HC Deb 04 April 1985 vol 76 cc770-1W
Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what information he has as to the proportion of trade union political fund expenditure represented by affiliation fees to political parties.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Information about trade unions' expenditure from both general and political funds is contained in annual returns of accounts which all trade unions are required to submit to the Certification Officer. It is not possible in every case to distinguish between expenditure on affiliation fees and other grants and donations to political parties. An analysis of the latest accounts of the ten trade unions with the highest level of political expenditure, representing about three quarters of all political fund expenditure shows that in 1983 at least 78 per cent. of that expenditure was accounted for by affiliation fees and other grants and donations to a political party.

The figures for each of these trade unions were as follows:

Union Amount of payments to a political party Proportion of total political fund expenditure
£ per cent.
TGWU 1,449,000 91
GMBATU 1,164,000 81
NUPE 585,000 46
AUEW(E) 722,000 92
NUM 440,000 92
USDAW 223,000 50
NUR 272,000 90
COHSE 208,000 76
UCW 242,000 96
EETPU 205,000 99
Total 5,510,000 78

The purposes to which the remaining political fund expenditure is put are not always apparent from the accounts but it is possible that some of that expenditure also represents payments to or on behalf of a political party. In 1982 payments to a political party accounted for at least 69 per cent. of the political fund expenditure of the same ten trade unions. The difference is probably attributable to the fact that 1983 was a year in which a general election took place.

Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many trade unions have balloted their members in the last 10 years on whether they should have a political fund.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

In the last 10 years seven trade unions have balloted their members under the provisions of the Trade Union Act 1913 on whether they should set up a political fund, with the following results:

Year of ballot and Union Votes for Votes against
1976 Society of Graphical and Allied Trades 25,837 24,665
1981 National Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Workers 13,414 17,054
1981 Association of Broadcasting and Allied Staffs 871 4,506
1982 Society of Union Employees 100 20
1983 Society of Telecom Executives 10,761 9,217
1983 Civil and Public Services Association 31,479 65,922
1984 Amalgamated Society of Textile Workers and Kindred Trades 1,011 673

None of the 53 trade unions with political funds has balloted during the last ten years on the continuance of its political fund.