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VIEWS SOUGHT ON FUNDING OF POLITICAL PARTIES

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The Electoral Commission today publishes a paper inviting views on the key issues surrounding the funding of politi...
The Electoral Commission today publishes a paper inviting views on the key issues surrounding the funding of political parties and the capping of political donations.

Despite new controls on campaign spending and donations introduced in 2000, there is continuing public concern over party funding and the possible influence of large donors. The commission's review will examine those concerns and seek to identify whether new arrangements could better serve our democratic system.

At present, political parties receive significant support from the state, estimated in a general election year to amount to over £100m. The commission will examine whether those arrangements should continue, whether there are grounds for a different or extended form of public funding and, if so, whether donations to parties should be capped in order to meet public concerns.

Sam Younger, chairman of the commission, says: 'Parties need to be adequately funded to play their part in the political process and the way in which they obtain those funds has implications for the health of our democracy. Getting the balance right between public and private funding raises fundamental issues and we are therefore keen to consult widely.'

By the end of this year, the commission will begin a series of public hearings to discuss the issues in more detail. It is expected the commission will then submit its conclusions to the government by summer 2004.

The issues paper published today together with a background paper providing details of existing state funding, the arguments for and against public funding and examples of international practice are available on our website.

Comments on the issues raised by these papers should be submitted to the commission no later than 12 September 2003.

Notes

1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body established by parliament. It aims to ensure public confidence and participation in the democratic process within the United Kingdom through modernisation of the electoral process, promotion of public awareness of electoral matters, and regulation of political parties.

2. Our report on the 2001 general election stated that a review of state funding was a long-term aim. The commission's Corporate Plan 2002-03 to 2006-07 also identified the need to review the related issues of public funding of political parties and capping of political donations.

3. The review will focus largely on those parties with elected representatives above local government level. Nevertheless, the exercise will also examine the issues relating to smaller parties seeking to establish themselves as major players.

4. Any submissions on the subjects covered by this review should be sent to Mark Williams, Assistant Policy Manager, Policy Directorate, The Electoral Commission, Trevelyan House, Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2HW or emailed to mwilliams@electoralcommission.org.uk

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