HC Deb 28 January 1974 vol 868 cc12-3
7. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will introduce legislation to ensure that companies which have charge of clients' money, such as banks and insurance companies, may not make political contributions.

Mr. Onslow

No, Sir.

Mr. Jenkins

Will the hon. Gentleman think about this again? Is it not the case as regards trade unions that it is necessary to set up a separate political fund in order to make political contributions? If this is all right for trade unions, is it not equally proper for contributors to the Conservative Party to have the same treatment as contributors to the Labour Party? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that those of us on this side of the House who have any dealings with banks and insurance companies are inadvertently contributors to the Conservative Party? Is he very happy about a situation in which part of his own election expenses will be inadvertently compulsorily contributed by Members on this side of the House?

Mr. Onslow

In so far as that is true at all, it is true that the previous Government, which I understand the hon. Gentleman supported when they legislated in 1967, did not think it right to take action in this field. I recognise that the Labour Party has massive commitments to the nationalisation of banks and insurance companies. I think it is disgraceful that they should seek to deny to these companies the means of defending themselves.

Mr. Redmond

Can my hon. Friend say what contributions have been made during and between General Elections by the National Union of Mineworkers and ESLEF? If the banks and insurance companies were nationalised, where would we o nthis side of the House put our money?

Mr. Onslow

I am sure that the whole House would very much like to know the answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's question. Unfortunately, I cannot give the answer. As to the second part of my hon. Friend's question, I can assure him that this dilemma is unlikely to face him.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Does not my hon. Friend think it unfortunate that the Labour Party is prepared to accept money for financing from these very unions some of whose officials, like Mr. McGahey, are determined to destroy the country?

Mr. Onslow

The party opposite had better answer for itself.