|Electoral Administration Bill - continued||House of Commons|
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Part 9: General
Clause 66 Miscellaneous amendments and repeals
265. Subsection (1) gives effect to Part 6 of Schedule 1, which contains miscellaneous amendments.
266. Subsection (2) gives effect to the repeals contained in Schedule 2.
Clause 70 Extent
267. This clause deals with the Bill's geographical extent. Amendments made by the Bill to other enactments have the same territorial extent as the provisions amended. Otherwise the Bill extends to the whole of the UK, subject to the exceptions specified in the paragraphs below.
268. The following provisions do not extend to Northern Ireland: sections 9 to 11, 61 and 64, Parts 1 and 2 of Schedule 1, and the repeal in Schedule 2 relating to paragraph 86 of Schedule 4 to the Representation of the People Act 1985.
269. Clause 64 (time limit for prosecutions) does not extend to Scotland.
Schedule 1 Amendments
Part 1 - Anonymous Registration
270. Part I of Schedule 1 makes more detailed provision for amendments to the 1983 Act and to the Representation of the People Act 2000 for the purposes of the anonymous registration of electors.
The 1983 Act
271. Paragraph 5 amends Section 10 (3) of the Act 1983 (annual canvass) to show that anonymous registration cannot be sought via the annual canvass.
272. Paragraph 6 disapplies the objections procedure (in section 10A(3A) of the 1983 Act) from those seeking anonymous registration.
273. Paragraph 8 amends section 56 of the 1983 Act so as to include a right of appeal from a refusal of anonymous registration.
274. Paragraph 9 amends section 62 of the 1983 Act (offences as to declarations). It will be a criminal offence to make a declaration in support of an application for anonymous registration when disqualified from voting or making a false statement.
275. Paragraph 14 amends rule 7: anonymous electors shall not be able to rely upon their anonymous registration for the purposes of subscribing another elector's nomination papers. It also makes other consequential amendments in the parliamentary elections rules.
276. Paragraph 15 amends the regulation making powers contained in Schedule 2 to the 1983 Act. Those in subparagraph (3) will enable regulations to provide for the sending of reminders to persons registered anonymously that their entitlement to registration is about to expire. Subparagraph (4) makes provision for regulation of the form and content of anonymous registration applications. Subparagraph (5) makes provisions for regulations to govern what evidence will be deemed sufficient by an ERO that a person's safety would be at risk such as to justify the grant of an application for anonymous registration.
277. Paragraph 16 amends Schedule 2A to the 1983 Act. Persons who have anonymous entries will be regarded as permissible donors if they provide the required evidence of their registration to candidates or their election agents when making donations.
The Representation of the People Act 2000 (c. 2)
278. Paragraphs 19 to 23 amend Schedule 4 to the Representation of the People Act 2000 (Absent Voting in Great Britain). In particular, paragraph 21 provides that the postal voters list and list of proxies should, in the case of persons granted anonymous registration, not show their name or address.
The 2000 Act
279. Paragraphs 24 to 30 amend the 2000 Act. Persons who have anonymous entries will be regarded as permissible donors if they provide the required evidence of their registration at the time of the donation to the registered political party. The party has to provide a copy of that evidence to the Electoral Commission.
Part 2 - Alteration of registers: pending elections
280. This Part of Schedule 1 makes a series of amendments to ensure that notices issued making alterations in relation to court appeals and clerical errors are provided to the relevant polling station and treated as if they were part of that polling station's electoral register. Paragraph 38 additionally provides for the presiding officer to keep a list of persons to whom ballot papers have been supplied following alterations made to the register which have taken effect on polling day.
Part 3 Standing for election
281. This Part amends relevant legislation so as to limit the right of Commonwealth citizens to stand for election to UK elections (apart from elections to the House of Commons) to those with a right of abode or with indefinite leave to remain in the UK. This will help to ensure that the only Commonwealth citizens who may stand for election in such elections and hold such an elected office are therefore those who have a right to live in the UK throughout the term of their office.
282. Paragraph 41 amends Section 10 of the European Parliamentary Act 2002. By virtue of section 10(1)(a) of that Act, a Commonwealth citizen will be disqualified for the office of MEP if he is disqualified for membership of the House of Commons. Therefore the amendments made by clause 21 will similarly limit those who may hold the office of MEP. The amendments made by paragraph 41 are in consequence of that. By virtue of the amendments made by sub-paragraphs (3) to (5) Commonwealth citizens resident in Gibraltar will be able to stand if they have similar rights to remain in Gibraltar indefinitely.
Greater London Authority
283. Paragraph 42 will amend section 20 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999. It will disqualify Commonwealth citizens who are not qualifying Commonwealth citizens from being a member of the London Assembly or from becoming Mayor.
Local authorities in England and Wales
284. Paragraph 43 will amend section 79 of the Local Government Act 1972, and will disqualify Commonwealth citizens who are not qualifying Commonwealth citizens from membership of a LA.
National Assembly for Wales
285. Paragraphs 44 and 45 make consequential amendments for similar purposes to the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998. As the right to stand for election and be a member in the case of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly depends on the whether the person is disqualified for membership of the House of Commons, there is no need to make express provision in those cases in order to have the same effect. However, consequential amendments are made where necessary.
Local authorities in Scotland and Councillors in Northern Ireland
286. Paragraph 46 and 47 make provision for Scotland and Northern Ireland similar to that made in paragraph 43 for local government elections in England and Wales. Paragraph 46 amends section 29 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and paragraph 47 amends the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972.
Part 5 Conduct of elections
287. This Part amends provisions of the 1983 Act and the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962 governing the conduct of elections. The paragraphs below discuss the amendments to the 1983 Act. The amendments to the 1962 Act are to similar effect.
Official poll cards
288. Rule 28 is amended by paragraph 66 to provide that poll cards will be issued both to voters who will be voting at a polling station and to postal voters, and will be sent out as soon as practicable after an election is called. Provision is also added to enable the information contained on the official poll card to be tailored to the elector's manner of voting.
289. Paragraph 67 amends section 76 of the 1983 Act (limitation of election expenses). Subsection (1B) is amended to correct a drafting error. Subsection (4) is amended to provide that the register of electors to be used when calculating candidates' election expenses limits is that which is in existence on the first day of the "relevant period" (as defined by new section 90ZA(5)) in which a candidate's expenditure will count towards those limits.
Forms to be used in connection with postal voting
290. Paragraph 68 amends the offence provision in section 65 of the 1983 Act (tampering with nomination papers, etc) to add a reference to the new form of "postal voting statement" which will be used in Great Britain in place of the current declaration of identity. Paragraph 69 removes the requirement in rule 45(1B) for the postal voting statement to be witnessed. The Government agrees with the Electoral Commission that to assist postal voters the current declaration of identity should be replaced with a simpler and more effective declaration, without a witness requirement.
Questions to be put to voters
291. Paragraph 70 restates rule 35, which governs the questions that may be put to voters attending a polling station in the UK. This incorporates changes in consequence of a number of provisions in the Bill. The questions are set out in table format.
292. Paragraph 71 restates rule 37, which governs the voting procedure at polling stations in Great Britain, again reflecting changes made by several provisions of the Bill. The comparable amendments for Northern Ireland are made in paragraph 80.
Attendance at election proceedings
293. Paragraph 72 amends section 66(1) (requirement of secrecy) of the 1983 Act by inserting a new subsection (c). The effect of new subsection (c) is to extend the requirement of secrecy to representatives of the Electoral Commission, accredited observers and nominated members of accredited organisations who attend the polling station to observe.
294. Paragraph 73 amends rule 11(1) (right to attend nomination) of the parliamentary election rules in Schedule 1 by inserting new subsection (c), the effect of which is to enable representatives of the Electoral Commission may attend the nomination proceedings. However, new paragraph (3A), also inserted by paragraph 73, prevents Commission representatives from inspecting, or objecting to the validity of, any nomination paper.
295. Paragraph 74 amends rule 32 (1) (Admission to polling station) in Schedule 1 by substituting a new subparagraph (1). The effect of this amendment is to include representatives of the Electoral Commission, accredited observers and nominated members of accredited organisations as well as minors accompanying voters among those who may be admitted to the polling station. Paragraph 74 also inserts new subparagraph (1A), which requires the Presiding Officer to regulate the total number of voters and persons under the age of 18 who accompany them to be admitted to the polling station at the same time.
296. Paragraph 75 amends rule 44 (Attendance at counting of votes) of Schedule 1, by substituting a new subparagraph (2), the effect of which is to include representatives of the Electoral Commission, accredited observers and nominated members of accredited organisations among those who may attend the count. Subparagraph (3), which gave the returning officer discretion to permit persons other than those specified in subparagraph (2) to attend the count, is omitted.
Identifying marks and security markings on ballot papers etc.
297. Paragraph 77 amends rule 19 concerning ballot papers at parliamentary elections. It provides that ballot papers at these elections must have printed on the back both a number and other identifying mark, such as a barcode. The use of additional marks such as barcodes on ballot papers will assist in the recording of returned postal votes necessary for the compilation of the marked list of postal votes created under clause 43, and will also enhance security by enabling returned postal votes to be identified and cancelled where fraud is suspected and/ or replacement papers are being issued to a voter.
298. Paragraph 78 amends rule 20. This rule governs the use of the official mark at parliamentary elections, which currently takes the form of a perforation of the ballot paper. The new paragraphs replace the perforated official mark with another form of security mark, which may take the form of under-printing, special inks or watermarked paper. These changes will provide the necessary security without the risk of inadvertent disenfranchisement.
Part 6 - Miscellaneous
The 1983 Act
299. Paragraphs 92 and 93 respectively make amendments to sections 73 (payment of expenses through election agent) and 74A (expenses incurred otherwise than for election purposes) of the 1983 Act consequential upon the insertion of new section 90ZA (meaning of election expenses) by clause 29.
300. Paragraph 94 amends section 75 of the 1983 Act (prohibition of expenses not authorised by election agent) consequential upon amendments made to the 1983 Act by clause 39 concerning the control of documents after parliamentary elections. It inserts new provisions into section 75 to provide for third party election expenses returns under section 75 to be retained after parliamentary elections by the relevant registration officer, or in Northern Ireland, the Clerk of the Crown for Northern Ireland.
301. Paragraphs 95 and 96 amend sections 81 (return as to election expenses) and 89 (inspection of returns and declarations) of the 1983 Act consequential upon the amendments made to section 81 by clause 28.
302. Paragraphs 97 to 100 respectively make amendments to sections 90 (election expenses at elections where election agent not required), 90C (property, goods services, etc. provided free of charge or at a discount) 90D (modifications of sections 90A to 90C in relation to election of members of the London Assembly) and 118 (interpretation of Part II) of the 1983 Act. The amendments are consequential upon the insertion of new section 90ZA by clause 29.
Municipal elections in the City
303. Paragraph 108 amends section 197(3) of the 1983 Act (candidate's expenses: ward, and liverymen in common hall, elections). Currently, under subsection (3), orders varying the maximum candidates' expenditure limits for the City of London elections, specified in section 197(1) and (2), are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Orders made under section 197(3) will now be subject to the negative resolution procedure.
304. Paragraphs 109 to 111 are minor amendments to the Parliamentary Elections Rules in Schedule 1 to the 1983 Act consequential on the amendments made in clauses 22, 23, 47 to the rules relating to the use of descriptions by independent or party candidates.
305. Paragraph 112 amends rule 36 (challenge of voter) consequential upon the amendments made to sections 24 and 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
The 2000 Act
306. Paragraph 118 amends section 22 of the 2000 Act as a result of the new rule 6B of the parliamentary elections rules inserted by clause 23 of Bill. The amendment ensures that a candidate in Wales who uses the description "Annibynnwr" will be included amongst the category of candidates who are treated as not representing any party.
307. Paragraph 119 amends section 29 of the 2000 Act, which concerns the registration of party emblems by the Electoral Commission with notification, by inserting new paragraph (ca). The amendment has a similar effect to that made to section 28 of the 2000 Act (Registration of parties) by clause 46 in that it prevents the registration of a party emblem that may mislead an elector as to the effect of his vote or adversely affect an elector's understanding of any directions given on the ballot paper or elsewhere which are provided for his guidance in voting.
308. Paragraph 120 amends section 34(3) of the 2000 Act (Registration of minor parties) to allow minor parties a period of 7 months, rather than the current 4 months within which to provide the Electoral Commission that the party's particulars in the register are correct. The period continues to commence one month before the anniversary of the party's inclusion on the register, but now ends six months after that anniversary.
309. Paragraphs 121 and 123 to 124 respectively make amendments to sections 52 (payments, services etc. not to be regarded as donations) and 69 (register of recordable donations) and Schedule 7 (donations to individuals and members associations by donors) and Schedule 20 (penalties) of the 2000 Act. The amendments are consequential upon the repeal of section 68 of the 2000 Act by clause 55.
310. Paragraph 122 amends section 55(2) of the 2000 Act (payments from public funds to be treated as donations received from a permissible donor). The amendment is consequential upon the amendment to section 52 (payments, services etc. not to be regarded as donations) made by clause 53 which requires Policy Development Grants to be reported as a donation to the Electoral Commission.
Schedule 2 Repeals
311. This Schedule lists the repeals resulting from the Bill's provisions.
FINANCIAL EFFECT OF THE BILL
EFFECTS OF THIS BILL ON PUBLIC EXPENDITURE AND PUBLIC SECTOR MANPOWER
312. Funding for Part 1 of the Bill (CORE: Co-ordinated On-line Record of Electors) will be provided from the Capital Modernisation Fund. These costs are primarily capital costs for providing the technical infrastructure for the CORE schemes.
313. The rest of the provisions in the Bill will entail additional public expenditure on national and local elections, as well increasing the cost of registration (particularly during the annual canvass). Additional costs for General Elections, European Elections and by-elections to Westminster will be paid for by central Government out of the Consolidated Fund. Local elections and registration services are local services which are paid for out of local authority budgets. While some measures in the Bill should produce cost savings, overall the Bill will impose new burdens on local authorities for the administration of these services. Additional funds for registration and for local elections will be transferred from the Department for Constitutional Affairs to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and National Assembly for Wales, which are responsible for administering local authority budgets, to cover the new burdens on LAs resulting from the Bill. DCA officials will be liasing with ODPM and officials in the Welsh Assembly to ensure that these funds are in place well ahead of implementation of measures in the Bill. The Scottish Executive has c.£2.9m funding as a Barnett consequential of the DCA SR O4 bid to fund the implementation of those measures in the Bill which will extend to Scotland.
SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
314. The Bill will have no significant impact on businesses, charities or the voluntary sector. The Better Regulation Executive has been consulted on the Regulatory Impact Assessment and has agreed with this assessment. The Small Business Service has also been consulted and confirmed that there will be no, or very limited, impact on small businesses. This is based on discussions with a wide range of stakeholders. DCA has been informed that some small printers may not be able to meet new requirements and therefore lose some business, however we do not expect this to have a significant impact on their overall business. A competition filter test has indicated that there will not be any significant impact on competition caused by the proposals in the Bill. Some proposals in the Bill will create new burdens for LAs in the administration of local elections. These proposals have been costed and DCA will be engaging with Local Government Finance Division in ODPM to ensure that the necessary funding arrangements are in place ahead of implementation.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
315. Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The statement has to be made before Second Reading. Harriet Harman, Minister of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs has made the following statement:
"In my view the provisions of the Electoral Administration Bill are compatible with the Convention rights."
316. The main Convention right engaged in this field of law is Protocol 1 Article 3 (right to free elections). The Bill contains a number of measures designed to support the conduct of free and fair elections.
317. Clause 26 makes it a corrupt practice to deter candidates making false statements when consenting to nomination. Read with section 65A of the 1983 Act, which it amends, the penalties include disqualification for standing for election for five years. Also, read with section 168 of the 1983 Act (prosecutions for corrupt practices), it would attract liability to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or a fine or both.
318. Clause 27 amends section 75 of the 1983 Act, which relates to the prohibition of expenses not authorised by an election agent. Section 75 was amended in 2000; increasing to £500 the permitted sum that a third party can spend when campaigning for or against a candidate at an election. The purpose was to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in Bowman v. UK. The court had held that the previous limit, £5, violated an individual's right to freedom of expression. However, the drafting of the amendment gave rise to an ambiguity as to the matters in respect of which the permitted sum could be used. The amendment made by clause 27(2) removes the ambiguity by specifying that the exception applies to all the classes of expenditure listed in section 75(1)(a) to (d).
319. Clause 38 makes it a corrupt practice to make false applications for postal and proxy votes. This practice will attract criminal law penalties and electoral law disqualifications. Read with section 168 of the 1983 Act and the related amendments made by paragraphs 80 to 85 of Schedule 1 to the Bill, the penalties will include disqualification from voting or standing as a candidate for five years. The disqualifications, whilst interfering with the defendant's Convention rights, are an appropriate penalty imposed on a defendant found personally guilty of the offence of having applied for a postal or proxy vote with the intention in effect of stealing another person's vote.
320. Clauses 40, 41 and 42 (Access to other election documents) create a power to make regulations governing access to marked electoral registers and other post election documentation. They also create offences to support compliance with the access regime. The regulations will be able to limit purposes for which such documentation can be accessed and supplied to political parties, candidates and other persons. This will enable a proper balance to be struck between electors' Article 8 Convention right (right to respect for private and family life) and data protection rights, and the public interest in permitting political parties and candidates to promote political engagement by potential voters.
321. By virtue of clause 69, the following clauses in relation to the making (or varying or terminating) of a CORE scheme will enter into force on Royal Assent; clause 1 except subsections (2) and (5), clause 2 except subsections (2), (4) to (9) and (12), clause 3, clause 4, clause 5 except subsection (10), clause 6 and clause 8. Clause 69 also allows for clause 15 (Personal identifiers: piloting) to enter into force on Royal Assent. The rest of the substantive provisions of the Bill will be brought into force by orders made by the Secretary of State.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2005||Prepared: 12 October 2005|