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Session 1998-99
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Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

European Parliamentary Elections Bill
  The Bill makes provision for elections to the European Parliament in Great Britain to be conducted using a regional list electoral system.
  A Bill for the same purpose was introduced in the 1997-98 Session but failed to be enacted as a result of disagreement between the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
  Clause 1 amends the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978. It specifies the number of Members of the European Parliament to be returned for each of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. It provides that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland shall each constitute a single electoral region and that England shall be divided into nine electoral regions. It sets out the electoral system to be used in Great Britain in which voters will cast a single vote for either a registered party or an individual candidate. The first seat will be allocated to the individual or party with the highest vote. At all subsequent stages a party's vote will be divided by the number of seats it has already been allocated plus one and the process will be repeated until all the seats in a region have been allocated. The clause also deals with the electoral system in Northern Ireland which will be the single transferable vote system, the franchise for elections to the European Parliament and the date of elections.
  Schedule 1 sets out the electoral regions into which England will be divided for the purposes of elections to the European Parliament, and the number of MEPs each region will return initially. It also provides for subsequent changes to these numbers.
  Schedule 2 makes amendments to Schedule 1 to the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978. These include provisions for filling vacancies and for the appointment of returning officers.
  Schedule 3 contains consequential amendments.
  Schedule 4 contains repeals.
 Financial Effects of the Bill
  Those responsible for the conduct of elections will need to be trained in the operation of the new electoral system introduced by the Bill. It is estimated that this will cost in the region of £4 million. These costs will be met from the Consolidated Fund (clause 4).
  There will be savings in the longer term because the Parliamentary Boundary Commissions for England, Scotland and Wales will no longer be required to review the boundaries of European Parliamentary constituencies.
 Effects of the Bill on Public Service Manpower
  The Bill's provisions will have no effect on public service manpower.
 Business Compliance Cost Assessment
  The Bill's provisions have no cost implications for business.
 European Convention on Human Rights
  Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). On 30th November 1998 Lord Williams of Mostyn made the following statement:

"In my view the provisions of the European Parliamentary Elections Bill are compatible with the Convention rights."

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© Parliamentary copyright 1998
Prepared 4 December 1998