Elections Bill: Clause 19

The Government’s position appears to be that no change in the law is proposed. I, therefore, think that Clause 19 is unnecessary. The Government says that it is about clarification, but I think this has been provided by the courts and that guidance from the Electoral Commission provided that it remains independent, should suffice.

It remains a loophole that we must examine at another time that parties can post huge quantities of direct mail to a constituency aimed at influencing the vote there but claim that it is nothing to do with the local candidate. However, given that the Electoral Commission should retain its independence to advise on such matters, and that such advice could again be evidence in court, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

The fundamental question raised by this amendment is:

should they be able to donate the perhaps millions of pounds which they save in taxes by being non-doms to a political party, for example, which might want to preserve that beneficial tax status for them? 

If the national expenditure limit, increased in line with inflation since 2000, would go up for the Conservative Party, for example, from almost £20 million to almost £36 million. Where is that extra £16 million going to come from? Much of it will come from overseas donors, many of whom are non-doms. I do not think that this appeals to the British sense of fair play, and it should not happen.

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