HC Deb 19 June 1996 vol 279 cc875-6
21. Mr. Winnick

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will enter into discussions with the Confederation of British Industry over donations to political parties. [32131]

Mr. Lang

I see no reason to do so.

Mr. Winnick

There is every reason to do so. Does the Secretary of State not realise how scandalous is the fact that those in industry who donate to the Conservative party are, in the main, the same people who receive the peerages and the knighthoods? Since November 1990, when the Prime Minister arrived at No. 10, of the five peerages and 53 knighthoods given to industrialists, more than two thirds have gone to people involved with companies that have given millions of pounds to the Tory party. The situation is scandalous, and certainly needs reviewing. I hope that the Secretary of State will understand the concern that it causes.

Mr. Lang

If anything is scandalous, it is the Opposition's sour and mean approach to such matters. The fact is that directors have a legal duty to act in the interests of their companies, and all companies must disclose in their company accounts contributions for political purposes of more than £200. The beneficiaries must also be disclosed. That is a fair and sensible way forward.