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Party donations reach record high

Donations to political parties reached their highest level on record around this year's general election, the Electoral Commission has disclosed.

The vast bulk of the £26.3 million-worth of gifts received by 16 political parties in April, May and June, involved the Conservative Party (£12.3 million) and Labour (£10.9 million). The Liberal Democrats took the majority of what was left, £2 million.

The three main parties also took a share of more than £1 million of public funds and owed more than £31 million between them at the end of the period.

Labour had the highest borrowing at the end of June, with £16,645,172, followed by the Tories on £13,128,326 and the Lib Dems on £1,600,314.

The previous record for quarterly political donations was £20.6 million, received by parties in January, February and March 2005 before that year's election. The increase is even more marked than the figures suggest because the threshold at which donations have to be reported increased in January.

For gifts to the central parties it rose from £5,000 to £7,500, and for those to smaller accounting units, like constituency parties, it rose from £1,000 to £1,500.

Individual donations made to the central parties in the month before the May 6 general election were previously published in the weekly campaign updates.

Peter Wardle, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said: "Since 2001 we have made public details of almost 30,000 donations to political parties, with a total value of just over £433 million.

"Voters have come to expect a high level of transparency about the way political parties are funded, and never more so than for the period covering a general election in the UK.

"Voters will want to see who funded political parties during the election campaign, and contributed towards this record-breaking quarter."

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