Monday, 6 June 2011
Open letter to Geoff Dickens,Brian Mahoney,and James Mole of the Financial Scrutiny Committee (FSC)
By Polemics on February 28th,2011
For the sake of the Party, its members and donors,we call upon you to:
(1) Expedite the production of the 2010 Accounts
We request that the as yet unaudited and unadjusted 2010 Income & Expenditure and Balance Sheet be made available to the next Advisory Council meeting. We were informed by the former Treasurer,David Hannam,back in September last year that Head Office accounts were being kept up-to-date on a daily basis,and we could reasonably infer therefore that records were being processed by an Accounting Software package such as “Sage”. Assuming such basic competence had been employed a full set of financial statements would be available at the click of a mouse.
We urge you to familiarise yourselves with Sections 41 –47 of the Political Parties,Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA):
And draw your attention to the requirements of S.43 requiring the Party’s Accounts be audited within six months of the year end. The Party was clearly in breach of this provision in regard to the 2009 Accounts:you yourselves stated in October that you could not inspect these records because they were with the auditor. We should also like to remind you that the audited 2010 Accounts must be delivered to the Electoral Commission (EC) no later than 7 July 2011,if fines are to be avoided.
Furthermore,we should like to draw your attention to the EC’s enhanced powers and in particular what constitutes a criminal offence under the relevant legislation.
2) Request Quarterly Financial Reporting
In view of the enhanced powers of the EC with effect from December,as the regulatory body tasked with ensuring compliance with the PPERA 2000 and Political Parties &Elections Act 2009 (PPE) we urge you to press the Chairman and Treasurer to start making quarterly financial statements available to the FSC and Advisory Council. Assuming accounting records are being kept in a timely and appropriate manner,e.g. on Sage or some similar software package,then this should present no administrative difficulties whatsoever. You have a crucial part to play in encouraging sound management practices which should help prevent last year’s disastrous lack of management control which left businesses sympathetic to the Party out of pocket.
Given the disgraceful state of the 2009 Accounts - a seriously qualified audit report,the lack of transparency and substantial fines for very late delivery – your contribution is of vital importance. Failure to comply with the legislation together with the Party’s record of missed deadlines could result in the EC issuing enforcement notices,proceedings for contempt of court or conceivably the de-registration of the Party. De-registration would bar the Party from contesting elections.
In closing,it is imperative that you stand your ground and demonstrate that the FSC is not a cynical,empty gesture devoid of power,a mere sop to the membership to deflect justifiable criticism from a Chairman who has neglected his constitutional,legal and fiduciary responsibilities.