Liberal Democrat peers are to help Labour water down the Trade Union Bill, which will dramatically reduce the party’s funding, in an amendment on Wednesday.
The support should give Labour enough votes to pass an amendment that would mean parts of the Bill that relate to political funding will be separated out and examined by a cross-party committee of peers. This was originally drafted by Lord Tyler, the Liberal Democrat constitutional reform spokesman, who wants the committee to examine broader political funding.
Baroness (Angela) Smith, Labour’s House of Lords leader, is now sponsoring the amendment. She believes there is a case for a committee to scrutinise political funding specifically, because the Government admitted it had not evaluated how the bill will affect Labour’s finances.
Labour believes it is a partisan attempt to secure the Conservatives’ financial dominance and has estimated it could lose as much as £35m in an electoral cycle. The Bill requires members of Labour-affiliated unions, for example, to opt in to paying a levy to the party, when they currently can opt out – making a costly psychological difference.
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