Pressure is growing on the Tory party to provide a full list of attendees at a private champagne reception attended by the chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, hours after he delivered his mini-budget.
Anneliese Dodds, the Labour chair, has written to her Conservative counterpart, Jake Berry, calling on him to release a list of those in attendance and whether they pledged donations or paid a fee to be there.
Berry earlier said that the drinks reception was not unusual and those who were there should be “lauded” as Britain’s leading entrepreneurs. Along with hedge fund managers, property developers had also been present, he said.
In her letter calling for the names, Dodds wrote: “Many people are sickened by the image of champagne-quaffing Conservative donors encouraging the chancellor to press ahead with further tax cuts for billionaires, at the same time as many members of the British public are unable to access a mortgage.”
She also asked if civil servants were present and if minutes were taken, “and if not, then why not”, given that sensitive information may have been disclosed.
Berry said it was right that people who donated to political parties were thanked. “These people should be lauded because we don’t have public funding of political parties and these are people who go out and make money and donate to political parties,” he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
“It wasn’t a get-together of hedge fund managers, it was Britain’s leading entrepreneurs. Yes, I was there, but it’s the normal drumbeat of treasurer’s events that we have all the time.”
Asked if hedge fund managers had been there, Berry said he was “sure there were” but that he had had conversations with people who worked in the property industry.
The chancellor is alleged to have given guests information about forthcoming government spending cuts during the event at the west London home of Andrew Law, a financier, on the evening of Friday 23 September.
Kwarteng’s mini-budget earlier in the day, which introduced a £45bn package of tax cuts that will mostly benefit the richest fifth of households, triggered economic turmoil. Sterling collapsed to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 and the Bank of England was forced to act to save pension funds.
The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman, Sarah Olney, said there should be an inquiry into what Kwarteng told donors. “While struggling homeowners saw their mortgage bills spiral, it seems the chancellor was sipping champagne with hedge fund managers profiting from the falling pound. How out of touch can you get? We need an official inquiry into this now.”
Senior Labour MP Angela Eagle also said the matter needed investigating, calling it “utterly improper or worse”.
The chancellor is said to have told attendees at the reception of austerity-style budget cuts to come. The guests drank wine, champagne and cocktails and congratulated him on the measures announced in the House of Commons, according to the Sunday Times.
A source told the newspaper: “He wanted to give an unadulterated message of ‘growth, growth, growth’, and that’s why he didn’t talk about savings, because otherwise the [news] agenda would have been all about savings – ‘Where will you cut? What will you cut? Blah blah blah.’ They’re fully aware they have to make savings.”
Tory officials said the gathering at Law’s home had been arranged by the Conservative party’s campaign headquarters and that Kwarteng had spoken for an hour to talk through his mini-budget plans.
A source close to the chancellor said: “Any suggestion attendees had access to privileged information is total nonsense.
“The growth plan [published earlier that day] included a commitment to review our tax code to make it simpler, better for families and more pro-growth. The government’s ambitions on lowering the tax burden are hardly a state secret.”
Kwarteng has said he will set out further details of his economic strategy when he publishes his medium-term fiscal plan on 23 November.
But the Treasury select committee, made up of MPs from all parties, has demanded that the chancellor release a full economic forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility by the end of October.