A new code of practice for party political advertising is expected
after the Government’s anti-sleaze watchdog backed the ad industry’s
call for change.
Lord Neill, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life,
recommended in his report on political funding on Tuesday that the
parties and the industry should agree a new code for press and poster
His call represents a victory over the politicians by the Committee of
Advertising Practice. It told the Neill inquiry that the present system
was under strain because the parties are exempt from some parts of the
industry’s code, and do not have to prove their claims like other
Replying to CAP’s call, the Neill committee said: ’We would welcome any
progress which could be made in this direction by the political parties
working in association with the advertising industry, and we would
exhort them to endeavour to formulate an agreed code.’
However, the negotiations may prove tricky because the parties are
split. Labour wants political campaigns brought fully under the
industry’s code but the Tories back the present ’halfway house’
As expected, Lord Neill’s report signalled cuts in the ad budgets at
future general elections by proposing a pounds 20 million ceiling for
each party’s spending in the campaign. Both Labour and the Tories
believe they will spend less on press and poster advertising in order to
protect their budgets.
Neill provided some comfort for Labour by supporting its fight against
the BBC and ITC’s plans to end party political broadcasts in
Neill’s report on political funding made 100 recom-mendations, most of
which concentrated on sweeping changes to the way parties receive
It called for full public disclosure of donations to political parties
over a certain sum, as well as an end to blind trusts and all foreign
donations by non-citizens.
It also recommended a ban on anonymous donations of pounds 50 or more,
and suggested establishing an independent and impartial election
commission to monitor the new regulations.