Constitutional Affairs Committee

Press notice No.23 of Session 2005-06
29 March 2006


The first session of the Constitutional Affairs Committee's inquiry into party funding will go ahead on Wednesday 19 April with the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton.

The Committee is looking into the system of funding political parties. Its aim is to establish how well the current system is working and the practicability of any possible reforms.

On Tuesday 16 May the Committee will take evidence from Sam Younger, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, and shortly after that will be taking evidence from Sir Hayden Phillips GCB, who has been appointed by the Prime Minister to conduct a review of the political party funding system, expected to report at the end of 2006.

The Committee will also be taking evidence from some of the major donors to political parties, party fundraisers, the party accounting officers and representatives of grassroots activists.

The Terms of Reference for the inquiry are 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:

Ours is a broadly-based inquiry into the whole area of party funding and is not confined to recent events, although they have underlined some of the problems and dangers.

Party funding is a significant component of the democratic system. This inquiry is part of series we intend to carry out into major constitutional issues.

1. The inquiry was launched on 23 March and submissions relating to the terms of reference above are invited from relevant interested parties. Full details are available on Press notice 21.
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