Political parties should be able to claim Gift Aid on donations they receive, according to Lord Feldman of Elstree, co-chairman of the Conservative Party.Speaking at a meeting with the Committee on Standards in Public Life in mid-February, the transcript for which was published yesterday as part of its inquiry into political finance, Feldman said "the kind of state funding that we support wholeheartedly would be around Gift Aid".
He said that if there was tax relief on political giving it would "decontaminate" the issue and could increase the size of the donor base.
Political parties do not qualify for Gift Aid because they are not allowed to be charities.
"[People] see charities receiving Gift Aid as a positive thing, so they would I think see this as an extension of that, and it might also do something to enhance the reputation of political parties if people thought they were given a sort of quasi-charitable status and that they were fulfilling a public service," said Feldman.
Amanda McLean, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, also gave evidence to the committee. She said that if Gift Aid were introduced for political parties, the impact this would have on charities would need to be considered.
The IoF had not decided yet whether it was for or against the idea, she said, but one potential issue was the contrast between the freedom of political parties to campaign and the restrictions on charity campaigning.
Ann Blackmore, head of campaigns and communications at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the NCVO was against the idea.
"Gift Aid is a charitable tax relief and extending it to any non-charitable organisation, including political parties, would blur the definition of charity and undermine public trust and confidence," she said.