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Petition launched to tighten up donation rules for Senedd politicians

29 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Vaughan Gething. Picture by the Welsh Government.

Martin Shipton

A pro-transparency activist has launched a petition on the Senedd’s website aimed at setting stricter rules on the acceptance of donations by Senedd Members.

It follows a scandal in which donations totalling £200k were made to Vaughan Gething’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign by a company whose owner had been convicted of two criminal offences involving the pollution of the Gwent Levels.

Lyn Eynon’s petition reads: “Set stricter rules to limit gifts, donations and payments received by Members of Senedd.

“There has been wide public concern over large donations given to a prominent Member of Senedd. Lessons must be learnt from this.

“Wales must preserve and enhance its reputation for transparency and integrity. All Members of Senedd have a duty to ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.

“Money must not buy, or appear to buy, political influence. There should be due diligence on the source of all benefits received by Members.”

Transparency

Mr Eynon is a planning specialist who leads on the policy issue for Cardiff Civic Society, although he has launched the petition in a personal capacity. His campaigning is marked by a drive for greater transparency from those in positions of power and authority.

All petitions with more than 250 signatures will be discussed by the Petitions Committee, while those with more than 10,000 signatures will be considered for a debate in the Senedd. It will run for six months, with signatures collected until September 22 2024.

Currently the section in the Senedd’s Register of Members’ Interests relating to gifts and donations states: “Gifts, hospitality, material benefits or advantage above a value specified in any resolution of the Senedd received by the Member or, to the Member’s knowledge the Member’s partner or any dependent child of the Member, from any company, organisation or person and relating to or arising out of membership of the Senedd [should be registered].

“The current value of gifts, hospitality or material benefit or advantage that are required to be registered is 0.5% of a Member’s basic gross annual salary (currently £350).

“Members should also be aware that in addition to their reporting obligations to the Senedd under this category, they have a statutory duty under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act 2000 to check, record and report the same gift, hospitality, material benefit or advantage separately to the Electoral Commission.”

Electoral commission

As things stand, however, there is no obligation on Members of the Senedd to specify how much they have received from a donor. By contrast, details of the amounts received from donors have to be specified to the Electoral Commission.

Thus, when Nation.Cymru was tipped off that Mr Gething had received a total of £200k from Dauson Environmental Group, whose main director David Neal had been given two suspended prison sentences for pollution offences, the information about the size of the donations came not from the Senedd’s Register of Members’ Interests, but from the Electoral Commission, which insists on disclosure of the amounts received.

Equally, there is no limit on the amount of money that can be donated to an MS, nor does the MS have to give any indication as to the reason for a donation.

Mr Gething has strongly denied that the Dauson donations have any relation to the company’s business interests, and especially to an application to build a giant solar plant which will be determined by the Welsh Government that he now leads. Instead, we are told that Mr Neal decided to donate £200k to Mr Gething’s campaign simply because he was considered to be the best First Minister candidate.

A Senedd insider backed the petition, saying: “It’s outrageous that under the current declaration rules relating to the Senedd’s Register of Members’ Interests, no one would ever have known that Vaughan Gething received as much as £200k from a businessman for whom he had previously lobbied the regulator Natural Resources Wales, asking it to go easy on one of his companies.

“There need to be much tighter rules, with strict limits on donations aimed at ensuring that no one could get an unfair advantage in a leadership election, for example.

“The present regulations are wholly unfit for purpose and need to be reformed as a matter of urgency. This petition deserves the support of everyone.”


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Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
12 days ago

If justice is to be done then Get Thing needs to be forced to give that money he received to genuine environment groups, for him to have a FULL audit of his entire financial history (because you know this is not going to be the first time a corrupt weasel has accepted dirty money) and for Dauson Environmental Group to not only be forced to pay for the full and effective cleanup of the Gwent Levels but to also have a full audit to ascertain what other corruption they’ve been getting up to.

For starters.

Ap Kenneth
11 days ago

Just why does a leadership election for Welsh Labour require £200K? E-mails, a bitof travel and subsistence to hustings, surely £2K would be sufficient? What is the breakdown as to how this money was spent?

Pete Cuthbert
Pete Cuthbert
11 days ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

From this part of the world, I would suggest that no MS should accept any kind of gift. Nice simple rule “No gifts”. If people wish to donate to political parties then it must be to the party Head Office and be published on a public list. Cardiff needs to be different from the slease of Westminster.

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