Donations to political parties reach record levels

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Indy Politics

Donations to political parties reached their highest level on record around this year's general election, it was disclosed today.

Some £26.3 million worth of gifts were reported by 16 parties as having been received in April, May and June, the Electoral Commission said.

The main beneficiaries were the Conservative Party, which got £12.3 million; Labour, with £10.9 million; and the Liberal Democrats, with £2 million.

The three main parties also took a share of more than £1 million of public funds and owed more than £31 million between them at the end of the period.

Labour had the highest borrowing at the end of June, with £16,645,172, followed by the Tories on £13,128,326 and the Lib Dems on £1,600,314.

The previous record for quarterly political donations was £20.6 million, received by parties in January, February and March 2005 ahead of that year's election.

The increase is even more marked than the figures suggest, as the threshold at which donations have to be reported rose in January.

For gifts to the central parties it rose from £5,000 to £7,500, and for those to smaller accounting units, like constituency parties, it rose from £1,000 to £1,500.

Individual donations made to the central parties in the month before the May 6 general election were previously published as part of the weekly campaign updates.

Peter Wardle, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said: "Since 2001 we have made public details of almost 30,000 donations to political parties, with a total value of just over £433 million.

"Voters have come to expect a high level of transparency about the way political parties are funded, and never more so than for the period covering a general election in the UK.

"Voters will want to see who funded political parties during the election campaign, and contributed towards this record-breaking quarter."