Public opposes state funding for parties

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Most people oppose using taxpayers' money to fund political parties fully, a survey published today shows.

But the study for the Electoral Commission also found that most people believe that the current system of voluntary donations is vulnerable to abuse.

The research, conducted by the Mori Social Research Institute, found that just 7 per cent of the electorate think they should foot the total bill for party financing.

Three quarters (76 per cent) think parties should be financed by their own fund-raising and most (56 per cent) do not think that parties would become more honest if they were funded through taxes.

The findings will come as a blow to the Government. Peter Hain, the Leader of the House of Commons, told The Independent this week that Tony Blair was preparing to consider plans for full state funding.

Mr Hain, who chairs a cabinet committee on electoral policy, said Mr Blair was ready to override Tory objections by including a pledge in Labour's manifesto at the next general election. The government plan would be likely to channel £30m a year into party coffers.

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