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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000


Part I : The Electoral Commission

3.Part I of the Act establishes the Electoral Commission and sets out the general functions that it is to have, other than those functions relating to the registration of political parties, the scrutiny of political parties’ and third parties’ income and expenditure and the administration of referendums which are covered in Parts II to VII and X. The general functions of the Commission include: reporting on particular elections and referendums; the review of electoral law; the provision of policy development grants to qualifying political parties; and promoting understanding of electoral and political matters. Part I also provides for the transfer to the Electoral Commission of the functions of the four Parliamentary Boundary Commissions and of the Local Government Commission for England and the Local Government Boundary Commissions for Scotland and Wales.

Part II : Registration of Political Parties

4.Part II of the Act is concerned with the registration of political parties. It re-enacts the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 but with significant modifications. The modifications are for the purpose of establishing a scheme of registration which brings political parties within the controls on accounting and funding set out in Parts III and IV and the controls on campaign expenditure set out in Part V of the Act .

Part III : Accounting requirements for registered parties

5.Part III requires registered parties to maintain accounts of their income and expenditure and to submit annual statements of accounts to the Electoral Commission.

Part IV : Control of donations to registered parties and their members etc.

6.Part IV imposes restrictions on the sources of donations so as to prohibit foreign and anonymous donations to political parties and make registered parties subject to reporting requirements in respect of donations above a certain value.

Part V : Control of campaign expenditure

7.Part V applies restrictions on campaign expenditure incurred by political parties in respect of Westminster Parliamentary elections, European Parliamentary elections and elections to the devolved legislatures. These limits are distinct from the separate restrictions under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and other enactments relating to elections, which continue to apply to candidates’ election expenses.

Part VI : Controls relating to third party national election campaigns

8.Part VI sets out controls on national election expenditure by individuals and organisations other than political parties. The controls seek to limit national expenditure by third parties in support of or in opposition to political parties, in the same way as the controls in section 75 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 seek to control expenditure by third parties in support of or in opposition to individual candidates.

Part VII : Referendums

9.Part VII of the Act introduces generic provisions designed to ensure the fair conduct of referendums. It provides for the designation of campaign bodies which will be entitled to particular forms of assistance, including a grant from public funds of up to £600,000, the free mailing of referendum addresses and free air time for referendum campaign broadcasts. Part VII also provides for restrictions on the publication of promotional material by central and local government in the 28 days prior to the holding of a referendum and restrictions on referendum campaign expenditure by political parties and by other campaigning individuals and organisations.

Part VIII : Election campaigns and proceedings

10.Part VIII of the Act makes a number of amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1983. It imposes controls on donations to candidates, increases the limit on expenses which may be incurred by a candidate at a parliamentary by-election, clarifies the meaning of “election expenses”, amends the law in relation to election petitions and clarifies the law in respect of the consequences of the commission of corrupt and illegal practices.

Part IX : Political donations and expenditure by companies

11.Part IX introduces a requirement that shareholder consent must be obtained before a company makes a donation to a political party or incurs political expenditure. It also requires the disclosure of political expenditure in directors’ annual reports to shareholders.

Part X : Miscellaneous and general

12.Part X includes provision for the enforcement of the Act by the Electoral Commission and the civil and criminal courts. It also reduces the qualifying period for registration as an overseas elector and introduces new provisions concerning broadcasting of local items during an election period.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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