|Political Parties And Elections Bill - continued
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53. Clause 11 makes amendments to section 88 of the 2000 Act to change the notification requirements that third parties (i.e. campaigning entities which are not political parties or candidates seeking election) must comply with.
54. Third parties which spend above the limits set out in section 94(5) of the 2000 Act are required to submit a notification to the Electoral Commission in accordance with section 88 of the 2000 Act. Third parties that submit such a notification become recognised third parties for the purposes of Part 6 of the 2000 Act and are subject to additional regulation and a higher spending limit than those that are not recognised. The responsible person for each third party, as defined by section 85(7) of the 2000 Act, is responsible for compliance with the 2000 Act.
55. Subsection (2) of the Clause amends subsection (2)(a) of Section 88 of the 2000 Act to provide that an individual who is the responsible person in relation to another recognised third party cannot become a recognised third party in their own right.
56. Subsection (3) of the Clause inserts new subsection (3A) into section 88 of the 2000 Act. This new subsection provides that a notification to the Commission in respect of a third party organisation does not comply with the requirement to name a responsible person, if the responsible person that it names is already the responsible person in relation to another third party (whether as an individual or for another organisation); or an individual who would become a responsible person by virtue of a notification given for another third party at the same time.
57. Subsection (4) of the Clause makes transitional provision in respect of notifications made before Clause 11 comes into force. At present, a third partys status as a recognised third party lapses 15 months after the original notification is given to the Commission or where that falls within a regulated period before an election, at the end of that period. However, a recognised third party can give a renewal notification to the commission in advance of the notification lapsing. The effect of subsection (4) is that where a notification made prior to the commencement of the amendments to section 88 named a responsible person who is a responsible person for another third party then the renewal notification must, when it is required to be made, name another responsible person.
58. Clause 12 inserts a new section 140A into the 2000 Act. That section introduces a Schedule 19A into the 2000 Act, which is set out in Schedule 4 to the Bill. The broad effect of that Schedule is that an unincorporated association which donates more than £25,000 to any recipient regulated by the 2000 Act (including political parties) in a calendar year will be subject to a new reporting regime in respect of gifts of a certain value it has received within a specified period.
59. Subsections (4) to (6) of clause 12 provide that, after consultation with the Electoral Commission, the Secretary of State may by affirmative order amend the insertions made by this Clause or the related Schedule, in their application to Northern Ireland; and may make consequential or supplemental provision.
60. Subsection (7) clarifies two matters for the purposes of Schedule 19A. First, it makes clear that the first calendar year in which the question of whether donations of more than £25,000 have been made will be relevant is 2010. Second, no gift will be required to be reported under the Schedule if it was received before the day on which the Bill receives Royal Assent.
61. Clause 13 amends a number of sections of and Schedules to the 2000 Act. The effect of these amendments is to increase:
62. Subsection (1) amends the 2000 Act so that the donation threshold is raised from £200 to £500. This threshold is raised in respect of:
63. Subsection (2) of the Clause amends the 2000 Act so that the reporting threshold is raised from £1,000 to £1,500. This threshold is raised in respect of:
64. Subsection (3) of the Clause amends the 2000 Act such that the reporting threshold in certain circumstances is raised from £5,000 to £7,500. This threshold is raised in respect of:
65. Restrictions on candidates expenses are currently imposed by Part 2 of the 1983 Act. Subsection (1) of Clause 14 inserts new section 76ZA into Part 2 of the 1983 Act to provide for a new regulated period for candidate election expenses. Where applicable, this will operate in addition to the existing limit as set out in section 76 of the 1983 Act.
66. Subsection (1) of new section 76ZA specifies that the new spending limit will apply only where:
67. As the new limit will regulate election expenses before an individual formally becomes a candidate by virtue of section 118A of the 1983 Act, subsection (1) of new section 76ZA clarifies that existing section 90ZA (which relates to the meaning of election expenses) applies to the new limit with the exception of the words after he becomes a candidate at the election. This enables the new spending limit to apply to individuals who go on to become candidates under section 118A but who are not yet candidates at the time that the new limit starts to apply.
68. Subsection (2) of new section 76ZA specifies the level of the additional spending limit. The level is the relevant percentage of the aggregate of a fixed sum (£25,000) plus a small amount for each entry in the register of electors. This small amount will be 7p where the constituency is designated as a county (less densely populated) constituency and 5p where the constituency is designated as a borough (urban) constituency.
69. Subsection (3) of new section 76ZA sets out what fraction of the spending limit set out in subsection (2) will apply according to which month of its term a Parliament is dissolved in.
70. Subsection (4) of new section 76ZA clarifies the meaning of the register of electors referred to in subsection (2).
71. Subsection (5) of new section 76ZA provides that it shall be an illegal practice for any candidate or election agent to incur or authorise the incurring of election expenses in excess of the permitted amount specified in subsection (2), where the candidate or agent knew or ought reasonably to have known that incurring those expenses would exceed the permitted amount.
72. Subsection (6) of new section 76ZA provides that a candidates personal expenses are not to be counted against the proposed new limit.
73. Subsection (2)(a) of Clause 14 states that the provisions in this Clause will not apply to any expenses incurred before these provisions are commenced. Subsection (2)(b) states that the provisions in this Clause will not apply to any expenses which are used before 1st January 2010. This provision does not exempt from the effect of the provisions any expenditure incurred before that date but used after it.
74. Clause 15 amends paragraph 14 of Schedule 4A to the 1983 Act. In addition to their existing power to issue guidance to candidates on the matters that are caught by the list of election expenses set out in paragraph 1 of that Schedule, the Electoral Commission will have a new power to issue guidance about the circumstances in which those expenses are to be regarded as having been incurred for the purpose of a candidates election.
75. Clause 16 introduces new arrangements designed to expedite the registration of eligible electors in the event of an election falling within a canvass period. Subsection (1) inserts new section 13BB into the 1983 Act, which enables electoral registration officers to amend the published register of electors before the election is held to show details of new electors or other changes that have been recorded on a canvass form.
76. Subsection (1) of new section 13BB provides that the power to amend the register is triggered when an application for registration is made on a canvass form and notice of an election is published, the poll for which will be held in the period between 1st July and 1st December in the year of that canvass.
77. Subsection (2) of new section 13BB provides that when the power to amend the register is triggered, the elector shall be treated as if they made their application for registration on the date the form is received by the returning officer or the date the notice of election is published, whichever is later. This subsection also allows the Secretary of State to prescribe circumstances in which the application should not be treated as made on either date (for instance where the elector has not yet taken up residence at the relevant address).
78. Subsection (3) of new section 13BB provides that the registration officer may not determine an application as if it were made before the election if the canvass form was received by the returning officer after the last point at which it can be determined before the poll (currently the 11th day before the poll). Subsection (4) requires that amendments to the register must be made by way of a notice specifying the appropriate alterations. Subsection (5) provides that where, as a result of the determination that a person is entitled to be registered, that persons entry falls to be removed from the register for another area, and an election is going to be held in that other area during the canvass period, then the registration officer for the other area must (if they are informed about the determination in time) also amend their register to delete that persons entry.
79. Subsections (6) of new section 13BB provides that a notice altering the register must be issued on the appropriate publication date (currently the 5th or 6th day before the poll) and that the alteration comes into effect from the beginning of the day on which it is published. Subsection (7) provides that the requirement to publish a notice altering the register will not apply if the registration officer publishes a revised register taking the changes into account before the 5th or 6th day before the poll date.
80. Subsection (2) of Clause 16 inserts new subsection (1A) into section 13 of the 1983 Act. The effect of this new provision is that, in the event of an election taking place during the period from 1st July to 1st December, the electoral registration officer may suspend publication of the electoral register from 1st December until 1st February in the following year to allow time to compile the revised register.
81. This clause makes amendments to the parliamentary elections rules (PERs), found at Schedule 1 to the 1983 Act to allow candidates at a parliamentary election to choose that their home address does not appear on the ballot paper at the election. Under rule 6 of the PERs (concerning the nomination of candidates), candidates at a parliamentary election are nominated by completing the nomination paper. The PERs currently require the candidates home address to be included on the nomination paper. Under rule 14 (publication of statement of persons nominated), the returning officer will publish a statement showing the persons who have been nominated to stand at the election. The statement will include the names and addresses of the candidates as shown on their nomination papers. The names and addresses of the candidates on the statement of persons nominated are in turn transferred onto the ballot paper for the election.
82. Subsection (2) of Clause 17 amends rule 6 of the PERs to provide that the candidates nomination paper will no longer include the candidates home address in full. Instead, the nomination paper must be accompanied by a form known as the home address form which must show the candidates full names and home address in full. Provisions concerning the delivery of nomination papers to the returning officer will apply equally to the delivery of the home address form. On the home address form, the candidate may make a statement that he requires the home address not to be made public. If he does so, then the form must also state the constituency within which the candidates home address is situated, or if that address is outside the United Kingdom, the country within which it is situated.
83. Subsection (3) amends rule 11 of the PERs (right to attend nomination) to provide that those specified persons who are entitled to attend the proceedings during the time for delivery of nomination papers or for making objections to them (i.e. other candidates, agents and election observers from the Electoral Commission) also have the right to inspect and object to the contents of the home address form. Otherwise, new rule 11(5) prohibits the returning officer from disclosing the home address form, except for some other purpose authorised by law.
84. Subsection (4) amends rule 12 of the PERs (validity of nomination papers) to provide that the provisions in this rule concerning the nomination paper and the candidates consent to it, also apply to the home address form. As a result, if a candidate fails to return a home address form or to complete it in accordance with rule 6, then the returning officer may hold his nomination to be invalid.
85. Subsection (5) inserts new provisions into rule 14 of the PERs (publication of statement of persons nominated). The effect is that where a candidate has stated on the home address form that he does not wish his home address to be made public, the information he has provided about the constituency (or country) within which his home address is situated will appear on the statement of persons nominated, instead of his home address.
86. Subsection (6) also inserts new provisions into rule 14 of the PERs to address the situation where two or more candidates have the same or similar names, each of them wishes to withhold their home address and their home addresses are in the same constituency (or country). Where, in the returning officers opinion, these circumstances are likely to cause confusion (e.g. where both are also independent candidates), the returning officer may cause any of their particulars to be shown on the statement of persons nominated with such amendments or additions as the officer thinks appropriate, in order to reduce the likelihood of confusion.
87. Subsection (7) inserts a new rule 53A in the PERs (destruction of home addresses), which provides that the returning officer shall destroy each candidates home address form on the next working day following the 21st day after the election (being the deadline for submission of an election petition based on the contents of a home address form) or the conclusion either of proceedings arising from any petition submitted during that period or any appeal resulting from such proceedings.
88. Clause 18 amends section 63 of, and Schedule 1 to, the 1983 Act. The amendment to section 63 omits the words Sheriff Clerk. The amendment to Schedule 1 substitutes a revised rule 58, which confers responsibility for the storage of, and provision of access to the election records and documents for a UK Parliamentary election in Scotland on the Parliamentary Returning Officer for the election.
89. Clause 19 amends section 5 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 to extend the power to make regulations in respect of filling vacant European Parliament seats in Northern Ireland. Currently, section 5 of the 2002 Act only provides for regulations to be made in respect of by-elections or where a seat has been filled using a party list. The party list system does not operate in Northern Ireland and the effect of section 5 is that a by-election must ensue if a seat for Northern Ireland in the European Parliament is vacated during term.
90. Subsection (1) of Clause 19 inserts new subsections (4) and (5) into section 5 of the 2002 Act. New subsections (4) and (5) provide a power for the Secretary of State to make regulations requiring a vacant European Parliament seat in Northern Ireland to be filled in two different ways. Subsection (4) provides that where the previous MEP was a member of a registered party when returned regulations may require the vacancy to be filled by a person nominated by the nominating officer of that registered party. If the previous MEP was not a member of a registered party when returned, the regulations may provide for a person named in a list of possible replacements submitted by the previous MEP to fill the vacancy.
91. As further regulations will be required to give full effect to the new policy, subsection (2) of Clause 19 makes transitional provision to ensure that arrangements provided for in the regulations made under the new subsections inserted by subsection (1) may have effect in relation to any vacancy arising before Clause 19 comes into force but in respect of which a notice of by-election has not yet been issued.
92. Clause 20 substitutes a new definition of local returning officer for that in section 6(5A)(a) of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002. The effect of the new definition is that the local returning officers for European Parliamentary elections held in England, Wales and Scotland will be the persons who are returning officers for local authority elections in those countries rather than the persons who are returning officers for UK Parliamentary elections.
93. Clause 21 amends section 2 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (the 2006 Act) in relation to the Co-ordinated Online Record of Electors (CORE).
94. The amendments in subsection (2) extend the circumstances of which the CORE keeper is required to inform an electoral registration officer (ERO) in accordance with section 2(5) of the 2006 Act. Their effect is that the CORE keeper must inform an ERO where more than a specified number of postal votes are requested in respect of the same address, and where the same person is appointed as, or votes as, proxy for more than two electors.
95. Subsections (3) and (5) extend the order-making powers of the Secretary of State in relation to the establishment of a CORE scheme. Subsection (3) inserts new subsection (6A) into section 2 of the 2006 Act, which provides that where the CORE keeper informs an ERO of the circumstances in section 2(6) of the 2006 Act or of any suspicions that the CORE keeper has concerning the commission of an offence under the 1983 Act, or other impropriety, a CORE scheme may require the ERO to respond by taking such steps, if any, as appear to be appropriate to the ERO. It also provides that a CORE scheme may require an ERO to notify the CORE keeper of the steps taken, or of the reasons for not taking any. The amendments in subsection (5) enable the CORE scheme to authorise an ERO to share information with another ERO when responding to information provided by the CORE keeper.
96. Subsection (4) enables the CORE keeper to provide an ERO with such information as the CORE keeper thinks is relevant about suspicions that the CORE keeper has concerning the commission of an offence under the 1983 Act or other impropriety.
97. Clause 22 contains provisions empowering the Secretary of State to create, by order, a scheme which requires a public or local authority to supply a registration officer with data which they can use for the purpose of maintaining a complete and accurate electoral register and ensuring that any other information they hold on electors is accurate.
98. Subsection (1) provides that the Secretary of State may create an order, referred to as a scheme, which will authorise or require specified persons to provide a registration officer with information from their records, which the registration officer may use for the purposes set out in subsection (2) of the Clause.
99. Subsection (2) sets out the purposes for which the registration officer may use the information provided under a scheme. These purposes include ensuring that their records are accurate, and that all those who are eligible to be registered are included in the register, as well as determining whether the objectives of the scheme are being met.
100. To ensure the scheme can be tailored to the specific circumstances of the registration officer or any public authority affected by the scheme, subsection (3) provides that a scheme may authorise information to be provided at specified times or in specified circumstances.
101. Subsection (4) sets out those persons that may be required to provide information under a scheme, namely local or public authorities and/or persons undertaking functions or services on behalf of an authority.
102. Subsection (5) allows the Secretary of State, to create more than one data sharing scheme in the same statutory instrument.
103. Subsection (6) provides that an order under the new power, will have the effect of removing all barriers to data sharing, statutory or otherwise, that might otherwise have obstructed the establishment of the scheme. It is anticipated that those sharing data under the auspices of any scheme made by order will have regard to the effect of Article 8 of the ECHR, the common law of confidence or any relevant provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.
104. Subsection (7) places restrictions on the onward disclosure by a registration officer of data provided under a scheme. The registration officer may share the data with a person to whom he may delegate his functions, or to another person where that is for the purposes set out in subsection (2) or is for the purposes of civil or criminal proceedings. A person who breaches these restrictions is guilty of an offence and will be liable to a fine on summary conviction.
105. Subsection (8) will provide that a scheme order contain incidental, supplemental, transitional or saving provision. This is to ensure that the order can be tailored appropriately to the individual circumstances of any scheme.
106. Subsection (9) provides that a scheme can only be made following the affirmative resolution procedure.
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|Prepared: 6 March 2009