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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: These amendments would prohibit a person from standing simultaneously as a candidate for both mayor and the assembly. I agree with the noble Baroness that it would be unacceptable for someone actually to serve simultaneously both as mayor and as an assembly member. The Bill makes provision to prevent such circumstances arising. Clause 4(7) specifies that:

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In addition, if someone was elected as mayor and as an assembly constituency member, the Bill makes provision for action should a vacancy occur in the constituency seats. However, it would be heavy-handed and serve no practical purpose to prevent people standing as a candidate in both elections. I can well imagine a situation in which the party's leading lights would wish to contest both the mayoral and assembly elections. If those candidates lost the mayoral election it would be perverse to have them already rendered ineligible for consideration as assembly members. I would therefore ask the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: I thank the noble Baroness for her explanation. I believe I understand what she is saying--that if standing for mayor and as one of the London members, a person would automatically come off the list after being elected as mayor. I understand that, but I think the situation is different if the person is standing as a constituency member. If that person were to be elected mayor, then as I understand it there would automatically have to be a by-election, and that is what we are trying to suggest should not happen. I may perhaps have misunderstood and would be grateful if the noble Baroness could comment on the point.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My understanding is that the Bill prohibits anyone from standing in more than one assembly constituency, but no prohibition has been placed on standing both for the mayor and the assembly. There seems to be little reason to constrain individuals from doing that.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: I have to confess that I do not agree with that, because one would be causing a by-election just as we are starting at the very beginning of it all. As I said, in America if a senator wants to stand as president, he has first to withdraw from being a senator. I would have thought that perhaps it would be more sensible for us to consider that as a pattern. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment, but I may wish to pursue the matter at a later stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Voting at elections]:

[Amendments Nos. 32 to 36 not moved.]

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 37:

Page 182, line 27, at end insert ("no later than 55 days prior to the date set for the ordinary election")

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 37 I should like to speak to Amendment No. 40. The latter amendment is a technical one, largely dependent on the passing of Amendment No. 37. Its object is to make the necessary amendments to the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 consequential on the passing of Amendment No. 37. The 1998 Act, as your Lordships may recall, was expressly passed to

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make way for proportional representation by party list; that is, the system which has just been used for the European elections.

Even though Amendment No. 40 is largely related to Amendment No. 37, it also serves to tidy up the 1998 Act by setting a time limit for the registration of a political party for a particular election, which will always be on a fixed date. I need not say more about that amendment because, as I say, it is mainly to provide the machinery connected with Amendment No. 37. I suggest the amendment to your Lordships for separate consideration. Amendment No. 37 adds 14 words to paragraph 5(2). It requires the names of persons that a party wishes to have on its list of London candidates to be submitted to the returning officer no later than 55 days before the date of that election.

The first matter to be borne in mind is that the date of that election is fixed, unlike the date of a general election, and the date is certainly known for years ahead. The parties therefore have a long period in which to select their list of candidates and to place them in their order of preference. However, I would suggest that it is important for the voters and the media to have the opportunity to become aware of who the candidates are and to check their antecedents, if that is what they wish.

In the ordinary local and parliamentary elections it is common--indeed the normal practice--for voters to know or to be able to find out, if they are interested, who their candidates are. More often than not it is the incumbent who is standing again. However, under this new alien system which has just been introduced, we no longer vote for a candidate but for a party. Which candidates are likely to be elected for that party depends on how high they are placed on the list. So while the names of the candidates are not of interest on a personal basis, it is important for a voter to know the order of the candidates. In this kind of election it is vital for the public to know that as soon as possible. This amendment would make the parties commit themselves to the running order as soon as it is possible to do so. Since a member of the public cannot in the polling booth exercise a personal choice among the candidates of the party, then he ought at least to know the kind of package for which he is voting. Even a lifelong supporter member of, let us say, the Moon is Made of Green Cheese Party might decide not to vote for that party on discovering that his vote will help to put someone whom he absolutely detests into the assembly.

This amendment does nothing except further the democratic process if we are to have PR by the party list system foisted upon us. I did not intercede on any of the groups of amendments on the voting systems, but the Government will know the view of this side of the Committee in favour of first-past-the-post.

The amendment sets a viable time limit on the selection of the lists and of their running order to reduce the time for internal party machinations and wrangling. Above all, my intention is to concentrate the minds of

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the parties on who their candidates shall be, so that they can get on as soon as possible with the issues of the campaign. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I was slightly taken aback by the apparent reference of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Hendon, to people who were failing to get publicity in advance of the closing date for nominations and people not knowing who was interested in standing. I should have thought that in some cases people are only too aware of who is interested in standing.

I have listened with great interest to the noble Baroness's explanation of the reason for these amendments, but I cannot feel that they would add value to the Bill. The amendments propose to place a requirement on the Registrar of Political Parties to register a political party which intends to contest the GLA election and which has applied to him for registration before 31st January, no later than 70 days before the date of an ordinary election. Ten weeks before the first Thursday in May would give a date in late February, giving the registrar effectively three weeks in which to register a late-arriving application.

While I am sure that that would not present problems for the registrar, given that his own aim is to decide straightforward applications within five days, I can see no need for such a requirement. It is certainly not justified by the registrar's performance so far. Even where the registrar has referred difficult or sensitive cases to the Advisory Committee on the Registration of Political Parties, there has been no significant delay in the registration process. Why, therefore, impose on the registrar a requirement so far in excess of his actual practice and which does not exist in respect of any other election? Admittedly the amendment does not include the proviso that failure would lay the registrar or the returning officer open to action; even so, I am bound to say that I doubt the value of the proposal.

The requirement is not therefore needed in practice. Nor has it been imposed in relation to any other election. It seems an odd proposal to modify the Registration of Political Parties Act to impose a time requirement on the registrar which exists in respect of no other election. For that reason alone I would oppose it.

I was similarly in some difficulty trying to understand why it was thought a good idea to have the party lists with the returning officer between eight and 12 weeks before the poll, when the normal time-scale for local elections would only call for their delivery four or five weeks before the poll. The time-scale for these matters is normally set out in election rules, rather than enshrined in primary legislation; and it is our intention, once Royal Assent to the Bill has been received, to lay before the House election rules based on the local government principal area rules.

No special time-scale was imposed on the submission of lists for the AMS elections conducted recently in Scotland and Wales for their national assemblies and I have not so far heard any compelling argument in favour of doing so for the GLA election.

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Having heard the noble Baroness's explanation, I am still far from convinced either that this is a matter which needs to be dealt with by primary legislation or that it is a good idea. I therefore invite the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.

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