Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, I want to raise a drafting point on this amendment. I did not do it when the earlier group of amendments was dealt with because I did not wish to derogate from the warmth of welcome that was shown for the Government's compromise.
I ask your Lordships to look at the bottom of page 7 of the Marshalled List. Subsection (3) of the proposed new clause states:
"The Secretary of State may by order make such provision as he considers appropriate for and in connection with enabling candidates ... to have their election addresses ... delivered, at the Authority's expense, by the Post Office or by any other means specified in the order".
I should have thought that nothing could be more general than that.
However, subsection (4) emphasises it by saying:
"Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (3) above, an order under that subsection may make provision",
and it then goes on with paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g). It goes on for practically the whole page.
I used to complain about that style of drafting during the last Parliament. My noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern used to say that it was not strictly necessary. That is a Lord Chancellor's way of saying it is not necessary. He would say that nevertheless, it may be useful in letting Parliament know the kind of circumstances in which the general order may be used. No doubt that is true but it is not the only way and it is the most expensive way.
The reasonable way would be for the Minister to explain to Parliament where he thinks the provision might be used. That is eminently the case here.
I ask your Lordships to look at paragraph (c) which states that it is,
"for regulating in any respect the form and manner in which free delivery of election addresses is to be so available".
Obviously, that gives a free discretion and in paragraph (d) it refers to "or otherwise".
When I used to complain during the previous Parliament, such particulars at their worst ran to paragraph (h). I suppose that as this is confined to (g), that is some improvement. But I should have thought that they were all unnecessary and, indeed, the very opening words of the subsection shows that to be so.
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I do not expect the Minister to withdraw the words at this stage, but the Bill is going to another place with this amendment. I ask two things. First, why does he think that this page of particularity within a perfectly satisfactory generality, which is emphasised by the words,
"without prejudice to the generality",
is necessary? Secondly, will the matter be considered? I should like to know, as he is the Minister in charge of the Bill, why he believes that this enormous series of particularities, admittedly within the generality, is expensively to be put in the statute, printed and reprinted which is conducive to the continual expansion of the statute book.
I am glad that I have been speaking long enough to see the arrival of a brief, but I should be grateful for the Minister's immediate reaction. I should be even more grateful if he would say that the matter will be considered.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, before the Minister answers, I must say that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has prompted a question, not so much about new subsection (4) but about subsection (1). I accept that this is a rather naughty question, but I cannot resist asking it. Each candidate is to have an election address prepared and included in a booklet of election addresses. Will they be restricted to 75 words?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, if the noble Lord had been here earlier on, he probably would have followed that rather more than 75 words will be allowed; words and images together and no doubt logos too.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has given us a valuable lecture on how we might better construct the wording of our legislation. I am not a constitutional expert, but I rather fancy that the way in which legislative drafting is carried out means that rather than having to return to Hansard for the source of an explanation, there is a reliance in part on having something on the face of the legislation. Although the subsections involve a degree of repetition--and perhaps, in the noble and learned Lord's terms, some drafting sloppiness has crept in--that is their value; one does not have to refer constantly to Hansard, but if an explanation is to be found it is there on the face of the Bill.
The matter raised by the noble and learned Lord is obviously important. It is one which we shall continue to keep carefully under review, and the noble and learned Lord will no doubt continue to remind us to do so. It has prompted me to think that I probably need to consult some of the speeches of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, to find out what his explanations were at the time when he enjoyed the challenges raised by the noble and learned Lord
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himself in earlier debates. I trust that that explanation begins to pick up some of the points raised by the noble and learned Lord.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Clause 16 [Citation, construction, commencement and extent]:
Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 21:
Page 18, line 38, at end insert--
("SCHEDULEFREE DELIVERY OF ELECTION ADDRESSES AT FIRST GLA MAYORAL ELECTION: NEW SCHEDULE 3A TO THE GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY ACT 1999"SCHEDULE 3AFREE DELIVERY OF ELECTION ADDRESSES AT FIRST ELECTION OF MAYORInterpretation
(""modifications" includes additions, omissions and amendments (and "modify" has a corresponding meaning).").
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]
Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 23 and 24:
Page 18, line 39, after ("11") insert (", (Free delivery of election addresses at Greater London Authority elections)").
Page 18, line 39, after ("section") insert ("and Schedule (Free delivery of election addresses at first GLA mayoral election: New Schedule 3A to the Greater London Authority Act 1999)").
On Question, amendments agreed to.
Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 25:
Page 18, line 39, after ("section") insert ("and paragraph 6 of Schedule 5,").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a simple amendment. Your Lordships will recall that an amendment was passed in Committee to insert a provision--which can be found at page 44 line 8--to prohibit the publication of the results of exit polls until the final close of the poll. The fear which prompted the amendment was that, in an election taking place over more than one day, an exit poll published after the first day of voting might in some way influence how people voted in the subsequent day or days, or perhaps even put them off voting at all.
The amendment that was passed deals with such problems. I hope that the number of pilot schemes involving early voting will be run in this year's local elections. That amendment should clarify the issues with regard to the local elections and protect them. We therefore want the new exit poll provisions to come into effect as soon as possible and as soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent. This amendment provides for precisely that. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 26 and 27:
Page 19, line 10, leave out ("Section 10") and insert ("Sections 10 and 11").
Page 19, line 11, at end insert--
("( ) The amendments made by section (Free delivery of election addresses at Greater London Authority elections) have the same extent as the Greater London Authority Act 1999.").
On Question, amendments agreed to.
6 Mar 2000 : Column 836
Schedule 1 [Registration: amendments of 1983 Act]:
Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 28:
Page 28, line 43, leave out ("local government") and insert ("electoral")
The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 28 is a drafting amendment. Section 76(2) concerns the register to be used for the purposes of calculating election expenses. A local authority by-election by definition does not cover the whole of a local authority, so we are changing a reference to "local government area" to "electoral area". That is all that is involved or implied in any way by the amendment. I beg to move.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 29:
After Schedule 4, insert the following new schedule--
1. In this Schedule--
"the 1983 Act" means the Representation of the People Act 1983;
"candidate" means a person who stands nominated as a candidate at the election;
"the election" means the first election of the Mayor;
"election address" shall be construed in accordance with paragraph 2 below;
"election booklet" shall be construed in accordance with paragraph 6 below;
"the GLRO" means the Greater London returning officer;
"print" means print by whatever means (and "printer" shall be construed accordingly);
"the relevant provisions" means the provisions of section 17A(1) of this Act and this Schedule.
2. For the purposes of the relevant provisions an election address, in relation to a candidate, is a statement prepared by the candidate's election agent which complies with the provisions of paragraphs 3 and 4.
Contents of election addresses
3.--(1) An election address must contain matter relating to the election only.
(2) In particular, an election address must not contain--
(a) any advertising material (other than material promoting the candidate as a candidate at the election);
(b) any other material appearing to be included with a view to commercial gain; or
(c) any material referring to any candidate standing for election to the Assembly.
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(3) An election address may include a representation of the registered emblem, or (as the case may be) one of the registered emblems, of a registered political party if the address is prepared on behalf of an authorised party candidate.
(4) In sub-paragraph (3) above "authorised party candidate", in relation to a registered political party, means a candidate who has been authorised to use the emblem in question by a certificate--
(a) issued by or on behalf of the registered nominating officer of the party, and
(b) received by the GLRO before the last time for the delivery of nomination papers for the election.
(5) An election address must--
(a) contain a statement to the effect that it has been prepared by the candidate's election agent; and
(b) give the name and address of the election agent.
Form of election addresses
4.--(1) Subject to any requirements imposed by or under this paragraph, the format of a candidate's election address may be determined by the candidate (and, in particular, may consist of a combination of words, pictures and artwork).
(2) An election address must be printed on not more than two sides of A5 paper; but if such an address is printed on two sides of such paper--
(a) it must, when submitted to the GLRO for inclusion in the election booklet, be accompanied by a second version printed on a single side of such paper; and
(b) if the total number of candidates from whom election addresses have been accepted by the GLRO by the last time for the delivery of nomination papers for the election exceeds 15, the version to be included in the election booklet shall be the second version.
(3) An election address must--
(a) comply with such requirements as to typographical layout, margins and the use of colour as the GLRO may determine; and
(b) comply with such other requirements as he may determine with a view to facilitating its reproduction as a page or pages of the election booklet.
(4) An election address must, when submitted to the GLRO for inclusion in the election booklet, be accompanied--
(a) where the address is to contain a photograph of the candidate, by two identical copies of the photograph, of which one is signed on the back by the candidate; and
(b) in any case, by such copies of anything contained in the address as the GLRO may reasonably require in connection with the reproduction of the address.
Approval of election addresses by Post Office
5.--(1) Before an election address is submitted to the GLRO for inclusion in the election booklet a draft of the address must have been--
(a) submitted by the candidate to the Post Office, and
(b) approved by the Post Office as complying with the relevant Post Office regulations.
(2) In sub-paragraph (1)(b) above "the relevant Post Office regulations" means the provisions of the Post Office regulations under section 91 of the 1983 Act as to the contents of election communications, other than the provisions of those regulations--
(a) authorising the sending of different material to different groups, or
(b) requiring the name of the printer and publisher to appear on election literature.
(3) Without prejudice to the operation of sub-paragraph (1)(b) above, the Post Office shall not approve an election address if, in their opinion, the address does not comply with the provisions of paragraph 3(1) and (2) above.
6 Mar 2000 : Column 838
The election booklet
6.--(1) For the purposes of this Schedule the election booklet is a document prepared by the GLRO which contains the election addresses of all candidates who--
(a) desire their election addresses to be included in the booklet, and
(b) have submitted--
(i) those addresses, and
(ii) any additional material required under paragraph 4(4) above,
to the GLRO by such date as he may determine.
(a) it appears to the GLRO that any of the requirements of paragraphs 3(3) to (5), 4 and 5(1) above has not been complied with in relation to an election address, or
(b) a candidate fails to make the payment required by paragraph 9 below in respect of an election address,
the GLRO shall decline to include the address in the election booklet.
Form of election booklet
7.--(1) The order in which candidates' election addresses appear in the election booklet shall be determined alphabetically by reference to the candidates' surnames.
(2) The election booklet may include, in addition to candidates' election addresses, a statement by the GLRO--
(a) explaining the nature and purpose of the election booklet;
(b) listing, in alphabetical order, the names of all the candidates at the election (whether or not their election addresses are included in the booklet); and
(c) giving the date of the election and such other information about it as the GLRO may determine.
(3) The election booklet must--
(a) contain a statement that it has been published by the GLRO; and
(b) give the name and address of the GLRO and those of the printer of the booklet.
(4) Subject to sub-paragraphs (1) to (3) above, the form of the election booklet shall be determined by the GLRO.
(5) The election agent of each candidate whose election address has been accepted by the GLRO for inclusion in the booklet shall be given an opportunity to attend at a time and place notified to him by the GLRO in order to check, and submit to the GLRO typographical corrections to, the proof of the candidate's address.
(6) If the election agent of any such candidate fails to avail himself of that opportunity, the GLRO may--
(a) make such typographical corrections to the proof as appear to him to be appropriate; and
(b) proceed with the printing and distribution of the election booklet without further reference to the candidate or his election agent (and without incurring any liability for any errors in the candidate's address).
(7) No person other than--
(a) the candidate by or on whose behalf an election address included in the election booklet was prepared, or
(b) the candidate's election agent,
shall incur any civil or criminal liability in respect of the publication of that address in the election booklet or its dissemination in accordance with paragraph 8 below.
Distribution of election booklet
8.--(1) Copies of the election booklet shall be delivered by the GLRO to the Post Office, in envelopes addressed to individual electors falling within section 17A(1)(b) of this Act, at such time as the GLRO may determine.
(2) The GLRO may disseminate the contents of the election booklet by such other means as he may determine.
6 Mar 2000 : Column 839
Contributions by candidates towards costs of printing
9.--(1) Each candidate by whom an election address is submitted to the GLRO for inclusion in the election booklet shall pay the sum of £10,000 to the GLRO as a contribution towards the expenses incurred by him in respect of the printing of the election booklet.
(2) The payment required by sub-paragraph (1) above shall be made at such time, and in such manner, as the GLRO may determine.
(3) A candidate shall be entitled to a full refund of any such payment if, but only if, the candidate has given notice of withdrawal of his candidature before the last time for the withdrawal of candidates.
(4) If the total amount of the payments made by candidates under this paragraph exceeds the total amount of the expenses incurred by the GLRO in respect of the printing of the election booklet, the GLRO shall--
(a) divide the amount of the excess between the candidates in equal shares, and
(b) send to each candidate a payment in respect of his share.
Payments by Secretary of State
10. Except so far as they are met by payments under paragraph 9 above, the expenses incurred by the GLRO in consequence of the relevant provisions shall be met by the Secretary of State.
Candidates' election expenses
11.--(1) The amount of any payment made by a candidate under paragraph 9 above (or, if sub-paragraph (4) of that paragraph applies, the net amount of any such payment after deducting the payment under that sub-paragraph) shall be taken, for the purposes of Part II of the 1983 Act (the election campaign), to be an amount of election expenses incurred by the candidate in relation to the election.
(2) Nothing in section 75(1) of the 1983 Act (restriction on third party election expenditure) shall be taken to apply, in relation to any candidate, to any expenses incurred by the GLRO in consequence of the relevant provisions."").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.