Question to the Home Office:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the Defending Democracy Taskforce plans to make an assessment of whether foreign powers may seek to influence political parties through covert donations.
UK electoral law sets out a stringent regime of controls on donations to political parties to ensure that only those with a legitimate interest in UK elections can make donations. Donations from foreign powers – made directly or indirectly – are illegal, and there are strong rules safeguarding against impermissible donations via backdoors.
It is an offence to attempt to evade the rules on donations by concealing information, giving false information, or knowingly facilitating the making of an impermissible donation.
The National Security Act 2023 will create a challenging operating environment for foreign states who seek to undermine UK interests – including our political system. The Act provides for substantially increased maximum penalties for electoral offences relevant to donation rules, where activity is done for, on behalf or with the intention to benefit a foreign power.
The Government has committed to taking forward a consultation on ways to enhance information-sharing between relevant agencies or public bodies to help to identify and mitigate the risk of foreign interference in political donations that are regulated by electoral law. This will be taken forward by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and be supported by the Defending Democracy Taskforce.
The Defending Democracy Taskforce’s mission statement is to reduce the risk to the UK’s democratic processes, institutions, and society. This includes protecting the democratic integrity of the UK from threats of foreign interference. We continue to keep potential threats under review, including foreign interference in public office and political parties, to ensure UK democracy remains robust.