Schedule 21 : Minor and consequential amendments
306.Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 21 add the Electoral Commission to the list of bodies subject to the Public Records Act 1958 and the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 respectively.
307.Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Schedule 21 add Electoral Commissioners, Deputy Electoral Commissioners, Assistant Electoral Commissioners and the staff of the Commission to the list of persons disqualified from membership of the House of Commons and Northern Ireland Assembly by virtue of the provisions of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 and the Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975 respectively.
308.Paragraph 5 of Schedule 21 amends the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978. Sub-paragraph (3) removes the power in Schedule 1 to that Act to make regulations prescribing limits on election expenses incurred in relation to a general election as a whole. Such limits will in future elections be determined by Part V of this Act.
309.Paragraph 6 of Schedule 21 makes further amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1983. Sub-paragraph (2) transfers to the Electoral Commission the Secretary of State’s function (under section 18(5) of the 1983 Act) of arbitrating on the siting of polling places. Sub-paragraph (3) transfers to the Commission the Secretary of State’s responsibility (under section 29 of the 1983 Act) for reimbursing returning officers’ expenses incurred in connection with a parliamentary election. The power to prescribe by regulations the categories of expenses for which returning officers may seek reimbursement is also transferred to the Commission. Paragraph 7 of Schedule 21 makes consequential amendments to the Representation of the People Regulations 1986.
310.Paragraph 6(4) amends section 47(1) of the 1983 Act so as to transfer from the Secretary of State to the Commission responsibility for determining whether equipment purchased from central funds for use in connection with a parliamentary election may be used for local elections.
311.Paragraph 6(5) inserts a new subsection (1A) into section 52 of the 1983 Act. Section 52(1) confers on the Secretary of State power to issue directions to registration officers in respect of the discharge of their registration duties. New subsection (1A) provides that such directions may include directions requiring a registration officer to maintain his registers of electors in a specified electronic format.
312.Paragraph 6(6) removes a reference to illegal “hiring” in section 175 of the 1983 Act as a result of the repeal of section 101 of that Act by paragraph 12 of Schedule 18.
313.Paragraph 6(7) amends section 201 of the 1983 Act (regulations) consequential upon amendments to section 29 and 110.
314.Paragraph 6(8) amends the definition of a registered party in section 202 of the 1983 Act to take account of the replacement by this Act of the registration scheme in the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998.
315.Paragraph 6(9) inserts a new paragraph (5) into Rule 14 of the Parliamentary Elections Rules. New Rule 14(5) requires a returning officer to send to the Electoral Commission a copy of the statement of persons nominated and, in the case of each candidate standing in the name of a registered party, the certificate received by the officer in accordance with Rule 6A. This information will enable the Commission to determine the relevant limit on campaign expenditure for each registered party under the provisions of Part V of the Act.
316.Paragraph 9 of Schedule 21 amends section 13 of the Local Government Act 1992 which sets out the functions of the Local Government Commission for England. Sub-paragraph (2) substitutes new subsections (1), (1AA) and (1A) in section 13 for the existing subsections (1) and (1A). The effect of this change is to enable the Secretary of State to direct the Local Government Commission for England to conduct a review of an area he specifies and to make either structural, boundary or electoral recommendations or any combination of the three he may direct. (As section 13(1) and (1A) stand, it is not possible for the Secretary of State to direct the Commission to carry out a review of any specified area which is limited only to structural or boundary or electoral changes; a review must at present embrace all three types of possible changes.)
317.Paragraph 9(4) of Schedule 21 omits subsections (3) and (4) of section 13 of the 1992 Act. The effect of this change is to remove the current obligation on the Local Government Commission to conduct periodic electoral reviews at ten to fifteen-year intervals. Henceforth it will be a matter for the Local Government Commission (and subsequently the Electoral Commission when it assumes the functions of the Local Government Commission in accordance with the provisions of section 18) to determine when to conduct periodic electoral reviews.
318.Paragraph 12 of Schedule 21 amends the Government of Wales Act 1998. Sub-paragraph (2) removes the power in section 11(2)(c) of the 1998 Act to make regulations governing election expenses incurred by registered political parties. For future Assembly elections, campaign expenditure by registered parties will be controlled by Part V of this Act. Paragraph 13(3) of Schedule 21 makes a parallel amendment to the Scotland Act 1998. Paragraph 12(3) adds a new section 34A to the 1998 Act which enables the National Assembly to make payments to groups of Assembly members for the purpose of assisting Assembly members in the groups to perform their function as Assembly members. Such financial support to party groups in the Assembly is equivalent to that paid to Opposition parties represented in the House of Commons (under a scheme known as ‘Short money’), although in the case of the Assembly payments may be made to all parties. (Section 97 of the Scotland Act 1998 already contains provision in connection with the Scottish Parliament, equivalent to the new section 34A.)
319.Paragraph 14 of Schedule 21 amends the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Sub-paragraph (3) substitutes a new paragraph 13 of Schedule 2 to the 1998 Act. The existing paragraph 13 provides that the registration of political parties is an excepted matter. The revised paragraph 13 makes the whole subject matter of this Act an excepted matter, with the exception of Part IX (political donations and expenditure by companies). Under the 1998 Act the regulation of companies is a devolved matter.
320.Paragraphs 16 and 17 of Schedule 21 amend sections 10 and 11 of the Representation of the People Act 2000. The amendments to section 10 of the 2000 Act (together with section 9 of this Act) provide for the Electoral Commission’s involvement in pilot schemes to test new electoral procedures. In particular, the amendment to section 10(6) of the 2000 Act will require the Electoral Commission, rather than the relevant local authority, to prepare a report on a pilot scheme. The amendment to section 11 of the 2000 Act provides that the order-making power in subsection (1) of that section (which enables successfully piloted electoral procedures to be rolled-out to local government elections generally) may only be exercised on the recommendation of the Electoral Commission.
321.Paragraph 18 of Schedule 21 amends sections 44 and 45 of the Local Government Act 2000. These sections contain regulation-making powers in relation to the conduct of elections and referendums in respect of directly elected mayors. In common with the policy set out in sections 7 and 8 of this Act, any regulations in respect of mayoral elections may only be made after consultation with the Electoral Commission and, to the extent that the regulations prescribe the limits on election expenses by candidates in a mayoral election, they may only be made on a recommendation of the Commission (except where any increase in the limits is in line with inflation). Similarly, regulations governing the conduct of mayoral referendums may only be made after consultation with the Commission. The Commission’s role in respect of the wording of a referendum question and the limits on referendum expenses mirrors that in respect of national or regional referendums governed by Part VII of the Act (see section 104 and Schedule 14).