Nineteenth Report of Session 2019-21 Contents

Appendix 1

S.I. 2020/580

Representation of the People (Form of Canvass) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020

1.In its letter to the Northern Ireland Office dated 1 July 2020 the Joint Committee requested a memorandum on the following points:

Explain how the duty imposed by regulation 4(3) is intended to be monitored and enforced.

2.Regulation 4(2)(c) requires a canvass form to contain a declaration that the relevant person confirms that, by submitting a canvass form or instructing someone else to do so on their behalf, that regulation 4(3) has been complied with. Section 13D(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 provides that “[a] person who for any purpose connected with the registration of electors provides to a registration officer any false information is guilty of an offence.” Thus where a person falsely confirms that Regulation 4(3) has been complied with then they may be guilty of an offence.

3.Where someone believes there may be irregularities in a person’s electoral registration they may report the matter to the police. The police may then investigate the matter and decide whether to refer it to the relevant prosecution service. The Electoral Commission monitors electoral fraud across the UK and publishes and reports on the number, type and outcome of electoral fraud allegations.

4.Whilst the Northern Ireland Office accepts that it may be difficult to detect some instances of false declarations under regulation 4(2)(c) this is not an unusual feature amongst statutory declarations relating to elections. For instance, section 82 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 requires an electoral candidate making a declaration about their election expenses to confirm that they have “examined the return of [their] election expenses […] of which a copy is now shown to [them]”. In such instances the relevant electoral officer must usually rely on the declaration made to them.

5.In practice it is intended the paper and electronic canvass forms provided to electors will make it very clear that the declaration must be read aloud to those who cannot read, that the relevant person declares that requirement has been complied with and that it is an offence to provide false information to the registration officer.

Northern Ireland Office

6 July 2020

Published: 17 July 2020