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Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: Yes, the noble Lord will find the answer. I am on an electoral register under one of those provisions; and if he has been efficient in the conduct of his affairs, he should be also.
Amendment No. 137A refers to member states of the European Union. I am puzzled as to why the words "another member state" should not have "of the European Union" added to them. I am not sure that I was given an answer. Perhaps I missed it and I shall find out when I read Hansard. We shall have to look at that.
I am not as suspicious of the European Union as the noble Lord, Lord Shore of Stepney, but I am amazed that a provision of our electoral law could be overridden by treaties that we have made and obligations that we have entered into about the ability to trade and conduct business. I do not understand that. Does the Minister believe that anybody would go to the European Court to challenge our right to adopt the policy that we are suggesting? If they did, frankly I should wonder what their motives were. I should wonder why they wanted to give money to a British political party and were prepared to go to court in order to do so. It is not as easy to get money out of people who are legitimate donors--
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I believe that there is a huge difference between having a free trade area and ensuring that companies are on a level playing field when it comes to business and trade--I have no problem with that--and saying that we cannot define who can or cannot pay into our own United Kingdom parties.
Although I prefer my amendment, I rather hoped that we would have a more sympathetic response to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn. I believe that it attempted to bridge the gap between the Minister and myself. Therefore, I was not very happy about that answer.
With regard to Amendment No. 138, which concerns political parties, I am as bemused as I was when I intervened on a number of occasions to try to elicit a response from the Minister. Perhaps between now and Report he can try to find examples of where political parties have given money to each other.
In the case of seats which are safely held by one or other great party but where the third or fourth party is having severe difficulty in obtaining money to get its candidate round and a danger exists that its vote might
We have discussed Amendment No. 139, which relates to the Republic of Ireland. I noticed that the Minister said that "regrettably" they would have to exempt Northern Irish parties from the regulations. They do not have to regret it: they do not have to do it. However, that is another matter. I stand by the arguments that I made. I have no problem with citizens who live in the Republic donating to British political parties because, as I said, many of them come in and out of this country at various stages in their life, and that would seem to solve the Northern Ireland problem.
I end on an agreeable note. I am pleased to hear the noble Lord accept the spirit of my amendment about wills. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Gould, and I are very pleased to hear that. Of course, I accept that I could not possibly draft amendments as ably as his officials, and I look forward to seeing his amendment on this issue on Report.
Lord Norton of Louth: This has been a wide-ranging and somewhat disparate discussion. On that, I rather agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Shore. I believe that there may have been a case for decoupling some of the amendments. That would have given the Government time to reply in more detail to some of the points. None the less, I believe that the discussion has covered a range of important issues relating to Clause 49.
As the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, touched upon earlier, that clause seeks to give effect to a principle. However, the more the Bill seeks to put the principle into practice, the more we see the problem. Indeed, in saying that he would not go along with my amendment, and the more that he identified problems, the more my noble friend Lord Mackay seemed to make the case advanced by the amendment.
Arguably, the point that I made earlier is that the restriction in Clause 49(2)(a) is unnecessary--in part, I believe, for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart. I believe that parties are getting their acts together and the noble Lord touched upon examples. I believe that changes are taking place because of public exposure and not because of the impending passage of this Bill. Therefore, I believe that we should pursue the path of transparency and not the path of this cumbersome and bureaucratic measure.
I shall respond briefly to two points put to me by the noble Baroness, Lady Gould. I believe that both points were perfectly fair. She is quite right with regard to my Amendment No. 140A, and I believe that Amendment No. 142 moved by my noble friend Lord Mackay is preferable. The Minister has already indicated movement in that direction. Therefore, I have no intention of moving Amendment No. 140A. I am quite content to go along with what is being proposed.
I believe that the point raised by the noble Baroness in relation to the phrase "wheresoever resident" and the problem of accommodation addresses is perfectly fair. There is an inherent problem in that, as there is with regard to the accommodation addresses of trading companies. One may be able to track them down, but I concede that there is an inherent problem. However, given all the problems associated with this clause, I believe that the amendment is preferable. My amendment addresses Clause 49(2)(a), but I believe that the discussion that we have had this afternoon has thrown up a raft of problems in relation to the whole clause. The Minister referred to my amendment as a "battering ram", and I believe that that is a perfectly fair description. It is being levelled against increasingly weak battlements.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
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