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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 22:32 GMT
Labour reveals secret loans list
Tony Blair
Tony Blair says he knew about the loans
Labour has published the names of the wealthy businessmen who secretly lent the party a total of nearly 14m.

The biggest loans were 2.3m from property developer Sir David Garrard, 2m from fashion magnate Richard Caring and 2m from minister Lord Sainsbury.

The list was released as Labour continued to deny sleaze claims after it emerged some of the lenders were later recommended for peerages.

New laws are now planned to ban secret loans to parties in the future.

NAMES OF LABOUR PARTY LENDERS:
Rod Aldridge - 1m
Richard Caring - 2m
Gordon Crawford - 500,000
Prof Sir Christopher Evans - 1m
Sir David Garrard - 2.3m
Nigel Morris - 1m
Sir Gulam Noon - 250,000
Dr Chai Patel - 1.5m
Andrew Rosenfeld - 1m
Lord David Sainsbury - 2m
Barry Townsley - 1m
Derek Tullett - 400,000
Total: 13,950,000

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats support that proposal and Labour is urging them to publish details of their lenders.

The Lib Dems say they have already done so, but Tory treasurer Jonathan Marland says he is not prepared "under any circumstances" to disclose where his party's loans come from.

He says he also sees no reason to follow Labour's example and publish the names of individual lenders.

"We are not in this mess because we are not in power. We don't have patronage to give and we are not in the same position," he told BBC Two's Newsnight.

Tory leader David Cameron has proposed plans to "clean up" party funding, including a ban on all loans which are not from financial institutions on "fully commercial terms".

Labour - and the other main parties - have been accused of exploiting a loophole in current rules by taking loans, rather than donations which have to be declared publicly.

A party spokesman said: "The loans were given and received in good faith, and would have been registered in the appropriate way in our annual accounts."

Ivy restaurant link

Among the people on the Labour list not previously known to be lenders are Rod Aldridge, chairman of Capita Group, which has government contracts; Mr Caring, owner of London's famous Ivy restaurant; and biotech chief Sir Christopher Evans.

Sir Christopher is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office but strongly denies wrongdoing. He says there were "no strings" attached to his loan.

Click below to find out how the UK's political parties are funded

Four of the lenders - Sir Gulam Noon, Barry Townsley, Sir David Garrard and Chai Patel - were nominated for peerages but the House of Lords Appointments Commission raised concerns.

Earlier, it was reported the commission objected to Sir Gulam because it had not been told about his loan.

Sir Gulam told the Times newspaper a "senior party man" had told him there was no reason why he should declare the loan because it was "refundable".

Ministers are trying to draw a line under the funding furore by publishing the loans list and banning future secret loans.

'Lords damaged'

Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer plans to use the Electoral Administration Bill, which is back in the House of Lords on Tuesday, to ensure all future loans have to be declared.

"The system had not been cleaned up enough and we need to change it," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He denied that taking the secret loans had been deceitful, but urgent action was needed to make loans transparent.

HAVE YOUR SAY
There is nothing wrong in accepting donations so long as it is completely transparent
Mike, Brighton

But Lord Strathclyde, the Tory leader in the Lords, said the House of Lords had "been gravely damaged by what will inevitably be known as the 'loans for peerages affair'," he said.

Former senior civil servant Sir Hayden Phillips is reviewing how parties are financed, with a brief to look in detail at the possibility of state funding.

Donations cap?

The Tories and Lib Dems back plans to force parties to reveal details of future loans.

Both the main opposition parties are proposing a 50,000 cap on donations to political parties to help "remove the suspicion" that large sums of money buy influence over policy.

And they want the limit on election spending cut from 20m to 15m.

Mr Cameron is also proposing more state funding for parties, something the Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell says he will also contemplate.

But the UK Independence Party has warned that a donations limit and state funding would hit smaller parties disproportionately without tackling the problem of transparency.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Lord Falconer explains his plans for new laws on loans


Lords statement on the "cash for peerages" row



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