Speaker's Committee First
1. The Electoral Commission was created by the
Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) 2000.
Its aim is "integrity and public confidence in the UK's
It regulates party and election finance and works with others
to secure well-run elections, referendums and electoral registration.
It is strictly impartial.
2. The strict impartiality of the Commission
originally encompassed all members of the Commission. Section
3 of the PPERA provided that a person could not be appointed as
an Electoral Commissioner if he or she had been a member or an
officer or employee of a registered party, had been registered
as a donor, or had held an elective office such as councillor,
MP or MEP within the last ten years. Reviews of the Commission
carried out between 2005 and 2008, however, determined that its
effectiveness was diminished by the statutory exclusion from membership
of anyone with recent political experience. The Committee on
Standards in Public Life and the Constitutional Affairs Committee
both recommended that a minority of commissioners should have
practical experience from across the political spectrum.
The Speaker's Committee supported this recommendation.
3. Section 5 of the Political Parties and Elections
(PPE) Act 2009 restructured the Electoral Commission in order
to give effect to these recommendations. It provides that four
of the Electoral Commissioners should be persons put forward by
the registered leader of a qualifying party for consideration
for appointment. The Act describes these Commissioners as "nominated
4. Three of the nominated Commissioners shall
be put forward by the registered leader of one of the three largest
nominating parties. No two or more nominated Commissioners may
be drawn from the same party, and a nominated Commissioner may
not be chairman of the Commission. The overall number of Electoral
Commissioners was increased by the 2009 Act to nine or ten.
THE ROLE OF THE SPEAKER'S COMMITTEE
IN THE APPOINTMENT OF ELECTORAL COMMISSIONERS
5. Parliament established the Electoral Commission
as a body independent of Government. The Chairman of the Electoral
Commission and the other Electoral Commissioners are appointed
by Her Majesty the Queen, following an Address from the House
of Commons. Since 2009 the Speaker's Committee has been responsible
for the establishment and oversight of a procedure for the selection
of prospective Electoral Commissioners and the Commission chairman.
The consent of the Speaker and consultation with the registered
leaders of certain registered political parties are also required
before a motion for an Address may be presented to the House.
1 Electoral Commission Corporate Plan 2010-11 to 2014-15,
HC 465 Session 2009-10 page 9 Back
Committee on Standards in Public Life, Eleventh Report, Review
of the Electoral Commission, Cm 7006 Recommendation 29; Constitutional
Affairs Committee, First Report 2006-07, Party Funding HC
163-1 paragraph 64. Back
Speaker's Committee, Third Report 2009-10, Work of the Committee
in 2009 HC 205 paragraph 9 Back
A qualifying party is a party with two or more Members of the
House of Commons at the time of the person's appointment. Back
of the 2000 Act as amended by S6 of the Political Parties and
Elections Act 2009 Back
s4(2) of the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 Back