House of Lords - Explanatory Note
Political Parties, Elections And Referendums Bill - continued          House of Lords

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286.     The Bill provides for the Electoral Commission to appoint a chief executive and any other staff considered necessary to assist them in the performance of their functions. It is estimated that the Commission, before the electoral boundary functions transfer to the body, will require around 50 such staff. Any manpower savings to the Home Office are expected to be marginal.

287.     The additional staff that will be necessary to enable the Commission to undertake the electoral boundary functions will fluctuate according to the timing and extent of parliamentary and local government boundary reviews. But as these functions will transfer from existing bodies, the impact on public service manpower is expected to be broadly neutral.


288.     None of the measures in Part I to V and VIII will impose any burden on business, charities or voluntary bodies. Companies, trade unions and other unincorporated associations which incur controlled expenditure at elections (under Part VI) or referendum expenses (under Part VII) will be required to register with the Electoral Commission and make returns as to their expenses. This will involve some modest cost but this and the extra administration involved is considered necessary and proportionate to ensure the fair conduct of elections and referendums. The regulatory impact of the requirement on companies (under the provisions of Part IX) to obtain prior shareholder approval for donations to political parties is expected to be minimal.

289.     Copies of the regulatory impact assessment in respect of Parts VI and VII may be obtained from the Party Funding Unit of the Home Office (telephone: 020 7273 3209) and in respect of Part IX may be obtained from the Department of Trade and Industry (telephone: 020 7215 0211).


290.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). Lord Bassam of Brighton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office has made the following statement:

In my view the provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.


291.     Clauses 1 to 3 and Schedules 1 and 2 come into effect on Royal Assent to enable the Electoral Commission to be established as quickly as possible. Clause 146 also comes into force on enactment to enable any orders or regulations to be made. The other provisions of the Bill will be brought into effect by order made at a later date or dates. The functions of the Electoral Commission, in particular the electoral boundary functions, are likely to be phased in over a number of years.

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Prepared: 17 March 2000