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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

General elections to Scottish Parliament

158.Paragraph 5 of Schedule 9 sets out the campaign expenditure limits for ordinary and extraordinary general elections to the Scottish Parliament. The expenditure limits are calculated by reference to the number of constituencies and/or regions contested by a party. A party receives an allowance of £12,000 for each constituency contested and of £80,000 for each region contested. Under the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 1 to the Scotland Act 1998 there are 73 constituencies each returning one MSP and eight regions each returning seven regional MSPs. Accordingly, the maximum amount of campaign expenditure a party could incur if it stood for election in all constituencies and regions is £1,516,000.

159.These limits on campaign expenditure by parties in Scottish Parliamentary elections will replace those contained in Article 42 of the Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 1999 (SI 1999/787).

160.Paragraph 5(3) provides that the relevant period during which the campaign expenditure limits will normally apply is, in the case of an ordinary general election, the four-month period before the date of the poll. Section 2(2) of the Scotland Act 1998 provides (subject to subsection (5) of section 2) that ordinary general elections are held on the first Thursday in May in the fourth calendar year following that in which the previous ordinary general election was held. Section 2(5) of the Scotland Act makes provision for the date of the poll to be brought forward or moved back by no more than one month. Subject to the exercise of the power in section 2(5), the next ordinary general election to the Scottish Parliament will therefore be held on Thursday 1 May 2003 and the relevant period for that election will commence on 2 January 2003.

161.Paragraph 5(5) provides that the relevant period in the case of an extraordinary general election is the period beginning with the date when the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament proposes a date for the poll for the election (in accordance with section 3(1) of the Scotland Act) and ending with the date of the poll for the election. By virtue of the timetable for Scottish Parliamentary elections laid down by Rule 1 of the Scottish Parliamentary Election Rules (contained in Schedule 2 to the Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 1999), the relevant period for an extraordinary election must be a minimum of 22 working days (that is excluding weekends and bank holidays), although in practice it is likely to be longer.

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