Constitutional Affairs Committee

Press notice No.30 of Session 2005-06
22 June 2006


The Committee has taken oral evidence from Lord Levy, Lord Marland and Lord Razzall in connection with its inquiry into Party Funding.

The terms of reference of the inquiry into Party Funding are:

» To consider the current system and to establish how well it is working and what reforms are required, for example whether a cap should be placed on party funding;
» To consider whether any further safeguards are necessary to ensure transparency and propriety in party funding;
» To consider possible alternative funding methods.

The Committee's inquiry is not concerned with honours or peerages, or with the conduct of individuals. The Committee has had discussions with the Metropolitan Police and has taken fully into account the need to avoid any risk of prejudicing police inquiries.

The issues addressed with the witnesses included the challenge of raising funds for political parties in an era of diminished membership of political parties and the cost drivers for high levels of party spending in elections, their views on proposals by the Electoral Commission on spending caps and on the advantages and disadvantages of state funding of political parties. In addition, the Committee asked questions about the relationship between local and national systems of fundraising.

The Committee will continue the inquiry by taking evidence in public from the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Leader of the House of Commons, on Tuesday 4 July. Further oral evidence sessions will be announced. It is likely that the Committee will continue to take oral evidence in the autumn and evidence will be published in due course.

1. The inquiry was launched on Thursday 23 March and the Committee has already taken evidence from Rt Hon Lord Falconer of Thoroton, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor and Alex Allan, Permanent Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs (19 April) and from Sir Hayden Phillips GCB; Sam Younger, Chairman and Peter Wardle, Chief Executive, The Electoral Commission; Frank Hindle, Deputy Chair North East Liberal Democrats; Colleen Fletcher, North East Coventry Labour Party and David Simpson, Conservative Campaign HQ (16 May). Transcripts of the sessions are available on the Committee website:
2. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Alan Beith MP (Chairman), James Brokenshire MP, David Howarth MP, Barbara Keeley MP, Mr Piara S Khabra MP, Jessica Morden MP, Julie Morgan MP, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP, Keith Vaz MP, Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Jeremy Wright MP