Amicus the Union

Amicus the Union

March 15, 2007 13:00 ET

National Tulo Committee - Statement On The Hayden Phillips Report

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - March 15, 2007) - The National TULO Committee met today at 1:30pm to consider our collective response to the report released today by Sir Hayden Phillips.

Tony Dubbins, Trade Union Chair of the National TULO Committee, said:

"We believe that the single most important issue contained within the Phillips report is that of spending limits. It is clear that the Conservative Party is seeking to buy election success in marginal constituencies by spending sums of money far in excess of that available to its opponents. This situation was created by a loophole in the Political Parties, Elections, and Referendums Act (2000), and the time has come for it to be closed.

Only through comprehensive spending limits that are applied locally, nationally, and throughout the lifetime of each Parliament can we ensure that elections are conducted in the spirit of fairness which the British people expect and deserve.

The time has come to end the escalating arms race in Party Funding, and we will continue to focus on limits on spending that reduce excessive spending on elections, and we call on the Government to introduce early legislation in this area.

We are extremely concerned by longer term proposals to introduce statutory uniform donation caps, given that there is substantial evidence from around the world - notably the USA - that they are ineffective at controlling spending on elections. Yet despite this recognised failure, the report is recommending that they should be applied to all donors, irrespective of the damage that they will do to the relationship between the trade unions and the Labour Party which has endured for over a century. This is unwarranted interference in the internal constitution of the Labour Party.

Trade union funding of the Labour Party remains amongst the most transparent of any political party in the western world. Each trade union is already required by law to ballot its members every ten years as to whether they wish their union to maintain a political fund, and each member has the right to opt out of making these payments at any time. There are a number of trade unions whom maintain political funds without affiliating to the Labour Party - to become affiliated to the Labour Party, a union must seek the agreement of its own members. Even the Government's own Better Regulation taskforce has recognised that trade unions political funds operate under an excessive burden of regulation and recommended that this be reduced; to increase that burden further would be disproportionate.

The trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party played no part in the alleged loans for peerages scandal which led to the commencement of the Hayden Phillips inquiry, yet we are now faced with a Conservative Party intent on placing the union - labour link centre stage in this debate for purely partisan advantage.

We recall the recommendations of the Neill Commission - the last public body to consider the affiliation relationship between the trade union and the labour party - which clearly stated:

"We have received no evidence to suggest that the legislation (on trade union political funds) is not working satisfactorily, and no case has been made out for any reform. We do not propose any change to the law in this respect"

(Neill Commission Report, p.83)

It has been nearly ten years since the Neill Commission reported, and since that time there has been little or no evidence of any impropriety in our relationship with the Labour Party.

It is our belief that the trade union movement bring millions of working people into the political life of our country, through the close relationship with the Labour Party locally, regionally, and nationally. The best expression of this will be in the coming election for the leadership of our party, the franchise will include in excess of 4 million working people throughout our country. In return for that affiliated relationship, the trade union have clearly defined rights of participation in the party. We believe that this clear and unambiguous relationship sets us apart from those wealthy individuals who provided loans and triggered this crisis."

Notes to editors:
- TULO is the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation
- Tony Dubbins is the Trade Union Chair of the National TULO Committee
- There will be a press conference at 16.00 today, March 15th, in the Grimmond Room, Portcullis House.

Contact Information

  • Amicus Press Office
    Catherine Bithell
    020 7420 8909 or 07958 473224