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Lord Williams of Mostyn: The important point to bear in mind is that Clause 5 is purely permissive. I take

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up the reference of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, to the draft counterfoil on page 10 of the Bill. One sees there that of the six candidates five have logos and Catherine Angelina Smith, Independent, has none. One needs to bear in mind that the clause is purely permissive. It states:

    "A party's application under section 2 may include a request for the registration of an emblem".
We want to encourage people to participate in the electoral process. That is good in a healthy democracy. If people who are unfamiliar with the English language, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, indicated--there are also those who are partially sighted, those who have reading difficulties and those who have difficulty in distinguishing names--can be encouraged to come forward, then so much the better.

The logo also deals with the difficulty where a candidate assumes the same name as another candidate. The logo is a means of differentiation. Quite often--this is certainly the case in Wales--there might be five legitimate candidates who all have the same name--possibly a common one like Williams. The emblem is simply a device, no more--it is not obligatory--to make the electoral process easier, simpler and more attractive. That should be an advantage not a disadvantage.

As the noble Lord, Lord Henley, said, there was a time when party names were not included and the "Where will it all end?" and "The end of civilisation as we know it" arguments were put forward. But I know of no one who is seriously interested in electoral matters who does not think that that was a positive advance.

Lord Henley: Can the noble Lord deal with the point I made about Scotland? Can he confirm that it will not be possible for different constituent parts of the same party to register different emblems?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I thought I had given that answer to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, when I referred to the two square centimetres.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Changes to the register]:

Amendments Nos. 11 to 13 not moved.>

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Removal of entries from the register]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 3, line 34, at end insert--
("( ) The registrar may remove a party's entry from the register if any of the party's registered officers have been convicted of an offence under section 19(1) in connection with the party's registration or continued registration.").

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment which is self-explanatory in its wording. As the noble Lord will see, it seeks to give the registrar a power to remove an entry from the register if any of the party's registered officers have been convicted of an offence under Clause 19, which, the Committee will remember, deals with false statements. It seems fairly obvious to us

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that there should be such a power. I should be grateful for a response from the noble Lord, Lord Williams. I beg to move.

Lord Clement-Jones: On these Benches we believe that this is a somewhat draconian power for the registrar to have. I have been a party officer for some years now. If we had someone in my party who was convicted in such circumstances, we should certainly make sure that his feet did not touch the ground and that he did not darken the doors of our party headquarters after that. For the registrar to have a power to disqualify the party as a whole from registering because of the misdemeanours of one officer is extraordinarily draconian. What the amendment seems to imply is that parties themselves have connived at the misdemeanour of the party officer who has been convicted and, therefore, that the party should pay the penalty. I recognise that the amendment says "may" and not "shall". Nevertheless, having something on the statute book of this strength seems to us to be extremely dangerous, and we cannot support it.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I sympathise with the intention behind the amendment but I do not think it is necessary. If false information were provided of such seriousness as to merit prosecution, the party probably would not have provided the information required to enable registration, so the entry would be void. In any event, looking at the practicalities, if a party were removed, it could immediately apply for registration under another name or simply wait three months and register under the same name. I do not think there is any practical utility here, although I repeat that I sympathise with the intention of the amendment.

Lord Henley: I accept, as the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, implied, that the Liberal Democrat Party is as pure as the driven snow and I am sure that the same applies to my party and all other parties. However, it is possible--I think we should remember the words of the noble Lord, Lord Cocks--that not all parties in the future will behave in such a manner. It is possible that some may not have the same devotion to democracy and openness as others. It may be right to consider the inclusion of a power of this kind. I shall read very carefully what the noble Lord, Lord Williams, said and possibly return to the matter at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 not moved.]

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 3, line 38, leave out ("three") and insert ("six").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 17 is purely a probing amendment related to the transitional period. One asks why it should be three months as opposed to any other period. I suggested six months almost as a result of drawing a number out of a hat. The amendment is tabled purely to ask the Government why they

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consider three months an appropriate period for the transitional stage, and whether they considered other periods and, if so, why.

Lord Clement-Jones: I cannot see the purpose of the amendment. In the end there is still a six-month transitional period. The provision specifies a transitional period of three months plus a further three months, which accords with reality, rather than a block of six months after which one falls off the edge of a cliff, so to speak. We do not support the amendment.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The short answer is that the Government thought three months a practical length of time and quite long enough to establish a proper distance. In seeking to achieve a workable electoral system we saw no compelling reason to provide a longer period.

Lord Henley: I am most grateful for that explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 agreed to.

6.15 p.m.

Clause 9 [Applications under section 6 or 8]:

On Question, Whether Clause 9 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Brightman: I raise one small point on Clause 9. My query is whether the clause requires further scrutiny. The declared intention of the Bill in both its Short Title and Long Title is to make provision for the registration of political parties. However, it seems clear that the Bill applies also to a person who desires to stand as an independent candidate and has no organisation or party of any description behind him. That is clear beyond peradventure by virtue of Clause 22 (the interpretation clause) in which "party" includes "any person".

If one reads Clause 9 as applying not only to a party but to a person, the wording appears a little odd:

    "Subject to subsection (3), an application by a person under section 6 or 8 must be signed by his or her responsible officers.

    (2) For the purposes of this section 'the responsible officers' are--

    (a) The registered leader;
    (b) the registered nominating officer;
    (c) where the leader and the nominating officer are the same person, the other registered officer.

    (3) If any responsible officer is unable to sign an application--

    (a) the holder of some other office in the party"--

I cannot insert "person" there--

    "may sign in his place, and

    (b) the application must include",

etcetera, etcetera.

Without some change that wording does not appear to me entirely happy and consistent with the inclusion of an independent person with no party or organisation behind him. Reading, as I have, Clause 9 substituting

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"person" for "party", I find myself in a bit of a muddle. Can the Minister, having confirmed that the Bill is intended to apply to an independent candidate with no party or organisation behind him, inform the Committee whether he is satisfied with the present wording or whether it should be referred back to parliamentary counsel for reconsideration?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brightman, for his courtesy in giving me notice that he would raise this matter. I have therefore been able to take advice upon it. I confirm that someone with no party organisation can register as the leader and nominating officer of a party. Having done that he needs to name another person--only one--as holding a specific office. That is to be found in paragraph 6 of Schedule 1:

    "If one person is named in an application both as leader and as nominating officer, the application must also give the name and home address of the holder of some other specified office in the party".
That does not prevent anyone from standing as an independent provided he can get one other person to act as his supporter. We do not believe that that is unduly onerous. I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord for raising the matter. My advice is that, having listened to his question and his understanding of Clause 9 as read with the other clause he identified, it is properly drafted and does not place any undue difficulty in the path of anyone who wants to stand as an independent.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Speaker's committee]:

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