Tories to reveal donations

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 December, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 December, 1997, 12:00am

The Conservative Party has agreed to reveal details of its funding from Hong Kong and elsewhere.

But Hong Kong donors who poured millions of dollars into party coffers in the early 1990s will remain anonymous.

Leading figures including Li Ka-shing and Tung Chee-hwa are known to have made massive donations to the party. During the Thatcher and Major governments, ministers were often accused of spending too much time in Hong Kong with the party begging bowl.

But such has been the pressure on the party to reveal the extent of overseas funding that new leader William Hague has agreed to open the books to scrutiny.

He told MPs his party would co-operate with requests from Lord Neill, who heads a committee on standards in public life, to provide details of the party's income including donations, subscriptions and membership fees.

Mr Hague had turned down a similar request from Prime Minister Tony Blair because there was no guarantee of anonymity.

Lord Neill said it was important to find out about party funding rather than get involved in wrangles about the identities of individual donors.

The size of individual donations over previous years will be made known to Lord Neill, but not the actual name of the donor. The watchdog wants the information before the end of February.