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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.36 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.33 to 8.36 p.m.]

Representation of the People Bill

House again in Committee on Schedule 1.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 70:

The noble Lord said: The amendment is concerned with that part of Schedule 1 which discusses election addresses. I shall come to the main point about election addresses shortly. This is a simpler point and I suspect that the Government may be aware of the problem.

As I read the Bill as it stands, the date on which registration closes and the last date for postage of electoral addresses do not seem to match. It seems

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logical that they should be the same. There is no point in the register closing--save, perhaps, for the special circumstances of a clerical error--after the date on which the Post Office demands from the political parties that their election addresses be sent to the Post Office. The two dates should relate to each other so that when the political parties come to send out their election addresses they are sent out to all the people on the valid register.

I may be wrong in my interpretation of this part of the Bill--no doubt the Minister will tell me if I am--but those two matters should be in the correct order. The register should close, so to speak; the political parties should get the complete register; and they then have the opportunity to ensure that they have sent their election addresses to all those voting in the election. It should not be the other way round. It should not even be coincidental, because it would be rather difficult to deal with then, and it certainly should not be the wrong way round.

I invite the Government to correct me if I am wrong. If I am not wrong, perhaps they can assure me that they will have a look at this issue before we come to Report stage. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Who am I to say that the noble Lord is wrong? I can understand why he has moved the amendment. The first point I should make is that for most purposes the key date in the election cycle is the closing date for nominations. Yet, as the proposal reads, the right to a free mail delivery would be related to the electorate as at the date for the publication of the notice of election, rather than the closing date for nominations. Members of the Committee may wonder what is the reason for that. The answer is quite simple. It has long been recognised that some candidates, in order to kick start their campaign--"to give it momentum" as it is described in the American presidential system--may want to send their election address out early, before the close of nominations.

Section 91(3) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 specifically provides for that by allowing candidates to send out their freepost delivery before the publication of the statement of persons nominated--which is produced directly after the closing time for nominations--provided they can give the Post Office sufficient security. We did not want to remove that flexibility. However, if candidates are to continue to have the right to send out their freepost delivery before the closing date for nominations, for that purpose electors need to be defined by reference to the earlier date on which the notice for election is published. I trust that, in the light of that explanation, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Given all the complicated dates involved, the best I can do is to take away the amendment, talk to those perhaps more involved in elections than I now am and see what they have to say. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 71:

    Page 25, line 20, at end insert--

("Election Addresses: Greater London Authority Elections

19A. After section 91 there shall be inserted--
"91A.--(1) At an election for the Greater London Authority held under the provisions of the 1999 Act--
(a) each individual candidate for Mayor of London;
(b) each individual candidate for return as a constituency member of the Greater London Assembly,
is entitled to send free of charge for postage either--
(i) one un-addressed postal communication, containing matter relating to the election only not exceeding 60 grammes in weight, to each place in the Assembly constituency (in the case of an individual candidate for return as a constituency member) or (in the case of an individual candidate for Mayor of London) each place in the Assembly constituencies, which, in accordance with the Post Office Regulations 1987 (as applied and modified by subsection (5) below) constitutes a delivery point for the purposes of this subsection; or
(ii) one such postal communication addressed to each elector.
(2) Any such candidate is also, subject as mentioned in subsection (1) above, entitled to send free of any charge for postage to each person entered in the list of proxies for the appropriate election one such communication as mentioned in subsection (1) above for each appointment in respect of which that person is so entered.
(3) A person shall not be deemed to be a candidate for Mayor of London or to be a candidate for return as a constituency member unless he is shown as standing nominated in the statement of persons nominated, but until publication of that statement any person who declares himself to be such a candidate shall be entitled to exercise the right of free postage conferred by this section if he gives such security as may be required by the Post Office for the payment of postage should he not be shown as standing nominated as mentioned above.
(4) For the purposes of this section, "elector" means a person--
(a) who is registered as a local government elector in an Assembly constituency for which the election is to be held in the register to be used at the election; or
(b) who, pending the publication of that register appears in the electors' lists for such a register (as corrected by the registration officer) to be entitled to be so registered,
and accordingly includes a person shown in the register or electors lists as below voting age if it appears from that register or those lists that he will be of voting age on the day fixed for the poll, but not otherwise.
(5) The Post Office Regulations 1987 shall have effect in relation to an election for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly subject to the following modifications--
(a) in regulation 1, the reference to "section 91 of the Representation of the People Act 1983" shall be construed as a reference to this section;

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(b) any reference to "constituency" shall, in relation to a candidate for return as a constituency member, be construed as a reference to an Assembly constituency, and, in relation to a candidate for return as Mayor of London, be construed as a reference to the Assembly constituencies.
(6) If the area of the GLRO is situated in the area of more than one Head Postmaster, the controlling Head Postmaster for the purposes of the Post Office Regulations 1987 as applied by subsection (5) above shall be determined by the GLRO.
(7) Any communication issued under the provisions of this section by a candidate for return as a constituency member standing as the candidate of a registered political party may refer to the candidates for return as London members submitted on that registered political party's party list.
(8) For the purposes of this section--
(a) "the 1999 Act" means the Greater London Authority Act 1999;
(b) "Greater London Authority" means the body referred to in section 1 of the 1999 Act;
(c) "Mayor of London" means the office referred to in section 2(1)(a) of the 1999 Act;
(d) "London Assembly" means the Assembly referred to in section 2(1)(b) of the 1999 Act;
(e) "constituency member" means a member of the London Assembly of the type referred to in section 2(2)(a) of the 1999 Act;
(f) "London member" means a member of the London Assembly of the type referred to in section 2(2)(b) of the 1999 Act;
(g) "Assembly constituency" has the same meaning as in section 2 of the 1999 Act;
(h) "GLRO" means
(i) in relation to the first ordinary election of the Greater London Authority, the person, or persons of the description, designated by order under section 3(4) of the 1999 Act as the returning officer at the elections of the Mayor of London and of the London members;
(ii) in relation to any other election, the proper officer of the Greater London Authority (as defined in section 424(2) of the 1999 Act);
(i) "registered political party" means a party registered under the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998;
(j) "party list" means a list submitted to the GLRO in accordance with paragraph 5 of Part II of Schedule 2 to the 1999 Act on behalf of a registered political party."").

The noble Lord said: It is fair to say that this is far more than a probing amendment. It is a serious amendment in which not only I am involved; I am joined by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and--I nearly said "my noble friend", but I meant the noble Earl, Lord Russell, with whom I have sparred on many occasions. On this occasion we are speaking on the same side. If I were the Government, I should be trembling in my shoes.

The background to the amendment is of course that there are shortly to be elections in London for the mayor and the London assembly. They are significant elections; they will certainly encompass the largest electorate of any election below the level of the election to the United Kingdom Parliament. The constituencies involved are therefore extremely large. The mayor will have a mandate from an electorate in

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excess of 5 million. I am not entirely sure whether it is more or fewer--but it is certainly on a par with the electorate in Scotland. It is remarkably larger than the electorate in Wales or in Northern Ireland.

The Government themselves have created that structure. The elections are extremely important. They will clearly give London a voice--that is what the Government said they wanted--and the mayor will be a significant figure. In addition to the mayor, there are to be elections to the assembly of a rather limited number of candidates: 14 constituencies in London will elect one each; and 10 top-ups, which is something we are now fairly used to in Scotland and Wales. There will be three groups: the mayor, who is self standing; the 14 constituency members; and the 10 top-ups, who will be related to the 14 constituency members via the d'Hondt formula. I shall not bore the Committee by reminding your Lordships about d'Hondt. I am sure that my previous lessons on the subject have all been well learnt.

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