Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Eleventh Report

Memorandum by the Home Office

This memorandum is concerned with the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill, which was brought from the Commons on 16 March 2000. It identifies each provision of the Bill that confers powers for delegated legislation, and explains in each case the purpose of the power, the reason why the matter has been left to delegated legislation, and the nature and the reason for the procedure selected.


The main purposes of the Bill are to establish an Electoral Commission ("the Commission"); make further provision for the registration of political parties (see the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 ("the 1998 Act"), which is in part re-enacted by the Bill); make provision for the accounting and reporting of donations by registered political parties; restrict those from whom parties and others may accept donations; limit campaign expenditure by registered parties and third parties; limit expenditure during referendum campaigns and provide for shareholder consent for company donations for political purposes.


There are a number of delegated powers under the Bill. Clause 146 of the Bill provides that any power of the Secretary of State to make any order or regulations under the Bill shall be exercisable by statutory instrument. This clause also sets out the parliamentary procedure that is to apply in each case.


Clause 145 provides that the Secretary of State may by order vary any sum for the time being specified in any provision of this Bill; other than the sum specified in clause 10(8) (total sum of policy development grant) and 31(5) (assistance for existing party to meet expenses incurred in order to comply with Parts III and IV). Such an order may only be made where the Secretary of State considers it expedient to do so in consequence of changes in the value of money or where the order gives effect to a recommendation of the Commission. This matter is left to delegated legislation, as it may be necessary to vary specified sums from time to time. An order made under clause 145(2)(a) is not subject to parliamentary procedure, but since it can only be made in limited circumstances and to limited effect this is thought to be justifiable. An order made under clause 145(2)(b) is subject to the negative resolution procedure. It is thought desirable that there should be some parliamentary scrutiny of orders made under this provision, but since such orders are made on the recommendation of the Commission it is believed that the negative resolution procedure is sufficient.


A number of the delegated powers in the Bill make provision for the Commission to make provision by regulations. Clause 1 and Schedule 1 of the Bill establish the Commission. Paragraphs 21 to 23 of Schedule 1 make provision for regulations made by the Commission. The Commission must give a copy of the regulations, and any alterations, to the Secretary of State. The regulations must be made in writing and must be printed and made available to the public. No person shall be taken to have contravened any regulations made by the Commission unless the regulations have been printed and made available to the public. The Commission regulations are limited in their application to supervised bodies under the Bill. A precedent for a supervisory body being able to make regulation affecting those it supervises can be found in paragraphs 6 to 9 of Schedule 9 to the Financial Services Act 1986.

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