Elections Bill

Explanatory Notes

Legal background

85 The law governing the proceedings of elections and the requirements placed on those running for public office is set out in a large number of statutes. This means that the Bill refers to and amends existing primary and secondary legislation which includes:

a. Rules relating to UK Parliamentary Elections and Referendums, and certain local elections: (RPA 1983; RPA 1985; Representation of the People Act 2000 (‘RPA 2000’); PPERA; Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/341); Representation of the People (Scotland) Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/497); Representation of the People (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2008 (S.I. 2008/1741));

b. Rules for Local authority mayoral elections in England and Wales: (Local Government Act 2000; Local Authorities (Mayoral Elections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 2007/1024));

c. Rules for Combined authority mayoral elections in England: (Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009; Combined Authorities (Mayoral Elections) Order 2017 (S.I. 2017/67));

d. Rules for elections to the Greater London Authority: (Greater London Authority Act 1999; Greater London Authority Elections Rules 2007 (S.I. 2007/3541));

e. Rules for Police and Crime Commissioner Elections in England and Wales: (Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011; Police and Crime Commissioner Elections Order 2012 (S.I. 2012/1917));

f. Provisions about Scottish Parliamentary Elections and Referendums: (Scotland Act 1998; Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 2015 (S.S.I. 2015/425));

g. Provisions about Senedd Elections: (Government of Wales Act 2006; National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007 (S.I. 2007/236));

h. Provisions about Northern Ireland Assembly Elections: (Northern Ireland Act 1998; Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) Order 2001 (S.I. 2001/2599));

i. Provisions about Local government elections in Scotland: (Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973);

j. Franchise and Candidacy Rights for Ward Elections for Common Councillors in the City of London: (City of London (Various Powers) Act 1957);

k. Provisions about local elections in Northern Ireland: (Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972; Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962; Elected Authorities Act (Northern Ireland) 1989; Local Elections (Northern Ireland) Order 1985);

l. Provisions about the recall of MPs: (Recall of MPs Act 2015 and the Recall of MPs Act 2015 (Recall Petition) Regulations 2016 (S.I. 2016/295));

m. Provisions about local referendums in England: (Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (neighbourhood planning referendums); Local Government Finance Act 1992 (council tax referendums));

86 The RPA 1983 is the core Act dealing with the voting franchise for UK parliamentary elections and local elections in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as other rules, and the detailed procedure for conducting UK parliamentary elections. This Bill changes requirements in the Act, including in the parliamentary elections conduct rules, for example to introduce a new requirement for voter identification and other supporting measures.

87 Current requirements for absent voting at parliamentary elections and local elections in Great Britain are set out in the RPA 2000, while the RPA 1985 sets out current requirements for absent voting at parliamentary elections in Northern Ireland. This Bill makes further amendments to the RPA 1985 and also to the RPA 2000.

88 The RPA 1985 sets out the conditions for the franchise for British overseas electors. This Bill makes amendments to the Act, replacing sections 1 and 2.

89 EU Citizens were granted the right to vote and stand in local elections in the UK in 1995 (voting and candidacy rights are hereafter referred to as VCR). This was done in accordance with the Council of the European Communities directive No.94/80/EC. The Local Government Elections (Changes to the Franchise and Qualification of Members) Regulations 1995, which were restated for GB in the RPA 2000, enshrined the right of EU citizens to vote in UK local elections. This position is set out for England in the RPA 1983 (as to registration and franchise) and in the Local Government Act 1972 (as to candidacy). The Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Act 1989 sets out the franchise for local NI elections and the Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) Order 2001 provides that Assembly elections use the local franchise. Registration for NI local elections is provided for in the RPA 1983 by virtue of Schedule 1 to the Elected Authorities Act. Candidacy at local NI elections is provided for in the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 and in relation to NI Assembly elections by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

90 The Bill also refers to a list of existing criminal offences to which the new disqualification order can apply where such an offence is motivated by hostility towards candidates, holders of relevant elective offices and campaigners. These offences are set out in Schedule 8.

91 The PPERA sets out how political parties, third party campaigners and referendums are regulated in the United Kingdom as well as the duties and functions of the Electoral Commission. The Bill makes a number of amendments to PPERA in relation to the registration of political parties and campaign, controlled and notional expenditure.


31 January 2022