Foreword and Consultation Details

No matter the source – whether trades’ unions, big business or rich individuals – the public perceives that money talks in politics.

The impression that parties, whether in Government or Opposition, are steered by cheque books rather than the votes is a corrosive one. But an overwhelming recognition of the need for reform, in all the political parties, has not been translated into serious action to achieve it. For too long, our political establishment has consigned the issue to the “too difficult” pile, as conflicting interests and mutual suspicion win out over the public interest.

Yet reform need not be “too difficult”. Over the past year, a number of parliamentarians have worked together to commission a draft Bill to stimulate practical ideas for reform. This shows that reforms can be phased in such a way that they need not disproportionately disadvantage any one party, either in the short or long term. And ways have been examined in which existing public funds already used to benefit political parties could be reallocated, to ‘remove big money from politics’ without substantial additional public funding.

The draft Bill, for phased reform of political funding, is based on the scheme recommended by Sir Christopher Kelly and his Committee on Standards in Public Life. It also draws on the best of the Hayden Philips review, together with work by the Commons Select Committee, and seeks to deal with new regulatory challenges presented by third party campaigning organisations.

It is very much a draft for discussion, not the final word. The signatories do not agree with every word of it. However, they are all agreed in the need to stimulate renewed commitment to reform.

 alanwhitehead  andrewtyrie-sig  paultyler

Alan Whitehead MP

Andrew Tyrie MP

Lord Tyler

You may download the full PDF of the Bill to make comments by email to, or view the Bill on this site, clause by clause, using the navigation bar to the left.  Each clause or set of clauses has an explanatory note beneath it, and a comments box beneath that for readers to contribute their views.  The consultation closes on 30th June 2013.

11 thoughts on “Foreword and Consultation Details

  1. My opinion is that deposits are an anachronism; candidates ought to canvass support of 1% of the electorate (or some agreed figure, 0.1%, 0.5%, it can be modified in the light of experience), votes committed in writing, after which they get the benefit of adequate state funding for strictly prescribed electioneering purposes, but without which they may not stand.

    Funding for parties other than for elections should be up to them. If it isn’t, policing it is too problematical.

  2. I want the whole corrupt establishment to fall. What you and the other vested interests are proposing simply tinkers around the edges of a far more critical problem; we, the people are NOT being represented at all. You and your owners are making the decisions for your own ends. You are all corrupt, and all part of the system. You must all be brought down. Now.

    • I agree with Ken Halliday. Every Prime Minister over the last 40 years, from Ted Heath to David Cameron has ignored the English constitution and English Common Law, they have all been guilty of treason but they have never been brought to justice in an English court.Why? because the whole establishment has been corrupted.Under our current system of government the ruling party can make and break their promises, they can lie and cheat and pass illegal laws. With the signing of the Lisbon Treaty they have surrendered our country to the EU without any mandate from the British people. No, I do not think we need anyone from any of the so-called main parties to determine the future electoral system. That would be too cosy for them all.

  3. I agree with Nick, George & Ken as shown above and not with the other Nick in the person of the Deputy Prime Minister!
    The system is broken, it’s corrupt and it’s needed fixing for years, which is why voter apathy increases election by election and party membership declines inexorably.
    I would like to see the following measures taken in time for the next election in 2015 and not after!
    1) Single transferable vote system and an end to ‘first past the post’ which favours only the status quo. No other developed country uses ‘first past the post’ and for a good reason, it doesn’t work! If STV is good enough to elect the leaders of the three main political parties then it’s good enough for the UK electorate.
    2) Any government must obtain a minimum 51% of the vote in order to be elected. No government since the end of WW11 has obtained more than 42% of the vote so they have all been minority governments yet because of the bias in ‘first past the post’ they have had in some cases crushing majorities.
    3) Mandatory voting to be introduced or expect a fine if you don’t vote.
    4) No deposits if you wish to stand for election. Parliament should be open to all and not to the present narrow clique from OXBRIDGE and private schools as currently constituted.
    5) Method of selection of candidates should be by ‘Open Primaries’ and not by the ‘great and the good’ selecting candidates behind closed doors. I wish to see more PLM’s (people like me) and less PLY’s (people like you!) in Parliament.
    6) No candidate for election as an MP should go straight from University into the Westminster Village. Candidates for election should have a verifiable track record of working in the real world.
    Finally, If you’re going to change to a money-per-vote system then I would prefer a system which is more strongly related to actual support and which provides parties with a greater inventive to go out and engage with the public on a continuous basis, and not just until the votes have been counted! For that reason I’d like to see the matched funding system increased for donations up to a limit of £50 instead of £5 (to ensure the total spend balanced out, the money-per-vote element would be reduced).

    • I only agree with items 1 and 4 above. People cannot be divided into pure and exclusive party supporters, in general, and one of the beauties of STV is that if the candidate of your most preferred party is not successful then your second preference may succeed, and (s)he may not be far behind in your estimate. (E.g. a communist supporter may accept a socialist, or a UKIP supporter a Conservative). Thus item 2 is not relevant with STV, though it could be with FPTP – but how would it be enforced? I strongly disagree with 3 – people should be free not to vote; it’s up to the candidates to make themselves attractive enough. 5 is a possibility but how would it work for independents (e.g. PLMs) or very small parties, which would be much more likely to enter with STV. 6 may be desirable but it is up to candidates to claim their experience or the lack of it in their opponents.

    • Most of us probably share Mr Oates’ concerns but I doubt his solutions will help. Using his numbering system above:
      1. The STV system leads to more coalitions and less clear leadership as the Continent illustrates. Many other countries use STV, notably the US where coalitions have had no place. One might not like the US constitution or decisions, but leadership is clear.
      2. Suppose no government does obtain 51% of the vote. What then? No government at all?
      3. In a free country should I not be allowed to abstain? The Australian experience of mandatory voting is mixed.
      4. Deposits are intended to eliminate frivolous or mere publicity seeking candidates. Remove deposits and huge numbers might stand. Voters might find that a little confusing. The Police Commissioners voting indicated that deposits should be higher. In any case they are funding by parties, not the candidates personally so I what problem this is supposed to solve.
      5. Open primaries is one of the few of these seven solutions that has strong merit.
      6. One could have an age limit but some of our best MPs are the youngest. Otherwise how can one define “Westminster Village”. Would Think Tanks be Westminster Village? Journalists (note Gove)? And as we have far too high a proportion of barristers in the Commons, should that be discounted as “real world” or even as “working”?
      7. And if party funding is decided by the votes at the last election, the party that has just most conspicuously failed will get the most funding for the next election. How daft is that?

      This website needs some system for refining these ideas from rocks suitable for throwing to gold for serious promotion.

  4. Follow the money is a truism and money is undermining our democracy. We encourage corruption by allowing our political parties to be funded mainly by businesses and trade unions. We need look no further than what is happening under the current austerity regime, where policy is directed towards serving the interests of business not people. Political parties should be funded by people, which might make the parties more responsive to what people want rather than what businesses want.

  5. Let me repeat some comments I made (possibly to Unlock Democracy) over three years ago:
    Capping political donations is not enough: multinationals, banks and billionaires could get round it by proxy contributions. And even a £1 cap would exclude most of the poor. I suggest a reform system for the funding of political parties:
    1 An independent body should decide on a total sum for party funding, which should come from taxes.
    2 The sum for each party should be in direct proportion to the total vote the party wins in a general election – including votes for its candidates who are not elected, so that parties would campaign in constituencies where they are weak.
    3 While a newly formed party or one with fewer than, say, four members could arrange independent funding, this should be illegal for any established party.

  6. It is time that the MP’s got into this century.
    What I am doing now is communicating with you and it is costing nothing to do it.
    I would love the right to do that for example do you support fracking? Do you act for other companies? What have you ever contributed to society? I do communicate with my MP now but it is a one way conversation a bit like this is.
    We need some way to ask questions and get answers I am disabled and cannot get into surgeries. I remember asking the question does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction and John Prescott and the labour party told me yes.

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