HC Deb 19 December 1985 vol 89 c304W
Dr. Twinn

asked the Paymaster General what information he has as to the manner in which trade unions are fulfilling the obligations laid upon them by recent legislation concerning the maintenance of political funds and the holding of ballots of their memberships.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Twenty seven of the unions which will have to hold ballots before 31 March 1986 if they wish to retain their political funds have already done so. These ballots have been held under rules approved by the certification officer and have generally been free from complaint about the ballot procedures.

The campaign that the TUC has been co-ordinating has been less honest. Some unions have failed to make it clear that they need a political fund only if they wish to spend money on party political or electoral matters. They have misrepresented the changes made by the Trade Unions Act 1984 to the definition of "political objects". That legislation did no more than clarify and bring up to date the definition provided by the Trade Union Act 1913. They have argued misleadingly that unions' ability to campaign on their members' behalf will be constrained without a fund. They have omitted to tell their members how much of their political funds go directly to the Labour party.

All the unions conducting political fund review ballots have an obligation under the 1913 Act to advise members of their right not to pay the levy. Most have adopted rules which oblige them to notify members individually. I hope they will do so and that thereafter they will comply with the TUC's undertaking to ensure that all members are freely and effectively able to exercise their right to contract out of payment.

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