Constitutional Affairs Committee

Press notice No. 21 of session 2005-06
23 March 2006


The Constitutional Affairs Committee has decided to inquire into the system of Funding of Political Parties. Its aim is to establish how well the current system is working and the practicability of any possible reforms.

It will take public evidence from the main stakeholders involved in the operation or review of the current system, including both public funding and private donations or loans, as well as possible changes to the system including an increased element of State funding.

The Committee will take oral evidence from party fundraisers, major donors to political parties and representatives of grassroots activists. It will also take evidence from Rt Hon Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor (on 19 April) and Sam Younger, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (on 16 May).

The Terms of Reference for the inquiry will be as follows:

»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.

Rt Hon Alan Beith MP, Chairman of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, said:

The Constitutional Affairs Committee plans to carry out series of a inquiries into major constitutional issues. Party Funding is a significant component of the existing democratic system on which our constitution rests and recent events have underlined the problems and dangers surrounding it.

We realised that there was an urgent need to take evidence in the course of an open and transparent inquiry in order to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the democratic process.

Call for evidence:
Submissions relating to the terms of reference above are invited from relevant interested parties. These should be sent to the Clerk of the Committee at the address above by Monday 10 April 2006. An electronic version in MS Word or Rich Text format should also be submitted, either by e-mail to or on a disk and this should be accompanied by a letter stating clearly who the submission is from, together with relevant contact details. Submissions should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and it would be helpful to include a brief executive summary. Attention is drawn to the guidance on the submission of evidence which can be found at