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Greater London Authority Act 1999

Section 17: Franchise, conduct of elections etc.

68.Section 17 andSchedule 3 make detailed provision for Authority elections by amending the Representation of the People Act 1983, which makes provision for the conduct of parliamentary and local government elections. Section references in the following description of Schedule 3 are to that Act.

69.Schedule 3 to the Act amends section 203 to make Authority elections local government elections for the purposes of that Act. The result is that the normal provisions applying to local government elections in respect of the entitlement to vote, registration, conduct of election, voting offences, the campaign, questioning a result and corrupt and illegal practices will apply in respect of Authority elections. However, in certain instances, Schedule 3 changes the Representation of the People Act to reflect the Authority's different electoral systems and such changes are noted below where they occur.

70.Paragraph 2 enables polling districts for Authority elections to be prescribed by London borough councils and the Common Council (section 31) and paragraph 3 makes provision for the returning officers at constituency elections to be designated by the Secretary of State and for the returning officer for the other Authority elections to be an officer appointed by the Authority (section 35).

71.Paragraph 4 enables rules for Authority elections to be prescribed (section 36). The paragraph specifies that these rules need not apply the parliamentary election rules, as normal local government election rules do under section 36(2), because the Authority's different electoral systems will call for different rules. (For example, Rule 50 of the Parliamentary election rules requires the returning officer to declare elected the candidate for whom the majority of votes has been given. This simple rule does not cover the counting of second preference votes in the mayoral election nor the calculation described in paragraph 53 of this note, necessary as part of the Assembly election.)

72.Paragraph 5 extends the Secretary of State's power to move the ordinary day for local elections in any year (section 37) so that Authority elections may be on a day other than the first Thursday in May, while paragraphs 6 and 7 make consequential and technical amendments to sections 39 and 40.

73.Paragraph 8 disapplies section 46 (which prescribes the number of votes each elector may give) as the number of votes of each elector at Authority elections is dealt with at sections 4, 10 and 16.

74.Paragraph 9 provides for the returning officers' costs (section 48) andparagraph 10 adds provisions appropriate to the Authority elections to the voting offences in section 61.

75.Paragraph 11 extends to the GLA elections the application of the rules of secrecy of voting (section 66) and paragraphs 12 to 15 make provision in respect of election agents, in particular, to deal with the appointment of a single agent for candidates on a registered political party's list. Paragraphs 16 to 22 make provision in respect of election expenses, in particular, to enable the Secretary of State by order to set limits on the election expenses of candidates at Authority elections. Paragraph 23 amends section 81 to extend the time within which election expenses returns must be made, by Mayoral candidates and London member candidates, from 35 days to 70 days.Paragraph 24 adds the Authority to section 82 (dealing with the declaration of election expenses). Paragraph 25 applies to Assembly members the penalty provisions of section 85, where they fail to make returns or declarations within the specified time period. Paragraph 26 provides for the disqualification of the Mayor where he or she fails to make returns and declarations within the specified time. Paragraph 27 provides for the time and place for the inspection of returns and declarations (section 88).

76.Paragraph 28 disapplies the provisions of section 93 removing the requirement on broadcasters to consult any candidate in an election if one or more candidates are to be interviewed in a programme. This provision would be impracticable to implement in relation to the new electoral arrangements. It was also disapplied for elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the European Parliament. Paragraph 29 entitles candidates to the use of certain premises for holding public meetings (section 96). Paragraph 30 makes Authority elections subject to the bribery provisions of the Act (section 113). Paragraph 31 disapplies the prohibition on a barrister or solicitor who resides within the Authority’s area from being a member of an election court (section 130). Paragraph 32 amends section 135 to provide for the consequences of the election or return of a London member being declared void. Paragraphs 33 and 34 provide for election court determinations in respect of the Mayor or Assembly constituency members (section 145). Paragraph 35 extends the disqualification provisions of section 159 – where a candidate has been reported guilty of corrupt or illegal practice – to the Mayor and Assembly members. Paragraph 36 provides that in circumstances where a Mayoral candidate cannot be elected because he or she has employed a corrupt agent, the electors second vote is not deemed to have been “thrown away” if it is for a candidate who is not subject to the same incapacity (section 165). Paragraph 36 provides that in circumstances where a vote for a mayoral candidate is deemed to have been thrown away by virtue of section 165(3), it is only the vote given to that candidate (whether first or second choice) which is thrown away, and not votes for another candidate on the same ballot papers, unless of course they are also deemed to have been thrown away. Paragraphs 37, 38 and 39 provide for the extension of references to elections under the local government Act (section 189) to include Authority elections, for general provisions as to interpretation (section 202) and for the addition of definitions relating to the Authority (section 203).

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