Monday, January 14, 2008

GOO Gate: PCS Emails Say Zip, Labour Missing Trick?

Sam Coates' The Red Box blog at Times Online has the emails that are supposed to get GOO off the hook. Guido pointed me there. Don't think they get him off the hook at all myself. But here they are:

From : Alda Barry (the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards)
Sent: 06 December 2007 14:44
To: Nikki Da Costa (office of Tory Chief Whip)
Subject: Overlap

Good morning Nikki
I promised Mr McLoughlin written confirmation of the areas of interest where Members must register both with me and also, under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), with the Electoral Commission.
I hope the following brief summary is helpful, but Mr McLoughlin might also like to consult the Electoral Commission for more detail. I usually speak to Rachel Savage on 020 7271 xxxx
The Electoral Commission is
interested in 'political donations'. Benefits personal to the Member (eg tickets to sporting events) are not of interest to them.
The areas of overlap are concentrated in Categories 4 (Sponsorship) and 6 (Overseas visits). In the case of the latter, their threshold is higher than ours - they do not require the registration of visits worth £1,000 or less.
There are also a few interests which we register under Category 5 (Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK)) which are regarded by the Commission as political donations which need to be registered with them if they are worth more than £1,000 - car parking passes or web-site design (if worth more than £1,000) are examples of these.
Under PPERA, it is the responsibility of the Member to report appropriately to the Electoral Commission. It has recently become the practice of this office to advise Members to consult the Commission if it appears to us that an interest should be registered with them, but I must emphasise that this is purely informal arrangement and does not absolve Members from the responsibility for being aware of, and complying with, their obligations under the Act. Nor can this office advise, expect ingeneral terms, about the requirements of the Act.
This office and the Committee on Standards and Privileges are aware of some dissatisfaction among Members that they have to register the same interest twice. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 opens up the possibility of a 'one-stop shop' for reporting where the requirements overlap, and it is hoped that the House will, before too long, be given the opportunity to consider the implications of such a system and decide whether it wishes to implement it.
I hope this helps
Alda Barry


From: Da Costa, Nikki
Sent: 07 December 2007 11:03
Subject: RE: Overlap
Thanks Alda.

This is very useful
Kind regards

Nikki da Costa
Special Adviser to the Opposition Chief Whip


From : BARRY, Alda
Sent: 07 December 2007 13:53
To: Da Costa, Nikki
Subject: RE: Overlap

I think I misled you just now. THe register deals with donations to a member's constituency association and not to central offices. Sorry.


From: Da Costa, Nikki
Sent: 07 December 2007 14:03
Subject: RE: Overlap

Thanks. Understood.


First observation. Source. This is from the Chief Whip's office, not from Osborne.

Second observation. Timing. This comes months after donations became news. Approximately 11 months after this passporting of funds is known to have begun. And as the Hain chase begins to wind up.

Third observation. Overlap Concept. The basic email covers "overlap" but it from the perspective of EFFECTS THAT ARE DECLARED TO RMI and which must also be declared to the EC.

Fourth observation. NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND.

Fifth observation. This gets no-one off any hooks.

Finally I'd observe that while these monies have apparently been declared to the Electoral Commission by the CCHQ they haven't been declared by Osborne have they? If Manchester Labour or one of our constituencies gets some cash donated the appropriate accounting unit(s) will declare these. If monies are then given to a candidate's campaign the candidate will put these in their declaration of expenses and if they are bound by RMI in that too.

So shouldn't these donations have been returned by CCHQ to EC. Then returned by Osborne to EC (including ultimate donors as CCHQ is an agent) and to RMI? Perhaps I'm wrong as the FAQs from Labour HQ don't go there:

Which other members of your Shadow Cabinet receive donations via Conservative Central Office to fund their offices? And in the interests of transparency, why don't you today publish the names of the donors, and the value of their donations?

Why did it take 11 months for George Osborne to check with the registrar whether the donations he was receiving via CCO to run his private office should be declared in the register of members' interests? What prompted him to check this in December given he'd been receiving these donations since January?

When David Willetts received donations via CCO to run his private office in August, he immediately declared it in the register of members' interests. Why did he do that automatically when George Osborne waited 11 months even to check whether they should be registered?

When Oliver Letwin was Shadow Chancellor, he gave up his directorships in a number of merchant banks because of the potential conflict of interest. Do you think it's appropriate for George Osborne's office to be funded by the managers of hedge funds and major investment banks, who would stand to profit massively from his proposals on stamp duty on shares, capital gains tax and so on?

In November, your local party office was forced to pay back £7,400 in donations which had come from foreign donors, relating to an auction prize for a holiday in Sri Lanka. Presumably someone in your office must have solicited these donations. Who was that individual and have you sacked them?

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