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9 Feb 2009 : Column 1212

Question put, That the amendment be made.


The House divided: Ayes 44, Noes 375.
Division No. 33]
[9.05 pm



AYES


Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burt, Lorely
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Davies, Mr. Dai
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Huhne, Chris
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mulholland, Greg
Price, Adam
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Smith, Sir Robert
Spink, Bob
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wishart, Pete
Tellers for the Ayes:

John Mason and
Hywel Williams
NOES


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Anderson, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baldry, Tony
Banks, Gordon
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Bone, Mr. Peter
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brennan, Kevin
Brokenshire, James
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Ms Katy
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cooper, Rosie
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian

Davies, Philip
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Davis, rh David
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Field, Mr. Mark
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Green, Damian
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Healey, rh John
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hendry, Charles
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howell, John
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jowell, rh Tessa
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lazarowicz, Mark
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Peter
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John

Maples, Mr. John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Mr. George
Osborne, Sandra
Ottaway, Richard
Owen, Albert
Paice, Mr. James
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Randall, Mr. John
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rosindell, Andrew
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Scott, Mr. Lee
Seabeck, Alison
Selous, Andrew
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Stanley, rh Sir John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stewart, Ian
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Tredinnick, David
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Vaz, rh Keith
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watkinson, Angela
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Dr. Tony
Tellers for the Noes:

Helen Goodman and
Steve McCabe
Question accordingly negatived.
9 Feb 2009 : Column 1213

9 Feb 2009 : Column 1214

9 Feb 2009 : Column 1215

Amendment made: 33, in page 4, line 23, at end insert—

‘( ) In the case of an appointment of a nominated Commissioner, the reference in section 3(2)(c) to being selected is to be read, where appropriate, as a reference to being recommended.’.— (Mr. Wills.)

New Clause 17


Limitation of pre-candidacy election expenses for certain general elections

‘(1) In the Representation of the People Act 1983 (c. 2) (“the 1983 Act”), after section 76 there is inserted—

“76ZA Limitation of pre-candidacy election expenses for certain general elections

(1) This section applies where —

(a) a Parliament is not dissolved until after the period of 55 months beginning with the day on which that Parliament first met (“the 55-month period”),

(b) election expenses are incurred by or on behalf of a candidate at the parliamentary general election which follows the dissolution, and

(c) the expenses are incurred in respect of a matter which is used during the period beginning immediately after the 55-month period and ending with the day on which the person becomes a candidate at that election.

For the purposes of this section, section 90ZA(1) has effect with the omission of the words “after the date when he becomes a candidate at the election”.

(2) Election expenses incurred as mentioned in subsection (1) must not in the aggregate exceed the permitted amount, which is the relevant percentage of the following sum—

(a) for a candidate at an election in a county constituency, £25,000 plus 7p for every entry in the register of electors;

(b) for a candidate at an election in a borough constituency, £25,000 plus 5p for every entry in the register of electors.

(3) The relevant percentage is—

(a) 100% where the dissolution was during the 60th month of the Parliament;

(b) 90% where the dissolution was during its 59th month;

(c) 80% where the dissolution was during its 58th month;

(d) 70% where the dissolution was during its 57th month;

(e) 60% where the dissolution was during its 56th month.

For the purposes of this subsection, the “56th month” of a Parliament is the month beginning immediately after the 55-month period; and so on.

(4) In subsection (2) above “the register of electors” means the register of parliamentary electors for the constituency in question as it has effect on the last day for publication of notice of the election.

(5) Where election expenses are incurred as mentioned in subsection (1) in excess of the permitted amount, any candidate or election agent who—


9 Feb 2009 : Column 1216

(a) incurred, or authorised the incurring of, the election expenses, and

(b) knew or ought reasonably to have known that the expenses would be incurred in excess of that amount,

shall be guilty of an illegal practice.

(6) The candidate’s personal expenses do not count towards the permitted amount.”

(2) The amendments made by this section do not apply in relation to any expenses—

(a) incurred before the commencement of this section, or

(b) incurred in respect of any matters used before 1 January 2010.’.— (Mr. Wills.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Wills: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: amendment (a) to Government new clause 17, in proposed new subsection (1)(a), leave out first ‘55’ and insert ‘50’.

Amendment (b) to Government new clause 17, in proposed new subsection (1)(a), leave out second ‘55’ and insert ‘50’.

Amendment (c) to Government new clause 17, in proposed new subsection (1)(c), leave out ‘55’ and insert ‘50’.

Amendment (d) to Government new clause 17, at end of proposed new subsection (3)(e), insert—

‘(f) 50% where the dissolution was during its 55th month;

(g) 40% where the dissolution was during the 54th month;

(h) 30% where the dissolution was during its 53rd month;

(i) 20% where the dissolution was during its 52nd month;

(j) 10% where the dissolution was during its 51st month.’.

Government amendment 38.

Amendment 10, in clause 11, page 9, line 36, at end insert—

‘(6) No act or statement made before the commencement of this section shall be taken into account in deciding whether a person has become a candidate.’.

Government amendments 39 to 43.

Mr. Wills: This group of amendments will overhaul and refine the provisions in the Bill relating to candidate expenditure. I think that it is true to say that the provisions have attracted a great deal of comment, not to mention controversy and criticism. We have listened to those criticisms, as we always do. The group of amendments are intended to address the various concerns raised by hon. Members. I shall begin by setting out the points on which I think that we are on common ground. I believe that we can all agree that changes to the legislation on party funding should, as far as possible, be made on the basis of a broad consensus of support between the political parties. We cannot allow party funding to become—or, just as importantly, to be perceived to have become—a partisan issue. That would be hugely destabilising to our democracy. All of us on both sides of the House have a duty to ensure that legislation on party funding supports a strong, fair and open democracy that commands the trust and respect of the electorate.

Inevitably, election campaigning requires money to be spent, but it is a long-established and, I believe, well-supported principle that first and foremost, elections are a contest of ideas and policies. Excessive election
9 Feb 2009 : Column 1217
spending devalues the integrity of our democratic system. I hope we can all agree on that. It is for this reason that the law on party funding has, since the late 19th century, set strict limits on the amount of money that can be spent in pursuing election.

In the first instance, the law limited only the amount that a candidate could spend on election campaigning. However, in recognition of the increasingly important role of national campaigning conducted by political parties, the law has, since the passage of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, also limited the amount that can be spent nationally.

Both the candidate and the national campaign spending limits must operate in recognition of the fact that we do not have fixed-term Parliaments. I do not wish to enter into that debate today—indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker probably would not let me do so. I mention it merely because a consequence of that is the uncertainty over whether and when an election will be held. That is a difficulty when we try to specify the length of any regulated period for election expenses.

In the case of the national spending limit, the starting point for the regulated period is counted back 365 days from the date of the election. This means that parties can face some uncertainty in accurately planning their campaigning expenditure. In practice, however, most parties will closely monitor their campaigning expenditure at all times, and employ staff to ensure compliance with legislative requirements.

The same cannot be said of campaigning expenditure that specifically seeks to advance the electoral prospects of a candidate. Campaigning at the local level is often sustained by volunteers. We can all agree that those dedicated people are the lifeblood of our political system, and whatever we do to make sure the system is open and transparent and commands the trust of the electorate, we must also take great care to ensure that legislation does not impose undue burdens on those volunteers.

For many years, the law on candidate spending deliberately did not impose a fixed point from which the limit on election expenditure would apply. Rather, the limit applied from the point when an individual began behaving and campaigning as a candidate—a system that is often referred to as “triggering”. This led some to seek to avoid the limits by referring to themselves as only prospective candidates. The 2000 Act sought to reduce uncertainty for candidates and agents by setting a clearly defined point in legislation from when an individual could be regarded as a candidate. In the majority of cases, this is the date of the Dissolution of Parliament.

Candidates have thus had certainty about the point from which to begin counting their election expenses. However, the wholly undesired, and to some extent unforeseen, effect of this has been the potential for significant levels of unregulated candidate expenditure to take place prior to Dissolution.


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