Many moons ago I used to run quite a successful company which organised policy conferences. So I know a bit about what it costs to put on a conferenc for sixty people. So when I read this in Hansard, you can imagine my reaction...
Caroline Spelman: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission (1) how much has been allocated for the Electoral Commission’s conference on the regulation of political party financing; (2) who has been invited to attend the Electoral Commission’s conference on the regulation of political party financing.
Peter Viggers: I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the conference on the regulation of party finances held by the Electoral Commission in September for representatives of overseas regulatory organisations and academic specialists in this field. The commission informs me that the cost of the conference, which was attended by more than 60 delegates from 15 countries, was £45,000. The Commission also incurred travel and subsistence costs of £14,000 in relation to the attendance of certain key speakers. I have asked the chief executive of the Commission to write to my hon. Friend with details of those who were invited, and to place a copy of his letter in the Library.
Quite astonishing. Where did they hold it? The Maldives? I hope someone will pass me a copy of The Electoral Commission's letter, as I suspect it will mae very interesting reading.
I actually believe the Electoral Commission is a good thing and has an excellent chairman in Sam Younger. It is right that electoral issues are separated from government and overseen by an independent organisation. However, the Commission is becoming far too big and far too bloated. Discuss.