HL Deb 23 January 1991 vol 525 cc227-8

3.10 p.m.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

What conclusions they have reached on the possibility of limiting party expenditure nationally during a general election, as raised in the Home Office consultation document of 21st December 1989.

Lord Reay

My Lords, none yet. The consultation paper was the first stage of a review of the whole subject of candidates' expenses at elections. The second and final stage of the review is now under way. A consultative group has been set up under Home Office chairmanship and representatives of the main political parties and of local authority associations have been invited to participate. The group is expected to report to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary by Easter of this year.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his full Answer. I am pleased that the Home Office is considering that serious anomaly by which candidates in their constituencies are severely limited as to the expenses that they can incur in an election while nationally there is no limit on what the parties spend. Does the Minister agree that it would be desirable for a conclusion to be reached on this important matter, especially given the early start that the Home Office made on it, well before a general election?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I am not sure that everyone necessarily shares the noble Lord's view that the present system requires to be changed. However, whenever the consultative group reports, the matter will be considered in the light of that review and the Government will make a decision.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, can the Minister assure the House that in the next general election campaign the Government will strictly observe the proper role of the government information services and will not use departmental resources to promote Conservative Party politics?

Lord Reay

My Lords, I am sure that we shall do so.

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