Overseas Electors Bill (HC Bill 16)

A

BILL

TO

Make provision extending the basis on which British citizens outside the UK
qualify to participate in parliamentary elections; and for connected purposes.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Extension of franchise for parliamentary elections: British citizens overseas

(1) For sections 1 and 2 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 substitute—

1 Extension of parliamentary franchise

(1) A person is entitled to vote as an elector at a parliamentary election in
5a constituency if—

(a) on the relevant date, the person—

(i) qualifies as an overseas elector in respect of that
constituency (see section 1A),

(ii) is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote (age apart),
10and

(iii) is a British citizen, and

(b) on the date of the poll, the person—

(i) is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote,

(ii) is a British citizen, and

(iii) 15is registered in a register of parliamentary electors for
that constituency.

(2) In this section, “the relevant date” means—

(a) the date on which the person makes a declaration under and in
accordance with section 1C (overseas elector’s declaration), or

(b) 20where the person makes a declaration under and in accordance
with section 1E (renewal declaration), the date on which the
person makes the declaration.

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1A Qualification as an overseas elector in respect of a constituency

(1) For the purposes of this Act and the principal Act, a person qualifies as
an overseas elector in respect of a constituency on the relevant date if—

(a) on that date the person is not resident in the United Kingdom,
5and

(b) the person satisfies the previous registration condition or the
previous residence condition.

(2) A person satisfies the previous registration condition if—

(a) the person has at some time in the past been entered in an electoral
10register in respect of an address at a place that is situated within the
constituency, and

(b) subsequent to that entry ceasing to have effect, the person has
not been included in any electoral register (whether in respect
of the address mentioned in paragraph (a) or any other
15address).

(3) A person satisfies the previous residence condition if—

(a) the person has at some time in the past been resident in the United
Kingdom,

(b) on the last day on which the person was resident in the United
20Kingdom, the person—

(i) was resident at an address at a place that is situated
within the constituency, or

(ii) was not so resident but could have made a declaration
under section 7B of the principal Act (a “declaration of
25local connection”) in respect of such an address, and

(c) subject to section 1B(4), the person has not at any time been
included in any electoral register (whether in respect of the
address mentioned in paragraph (b) or any other address).

(4) For the purposes of subsection (3)(b)(ii), it is to be assumed that section
307B of the principal Act was in force on the last day on which the person
was resident in the United Kingdom.

(5) In this section—

  • “electoral register” means—

    (a)

    a register of parliamentary electors, or

    (b)

    35a register of local government electors (including a
    register of electors prepared for the purposes of local
    elections (within the meaning of the Electoral Law Act
    (Northern Ireland) 1962));

  • “relevant date” has the same meaning as in section 1.

1B 40British citizens overseas: entitlement to be registered

(1) A person is entitled to be registered in a register of parliamentary
electors in pursuance of a declaration made by the person under and in
accordance with section 1C (an “overseas elector’s declaration”) if the
conditions mentioned in subsections (2) and (3) are satisfied.

(2) 45The first condition is that the register is for the constituency or part of
the constituency within which is situated the address that is specified
in the declaration by virtue of—

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(a) section 1C(2)(a) (where the person is seeking to be registered on
the basis of the previous registration condition), or

(b) section 1C(3)(a) or (4) (where the person is seeking to be
registered on the basis of the previous residence condition).

(3) 5The second condition is that the registration officer concerned is
satisfied that, on the date on which the person makes the declaration,
the person qualifies as an overseas elector in respect of the
constituency.

(4) Where—

(a) 10a person applies to be registered in a register of parliamentary
electors on the basis that the person satisfies the previous
residence condition, and

(b) the registration officer concerned considers that insufficient
evidence is available for the purpose of determining whether
15the person has at any time been included in any electoral
register (within the meaning of section 1A),

the officer may determine that paragraph (c) of section 1A(3) (person
not previously included in any electoral register) is to be disregarded in
the case of the application.

(5) 20An overseas elector’s declaration made by a person is of no effect
unless received by the registration officer concerned within the period
of 3 months beginning with the date on which the person makes the
declaration.

(6) For the purposes of section 1A, where a person is registered in a register
25of parliamentary electors for a constituency or part of a constituency in
pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration, it is to be conclusively
presumed that the person was not resident in the United Kingdom on
the date on which the person made the declaration.

(7) See also sections 10ZC and 10A of the principal Act, which (amongst
30other things) contain provision about the making of applications for
registration.

1C Overseas elector’s declaration

(1) An overseas elector’s declaration must—

(a) give the full name of the person making the declaration (“the
35declarant”),

(b) state the date of the declaration,

(c) state that the declarant is a British citizen,

(d) state that the declarant is not resident in the United Kingdom on
the date of the declaration,

(e) 40state whether the declarant is seeking to be registered on the
basis of the previous registration condition or the previous
residence condition,

(f) contain any other prescribed information and satisfy any other
prescribed requirements (which may include requirements for
45the declaration to be attested and for the charging of fees for
attestation), and

(g) state that the declarant believes the matters stated in the
declaration by virtue of paragraphs (a) to (d) and (f) to be true.

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(2) Where the declarant is seeking to be registered on the basis of the
previous registration condition, the declaration must also—

(a) specify—

(i) the address in the United Kingdom in respect of which
5the declarant was included in an electoral register, and

(ii) when the declarant was last included in such a register
in respect of that address, and

(b) state that since the declarant’s entry in that register in respect of
that address ceased to have effect, the declarant has not been
10included in any electoral register (whether in respect of that or
any other address).

(3) Where the declarant is seeking to be registered on the basis of the
previous residence condition by virtue of section 1A(3)(b)(i), the
declaration must also—

(a) 15specify—

(i) the address in the United Kingdom at which the
declarant was resident, and

(ii) when the declarant was last resident at that address, and

(b) state that since being resident at that address, the declarant has
20not been resident at any other address in the United Kingdom.

(4) Where the declarant is seeking to be registered on the basis of the
previous residence condition by virtue of section 1A(3)(b)(ii), the
declaration must also specify an address in respect of which the
declarant could have made a declaration of local connection on the last
25day on which the declarant was resident in the United Kingdom.

(5) An overseas elector’s declaration that specifies an address in Northern
Ireland under subsection (2)(a), (3)(a) or (4) may, instead of or in
addition to including a statement under subsection (1)(c), state that the
declarant is an Irish citizen who—

(a) 30was born in Northern Ireland, and

(b) qualifies as a British citizen (whether or not the declarant
identifies as such).

(6) If the declarant—

(a) makes an overseas elector’s declaration that specifies more than
35one address under subsection (2)(a), (3)(a) or (4), or

(b) makes two or more overseas elector’s declarations that bear the
same date and specify different addresses in the United
Kingdom under subsection (2)(a), (3)(a) or (4),

the declaration or declarations are void.

(7) 40The declarant may at any time cancel an overseas elector’s declaration
made by the declarant.

(8) In this section—

  • “electoral register” has the same meaning as in section 1A;

  • “registered” means registered in a register of parliamentary
    45electors.

(9) A person found abandoned in Northern Ireland as a new-born infant is,
unless the contrary is shown, deemed for the purposes of subsection (5)
to have been born in Northern Ireland.

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1D Duration of entitlement to be registered

(1) Where a person is registered in a register of parliamentary electors in
pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration, the person is entitled to
remain so registered until—

(a) 5the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the date
when the person’s entry on the register takes effect (subject to
any extension under subsections (2) and (3)), or

(b) if earlier, the occurrence of an event specified in subsection (4).

(2) Subsection (3) applies if—

(a) 10during the 3 months ending with the last day of the initial
registration period or of any further registration period, the
person makes a declaration under and in accordance with
section 1E (a “renewal declaration”), and

(b) the registration officer concerned is satisfied that, on the date
15the declaration is made, the person is entitled to remain
registered in the register.

(3) The person is entitled to remain registered in the register until—

(a) the end of the period of 12 months beginning with the day after
the last day of the initial registration period or of the further
20registration period in question (subject to any further
extension), or

(b) if earlier, the occurrence of an event specified in subsection (4).

(4) These are the events referred to in subsections (1)(b) and (3)(b)

(a) a determination by the registration officer, in accordance with
25regulations, that the person was not entitled to be registered or
to remain registered (as the case may be);

(b) a determination by the registration officer, in accordance with
regulations—

(i) that the person was registered as the result of an
30application under section 10ZC or 10A(1) of the
principal Act made by some other person, or

(ii) that the person’s entry has been altered as the result of
an application under section 10ZD or 10A(4) of that Act
made by some other person;

(c) 35the cancellation of the overseas elector’s declaration (see section
1C(7)) or of the renewal declaration (see section 1E(5));

(d) the taking effect of another entry made in respect of the person
in any electoral register (in the case of a register of
parliamentary electors, whether or not in pursuance of an
40overseas elector’s declaration).

(5) In this section—

  • “electoral register” has the same meaning as in section 1A;

  • “initial registration period” means the period referred to in
    subsection (1)(a);

  • 45“further registration period” means a period for which a person is
    entitled to remain registered by virtue of subsection (3)(a).

(6) Where a person is entitled to remain registered in a register of
parliamentary electors for a constituency or part of a constituency by
virtue of subsections (2) and (3), it is to be conclusively presumed for

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the purposes of section 1A that the person was not resident in the
United Kingdom on the date on which the person made the renewal
declaration in question.

(7) Where a person’s entitlement to remain registered in a register of
5parliamentary electors terminates by virtue of subsection (1) or (3), the
registration officer concerned must remove the person’s entry from the
register.

1E Renewal declaration

(1) A renewal declaration must—

(a) 10give the full name and date of birth of the person making the
declaration (“the declarant”),

(b) state the date of the declaration,

(c) state that the declarant is a British citizen,

(d) state that the declarant is not resident in the United Kingdom on
15the date of the declaration,

(e) contain any other prescribed information and satisfy any other
prescribed requirements (which may include requirements for
the declaration to be attested and for the charging of fees for
attestation), and

(f) 20state that the declarant believes the matters stated in the
declaration to be true.

(2) A renewal declaration must also—

(a) specify the address in respect of which the declarant is
registered, and

(b) 25state that since the declarant was registered in respect of that
address, no other entry has been made in respect of the
declarant in any electoral register (whether in respect of the
address mentioned in paragraph (a) or any other address).

(3) A renewal declaration that specifies an address in Northern Ireland
30under subsection (2)(a) may, instead of or in addition to the statement
under subsection (1)(c), state that the declarant is an Irish citizen who—

(a) was born in Northern Ireland, and

(b) qualifies as a British citizen (whether or not the declarant
identifies as such),

35(and section 1C(9) applies as it applies for the purposes of section
1C(5)).

(4) If the declarant—

(a) makes a renewal declaration that specifies more than one
address under subsection (2)(a), or

(b) 40makes two or more renewal declarations that bear the same
date and specify different addresses under subsection (2)(a),

the declaration or declarations are void.

(5) The declarant may at any time cancel a renewal declaration made by
the declarant.

(6) 45In this section—

  • “electoral register” has the same meaning as in section 1A;

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  • “registered” means registered in a register of parliamentary
    electors in pursuance of an overseas elector’s declaration.

1F Power to amend period specified in section 1D

(1) The Minister for the Cabinet Office or the Secretary of State may by
5order substitute a different period (not exceeding 5 years) for the period
for the time being specified in section 1D(1)(a) and (3)(a).

(2) An order under this section may contain incidental or consequential
provision.

(3) Before making an order under this section, the Minister for the Cabinet
10Office or the Secretary of State must consult the Electoral Commission.

(4) An order under this section is to be made by statutory instrument.

(5) A statutory instrument containing an order under this section may not
be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and
approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(6) 15If the period substituted by an order under this section is longer than
the period in force immediately before the making of the order, the
longer period has effect in relation to a person who immediately before
the making of the order was entitled to remain registered by virtue of
section 1D(1) or (3).

1G 20Guidance

(1) Registration officers must have regard to any guidance given by the
Minister for the Cabinet Office or the Secretary of State about—

(a) the determination of applications for registration in pursuance
of an overseas elector’s declaration, and

(b) 25the renewal of a person’s registration in pursuance of such a
declaration.

(2) The guidance that may be given includes, amongst other things,
guidance about—

(a) determining whether a person qualifies as an overseas elector in
30respect of a constituency;

(b) the making of a determination under section 1B(4) (which
enables a registration officer to disapply section 1A(3)(c) in
relation to an application based on the previous residence
condition);

(c) 35determining whether a person is entitled to remain registered in
a register of parliamentary electors following the making of a
renewal declaration.

(3) In this section, “registration” means registration in a register of
parliamentary electors.”

(2) 40For the purposes of—

(a) section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 and regulations
made under that section (franchise for European Parliamentary
elections), and

(b) section 17(3)(c) of the European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003
45and regulations made by virtue of that provision (Gibraltar register:
provision about overseas electors),

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sections 1 and 2 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 are to be treated
as not having been amended by subsection (1) of this section.

2 Minor and consequential amendments and transitional provision

(1) Schedule 1 contains minor and consequential amendments.

(2) 5Schedule 2 contains transitional provision.

3 Extent, commencement and short title

(1) Any amendment or repeal made by this Act has the same extent as the
provision to which it relates.

(2) The provisions of this Act (other than this section) come into force on such day
10or days as may be appointed by regulations made by the Minister for the
Cabinet Office or the Secretary of State.

(3) Regulations under subsection (2) are to be made by statutory instrument.

(4) Regulations under subsection (2)

(a) may appoint different days for different purposes;

(b) 15may include transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(5) This section comes into force on the day on which this Act is passed.

(6) This Act may be cited as the Overseas Electors Act 2018.

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SCHEDULES

Section 2(1)

SCHEDULE 1 Minor and consequential amendments

Representation of the People Act 1983

1 5The Representation of the People Act 1983 is amended as follows.

2 In section 4 (entitlement to be registered as parliamentary or local
government elector), in subsection (4)(b), for “section 2(1)” substitute
“section 1B(1)”.

3 (1) Schedule 2 (provisions which may be contained in regulations as to
10registration etc) is amended as follows.

(2) After paragraph 3ZA insert—

3ZB (1) Provision about renewal declarations (within the meaning given
by section 1D(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1985),
including in particular provision about their form and contents.

(2) 15Provision made under sub-paragraph (1) may include provision
conferring functions on the Electoral Commission.”

(3) In paragraph 4, after sub-paragraph (2) insert—

(3) Provision as to the manner in which renewal declarations (within
the meaning given by section 1D(2) of the Representation of the
20People Act 1985) are to be transmitted to the registration officer.”

(4) In paragraph 5, after sub-paragraph (1A) insert—

(1AA) The provision that may be made under sub-paragraph (1A)
includes provision authorising a registration officer, despite
provision contained in regulations made by virtue of that sub-
25paragraph—

(a) to require such other kind of evidence as the officer
considers appropriate, or

(b) to deem such other kind of evidence as the officer
considers appropriate to be sufficient or conclusive
30evidence.”

Representation of the People Act 1985

4 In section 12 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 (offences as to
declarations)—