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Lord Swinfen: My Lords, there have been in the past, if I remember correctly, rewrites of legislation that was being amended in a major way in the Bill amending that legislation. I am not sure whether I am right, but I wonder if I am thinking of a Keeling schedule. Would it be possible to include that in this Bill?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I am sorry. I think there is a misunderstanding here. It is not that we are amending the Representation of the Peoples Act; it is that we are applying it and tailoring it to this particular Bill. Therefore producing an example of what the other Bill would look like is not relevant in this context. The particular query raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, with regard to this particular example is that it merely ensures that the definitions referred to encompass the point already being covered, ensuring that they relate to registered political parties. It is a fairly minor point, meant to ensure that the legislation applies in the appropriate way to a different form of government.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 47:


After Clause 18, insert the following new clause--
E“PENDITURE OF SECRETARY OF STATE IN CONNECTION WITH HOLDING THE FIRST ORDINARY ELECTION
(“ .--(1) The Secretary of State may incur expenditure in doing anything which he considers expedient--
(a) in preparation for the holding of the first ordinary election,
(b) for the purpose of facilitating the conduct of the first ordinary election, or
(c) otherwise in connection with the holding of the first ordinary election.
(2) The Secretary of State must not, by virtue of subsection (1) above, incur expenditure of a kind which is recoverable by a returning officer under section 18 above.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this new clause is an important technical addition to the provisions for expenditure on the first GLA election. As currently drafted, the Bill only allows returning officers to incur expenditure directly in support of preparing for the election. That is normal practice, and returning officers will be reimbursed their costs accordingly. However, the reality of the matter is that it may be some time before we are able to appoint a Greater London returning officer, and we need to press ahead with preparations for the first election. This clause will allow the Secretary of State to get on with the preparations in advance of the appointment of the Greater London returning officer. I commend the amendment to the House. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I should be very grateful if the noble Lord could give me some examples of expenditure which would fall under the heading of “otherwise".

Lord Whitty: My Lords, “otherwise" relating to the preparation of the election means expenditure over and above that prescribed by the clause; for example, early information to the public as to in what manner their votes should be cast--not in what direction they should be cast. I was quoted earlier as being in favour of democratic centralism, but even I would not go that far. Therefore I

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stand corrected on that. This would also help in preparing literature for the returning officer for the election. All that needs to start probably before the returning officer is formally appointed, and that is what the amendment is intended to cover.

Earl Russell: My Lords, before the Minister sits down I wonder if I might ask him one further very specific question. He will be familiar with the Scope report about the difficulty of access to polling stations for disabled people. Would action taken to remedy that difficulty come under the heading of “otherwise" under this amendment?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, only if such action had to take place prior to the appointment of the returning officer. In most cases the actual preparation of the polling station, which is the relevant point, would almost certainly occur after a returning officer had been appointed. It refers more to the publications and preparations for advice rather than the actual physical conditions of the polling station itself.

Lord Bowness: My Lords, before the Minister sits down--I am sorry, but this point occurred to me while he was giving his explanation--can he advise the House of the significance of subsection (2)? I understood him to say that the Secretary of State could incur the expenditure that the returning officer would incur had the returning officer been appointed. However, subsection (2) says that the Secretary of State must not incur expenditure


    “of a kind which is recoverable by a returning officer under section 18 above."

That seems contrary to what the Minister was saying was the purpose of the clause.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, once the returning officer is established it is his expenditure and not that of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State cannot therefore recover that expenditure, but up to the point where the returning officer is in post and has a budget, then the budget and that preparation falls on the Secretary of State. It is not directly covering the cost of the expenditure: it is a pre-returning officer's expenditure which is covered here.

Lord Bowness: My Lords, the new clause does not say that. It says “of a kind" incurred by a returning officer. It defines the sort of expenditure, not by whom it is incurred or when.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, with great respect, subsection (2) refers to expenditure incurred by a returning officer and recoverable by a returning officer.

Lord Bowness: My Lords, it says “of a kind".

Lord Whitty: My Lords, subsection (2) reads:


    “The Secretary of State must not, by virtue of subsection (1) above, incur expenditure...which is recoverable by a returning officer under section 18 above."

Is that what the noble Lord is referring to?

Lord Bowness: My Lords, I was referring to the fact that subsection (2) says,


    “incur expenditure of a kind which is recoverable by a returning officer."

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We know that the Secretary of State is going to spend money which would be spent by a returning officer had he been appointed, but the subsection appears specifically to exclude, not expenditure which the returning officer could legitimately incur, but expenditure had he been appointed, “of a kind" which he would incur. That seems to me to prevent the Secretary of State doing what he wants to do because there is no returning officer and he cannot spend money on that kind of thing.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Lord is referring now to the existing Clause 18(1), not the subsection to which he drew the attention of the House.

Lord Bowness: My Lords, I am sorry. Perhaps the noble Lord can write to me and explain. I am referring to Amendment No. 47, subsection (2), and the wording thereof.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as I understand it, that amendment does not refer to “of a kind". Where “of a kind" is referred to is in Clause 18(1)(a). I apologise. The words “of a kind" were omitted from my version and therefore for the last two minutes I have caused a serious misunderstanding between myself and the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, for which I deeply apologise. It is nevertheless expenditure of a kind determined by the Secretary of State under the existing Clause 18, which means the regulations which are issued by the Secretary of State in relation to parliamentary elections, as I understand it. Nevertheless, I shall write to the noble Lord, as he requested.

The Deputy Speaker (The Viscount of Oxfuird): The Question is that Amendment No. 47 be agreed to?

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, forgive me, but before the noble Lord sits down, he has said that he is going to write to my noble friend. However, I would ask your Lordships: should not this amendment now be withdrawn, taken away and looked at so that we can have it in proper form in front of us? I feel sympathy for the Minister but it is a difficult position to be in if amendments are moved and accepted but we do not know what they mean.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as I understand it, this amendment has been moved and the vote was actually taken while the noble Baroness was standing up. If it has not been taken I now move it again. If anything arises from my consideration of what the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, said I shall come back at the next stage of the Bill and clarify the matter. However, can I just say that in the whole of this area all we have tried to do is to make sense of the Representation of the Peoples Act in the context of the new London elections.

There is no question of pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. I have outlined what we are trying to do. The same applies here, where there will be a hiatus before the appointment of the returning officer. I commend the

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amendment to the House. If anything further arises in this respect, I will return to your Lordships on the matter.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 48 not moved.]

7.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 49:


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