How much local MPs have declared in donations and other gifts … – Rochdale Online

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Date published: 13 January 2023
Chris Clarkson, MP for Heywood & Middleton and Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale
Local MPs have declared donations, gifts and other benefits worth a combined £19,500 since the 2019 general election.
The figures have been publicised after Sky News and Tortoise Media this week launched a new database of MPs' outside earnings and donations called the Westminster Accounts.
Westminster Accounts gathers records from the MPs' Register of Interests, the Electoral Commission and other official registers to provide a comprehensive picture of money into British politics.
The details of all of these are freely available online and were all declared over a year ago.
Here’s what our local MPs received in donations, gifts and other benefits.
Chris Clarkson, MP for Heywood and Middleton, has declared donations, earnings, gifts and other benefits worth approximately £12,470 since 19 December 2019.
This was made up of £7,670 in gifts or benefits from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Qatar; £2,500 in donations from The Carlton Club, an exclusive members’ only club and the original home of the Conservative party; and £2,300 in gifts or benefits from the Conservative Friends of Israel.
The Carlton Club made donations worth around £168,500 to 33 Conservative MPs, the Conservative party as a whole and one Labour MP who was elected as a Conservative before defecting in November 2022.
Since December 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Qatar has provided services, donations, gifts, benefits and other payments worth approximately £242,300 to a variety of cross-party MPs.
Last year, it was revealed that the country spent more than any other on gifts for British MPs ahead of the World Cup – although this was not the case for Mr Clarkson.
We asked for clarification about both the Qatar donation and Conservative Friends of Israel.
We also asked if Mr Clarkson, who is part of the LGBT community, visited Qatar, where same-sex relations are forbidden under Sharia law.
Mr Clarkson said: “My visit to Qatar was in 2021 and was not for the World Cup – this was a cross-party delegation to see the work the Qatari government was doing to assist in the resettlement of Afghan refugees following the US withdrawal from the region.
“Along with colleagues we met with senior members of the Qatari government and with some of the refugees. We also discussed human, workers and LGBT rights with officials and a frank exchange of views was had.
“I do not have to share an individual or nation's views 100% to work towards a shared goal, in this case supporting people fleeing a terrible situation.”
The Conservative Friends of Israel provided services, donations, gifts, benefits and other payments to MPs worth approximately £116,700.
Set up in 1974, the group says it “organises numerous events in and around Westminster, takes Conservative parliamentarians and candidates on delegations to Israel, campaigns hard for Tory candidates in target seats, and works to ensure that Israel’s case is fairly represented in Parliament.”
Mr Clarkson confirmed he did visit Israel, sponsored by the group, to meet with businesses from both Israel and Palestine, and politicians to discuss the future of the two-state solution.
The two-state solution suggests both an independent State of Palestine and the State of Israel using 1967 borders with Jerusalem as a shared capital.
Mr Clarkson said: “My visit to Israel in 2020, sponsored by Conservative Friends of Israel consisted of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian businesses in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, East Jerusalem and Ramala.
“We also met politicians from Israel and the West Bank to discuss the regional situation and the future of the two-state solution.”
Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale, declared donations of £7,000 since 19 December 2019.
This consisted of £3,000 from the Unite union; £2,000 from the GMB Union and an individual £2,000 donation from economist Paul Ormerod, who was made chairman of the Rochdale Development Agency in 2020.
Since December 2019, Unite provided services, donations, gifts, benefits and other payments worth approximately £9.4 million to 65 Labour MPs and the party as a whole.
Similarly, the GMB Union provided services, donations, gifts, benefits and other payments worth approximately £4.5 million to 51 Labour MPs and the party.
We asked Mr Lloyd specifically about the donation from Mr Ormerod and he said: “All these contributions were in fact donations to the 2019 general election campaign to elect a Labour MP in Rochdale.
“Each met the threshold for public declaration and that's why they have been in the public domain and available to anybody who cared to access it for the last three years, in accordance with stringent Parliamentary and electoral rules.
“Candidates have a duty, rightly, to report spending on elections even though there is no material benefit to them as individuals, all monies going in this case to the Labour Party.
“Mr Ormerod is a long-standing member of the Labour Party and his donation was to support the party of which he is a member.”
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