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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 42:

Page 217, line 6, at end insert--
(“Avoidance of election for employing corrupt agent
.--(1) Section 165 shall be amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (3) (vote given for person incapable of being elected by reason of employing corrupt agent not to be deemed to be thrown away unless given for same person at a poll consequent on the decision of an election court) there shall be added--
“(4) In the case of an election of the Mayor of London, a vote deemed in accordance with subsection (3) above to be thrown away shall be so deemed only to the extent that it is a vote given so as to indicate that the person who was under the incapacity is the voter's first or second preference from among the candidates."").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am sorry to cause inconvenience, but there will be one or two other amendments in this section in respect of which I should like an answer.

I confess that my knowledge of what constitutes a corrupt agent in this context is scanty and I hope that the noble Baroness will be able to sketch that in, but an interesting innovation on the pattern of the present law is that when one is discovered it shall only be one type of member who is disqualified and not another type of member. I should be very grateful for an explanation of why this decision has been taken and why it is expressed in the amendment.

Lord Renton: My Lords, the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, is an important one. The expression “corrupt agent" could mean at least two things. It could mean somebody who has been successfully convicted of corruption, and it could mean that such a person could

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never act as an agent in the circumstances envisaged; or it could mean somebody who, while acting as agent, behaved corruptly and was convicted accordingly. I presume that it is the last meaning that the Government intend. If so, they should make that clear. I suggest that we do not accept the amendment at present but ask the Government to take it away and consider it further with the parliamentary draughtsmen.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the Representation of the People Act 1983 includes the definition of corruption as:

    “... having been convicted more than once of an offence under the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act ... the candidate shall be incapable of being elected to fill the vacancy in the election which is held".

The side note to Section 165 reads:

    “Avoidance of election for employing corrupt agent".

Section 165 goes on to state:

    “If at a parliamentary or local government election a candidate or his election agent personally engages as a canvasser or agent for the conduct or management of the election any person whom he knows or has reasonable grounds for supposing to be subject to an incapacity to vote at the election ..."

Those are two examples of corruption.

Amendment No. 42 merely provides that in circumstances where a mayoral candidate cannot be elected because he or she has employed such a corrupt agent, the elector's second preference vote is not deemed to be thrown away and is held as valid unless any other candidate is subject to the same incapacity.

I would be happy to write to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, with the detailed reply that he seeks and to send copies of the replies which have already been sought by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas.

Lord Renton: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I trust that I am in order in saying that we should be grateful to her for pointing out the intention of the Government and the previous law in this matter. However, not all previous law makes good sense for ever, as some of us who have practised in the courts know only too well.

The expression “corrupt agent" in the circumstances in which it is intended to apply in the amendment needs to be looked at again. It obviously covers two possibilities; not merely the previous conviction but the behaviour while acting as agent. The Government would be wise to consider this again. It would be in their own interests and the long-term interests of Greater London.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I sympathise with the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Renton. Amendment No. 42 merely seeks to apply existing law in the particular circumstances proposed in this form of election in London. I sympathise only too well with the noble Lord when he makes the point that there may be sections of the law which need to be looked at again and revised. However, in the context of this Bill, I hope that he will agree that it is logical to ensure that the same caution, care and scrupulous attention to detail is taken within the

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existing framework of the law to ensure that corruption does not allow anyone to gain or to lose inadvertently by not being involved in the corruption.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

7.15 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I move Amendments Nos. 43 to 46 en bloc. They all deal with references and definitions.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am not exactly au fait with the procedure of the House, but I wish to speak to Amendment No. 46.

Earl Russell: My Lords, perhaps I might assist the noble Lord. My understanding of the procedure is that if any noble Lord objects to the amendments being taken en bloc they are not so taken. Therefore, amendments No. 43 to 45 can be taken en bloc but Amendment No. 46 should be moved separately. The noble Lord can then speak to it.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendments Nos. 43 to 45 en bloc:

Page 217, line 6, at end insert--
(“References to elections under the local government Act to include Authority elections
. After section 189 there shall be inserted--
“The Greater London Authority
“Extension of references to elections under the local government Act.
189A. For the purposes of--
(a) Part II of this Act,
(b) Part III of this Act, and
(c) section 189 above, any reference to an election under the local government Act includes a reference to an Authority election.").
Page 217, line 9, after (“(1),") insert--
(“(a) in the definition of “election", after “parliamentary election" there shall be inserted “, an Authority election";
(b) in paragraph (b) of the definition of “election court", after “questioning" there shall be inserted “an Authority election or".")
Page 217, line 16, at end insert--
(“( ) In subsection (1), after the definition of “proper officer" there shall be inserted--
““registered political party" means a party registered under the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998;".").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 46:

Page 218, line 20, at end insert (“and related expressions shall be construed accordingly"")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move.

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Lord Lucas : My Lords, I should like clarification of the meaning of the amendment. It is to be inserted at the end of a subsection which states:

    “Any reference in this Act to a registered political party submitting a list of candidates to be London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election shall be construed in accordance with section 4(5)(a) of, and Part II of Schedule 2 to, the 1999 Act"

and which will then continue:

    “and related expressions shall be construed accordingly".

Could the Minister provide me with a list of related expressions and how they should be construed because I am at a total loss to understand this?

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, my point is more general. As has been said most forcefully from this side of the House, there are difficulties with so many amendments, technical or not, coming before your Lordships at so late a stage.

I shall put my complaint on the record just once. It is not a complaint against Ministers; nor, indeed, against particular officials. I would not, of course, make that point. However, in producing a Bill which was clearly always going to be complex, the Government should have devoted adequate resources to its drafting.

I can only sympathise with those who have been involved in the preparation of the Bill. I note the Minister's remarks about listening to the representations that have been made both within and outside Parliament. However, Amendment No. 42 is both technical and legal. There should have been enough people dealing with it to have picked this up, perhaps not last November when it was first presented to another place, but certainly earlier than October of the following year.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I reiterate the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. It is impossible for the House to scrutinise this enormous schedule when it comes before us in this way. Most of this seven-page schedule amends other Acts of Parliament, to which we do not have instant access; I certainly do not. I only saw the amendments when I arrived at the House this morning. Therefore, we are not able to do a proper job.

The noble Baroness is quite right that we should not pin blame on anyone in particular. However, perhaps I might suggest that if the same situation arises again, the Government should supply the House with the equivalent of an Explanatory Memorandum and, if possible, quotes of how the amended Acts will look. They were good enough to do that with one part of the Scotland Bill which the House had problems in understanding.

It is not at all suitable for this to be done in this way. The Government may inadvertently make mistakes as a result of not having the schedule scrutinised. It would be helpful if they could perhaps provide something better. It would have been helpful to my noble friend Lord Renton who, as an eminent lawyer, asked a valid question. It was very difficult for him, as for the rest of us, to see how it would read when the Bill was amended. Would it be possible to do that in future?

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