GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY
Memorandum by the
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
This Memorandum, submitted by
the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions,
identifies those provisions of the Bill which give powers to make
delegated legislation. It explains the purpose of the relevant
power, the reason why the matter is to be left to delegated legislation,
and the nature of, and the reason for, the procedure selected.
Outline and Scope of the Bill
The Bill provides for a referendum
of London residents to be held on the Government's proposals for
a Greater London Authority. Amongst other things, the Bill sets
out the form of the ballot papers, makes provision as to who may
vote and for the counting of votes.
The Bill also includes provisions
to prepare the way for the Greater London Authority. It confers
additional functions on the Local Government Commission for England
to enable it to make recommendations on the electoral areas of
the assembly of the Greater London Authority at the direction
of the Secretary of State, and provides for expenditure by the
Secretary of State in preparation for the authority.
Proposals for Subordinate
Clause 1(1) of the Bill provides
that the referendum should be held on 7th May 1998 or on such
later date as Her Majesty should prescribe by Order in Council.
Such a power is necessary to enable the referendum to be rescheduled
without recourse to further primary legislation, in the event
that unforeseeable circumstances forced its postponement.
Clause 4(2) enables Her Majesty
to make provision by Order in Council relating to the conduct
of the referendum and, in the event that it takes place on the
same day as local elections, its combination with local elections.
The subsection enables such an Order to apply, with or without
modifications, primary and secondary legislation. This will enable
existing law, and in particular existing electoral law, to apply
for the purposes of the referendum, subject to modifications to
take into account the differences between a referendum and an
ordinary election. This subsection also enables provision to
be made relating to the combination of the referendum with local
polls, which are being held in the London Boroughs on 7 May 1998.
Such provisions will cover such matters as the sharing of facilities,
the separation of votes and the combination of absent voting procedures.
It is not considered appropriate that detailed provision about
essentially technical and procedural matters such as those covered
by this subsection should be made in the Bill itself.
Clause 2(2) is supplementary.
It essentially permits an Order in Council under Clause 4(2)
to provide that an alteration to a register of electors made after
a specified date should be disregarded for the purposes of the
relevant referendum notwithstanding the provisions about who may
vote in Clause 2(1). If it were not possible to make such provision,
last minute changes to the register would have to be given effect
to for the purposes of a referendum. That would cause practical
problems for returning officers, in particular in the event that
the referendum took place on the same day as local elections.
Under existing law, an alteration made in the register of electors
after the last date on which nomination papers nominating candidates
at a parliamentary, local government or European parliamentary
election may be delivered to the returning officer does not have
effect for the purposes of that election. Clause 2(2) will enable
comparable provision to be made for the referendum.
These Orders will be subject
to affirmative resolution procedure. This will reflect the fact
that, although the matters to be dealt with in the Orders are
essentially technical and procedural, they are nonetheless sufficiently
important to merit the scrutiny which will follow in consequence
of their being debated in both Houses. It is intended that copies
of the current drafts of the Orders proposed to be made under
these powers should be made available in the Library on the House's
return from the Christmas Recess.
The use of Orders in Council
subject to affirmative resolution procedure to make detailed provision
as to the conduct of referendums is precedented in the Referendum
Act 1975, the Scotland Act 1978 and the Wales Act 1978. The use
of secondary legislation to make detailed provisions on other
electoral matters is precedented in, inter alia, section 36 of
the Representation of the People Act 1983, Schedule 1 to the European
Parliamentary Elections Act 1978 and sections 6 to 9 of the Representation
of the People Act 1985.