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Lord Addington: My Lords, I shall not take up too much of the House's time on this issue. It is rather reassuring to hear that the Government can make this degree of mistake. I feel rather more relaxed about all the drafting errors that I have made when tabling amendments. However, does the order mean that, not only has the work been done, which I took to be the situation, but that it will now be done on a proper legal basis? And has it been assured for the future? Those are the only questions that I believe are relevant following the very good introductory set of questions put forward by the noble Baroness. I hope that the Minister can give us an assurance because, if the answer to my questions is "yes", I do not believe that there will be anything else to worry about.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, the answer to the first question posed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, is that there is no recompense to the trust and HRP is not asking for any recompense. The question whether the arrangement was ultra vires was raised when the order was spoken to in another place. The answer was that it is not and there is absolutely no problem in that respect. Finally, this matter has now been devolved by the Minister to the trust and there is no time limit.

I can give the noble Lord, Lord Addington, the assurance that he seeks. If this is the only mistake that the Government have made in the past two years, that is absolutely brilliant.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I have a further question to ask out of pure ignorance. Is it correct that the historic buildings trust was set up in order to take on these properties? Otherwise, "contracting out" would be rather an odd term to use if the matter were devolved. Possibly the body is now legitimately responsible for all those properties. The second question arising from that is whether there is then never any need to re-contract or re-tender.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, with regard to her first question, the noble Baroness is right. The body was set up for this specific purpose. There is a maximum 10-year limit to contract under a contracting-out order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Greater London Authority Elections (Election Addresses) Order 2003

1.18 p.m.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 18th June be approved [23rd Report from the Joint Committee].

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am moving this Motion on behalf of my noble friend Lord Rooker. The purpose of the order is to provide London's voters with information which will help them to make an informed choice at future GLA elections. It entitles candidates at future London mayoral elections to have an election address included in a booklet, which will be delivered to every elector in London. The order seeks to achieve that in a way that is fair to candidates and cost-effective for taxpayers.

Noble Lords will remember that the issue of a free mailshot was a topic of some controversy in the run-up to the first GLA elections. At that time, the Government listened to the arguments of noble Lords and amended the Greater London Authority Act to provide, at the first GLA elections, for the publication and free delivery of a booklet containing election addresses prepared by the mayoral candidates. Parliament also provided an order-making power for the Secretary of State to make arrangements for the publication and delivery of candidates' election addresses at future GLA elections. This new order exercises that power.

As noble Lords will have seen from the draft order, the proposed arrangements for future ordinary GLA elections are largely a repeat of those that were made for the first elections. I shall begin by running through those parts of the proposals that are the same as for the 2000 elections.

As before, each mayoral candidate will be entitled to have an election address included in a booklet that will be produced by the Greater London returning officer and delivered to every elector in Greater London. If there are 15 or fewer mayoral candidates, each will be entitled to an election address covering up to two A5 sides, but if there are 16 or more candidates that drops to one A5 side each. As at the first election, a candidate's election address can contain only information relating to the election. Candidates may not include advertising, material included with a view to commercial gain, or any indecent, offensive or obscene material. Nor will they be able to include material which, if published, would be contrary to the criminal law. Finally, the election addresses must comply with the necessary printing requirements. But within those basic requirements candidates have a good deal of freedom to design their election addresses as they wish.

As before, the Greater London returning officer must exclude from the booklet any election addresses that do not comply with the rules on content or form and any addresses that come from candidates who have not made their contribution towards printing costs. That brings me on to costs.

The funding arrangements are also the same as in 2000. Each mayoral candidate wishing to have an address included will have to contribute 10,000 towards the costs of printing the booklet. It is very unlikely that those contributions will exceed the total printing costs of the booklet, but if there is a surplus the Greater London returning officer has to divide the

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excess equally between the candidates and return it to them. Delivery of the booklet will be free to candidates; it will be at the GLA's expense.

It is too early yet for the Greater London returning officer to be able to make firm estimates of the costs to the GLA of printing and delivering the booklet for the 2004 GLA elections. But his current estimate is that the total cost will be about 1.3 million, which is the same amount as the Government spent on the booklet in 2000. The estimate breaks down as a GLA spend of around 600,000 on publication and 700,000 on delivery. As I have said, those arrangements are largely the same as the ones that were made for the 2000 election. However, there are a few updates and changes to the arrangements, and it may help if I explain those in turn.

The first update will give consistency between the provisions and the arrangements that have been made for election addresses at local mayoral elections. The draft order says that mayoral candidates must not include in their election addresses material referring to other candidates. That prohibition is intended to ensure that candidates use the election address for its proper purpose—to promote themselves as candidates. It should not stop candidates from referring in their election addresses to political parties or to particular policies or issues.

There are also two changes that arise from recommendations made by the Electoral Commission. In the 2000 booklet, candidates' election addresses appeared in alphabetical order by surname. The commission has expressed a concern that candidates with surnames at the beginning of the alphabet may benefit unfairly from that and so the order provides that, in future, election addresses should appear in an order determined by lot.

Secondly, we considered carefully whether future election booklets should include election addresses from Assembly as well as mayoral candidates. There are so many Assembly candidates—there were 222 in the 2000 election—that including them all would make the booklet very lengthy and rather impractical for voters to read. It would also be more complicated and expensive for the Greater London returning officer to produce.

However, we accept that voters may find it useful to receive some information about Assembly candidates. For that reason we are taking forward an alternative approach, which was suggested by the Electoral Commission. Unlike the first booklet, future election address booklets will have to include lists of the names, constituency and candidate descriptions for all of the candidates for the Greater London Assembly. It will also include a list of all the mayoral candidates, including anyone who does not have an election address in the booklet.

The final update reflects changes to the postal market that were brought about in the Postal Services Act 2000. At the 2000 elections the booklet had to be delivered by the Post Office, and so had to comply with the Post Office regulations governing indecent, obscene and offensive material. However, the new

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order allows for delivery of the booklet by organisations other than the Post Office and the responsibility for vetting the booklet is transferred to the Greater London returning officer.

Finally, I can confirm that, in my view, the provisions of the order are compatible with convention rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. As I have explained, the order simply repeats and, where necessary, updates the arrangements that were made for the election addresses at the first GLA elections. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 18th June be approved [23rd Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.)

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I had thought that I would simply thank the Minister and sit down because, as the Minister says, the order covers exactly what Parliament, in this House, decreed for the Greater London Assembly last time. However, what had escaped me was the nonsense—if I may so suggest—about listing the candidates according to some kind of lottery. I cannot understand the Electoral Commission's reasoning for that. If it is thought that people will read only the names beginning with the letter A and that they will not read through to the Ws, they will not fiddle around through a booklet trying to find the one candidate about whom they want to read who is buried somewhere in the middle with no direction as to where. I find that extraordinarily curious.

Arising from that, will the Assembly members, who will appear at the back, be listed in alphabetical order or will names be taken out of a bran tub to decide in which order they should appear? I really believe that the Minister should employ some common sense and suggest to the Electoral Commission that it rethinks that point.

My second question arises from whose imprint is on this publication. Does each candidate have to have an imprint or is it presumed that it is printed and published by the Greater London returning officer? The noble Lord, Lord Rennard, will probably be able to answer that in a flash. It must concern election expenses and how they are allocated. Half of this is paid for by the candidates, but a great deal of it is paid for by the council taxpayers in London. It is an academic question, but I would be interested in the answer.

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