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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000

Section 138 and Schedule 18 : Election campaigns and proceedings: miscellaneous amendments

238.Section 138 introduces Schedule 18 which makes various changes to Parts II and III of the Representation of the People Act 1983. Paragraphs 2, 12, and 13 of Schedule 18 repeal sections 72, 101 to 105, and 108 of the 1983 Act respectively, which are considered out of date and no longer serve a useful purpose.

239.Paragraphs 3 to 5 of Schedule 18 are concerned with the payment of election expenses. Paragraph 3(2) and (5) amend subsections (1) and (5) of section 73 of the 1983 Act respectively so as to specify more clearly the circumstances in which the requirement that the payment of election expenses be made through an election agent applies. Paragraph 3(3) amends section 73(2) so that any payment of £20 or more in respect of election expenses may be vouched by an invoice or a receipt instead of an invoice and a receipt. New subsection (1B) of section 74 of the 1983 Act, which is inserted by paragraph 4(3), provides that a candidate may pay any election expenses incurred by him before the date on which he appoints an election agent. New section 74A of the 1983, inserted by paragraph 5, disapplies the requirement that election expenses are paid only through a candidate’s election agent in circumstances where the expenses are originally incurred by a candidate in respect of goods, services or facilities for purposes other than his election, but which subsequently fall to be treated, on account of their use for that purpose, as election expenses. In such circumstances, however, the candidate’s agent is required to make a declaration as to the amount of expenses that fall to be treated as election expenses as mentioned in new section 74A(1).

240.Paragraph 7 of Schedule 18 amends section 81 of the 1983 Act principally to omit the requirement that the form of return for candidates’ election expenses should be that in Schedule 3 to that Act. The form of return in Schedule 3 is now considered out of date referring, for example, to telegrams but not to modern forms of communication. New section 81(10A) of the 1983 Act, inserted by paragraph 7(7), instead provides that the Electoral Commission may set out a form of return in regulations.

241.Paragraph 8 of Schedule 18 repeals section 82(4) of the 1983 Act thereby removing the requirement that an election agent’s declaration as to the accuracy of an expenses return must be witnessed by a justice of the peace or other specified person.

242.Paragraph 9 of Schedule 18 inserts new section 87A into the 1983 Act. This new section places a duty on returning officers in respect of parliamentary elections and elections of the Mayor of London to forward returns as to election expenses to the Electoral Commission. As regards other local government elections, the returning officer is required to forward a copy of a particular return if requested to do so by the Commission. This provision links into the Commission’s functions of monitoring compliance with the restrictions on candidates’ election expenses contained in section 145 of this Act.

243.Paragraph 14 of Schedule 18 substitutes a new section 110 of the 1983 Act. This section is concerned with the information that must appear on election publications intended to promote or procure the election of a particular candidate. Subsections (3) to (6) of the new section 110 are concerned with printed documents such as leaflets, posters and newspaper advertisements. Subsection (3) specifies the relevant details that must be included in a printed document, namely the name and address of the printer, promoter, and any other person on behalf of whom the material is published (and who is not the promoter). The reference to the “promoter” of the material (in subsection (3)(b)) is intended to cover the agent of a candidate or of a third party who caused the material to be published. The person referred to in subsection (3)(c) is the candidate or third party itself. Subsection (4) is concerned with a single-sided document such as a poster. Subsection (5) is concerned with documents of two or more sides such as a leaflet. Subsection (6) is concerned with advertisements in newspapers or periodicals. Subsections (7) and (8) enable regulations to be made imposing requirements as to the inclusion of relevant details in any election material which is not a printed document. Subsections (9) to (12) create offences and provide for a defence where a contravention of the requirements took place in circumstances beyond a person’s control (for example, where the agent of a candidate supplied to a newspaper the text of an advertisement which included the relevant details, but owing to an error by the newspaper publisher these details did not appear in the advertisement as printed). Subsection (13) defines certain terms used in the section.

244.Paragraph 18 of Schedule 18 repeals various provisions of the 1983 Act relating to legal proceedings; such matters are now dealt with by rules of court.

245.Paragraph 19 of Schedule 18 updates the terminology used in the 1983 Act in relation to legal proceedings. The terms “writ” and “summons” are no longer appropriate. The current terminology varies as between the three legal jurisdictions in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The phrase “legal process” is therefore used as a catch-all and is defined so as to include new documents used in England and Wales (for example, a claim form and application form) and the existing terminology used in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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