Conservatives rocked by Cash4Cameron crisis

Cameron made the following statement this morning, ahead of a speech in London:

“What Peter Cruddas said was completely unacceptable and wrong … We have a robust and sensible system for raising money in the Conservative party. All donations to the party centrally above £7,500 are declared to the Electoral Commission and must comply with electoral law. No donation is accepted before going through very thorough compliance procedures …

There has been much speculation about dinners in my flat in Number 10 Downing Street. The position is this: in the two years I have been prime minister there have been three occasions on which significant donors have come to my flat. In addition, there was a further post-election dinner which included donors in Downing Street itself shortly after the general election. We will be publishing full details of all these today.

None of these dinners were fundraising dinners. None of these dinners were paid for by the taxpayer. I have known most of those attending for many years. Let me add that Peter Cruddas has never recommended anyone to come to dinner in my flat, nor has he been to dinner there himself.

I already publish details of my external meetings as prime minister – the first prime minister to do so – and I also publish all meetings that I have with media editors and proprietors. From now on the Conservative party will publish details every quarter of any meals attended by any major donors, whether they take place at Downing Street, Chequers or any official residence.

The Conservative party is funded by private citizens. I inherited a party that was tens of millions of pounds in debt and dependent on a tiny number of big donors. Since I have been leader we have significantly broadened the Conservative party’s funding base and many more significant donors …

From now on, the Conservative party will in addition publish a register of those major donors who actually attend these fundraising dinners.

On policy, let me make clear no one in the Number 10 policy unit has met anyone at Peter Cruddas’s request. Peter Cruddas spoke about passing requests to a policy committee at Number 10 Downing Street. There is no such committee. However, to avoid any perception of undue influence, from now on we will put in place new procedures in which if any ministerial contact with a party donor prompts a request for policy advice, the minister will refer this to his or her private office who can then seek guidance from the permanent secretary.

Clearly there is still an urgent need for party funding reform in this country. I have consistently argued this over the last six years. No party is immune from these problems. Indeed, the leader of the Labour party has himself encountered some controversy in recent days. That is why the government has invited Labour to restart the cross-party talks on reforming the current rules.

But today I make this offer once again to the Labour party. I’m ready to impose a cap on individual political donations of £50,000 without any further need for state funding. But to be fair, this must apply equally to trade unions as well as to private citizens or businesses.”

The Guardian (amended)

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