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Select Committee on Constitution Fifth Report

Appendix 3

Letter from Roger Creedon, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission,
to Lord Norton of Louth

Thank you for your invitation to comment on the Lord Chancellor's reply to your letter of 13 February concerning the European Parliament (Representation) Bill.

As you are aware, the Bill provides for The Electoral Commission to make recommendations to the Lord Chancellor as to the distribution between electoral regions of the amended total number of MEPs and the region with which Gibraltar should be combined. In addition to these specific provisions in the Bill, the Commission has a range of functions in connection with European Parliamentary Elections as part of its remit under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

In paragraph 2 of your letter to the Lord Chancellor you asked what criteria would be used to decide the region with which Gibraltar should be combined, and raised practical questions about the conduct of the European Parliamentary elections. We are pleased to comment briefly on the Lord Chancellor's reply to those questions. We have no comments to make on the other issues discussed in your correspondence as these to not relate directly to the role of the Commission.

The Lord Chancellor noted that the Bill does not spell out any criteria which the Commission should use in considering the region with which Gibraltar should be combined. While appreciating the wide scope given to the Commission, we consider it important that, as part of the consultation process, we should be clear as to the basis upon which a recommendation is made. The Commissioners are currently considering the factors that should be taken into account in making a recommendation once asked by Parliament to do so.

With respect to the conduct of European Parliamentary elections, the Commission has responsibility for ensuring that political parties and third parties comply with registration and financial regulatory requirements. We also have a role in providing advice to electoral administrators and in reporting on the administration of the election. The application to Gibraltar of existing provisions for the conduct of elections is a matter for the Lord Chancellor's Department, and the Department is currently working on the necessary secondary legislation. The Department has involved Commission staff in its planning from an early stage and we look forward to continued involvement in the development of the secondary legislation.

26 February 2003

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