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Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Tuesday, 3 April 2012 08:48 UK

Should Labour change union funding?


Should the Labour party change the way it is funded?

The latest attempt to unpick the knot of political party funding is to take place with the latest round of talks between the three main parties.

"The parties know the outlines of the deal... they need just need to thrash out an agreement," political correspondent Ben Wright explained.

Previous reports by Sir Haydn Philips and Sir Christopher Kelly called for a cap on donations and a limit on election expenditure which "was welcomed and then quietly filed away," he said.

"All parties have been tainted by the need to rattle donation tin in front of donors... and there will be a political will to get a deal."

Billy Hayes, chair of the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Committee and Communication Workers' Union General Secretary, told the Today programme's James Naughtie that "the trade unions formed the Labour party and are an integral part".

If union members want to opt out of funding the party, that is their right, he said.

"It is straightforward and transparent what the financial relationship is between trade unions and the party."

Peter Watt, former general secretary of the Labour Party, agreed that the bond between trade unions and the Labour party "should not be unpicked".

But he said it is "a nonsense" to say that the Labour party is is not influenced by unions, adding that it is "not easy" to opt out of the political donation so relationship is not as simple as Peter Watt describes.

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