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Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, I accept gratefully what she says about consultation. Will the noble Baroness give the House any indication as to the factors that may be taken, or may be required to be taken, into consideration at that stage?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, it would be invidious to start to single out certain factors that would be taken into account. Since we shall consult parties, I am quite sure that, in line with their normal practice, the Government will take into consideration all valid points that are put to them.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 26:


Page 215, line 21, at end insert--
(“(aa) the amount which a candidate at an election of the Mayor of London may pay shall not exceed £5,000,")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendments Nos. 27 to 29:


Page 215, line 27, after (“(a),") insert (“(aa),")
Page 215, line 30, leave out (“at an ordinary election")
Page 215, line 31, after (“treated") insert--
(“(a) if one of them is an election of the Mayor of London, as if they together constituted a single election falling within paragraph (aa) of that subsection, and
(b) in any other case,")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

12 Oct 1999 : Column 264

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 29A:


Page 215, line 32, at end insert--
(“Prohibition of expenses not authorised by election agent
.--(1) Section 75 shall be amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1) (which prohibits the incurring of certain expenses by any person other than the candidate, his agent or persons authorised in writing by the agent)--
(a) after “promoting or procuring the election of a candidate" there shall be inserted “(or, in the case of an election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, a registered political party or candidates of that party)"; and
(b) at the end of paragraph (c) there shall be added “; or
(d) in the case of an election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, of otherwise presenting to the electors the candidate's registered political party (if any) or the views of that party or the extent or nature of that party's backing or disparaging any other registered political party"; and.
(c) after the words “but paragraph (c)" there shall be inserted “or (d)".
(3) After subsection (1) there shall be inserted--
“(1A) In the application of subsection (1) above in relation to an election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, any reference to the candidate includes a reference to all or any of the candidates of a registered political party."
(4) After subsection (1A) there shall be inserted--
“(1B) In its application in relation to an Authority election, subsection (1)(ii) above shall have effect--
(a) with the substitution for the monetary sum there specified of such sum as the Secretary of State may prescribe in an order made by statutory instrument; and
(b) in the case of an election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, with the omission of the words from “and are" to “others".
(1C) Different sums may be prescribed under subsection (1B)(a) above in relation to--
(a) an election of the Mayor of London;
(b) an election of a constituency member of the London Assembly; and
(c) an election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election."
(5) At the end of the section there shall be added--
“(7) For the purposes of this section, in the case of an election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, a candidate's registered political party is the registered political party (if any) which submitted for the purposes of that election a list of candidates on which the candidate in question is included.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment, as do the other amendments, brings into line the normal practice for elections. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

12 Oct 1999 : Column 265

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendments Nos. 29B to 29D:


Page 216, line 27, leave out (“after") and insert--
(“(a) for").
Page 216, line 28, leave out (“inserted “(a),") and insert (“substituted “74(1)(a), (aa),").
Page 216, line 28, at end insert (“; and
(b) after “75(1) above" there shall be inserted “, a sum prescribed under section 75(1B)(a) above"").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 30:


Page 216, line 33, at end insert--

(“Return as to election expenses

.--(1) Section 81 shall be amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (1) (which allows 35 days after the day of the declaration for the making of the return) there shall be inserted--
“(1A) Subsection (1) above--
(a) in its application in relation to an election of the Mayor of London, shall have effect with the substitution for “35 days" of “70 days"; and
(b) in its application in relation to the election of the London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, shall have effect with the substitution for “35 days after the day on which the result of the election is declared" of “70 days after the day on which the last of the successful candidates at the election is declared to be returned."
(3) After subsection (5) there shall be inserted--
“(6) Where a registered political party submits a list of two or more candidates to be London members of the London Assembly at an ordinary election, the preceding provisions of this section shall have effect in relation to those candidates and their election agent with the following modifications.
(7) The return which the election agent is required to deliver under subsection (1) above--
(a) shall be in respect of all those candidates; and
(b) shall be in the form set out for the purpose in rules under section 36(2A) above or to the like effect.
(8) If any payments made by the election agent were in respect of two or more candidates, the return shall deal under a separate heading or subsection with all such payments, and the expenses to which they relate, in respect of those candidates.
(9) The statements which the return is required to contain by virtue of subsection (3) above in respect of the matters there mentioned shall be a separate statement of each such matter as respects each of the candidates in question.
(10) If and to the extent that any such matter is referable to two or more candidates together, the return shall contain a separate statement of that matter as respects those candidates.
(11) Where one of the candidates is the election agent, subsection (4) above shall have effect, as respects that candidate, as it has effect where a candidate is his own election agent.".").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, for the benefit of the House, I remind the House that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, indicated to me that he and other noble Lords may wish to ask questions on amendments as we reach their place in the Marshalled List. I beg to move.

12 Oct 1999 : Column 266

Lord Lucas: My Lords, the facet of this amendment which principally concerns me is the extension of the time limit from 35 to 70 days for getting together one's return of expenses. That seems to me to allow the matter to be dragged out for an astonishingly long time. I believe that, in an election which is fought principally by well-organised parties, it should not take more than about seven to 14 days to put together a reasonable schedule of expenses. To allow 35 days as in parliamentary elections would seem reasonable because one expects that individual candidates will be taking part. To extend it to 70 days merely because it involves a wider spread of the electorate seems entirely without justification. If the expenses for each individual constituency can be compiled within 35 days, it cannot take more than an hour or two to add them all together and hand them in as a bulk lot. I do not see any justification for this extension of time limit. I wonder why the noble Baroness believes that a 70-day time limit for getting together figures--something which would not be accepted in any business--should be allowable in a matter of government.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, that a period of 70 days seems to be very long. My first thought was to ask whether, if for practical reasons, the period has to be extended, 70 days is the right period. It is 10 weeks, but it is not naturally a period that one may easily calculate. However, that is a minor point. It is a long period and it is desirable that any questions that arise over expenses should be dealt with quickly. It is not good for such matters to drag on. Can the noble Baroness tell the House what period applies in the case of elections to the European Parliament, which is the nearest equivalent we have?


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