23/11/2012 07:02 GMT | Updated 23/11/2012 09:55 GMT

Independent Candidates Can Hide Party Membership, Government Says

The government has rejected calls to require candidates to disclose if they are a member of a political party when standing for election as an independent.

Labour's shadow leader of the House, Angela Eagle, mocked the Lib Dems on Thursday when she told MPs the party had used the police and crime commissioner elections to test out "their brand new election strategy".

Earlier this month Winston Roddick won the police and crime commissioner election in North Wales as an independent, despite being a member of the Lib Dems.

"He was elected, but it was subsequently uncovered that Mr Roddick was, in fact, a member of the Liberal Democrats masquerading as an independent," Eagle said.

"May we have an urgent debate on this new Liberal Democrat election strategy to hoodwink people into voting for them?

Reading out the list of recent political award winners, she added: "We should nominate Mr Roddick, the not-so-independent police and crime commissioner, for politician of the year, as he is the only Liberal Democrat to have found an election-winning strategy?"

Labour shadow police minister David Hanson has called for the government to make it illegal for candidates to hide any party affiliation they may have if they chose to stand as an independent.

He asked Nick Clegg in a parliamentary question: "If he will bring forward legislative proposals to require all who stand for election to Parliament, the devolved assemblies, police and crime commissioner posts and local authorities as independent candidates to declare any political party membership that they hold at the time of nomination."

However Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith rejected the suggestion. Telling Hanson: "The Government has no plans to require those wishing to stand as independent candidates to disclose any political party membership they might hold at the time of nomination.

She added: "It is for prospective candidates to decide whether they wish to stand independently or on behalf of a registered political party."

Roddick has denied he tried to keep his Lib Dem affiliation under wraps in order to get elected.

Hanson told the Huffington Post UK that it was "reasonable" for the integrity of politics to expect candidates to declare any party membership they held if they wanted to run as an independent.

"It's about transparency, feel free to be an independent and a party member, but don't try and say to the public you are independent when you have a party membership in your back pocket," he said.

Hanson said while Roddick had highlighted the issue, he was more worried about members of the BNP standing as independents but keeping it secret.

The Delyn MP said he intended to try and introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill on the issue to try and make the government change its mind.