Lib Dems lead fight in Westminster against dodgy party funding

March 3, 2009 8:56 PM

CHELTENHAM MP Martin Horwood has joined his Liberal Democrat colleagues in Westminster today who are fighting to take big money out of politics in the Political Parties and Elections Bill.

Martin is supporting vital amendments including introducing a donations cap of £50,000 and clamping down on tax-exiles so that only UK tax-payers can donate to political parties.

Martin commented 'The Government's original Bill did not introduce a cap on donations and the whole Bill lacks transparency. Tighter regulations are needed.'

More amendments have been put down by the Liberal Democrats to limit the targeting of marginal seats with national party spending. Cheltenham is the second most marginal Lib Dem-Tory battleground seat in the country according to experts.

The Bill will now be sent to the Lords for further scrutiny before being passed. The Bill was brought about following a series of scandals about donations and party spending, in particular the 'cash for honours' investigations, and the Lord Ashcroft affair in 2005, where large amounts of money was spent in an attempt to influence 36 key marginal seats.

Martin said: 'We can all see the money being spent in Cheltenham by the Conservatives on glossy leaflets, direct mail and calls from their national call centre in Birmingham. It is time we took the big money out of politics to give all parties an equal footing, so that big donors such as Lord Ashcroft cannot buy the next election. That is why I am supporting these vital amendments to this otherwise weak Government Bill.'