It is vital that accounting requirements in the new proposals for the funding of political parties are designed to meet the needs of the intended users, according to the English ICA. Under the new Home Office plans, political parties would have to prepare and file statements of account with a newly created Electoral Commission. Previously they have not had to make public their financial affairs. 'The diverse and complex structures of political parties may make the application of a true and fair requirement so costly and time consuming to implement, that more timely and relevant information would be obtained under a different reporting regime,' the institute said. But it added: 'A true and fair requirement may best meet users' needs. The key decision needs to be made before the accounting and auditing requirements are developed.' If political parties are required to prepare true and fair accounts, generally accepted accounting principles will need to be developed, the institute said. 'We believe that these should be developed through the normal accounting standard-setting process rather than by legislation. Even if true and fair accounts are not required, accounting guidance may be needed to assist with difficult areas such as the treatment of donations in kind and campaign expenditure,' it added. The institute has called on the Home Office to discuss the accounting and auditing requirements with the profession before the legislation is developed further. Britain's main political parties are in broad agreement with the proposals, which are based on the findings of a committee chaired by Lord Neill and aim to regulate and reform political funding and bring about greater transparency. However, a Conservative party spokesman added: 'We always said we'd comply with the Neill committee findings and called on the government to implement them into legislation. This they have failed to do.'
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