David Cameron publishes list of all donors dining at No 10
- 26 March 2012
- From the section UK Politics
David Cameron has given details of all Conservative donors who have had dinner with him in his Downing Street flat.
The prime minister said there had been four occasions in which he had invited Conservative supporters to No 10 - most of whom he had known for "many years".
Details of all meals between Conservative donors and ministers will now be published on a quarterly basis.
The PM has promised a thorough inquiry into fundraising after the resignation of Tory co-treasurer Peter Cruddas.
Mr Cruddas quit after reporters filmed him saying Tory party donors could gain influence at No 10's policy committee and could attend dinners in Mr Cameron's personal flat, above No 11 Downing Street.
The prime minister said the Conservative Party had "robust and sensible" procedures for handling donations but what Mr Cruddas had said was wrong - and that an inquiry would be conducted by Conservative peer and lawyer Lord Gold.
Mr Cameron's announcement that No 10 would release details of private dinners he had had with donors at No 10 came after apparent reluctance to do so and amid growing political pressure.
In a short statement ahead of a speech in London, the prime minister said he had three such dinners in his flat with "significant donors" between February 2011 and February 2012.
Those attending, No 10 has announced, were former Tory treasurer Michael Spencer with his partner, businessman David Rowland - who has given more than £4m to the party since 2009 - and his wife, plus oil executive Ian Taylor and his wife and banker Henry Angest and his wife.
On a fourth occasion, the PM added, donors were present at a post-election celebration in Downing Street in July 2010.
Among those present were Conservative Party chief executive Andrew Feldman, party donors Lord Sainsbury and Michael Farmer and Murdoch Maclennan, chief executive of the firm which publishes the Daily Telegraph.
"None of these dinners were fundraising dinners or were paid for by the taxpayer," Mr Cameron insisted. "I have known most of those attending for many years."
In future, Mr Cameron said the Conservatives would publish details of all meals with donors, whether at No 10 or Chequers, as well as a register of all meetings with those who have given money.
But he insisted that Mr Cruddas had not instigated any meetings nor had donors influenced any government policy - although he said new safeguards would be introduced in future to ensure this could not happen.
"Let me make clear. No-one in the No 10 policy unit has met anyone at Peter Cruddas' request."
The BBC News Channel's Chief Political correspondent Norman Smith said No 10 was trying to "douse down" the controversy over donations and access to ministers but the opposition were likely to continued to press for an independent inquiry.
Mr Cameron also said there was an "urgent" need for reform of party political funding and he made an offer to other parties to introduce a £50,000 cap on political donations.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has made a statement to Parliament about the affair and the prospect of restarting currently stalled cross-party talks on the future of political funding.
Deputy PM Nick Clegg, in South Korea, said he wanted to see cross-party talks on reform of party political funding to start this week so "we can fix this and fix it for good".
Labour are demanding answers over Mr Cruddas's claims, which were filmed by undercover Sunday Times reporters, came to light over the weekend. The matter has also been reported to the Metropolitan Police.
Their leader Ed Miliband - who said Mr Cameron's failure to deliver the Commons statement suggested "he had something to hide" - said the matter could not be "swept under the carpet".
"We need to know what access was paid for, if access was paid for, and what contributions were made and the interaction between the prime minister, the chancellor and Conservative Party donors."
Conservative MP Mark Field said he was pleased the prime minister was "getting on the front foot" but called for a "more comprehensive list" to be released of all people David Cameron meets at No 10.
Mr Cruddas was secretly filmed saying that a donation of £200,000 or £250,000 gave "premier league" access to party leaders, including private dinners with Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. He also suggested that any such donor could have their feedback on political plans fed back to the party's policy committee.
He was heard initially saying that it was not possible to buy access to the prime minister.
But he then went on to discuss what access different size donations would get.
He was speaking to the reporters posing as staff from a fake wealth fund based in Liechtenstein who were interested in doing business in the UK.
He told them: "Two hundred grand to 250 is premier league… what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners."
He said they would be able to ask Mr Cameron "practically any question you want" and their views would be relayed to the No 10 policy committee.
In his resignation statement, Mr Cruddas said he regretted "any impression of impropriety" and there was "no question of donors being able to influence policy or gain undue access to politicians".
The Conservative Party currently has several levels of donation, with the top one being the Leader's Group,where for an annual donation of £50,000 donors can be invited to join Mr Cameronand other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-Prime Minister's Questions lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches.
The Lib Dems have said "reform" of party funding was necessary and cross party talks were already due to start within the next few weeks.
The chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Christopher Kelly, said who politicians "met and ate" with was not the main issue but whether party leaders and officials could continue to "solicit funds in this way".