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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

Parliamentary general elections

151.The limits for parliamentary general elections are set out in paragraph 3 of Schedule 9. The maximum amount a party may spend is determined by the number of constituencies contested. A party receives an allowance of £30,000 for each constituency contested, subject to a minimum threshold. The maximum amount of campaign expenditure a party could incur if it contested all the parliamentary constituencies in each part of the United Kingdom is set out in the table below:

No of parliamentary seatsMaximum expenditure limit £’000
TOTAL Great Britain64119,230
Northern Ireland18540
TOTAL United Kingdom65919,770

152.The minimum expenditure limit is set at 5 per cent of the maximum limit rounded up to the nearest multiple of £30,000 (paragraph 3(3)). This minimum expenditure limit is intended to ensure that a party which campaigns primarily in local government elections, but also puts up a handful of candidates in a parliamentary general election, does not inadvertently breach the expenditure limits for that election. For example, a party that spent £200,000 in England campaigning in advance of local elections in May, but subsequently put up only three candidates at a parliamentary general election the following October would, but for the minimum expenditure limit (of £810,000), have committed the offence in section 79(2) of incurring campaign expenditure in excess of the limit in paragraph 3 of Schedule 9.

153.Where a candidate in a constituency stands in the name of more than one registered party, the £30,000 allowance per constituency is divided equally between the parties concerned (paragraph 3(5) and (6)).

154.The campaign expenditure limits for parliamentary general elections ordinarily apply to the ‘relevant period’ of 365 days ending with the date of the election (paragraph 3(7)(a)). When one general election follows within a year of another, however, the relevant period for the second of these elections begins the day after the first general election and ends with the date of the second election. To take the example of 1974, the ‘relevant period’ for the October general election would have been the 224 days from 1 March 1974 (the day after the first general election in that year) to 10 October 1974 (the date of the second election).

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