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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, once again, I should say that I was not aware that the document was not in the Printed Paper Office until the day before yesterday. I shall take up that matter with the Department for Education and Employment and its officials. It is important that we should ensure that such

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documents are available not only to Members of the Opposition but to all Members of your Lordships' House.

As regards the noble Baroness's second question, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment announced at the end of October that there will be three categories of school: a community category; a voluntary category, which will consist of the existing voluntary-aided schools and any voluntary-controlled schools which wish to be members of that category; and foundation schools which will be most of the existing grant-maintained schools which choose to be members of that category, and any voluntary-controlled schools which wish to be members of that category.

Party Political Donations

3.24 p.m.

Lord McNally asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guidelines exist regarding access to Ministers by large donors to party political funds.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, there never have been any guidelines other than those in the Ministerial Code which reminds Ministers of the Government's commitment to conduct all their business in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety and stresses that they should always be alert to avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has also asked the committee on Standards in Public Life, chaired by Sir Patrick Neill, to undertake a wide-ranging review of party funding.

Lord McNally: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he not agree that the Government obviously started with the best of intentions and have made a terrible mess of implementing those intentions? Is it not now time for the Labour Party to set an example to all political parties by opening its books so that the public and Parliament can be fully assured that there is no linkage between large political donations, access to Ministers, influence on policy or, indeed, on patronage?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that is exactly the reason for the reference given to Sir Patrick Neill and his committee and why it is in such broad terms. As the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday, Sir Patrick has been asked to cover all aspects of party funding, including all the matters to which the noble Lord refers. Both the Labour Party and the Government will respond to Sir Patrick's recommendations when they arrive. They will do that as a government by incorporating any recommendations in legislation proposed by the Home Office.

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, will the noble Lord confirm that minutes were kept of the meeting which took place between Mr. Ecclestone, Mr. Max Mosley and the Prime Minister? In view of accusations about special treatment being given to the motor racing industry, expressed particularly by other sports which in

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the past have benefited from the sponsorship of tobacco companies, would it not be reassuring if the Prime Minister were able to make available those minutes to Sir Patrick Neill's committee in order that they should facilitate his examination of the question?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, as regards the minutes, it was not a ministerial meeting. The Prime Minister was the only Minister present at the meeting and my understanding is that it is not the normal custom for minutes of such a non-ministerial meeting to be made public.

On the issue of whether it is right for the Prime Minister to provide access to those who have particular points to make, I remind the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition that a wide range of his Back-Benchers and a Front Bench spokesman only on 21st October were urging me very forcibly to take account of the concerns of the motor sport industry and to ensure that Ministers gave proper consideration to those concerns.

Lord Merlyn-Rees: My Lords, would it not be a good idea, as a beginning, if all political parties were to publish in their annual reports a list, by name, of all those who have donated sums over £5,000. That is done already by the Labour Party and the list is published at its annual conference. At least one would know who those donors were. The next step might be to send the list to the Cabinet Office so that it was aware of the people who had given those sums of money. However, as I say, the list is available; it was available in Brighton recently.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I can confirm to my noble friend that the established practice of the Labour Party already is to make an announcement of the names of those who have donated more than £5,000. The Labour Party and the Government are determined that the issue of how far that should be extended shall be pursued. The Prime Minister said yesterday that he could confirm that we are asking Sir Patrick to consider the whole area of party funding: whether donors should be disclosed; whether the size of a donation should be disclosed; whether there should be a limit on individual donations; whether there should be a limit on overall spending; and whether there should be different arrangements altogether, such as increased state funding. I must ask the Opposition whether they agree with those increased terms of reference and whether they agree that there should be the further disclosure for which my noble friend rightly asks.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that it would be rather surprising if the Conservative Party were to be in favour of the inquiry by Sir Patrick Neill and his colleagues, given the fact that the Conservatives voted against just such a proposition on 5th February this year? Indeed, in his speech, the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, specifically declined to support a Motion tabled in the name of my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead.

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I welcome the fact that the contribution which has received so much publicity in the past few days has been repaid. Does the noble Lord agree that it would be an extremely good idea if the noble Viscount and his friends were now to agree to repay the £365,000 of stolen money from Polly Peck International, as the administrators specifically asked Conservative Central Office to do? Would that not be very desirable, given the interest of the Opposition in this matter?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am not in a position to answer on behalf of the Conservative Party; nor am I in a position to arrange for circumstances in which such an answer might be given. The Conservative Party is strangely reticent about all such matters. Conservatives have not expressed any views, other than critical views about other people, as to what they think the right thing should be. However, as the noble Lord said, I can certainly confirm not only that the Conservative Party has resisted--and, indeed, did so on 5th February--any suggestion that there should be further disclosure of party political funding, but also that it resisted any suggestion that it should support the ban on tobacco advertising as proposed by the European Commission.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the real problem is that far too many millions are being spent on national campaigning and that, as a result, our general elections are being fought on the basis of a sort of presidential contest? Therefore, is it not time to impose a very strong restriction on the total amount of money spent on electioneering? Is it not also time that electioneering should be returned to the constituencies so that ordinary people can be involved in the election, with their candidates, and not be dependent upon television and radio broadcasts?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, as I believe I just said, the issues raised by my noble friend are those which we specifically asked Sir Patrick Neill to address. I have some personal sympathy with what my noble friend says about constituency and national funding. However, those are matters for Sir Patrick in the first instance. The Government will take account of that fact.

Although there may have been some confusion in the past week, I take a very upbeat view of what is happening. I believe that the result of the events of the past week or so have encouraged--and, indeed, made essential--a proper review of party funding. That will be taken by an independent organisation. I hope that we shall make real progress as a result of that review.

Standing Orders (Private Business)

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

With your Lordships' permission I shall move all the amendments together. They raise no matters of substance and result chiefly from changes in the designation of a number of government departments and agencies.

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Moved, That the Standing Orders relating to Private Business be amended as follows:


    Amendment


    No.


    Standing Order 27


    1. Line 74, at end insert ", Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 27A


    2. Line 23, leave out "three" and insert "four"


    3. Line 24, after "Environment" insert ", Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 29


    4. Line 8, leave out "Transport" and insert "the Environment, Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 30


    5.


    Line 6, leave out "Energy" and insert "Trade and Industry"


    Standing Order 30A


    6. Line 5, after "Environment" insert ", Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 31


    7. Line 7, leave out "Transport" and insert "the Environment, Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 32


    8. Line 13, leave out "National Rivers Authority" and insert "Environment Agency"


    Standing Order 33


    9. Line 10, leave out "National Rivers Authority" and insert "Environment Agency"


    Standing Order 34


    10. Line 10, leave out "Transport" and insert "the Environment, Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 37


    11. Line 10, at end insert ", Transport and the Regions"


    12. Line 17, at end insert ", Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 39


    13. Line 3, after "bill", insert "four at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions"


    14. Line 3, leave out "at the Department of the Environment and"


    15. Line 9, leave out "of National Heritage" and insert "for Culture, Media and Sport"


    16. Line 9, leave out "the Department of Transport"


    17. Line 35, leave out "Great George Street" and insert "Whitehall"


    Standing Order 42


    18. Line 8, leave out "National Rivers Authority" and insert "Environment Agency"


    Standing Order 43


    19. Line 8, leave out "National Rivers Authority" and insert "Environment Agency"


    Standing Order 45


    20. Line 17, leave out "Transport" and insert "the Environment, Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 47


    21. Line 11, after "Environment" insert ", Transport and the Regions"


    Standing Order 139


    22. Line 12, leave out "Transport" and insert "the Environment, Transport and the Regions"


    23. Line 26, leave out "Transport" and insert "the Environment, Transport and the Regions".--(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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