Cap individual donations and cut election spending, say Tories

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Indy Politics

Plans to cut the number of MPs and halve the Government's army of ministerial advisers will be outlined by David Cameron today.

The Tory leader will propose a strict cap on donations to political parties and put forward plans to slim the cost of politics as part of a fundamental overhaul of the way politics is funded. His blueprint will also include proposals to cut parties' maximum general election spending from £20m to £15m and introduce greater state funding of politics. But he will insist that any increase in taxpayer support for parties should be matched by savings, such as a 10 per cent cut in the number of MPs and a reduction in ministerial special advisors.

George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor, said donations from individuals and organisations should be limited to "a few thousand" pounds to ease public fears that major donors can buy honours or political favours.

Tory frontbenchers went on the assault over the peerages row to maximise Labour's acute discomfort at revelations that wealthy supporters have lent the party nearly £14m in undisclosed loans to fight last year's general election.

Mr Osborne told the BBC's Sunday AM programme: "Let's get rid of the suspicion over very large donations, [that] either buy you influence, in the case of the trade unions, or buy you honours in some indirect way, and let's put a cap on individual donations that people make to political parties." He insisted the Tories would not back increased state funding for parties unless it was matched by savings elsewhere.

Aides to Mr Cameron insisted today's full package of proposed reforms would go much further than the planned cap on donations. Mr Cameron will publish a policy paper today setting out the case for change. He will write to Tony Blair and Sir Menzies Campbell to try to win support for the reforms, which have been drawn up by a group led by the MP Andrew Tyrie.

A source said today's proposals were the result of work Mr Cameron started as soon as he became leader. "The cap element is just one part of the overall package of reforms to the way political parties are financed. We obviously need the agreement of other parties to move forward."