§ Ms Dari Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the Government's response to the recommendation on political donations by companies made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in its report on the funding of political parties in the United Kingdom. 
§ Mr. Byers
The Government agree with the Committee that the current arrangements for company donations, under which directors have discretion whether to contribute to a political party and whether to seek shareholders' consent, will not be satisfactory in an era of greater openness about party sources and uses of party funds. It has therefore accepted the Committee's recommendation that legislative provision should be made to require any company intending to make a donation (whether in cash or in kind, and including any sponsorship, or loans or transactions at a favourable rate) to a political party or organisation to have the prior authority of its shareholders. The Government would, however, welcome views on the implementation of this recommendation, and I have today published a consultative document seeking comments on the following three areas: the definition of a "political donation" with respect to donations by companies; the way in which companies legislation should be amended to give effect to the Neill Committee's recommendation that a company should have to have the prior authority of its shareholders; and possible changes to the existing disclosure provisions relating to political donations in Schedule 7 to the Companies Act 1985. The consultation will inform the drafting of a Bill to implement the main findings of the Committee's report, which the Government intend to publish by the Parliamentary Summer Recess.