source could aggregate to above £500 triggering the permissibility rules. This would exclude overseas donors not on the UK electoral register.

Parties must have systems in place to comply with the rules, and the Commission provides advice to parties and campaigners about how to ensure that they do. If the current law is complied with, there is no reason why micro funding would result in impermissible donations from overseas donors. However, if it is considered that confidence in this needs to be improved by more transparency, the level of the £500 threshold could be lowered by Parliament.

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