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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3105


Mr E G Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) am asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 12 October 1977:

Can he bring up to date the answer he gave me on 18 May 1976 (Hansard, page 2173) on (a) the countries in which election campaigns are financed in whole or in part from Government funds and (b) the formulae for this funding.


Mr Street - The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(a)   On the basis of the information available to me, the situation in the countries concerned remains as given on 18 May 1976.

However, the following recent developments in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, as reported to me, may be of interest to the honourable member.

United States of America

On 22 March 1977, President Carter sent to Congress a message containing several recommendations dealing with election reform, including government financing of Congressional campaigns (both general and primary). However, on 2 August 1977 the Senate rejected the President's proposal to finance Congressional elections with public money.

United Kingdom

An independent committee under the Chairmanship of the Rt Hon. Lord Houghton was set up by the United Kingdom Government in May 1975 to consider whether provision should be made from public funds to assist political parties in carrying out their functions outside Parliament.

The Committee's Report, which was presented to Parliament in August 1976, recommended that political parties be publicly subsidised by a combination of two schemes, namely:

(i)   Annual grants to be paid from Exchequer funds to the central organisations of the parties for their general purposes, the amount being determined according to the extent of each party's electoral support; and

(ii)   at the local level, a limited reimbursement of the election expenses of parliamentary and local government candidates.

However, the Report was not a unanimous report and as yet, no legislative action has been taken on its recommendations.

(b)   I can supply the following additional information in respect of Sweden on the basis of information I have received.

Sweden

State support for political parties was introduced in 196S, since which time it has been successively increased. The nature of this support was partly restructured in 1972; and the salient features are as follows:

National support for political parties amounts to 115,000 SKr annually per seat in the Riksdag.

Staff support consists of basic support and additional support. The basic support amounts to 2,025,000 SKr annually to each political party represented in the Riksdag that has received 4 per cent of the votes cast in the latest election. The additional support amounts to 5,650 SKr for each seat held by the party or parties in power and 8,500 SKr for the opposition party or parties.

National support is provided for political parties not represented in the Riksdag on the basis of the percentage of votes received by the party in question in the most recent election. For each tenth of 1 per cent above 2.5 per cent, the party in question shall receive 1 1 5,000 SKr

When a party gains or loses seats in an election, the consequent change in support amounts is gradual, not abrupt, in order to facilitate activity planning within the parties and ensure employee security.

All forms of state support from public funds are paid directly to the national organisations of the parties, unless the party concerned decides otherwise.

The sums paid for national party and staff support should be reviewed at short intervals, it being assumed that the relations between the amounts would remain unchanged. The latest review was in the autumn of 1975.

A total sum of 53 million SKr in State support for the political parties was proposed by the government for the 1976-77 fiscal year.







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