Party-funding has slipped out of the headlines. Must be those important economic moves by Mr Pickles to allow parking in driveways and force the building of wheelie-bin shelters which have driven it off the agenda. [Might think about building affordable and social houses first, Eric]. Well, this is after all the ‘silly season’ in politics.
But serious business shouldn’t be forgotten. And figures available on Tory party funding for the second quarter of this year are serious business which deserves more attention.
Analysis of Conservative Party donations from April to June, shows that they received £1,042,970.93 in this last quarter from donors who attended private dinners with David Cameron and other senior Ministers.
This includes £694,370 from donors in the financial sector.
The Tories’ own list of donors who attended Leader’s Group dinners in the second quarter of 2013 is published here.
And here’s a list of individuals who attended Conservative Party Leader’s Group dinners in the second quarter of 2013, and the amounts they donated to Conservative Party in that same quarter:
David Harding £100,000.00
David Ord Ltd £77,500.00
First Corporate Consultants Ltd £10,000.00
Gary Lydiate £2,800.93
Henry Davis £50,000.00
Offshore Group Newcastle Ltd £117,300.00
James Lupton £263,600.00
John Frieda £50,000.00
Alexander Temerko £16,000.00
Michael Farmer £280,770.00
Neil Ostrer £50,000.00
J&H Sales (International) Ltd £25,000.00
Between them, the investment banker James Lupton, and hedge fund managers David Harding, Michael Farmer and Neil Ostrer donated a total of £694,370 in the last quarter.
No connection whatever, of course, with the fact that George Osborne gave a tax cut worth £145m to hedge funds in the March 2013 Budget.
No connection either to the fact that Chancellor George Osborne has scrapped the UK’s stamp duty reserve tax on funds.
OK, you probably missed that one in the small print of the Budget.
This is a move, as Osborne puts it, aimed at boosting the asset management industry.
“In places like Edinburgh and London we have a world-beating asset management industry, but they are losing business to other places in Europe,” Mr Osborne said in his Budget 2013 speech.
“We act now with a package of measures to reverse this decline and we will abolish the Schedule 19 tax which is only payable by UK-domiciled funds.”
The Schedule 19 stamp duty reserve tax is levied on the managers of UK-domiciled unit trusts and Oeics. HM Revenue & Customs rules state that fund groups are liable for the duty, which is charged at 0.5 per cent, when investors sell or “surrender” units in their funds.
The tax is paid directly to HMRC and fund groups usually pass this cost on to investors in the form of charges, according to the tax body.
The tax is being cut from April 1 2014 when the Finance Bill 2014 comes into force.
It may be a boost to the asset management industry. It is certainly a boost to Tory party donors – topped up by a cut in the top rate of tax for all of them. And it is a very significant loss in the tax take which funds services for the rest of us.
The government estimates this tax cut will cost it £145m a year in lost tax revenues – the small print just became big money.
David Cameron promised in June to publish the results of Lord Gold’s inquiry into the cash-for-access scandal.
Remember the exchange in Parliament?
Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab): Mr Speaker, you will recall that over a year ago—you probably know the exact date—the Prime Minister announced an internal inquiry, to be led by the lustrously named Lord Gold, into the cash-for-access scandal, in which major Conservative party donors were richly, if not royally, entertained at Downing street and Chequers. When does the Prime Minister plan to produce and publish the results of that inquiry?
The Prime Minister: I am very happy to set out for the hon. Gentleman all the things Lord Gold recommended and all the steps that we will be taking
[Hansard, 26 June 2013, columns 300-301]
Cameron still has not done so.
So we’re just printing a preliminary list to nudge his elbow.
These are issues which we just can’t afford to allow to slip out of the Tory-managed news agenda.
Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said:
“The Tories have raked in over £1 million from private dinners with David Cameron and senior Ministers in the last quarter. And more than two thirds of that comes from the City – the bankers and hedge fund bosses whose taxes David Cameron cut.
“Hardworking families are seeing their living standards squeezed, with prices rising faster than wages. Meanwhile David Cameron shows how out of touch he is, standing up for the millionaires who fund his party.
“It’s nearly two months since David Cameron promised to publish the results of Lord Gold’s inquiry into the Tories’ dinners for donors. We’re still waiting. It’s time for him to come clean.”
While you’re chewing over all that, remember the comparable figures for Labour funding – not just for the last quarter, but for the whole first half of this year.
The Labour Party have a range of funding sources. In the year to date (1 January to June 2013) 29% of funding came directly from the membership, 22% came from grants; 25% from Fundraising and commercial activities and 25% came from Affiliated Trade Unions (that is, by the way, from people like dinner ladies and care assistants].
Meanwhile, Hedge-fund and asset managers eat their way to influence. They must think it is money well spent.