Appointment of nominated Commissioners to the Electoral Commission - The Speaker's Committee Contents

Appendix F: Responses to statutory consultations with the party leaders

(a)  From Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP, leader of the Conservative Party

Thank you for your letter of 5th March, regarding the Party nominees as Commissioners on the Board of the Electoral Commission, as provided for in the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009.

I am content for a motion to be made in the House of Commons to the effect that an Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen seeking the appointment of the four persons named in the your letter as Electoral Commissioners for the standard term of four years.

I have also noted and am content with the proposal by the panel that reviewed the nominations and the Speaker's Committee that the Electoral Commissioner put forward by the smaller parties hold office for a two-year term, rather than the standard term of four years.

11th March 2010

(b)  From Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MP, leader of the Scottish National Party

Many thanks for your letter of 5th March 2010 updating me on the progress in appointment of nominated Electoral Commissioners as provided for in the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009.

It is excellent news that the appointment panel have had the opportunity to consider a wide range of candidates and that their unanimous recommendation for the four nominees includes George Reid.

I acknowledge that you intend to agree to a motion being made in the House of Commons that all four be appointed as nominated Electoral Commissioners and that PPERA 2000 requires you to consult with me as leader of the Scottish National Party in this regard.

Thank you for the consideration of the panel and the Speakers Committee that the fourth party-nominated post should be a two year term, with the possibility of reappointment. In the absence of discussions and agreement between nominating parties on the merits of a fixed two or four year post, the outcome of a policy that provides for rotation, but would not require it, seems eminently sensible.

12 March 2010

(c)  From Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats

Thank you very much for your letter of 5 March regarding the Speaker's Committee's decisions on nominees for the Electoral Commission.

I'm pleased to note that the Committee has accepted David Howarth's nomination as an Electoral Commissioner and am, of course, happy to support that decision.

I also note the recommendations of the Speaker's Committee and the panel which reviewed nominations on the representation of smaller parties. The Liberal Democrats are happy to accept your view on this matter.

23 March 2010

(d)  From Angus Robertson MP, Scottish National Party

Alex Salmond has asked me to respond to your letter of 31 March 2010 and on behalf of the Scottish National Party to raise concern about the proposal to recommend the appointment of Roy Kennedy.

As you will be aware, and as the appointed panel no doubt considered, Mr Kennedy was Director of Finance and Compliance for the Labour Party at the time of the David Abrahams scandal. In this matter, the Electoral Commission concluded that there was evidence that an offence may have been committed [Electoral Commission press release, 7 May 2009] and referred the matter to the police. The CPS did, of course, conclude that the donation reports in question incorrectly identified the donor but there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone with any offences. Given the identified failures in compliance, I would be concerned about the subsequent impact to public confidence in the democratic process and integrity of the Commission if Mr Kennedy were to be appointed as Commissioner.

Further, given that Mr Kennedy is intent on continuing in his Labour Party role until the appointment is made, this opens up a risk if further compliance issues affecting the Labour Party were to arise during the period while he is a nominee. I would obviously be keen to know what, if any, system is in place for recall, or re-interview, if Mr Kennedy were to in any way be implicated in any other party funding issues over the coming months.

As previously intimated in Mr Salmond's response, I am content with the other three nominees.

One final observation, the work of the Commission over the next six months or so will have some focus on the lessons in terms of financial transparency and electoral administration to be learned from the forthcoming General Election. It is difficult to see how the Commission can properly undertake this task when one of its members will have played such a central role in the campaign by one of the parties.

8 April 2010

(e)  From Ieuan Wyn Jones AC/AM, leader of Plaid Cymru

I refer to previous correspondence and confirm that I am content with nominations of the persons named as Electoral Commissioners in your letter dated March 5th.

21 May 2010

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