Poll spending curb part of anti-sleaze crackdown

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Indy Politics

A statutory cap on election campaign spending by the political parties is to be imposed for the first time part of a wide-ranging "anti-sleaze" package of reforms.

A statutory cap on election campaign spending by the political parties is to be imposed for the first time part of a wide-ranging "anti-sleaze" package of reforms.

The Political Parties and Referendums Bill - based on the recommendations of the Neill committee on standards in public life - will also outlaw foreign donations and require the names of large donors to be disclosed.

It will also lay down rules for referendum campaigns, providing "modest support" from public funding for umbrella organisations campaigning on either side of the issue.

While the Bill will set spending limits on the parties and other organisations campaigning in a referendums, the Government argues that it would be impractical to try to equalise the sums exactly.

Instead, the aim will be to try to ensure that particular parties or other organisations do not have a "disproportionate voice" simply due to the wealth at their disposal.

The Bill will also establish an independent Electoral Commission which will be responsible for registering political parties and overseeing their donations and spending, as well as promoting knowledge of systems of government and the democratic process.

A separate measure - the Representation of the People Bill - will update electoral procedures, including allowing local authorities to pilot new arrangements such weekend voting, supermarket polling booths and electronic voting.

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