HC Deb 08 December 1966 vol 737 cc1564-5
Ql. Mr. Hamling

asked the Prime Minister when legislation will be introduced to compel political parties to disclose their sources of income.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

As my hon. Friend knows, the Companies Bill, which contains provisions relevant to his Question, is now being considered in another place and it will, if passed, carry into effect the pledge we gave in our election manifesto. I think we should await the effects of that Bill before deciding whether further action is required.

Mr. Hamling

Would my right hon. Friend tell us why the Opposition are so ashamed of their friends that they are frightened of telling the electors who pays them?

The Prime Minister

We do publish our accounts; it has long been a matter for controversy that they do not.

Mr. Fitt

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that in any intended legislation provision will be made to cover the Northern Ireland Unionist Party, which is a Siamese twin of the Conservative Party and, on occasions in this House, has been in a position to bring about the downfall of a British Labour Government?

The Prime Minister

These are very interesting observations, which it would no doubt be appropriate to consider, but I had better not prejudge discussion either in another place or in this House on the Bill to which I referred.

Captain W. Elliot

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that all sources of the Socialist Party's finance are disclosed?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I would be glad to send the hon. Gentleman a copy of the latest accounts, even without asking for a reciprocal courtesy. He will also be aware, I think, that all subscriptions and contributions to unions are published, and all require an assent of the organisation concerned, which is not the position at present for companies.

Mr. Thorpe

As the treasurer of one of the three political parties, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say whether there would be any difficulty in all three political parties publishing their accounts, as is done in the United States, and as the Liberal and Labour Parties already do in this country?

The Prime Minister

There cannot be any difficulty in this, but I was asked about legislation. I said that we ought to wait until other legislation has gone through the House.