Labour nearly £27m in the red

THE LABOUR Party had debts of nearly £27 million at the end of September, the Electoral Commission has revealed after publishing the mandatory lists of loans to political parties.

By Graham Dines

THE LABOUR Party had debts of nearly £27 million at the end of September, the Electoral Commission has revealed after publishing the mandatory lists of loans to political parties.

The Tories had loans amounting to more than £35 million, while the Liberal Democrats had just over £1.1 million worth of loans outstanding. Labour has told the Commission it has repaid loans worth £6,013,929 since it made a voluntary declaration in August.

The Commission's chief executive Peter Wardle said the parties had complied well with new legislation - brought in amid the cash-for-honours allegations which the police are investigating - requiring the declaration of loans for the first time.

Mr Wardle said: “This is the first time that political parties have been required by law to report full details of the loans they have taken out.

“It's a significant step forward which gives voters access to far fuller information about how parties are funded and who is funding them. This transparency is a vital part of ensuring openness in our democracy.”

Most Read

Loans reported to the Commission include £5,000 to Suffolk Coastal Tories on February 24 2005 from Ransome's Dock Ltd and £2,000 to the same association from ICAP plc on April 14 2005.

Meanwhile, the quarterly update of the register of donations showed that 16 parties had received £9 million between July and September. Of those declared, £406,535 worth of donations should have been disclosed to the Electoral Commission during a previous quarter.

Mr Wardle singled out Labour for criticism, describing its late reporting of donations as “unacceptable.” “The parties have made good progress in ensuring they comply with the new legislation. But I am concerned that some are still struggling to report donations on time.

“The fact remains that over £400,000 of donations were reported late this quarter - they were received, and should have been reported, in previous quarters.

“While we acknowledge the local branches of parties, staff largely by volunteers, may struggle to keep up with the administration of their finances, it is unacceptable that the Labour Party has failed to report a significant amount of donations to the national party on time.”

Among donations reported during the third quarter of 2006 were: £600 to Waveney Tories from Bernard Raeder of Heathland Beach Caravan Park, Kessingland; £2,735 to Ipswich Labour Party from South West East Labour Lotteries; and £1,333 from Liberal Democrat Colchester borough councillors to the local party.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter