Cost of Funding Political Parties Could Be [Pounds Sterling]3 a Vote; Taxpayers Are Facing [Pounds Sterling]100m Bill in Clegg Plan to Shake Up Finances

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Byline: James Chapman Political Editor

A [pounds sterling]100MILLION revolution in funding political parties could see every vote cast costing taxpayers [pounds sterling]3.

The plan - championed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - comes after years of controversy over the political influence wielded by wealthy individuals and trades unions.

It would see public funds given to parties based on the number of votes received in a general election.

But there is 'deep unease' in No 10 at the prospect of introducing state funding at a time of austerity across public services, and it looks likely to prompt a major clash between Mr Clegg, whose party would see a huge boost to its coffers, and David Cameron, who faces losing millions from donations each year.

'Nobody is going to accept state funding at this moment in time,' said one Cabinet source. 'The status quo isn't ideal, but are we seriously going to ask the public to stomach having to pay more for politicians? It will cause mayhem.'

The Deputy Prime Minister asked the Committee on Standards in Public Life, led by Sir Christopher Kelly, to come up with proposals on party funding. Its report later this month will suggest a limit on individual donations, which could be as low as [pounds sterling]10,000 to 'take the big money out of politics'.

It is estimated that even a [pounds sterling]50,000 cap would see the Conservatives lose about a third of their income. …