Tories seek party political ad curbs

The Conservative Party has called for new controls to stop the Government spending taxpayers' money on party political advertising.

A taskforce, chaired by Kenneth Clarke, has proposed a new code of conduct to prevent a government abusing its position by running ads aimed at showing it in a good light.

The code would be drawn up by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the anti-sleaze watchdog, which would also adjudicate on complaints of party political bias and disputes between ministers and civil servants about whether ads and campaigns should go ahead. At present, advice on the propriety of campaigns is given by COI and the Cabinet Office, but the Tory group believes the job should be handed to a body independent of the Government.

Clarke said he believed the rules on which ads and government publications should be allowed had become blurred and that the message of many ads was that the Government was doing a good job. "Party political propaganda is keeping ITV alive," he said.

- Comment, page 40.

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