Wednesday 4 December 2019 / 8:48 AM Jon Trickett

Labour will wage war on dodgy donations and conflicts of interest

In a new announcement covered in the Times today, a Labour Government will introduce sweeping changes to political donations and lobbying, and ban MPs’ paid second jobs, as part of its plan to clean up politics and wage war on conflicts of interest in Parliament and government.

To tackle dodgy donations and dark money, a Labour Government will:

  • Ban donations from individuals who are not domiciled in the UK and who are non-resident for tax purposes, as well as donations from those non-tax compliant, including tax evaders;
  • Prevent the use of shell companies to hide the true source of donations, and force any private company that donates to declare its ultimate beneficial ownership;
  • Require political parties to publish the names of any donors that donate over £7,500 in a calendar year that also attend events organised by that party in that same calendar year, when a purpose of that event is to engage donors. This will end the secrecy of donation clubs like the Leader’s Group.
  • Increase the maximum fine the Electoral Commission can sanction for breach of political finance rules.
  • If Labour is elected, legislation for these policies will be drafted immediately, to ensure a second EU referendum is conducted free from undue influence.

Labour will also abolish the Lobbying Act 2014 and introduce new rules that will expose and restrict the increasingly uncontrollable corporate lobbying of government, which the Tories have allowed to flourish and have profited from.

Labour’s new lobbying register will:

  • Cover the millions of pounds worth of corporate lobbying conducted by in-house lobbyists and think-tanks, which is currently not captured by existing legislation, as well as by consultant lobbyists;
  • Cover the lobbying of MPs, ministers, and any senior employee of central government and not just permanent secretaries and special advisers;
  • Require lobbyists to declare the specific nature of the lobbying engagement, who is being targeted, what policy areas are under discussion, on behalf of whom, and the estimated value of the lobbying activity registered;
  • Carry tougher sanctions for those individuals or organisations that fail to register the appropriate level of detail. Sanctions will include a ban on future meetings with public officials as well as monetary fines.
  • Labour will also ban MPs from holding paid second jobs. There will be limited exemptions to maintain professional registrations like nurses.

This will be accompanied by re-written business appointment rules, enforced by a new statutory body that will replace the ineffective Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA).

This new body will produce rulings that are mandatory, not just advisory, and be more representative of society in its membership, and not packed with establishment figures.

Under the new business appointments rules, former ministers will be prevented from lobbying government for a minimum of five years after leaving office, and for longer periods in sensitive cases.

Jon Trickett, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

“Under the Tories politics and government is in serious danger of becoming a playground for the rich and powerful, with decisions often made behind closed doors in the interests of a small few, at the expense of the many. This is very worrying for our democracy.

“The rules that are supposed to prevent this are completely ineffective. The time for their replacement is long overdue.

“Labour will protect our democracy with tough new regulations, as part of our democratic revolution to create real change in how this country works”.