§ Maria Eagle
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if charities and political think-tanks are considered political organisations for the purposes of Part IX of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. 
§ Mr. Byers
Part XA of the Companies Act 1985 as inserted into that Act by Part IX of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 implements the recommendation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life that companies intending to make a donation to a political party or organisation should be required to have the prior authority of their shareholders. An organisation is to be considered "political" for the purposes of Part XA of the Companies Act if it carries on, or proposes to carry on, activities which are capable of being reasonably regarded as intended to affect public support for a political party or to influence voters in a referendum.
The Government considered the definition carefully, and continue to believe that a test based on an organisation's intent to affect support for a political party or to influence the outcome of a referendum is both appropriate and proportionate. At the same time, the Government are concerned that the definition should not be interpreted so widely as to affect the funding of organisations which could not reasonably be regarded to show such intent. The Government do not believe, for example, that charities which campaign on issues of general public interest or political think-tanks whose publications and events are aimed at informing public opinion generally are likely to be caught by the definition if their activities would not appear, on any reasonable assessment, to be aimed at promoting a political party or to form an active part of a referendum campaign.