Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Sixteenth Report



ANNEX

GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY BILL

Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

This memorandum explains the proposed use of the delegated powers provisions in the Greater London Authority Bill.

PART I: The Greater London Authority

CLAUSE 2 - MEMBERSHIP OF THE AUTHORITY AND THE ASSEMBLY

Subsection (4) Allows the Secretary of State by order to specify the names and areas of the Assembly constituencies following a report and recommendations by the Local Government Commission for England (LGC) under Part II of the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Act 1998 and, by virtue of paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Bill, to change those names and areas in accordance with that Schedule.

Purpose: to enable the names and areas of the GLA Assembly constituencies to be specified and altered.

Reason for proposing delegated powers: It is usual for the Secretary of State to define the names and boundaries of non-parliamentary electoral areas in this way. There are many precedents for this provision, such as paragraph 3 of Schedule 3, and paragraph 2 of Schedule 5 to the Local Government Act 1972, section 58 of that Act and section 17 of the Local Government Act 1992.

Parliamentary procedure: None (as in the enactments mentioned above).

CLAUSE 3 - TIME OF ORDINARY ELECTIONS

Subsection (1) enables the Secretary of State, by order, to postpone the date of the first ordinary elections of the GLA.

Purpose - To enable the Secretary of State to postpone the date of the first ordinary elections by order.

Reason for proposing delegated powers - To enable the date of the first elections to be postponed if, for example, a national emergency or disaster made it impossible to hold the elections on the date appointed on the face of the Bill. Ministers have made clear that the power would only be used in exceptional circumstances.

Parliamentary procedure - Negative resolution procedure - as specified by clause 325(7).

The date of the London referendum was specified on the face of the 1998 Referendum Act, but with provision for an alternative date to be designated, subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. However, the negative resolution procedure is seen as adequate for such purposes; for example it was adopted in the Government of Wales Act 1998 (sections 3 and 154) for the purposes of designating the date of the first elections. Furthermore, the power of the Secretary of State under section 37 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 to fix a different ordinary day for local government elections is not subject to parliamentary procedure.

Subsection (4) enables the Secretary of State to make an order amending subsection 2(8), and to provide for the appointment of a London-wide returning officer, and for modifying the entitlement to vote, in respect of the first ordinary elections. Subsection (4)(a) specifies that an order made under subsection (4) may include provision modifying section 2(8) in relation to the Mayor and Assembly members returned at the first ordinary elections.

Purpose - To provide for a later date to be specified for the Mayor and Assembly to take office, should that be necessary.

Reason for proposing delegated powers - Ministers have announced that the Authority will be formally established on 3 July 2000. It may be necessary to bring the time at which the Mayor and Assembly formally take office after the first elections into line with the intended establishment date for the Authority.

Parliamentary procedure - Negative resolution procedure as specified in clause 325(5)(a)(ii) and (7).

Subsection (4)(b) enables the Secretary of State to designate, by order, the returning officer for the election of the Mayor and the London members of the Assembly at the first ordinary elections.

Purpose - To enable a returning officer with London-wide responsibilities to be appointed for the first elections of the Mayor and the London members of the Assembly.

Reason for delegated powers - Paragraph 3 of Schedule 3 to the Bill amends section 35 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 to provide that the Greater London Returning Officer for the mayoral and London member elections must be a person appointed by the Authority for that purpose. However, in the case of the first elections, the Authority will not exist and so no Greater London Returning Officer will have been appointed. Provision is therefore made for the Secretary of State to appoint, by order, a person to perform the GLRO's functions for the first elections only.

Parliamentary procedure - Negative resolution procedure as specified in clause 325(5) (a) (ii) and (7).

Subsection (4)(c) enables the Secretary of State to make an order for or in connection with modifying the entitlement to vote or the register of electors, or with respect to the registers (or parts of registers) of electors to be used.

Purpose - To enable provision to be made modifying the entitlement to vote at the first ordinary elections of the GLA, should this prove necessary.

Reason for delegated powers - This provision was originally included in the Bill before the date of the first ordinary elections was decided. The timing of the election could have brought about a need to modify the entitlement to vote in the City of London, where currently the electoral registration officer is under no duty to compile a register of local government electors for the purposes of the Representation of the People Act 1983. Such a duty is imposed by the Bill for the purposes of Authority elections but certain steps are required to be taken by specified dates. Now that the date of the first election has been specified on the face of the Bill, the Department is consulting the City Corporation about whether the provision is still needed, and will bring forward an amendment if necessary.

Parliamentary procedure - Negative resolution procedure as specified in clause 325(5) (a) (ii) and (7).

Schedule 3 - Amendments of the Representation of the People Acts

Paragraph 3(1) amends section 35 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 ("RPA 1983"). It provides for the Secretary of State to designate returning officers for the elections of constituency members of the Assembly.

Purpose - To provide for constituency returning officers to be appointed.

Reason for proposing delegated powers - The constituencies for London Assembly elections will comprise two or more whole London boroughs, and so a returning officer for each Assembly constituency will need to be appointed. For elections with similar characteristics such as the European Parliamentary elections, secondary legislation is used to specify which of the local returning officers shall act as returning officer for the election.

It is intended that constituency returning officers will be selected from amongst borough returning officers - for example the Secretary of State could designate the returning officer of the borough with the largest population within the constituency as the returning officer for the Assembly constituency election.

Parliamentary procedure - An order made by statutory instrument.

Paragraph 4(2) amends section 36 of the RPA 1983, inserting new subsection (2A), to enable the Secretary of State to make rules for the conduct of the Authority elections. New subsection (2B) of section 36 RPA 1983 in addition provides that any rules made by the Secretary of State under section 36 may include provision in connection with the inclusion, withdrawal, addition or removal of persons on party lists for London-member elections, or cases where a person on a party list seeks to become an individual candidate to be a London member of the Assembly.

Purpose - To enable the making of rules for elections to the Greater London Authority, and for the filling of list vacancies among London members of the Assembly. The existing provisions for the making of local government election rules are not appropriate for Authority elections given the different methods of election that are being put in place for the Mayor and Assembly. Subsection 2(B) is inserted to make clear that detailed provision may be made in rules with respect to lists of candidates of registered political parties in consequence, in particular, of the provisions of paragraphs 5(4) to (6) of Schedule 2 to the Bill.

Reason for proposing delegated powers - To enable detailed provision to be made in rules to deal with the particular requirements of the GLA elections. The approach taken is the same as for local government and European parliamentary elections, for which the Secretary of State also makes rules.

Parliamentary procedure - In accordance with section 36(7) of the RPA 1983, negative resolution procedure.

Paragraph 18 - Limitation of Election Expenses Sub-paragraph (4) amends section 76 RPA 1983, to enable the Secretary of State to specify a maximum limit on election expenses of candidates for Mayor, Assembly constituency candidates, and by parties and individual candidates contesting London member seats. [A further amendment is likely in order to enable the Secretary of State to set a generic limit on spending by a registered political party].

Purpose - To enable a limit on election expenses to be put in place. Existing RPA local government provisions are unsuited to the different types of election to be held to the Authority for an area with an electorate of 5 million people.

Reason for proposing delegated powers -To allow flexibility over the limits to be put in place, and to give time for consultations with political parties and others as respects the limits. A similar approach was taken for the elections to the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the European Parliament, where the elections have features in common with GLA elections.

It is intended that the GLA elections will be subject in due course to legislation which the Government intends to bring forward in response to Lord Neill's report on party funding. The future exercise of this order-making power will need to be considered in the context of that legislation.

Parliamentary procedure - Affirmative resolution, specified in the new section 76(2B). This procedure was also adopted in respect of setting expenses limits for the elections to the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the European Parliament.

CLAUSE 18 - COST OF HOLDING THE FIRST ORDINARY ELECTIONS

This clause provides for the proper expenditure of returning officers at the first ordinary elections to be paid for out of the Consolidated Fund. The Secretary of State may, with Treasury consent, determine the kind of expenditure recoverable and its maximum amount.

Purpose - To enable the Secretary of State to exercise a degree of control over the expenditure recoverable from the Consolidated Fund by setting rules about the sorts of expenditure that returning officers may recover and their maximum amounts.

Reason for delegated powers - To give the Secretary of State some flexibility in making appropriate arrangements to cover the costs of the first elections. The provision is a simplified version of section 29 RPA 1983 which applies to parliamentary elections.

Parliamentary procedure - No parliamentary procedure. Orders under section 29 RPA 1983 are similarly not subject to parliamentary procedure. It is intended to consult returning officers and local authorities in Greater London before a determination is made.

CLAUSE 20 - DISQUALIFICATION FROM BEING THE MAYOR OR AN ASSEMBLY MEMBER

This clause makes provision in respect of disqualification from being the Mayor or an Assembly member.

Subsection (1)(b) specifies that a person shall be disqualified from being elected or being the Mayor or an Assembly member if he holds any office or appointment designated by the Secretary of State in an order as offices or appointments disqualifying persons from being the Mayor or an Assembly member.

Purpose - To enable the holders of certain offices and appointments to be disqualified from being the Mayor or an Assembly member.

Reason for proposing delegated powers - This provision is based on similar order-making powers in section 15 of the Scotland Act 1998 and section 12 of the Government of Wales Act 1998.

Where holders of certain offices or appointments develop a close relationship with the new Authority once it becomes established, it may be appropriate to designate the offices or appointments under this provision.

Ministers have made clear (Standing Committee A, 2 February 1999, Hansard, column 127, Third Sitting) that holders of elected office - Members of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, councillors - and peers will not be disqualified from being the Mayor or an Assembly member.

Parliamentary procedure - Affirmative resolution procedure (clause 325(3)(a) of the Bill). A similar procedure was adopted for the equivalent Scots and Welsh provisions.

CLAUSE 23 - DECLARATION OF ACCEPTANCE OF OFFICE

This clause makes provision for persons elected as Mayor or to the Assembly to make a formal declaration of acceptance of office. It is based on local government provision made at section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Subsection (1)(a) specifies that the declaration of acceptance should be in a form prescribed in an order by the Secretary of State.

Purpose - To ensure that the form of the declaration of acceptance is the same for all persons elected to the Authority.

Reason for proposing delegated powers - It is appropriate for a form to be prescribed in secondary legislation, as in the case of the form mentioned in section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Parliamentary procedure - No parliamentary procedure, as is the case with the orders under section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Subsection (5) provides that in relation to the first ordinary elections, the Secretary of State may, in an order under clause 3(4), make provision with respect to the making and delivery of acceptance of office by the persons elected as Mayor or to the Assembly. Subsection (6) provides that the order may in particular make provision-

  1. permitting declarations to be made before such a person as may be specified in the order
  2. authorising a person designated in the order to take declarations
  3. requiring declarations to be delivered to a person specified in the order rather than to the proper officer of the Authority
  4. requiring declarations of acceptance made in accordance with the order to be delivered to the proper officer of the Authority when one has been appointed.

Purpose - To enable declarations of acceptance of office to be made and delivered after the first ordinary elections. The Bill provides that the proper officer of the Authority (who will be an officer appointed by the Authority to perform these functions) will ordinarily administer the taking and delivery of declarations of acceptance. In the case of the first elections, no Authority will exist in order to appoint a proper officer.

Reason for proposing delegated powers - It is considered that subordinate legislation is appropriate for transitional provision of this kind which includes the designation of particular persons to carry out functions otherwise exercisable by the proper officer of the Authority.

Parliamentary procedure - Negative resolution, as for clause 3(4).

Transitional Arrangements

The Secretary of State will need to make certain transitional provisions under the order-making powers proposed in clauses 318 and 330(4), to enable "proper officer" functions to be carried out until the Authority is able to appoint it own officer to perform these functions.


 
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