Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Tenth Report


Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


  1. The Committee have asked for a memorandum explaining why this Order sets the limits for third party election expenses at Greater London Authority elections so much higher than the limit of £5 in section 75(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983.

  2. If approved, this Order will prescribe the maximum amounts of election expenses of candidates and their agents, and third parties, in elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

  3. Article 2 of the draft Order prescribes the maximum expenditure which a person other than a candidate, his agent or persons authorised in writing by the agent (i.e. third parties) may incur at such elections. The limits are set at:-

    £25,000 per third party supporting or opposing Mayoral candidates;
    £25,000 per third party supporting or opposing London-wide list candidates, including independents; and
    £1,800 per third party supporting or opposing an Assembly candidate.

  4. If the Order is approved these limits will replace the limit of £5 that third parties can spend at an election in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate, as set out in Section 75(1)(ii) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (the RPA).

  5. In setting new limits to replace the £5 third party limit in the RPA account has been taken of the following:-

    (a)  a change in the law is required in the light of the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the Bowman[2] case, in which it was held that the £5 limit on third party expenses violated article 10 of the Convention as being a restriction on freedom of expression;

    (b)  the £5 limit will be replaced by new limits on third party spending if the Political Parties, Elections, and Referendums Bill (the PPER Bill), currently before Parliament is enacted;

    (c)  the Neill Committee[3] recommended a limit on third party expenditure at Parliamentary elections of £500 per constituency.

  6. The third party limits for Greater London Authority elections set out in the draft Order are based on a formula for third party limits in local elections that will be included in the PPER Bill, if amendments which the Government intends to bring forward are enacted. The proposed formula is £50 plus an additional 0.5p for every entry in the register of electors. It produces a third party limit of £25,000 for each of the London-wide elections, assuming a London-wide electorate of about 5 million, and of £1,800 for assembly constituency elections, assuming an average electorate per constituency of 360,000.

  7. Although these limits are high compared to the current £5 limit, the Government believes they are justified in the light of both the Bowman judgement and the need to ensure that third parties can adequately put across their case to the electorate. Furthermore, the limits fit well with the national third party limits already provided for in Part VI of the PPER Bill. The proposed national limit of £793,000 for expenditure by third parties in England at parliamentary general elections is, for example, some ten times the maximum expenditure limit[4] for third parties during Greater London Authority elections, while approximately one seventh of the population of England live in Greater London.

11th February 2000

2  1998 26 EHRR1. Back

3  The Fifth Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life: The Funding of Political Parties (Cm 4057). Back

4  i.e. £75,200 made up of £25,000 for a Mayoral candidate, £25,000 for a party list plus £1,800 in each of 14 constituencies. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 23 March 2000