Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Eleventh Report



PART I
The Electoral Commission

CLAUSE 1 - ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION

Schedule 1, paragraph 14(7) enables the Secretary of State by order to provide for the transfer to the Commission of such property, rights and liabilities of his as are specified in the order and which he considers appropriate in connection with the establishment of the Commission. The purpose of this provision is to facilitate the transfer of property and equipment from the Secretary of State to the Commission. It is likely that some property and equipment will be need to be acquired prior to the start-up of the Commission, for example accommodation and computer hardware. Sub-paragraph (8) allows existing restrictions on the transfer of such property, rights and liabilities to be over-ridden. This matter has been left to delegated legislation since it will not be possible to identify which property, rights and liabilities need to be transferred until the establishment of the Commission. The order is not subject to any parliamentary procedure (see clause 146(3)(a)). The reason for this is that the order may only transfer the Secretary of State's rights and liabilities and only that which is appropriate for the establishment of the Commission. Parliament should be aware of what is being transferred to the Commission but it is not thought that it needs specific parliamentary sanction.

CLAUSES 6 - COMMISSION TO BE CONSULTED ON CHANGES TO ELECTORAL LAW; CLAUSE 7 - POWERS EXERCISABLE ONLY ON COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION) AND PARAGRAPH 15 OF SCHEDULE 20 (ORDERS UNDER SECTION 11 OF THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT 2000).

These provisions do not themselves confer delegated powers but they modify existing powers to make delegated legislation. Clause 6 provides that, in relation to the specified instruments, the authority making the instrument must consult the Commission before making the instrument. The specified instruments relate in the conduct of elections. Clause 7 provides that certain specified functions may be exercisable only on, or in accordance with, a recommendation of the Commission (except where the exercise of the function is expedient in consequence of changes in the value of money). The specified functions relate to directions to returning officers in relation to the discharge of registration duties and the limitation of offences in relation to specified elections. Paragraph 15 of Schedule 20 provides that the power of the Secretary of State to make orders under section 11 of the Representation of the People Act 2000 may only be exercised on a recommendation of the Commission. The requirements imposed by these clauses are consistent with the role and functions of the Commission in respect of the conduct of elections.

CLAUSE 11 - POLICY DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

Clause 11 makes provision for policy developments grants to be paid to registered parties to assist them in the development of policies for inclusion in any manifesto. The Commission must submit recommendations to the Secretary of State for the terms of a scheme for the making by the Commission of policy development grants (subsection (2)). Once he has received the recommendations the Secretary of State must make an order, setting out such a scheme in terms which, with any modifications he considers applicable, give effect to the recommendations (subsection (3)). The Commission must keep the scheme under review and may make recommendations to the Secretary of State for any variations to the scheme where they consider appropriate. On receipt of such recommendations, the Secretary of State must make an order giving effect, with any modifications, he considers appropriate to the recommendations (subsection (6)). If the Secretary of State's modifications relate to the determination of the parties eligible for the grant or how the grant is to be allocated between parties the order must not be made unless the Commission agree to the modifications so far as relating to those matters (subsection (7)). This matter has been left to delegated legislation since the Commission has an important role in the determination of the scheme. It may also be necessary to amend the scheme from time to time. This order is subject to the negative resolution procedure. It is thought desirable that there should be some parliamentary scrutiny of orders made in pursuance of this power. It is considered that the negative resolution procedure is sufficient for this purpose.

The amount of policy development grants made in any financial year must not exceed £2 million (subsection (8)). The Secretary of State may by order made with the consent of the Treasury vary the total amount. This matter has been left to delegated legislation because the order may need to be varied from time to time. The order is subject to the negative resolution procedure. It is thought desirable that there should be some parliamentary scrutiny of orders made in pursuance of this power. It is considered that the negative resolution procedure is sufficient for this purpose.

CLAUSE 12 - EDUCATION ABOUT ELECTORAL AND DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM

Clause 11 requires the Commission to promote public awareness of electoral systems and matters. The total expenditure incurred by the Commission in any financial year in performing this function must not exceed such sum as may be specified in an order made by the Secretary of State with the consent of the Treasury (subsection (6)). The order is subject to the negative resolution procedure. This matter has been left to delegated legislation as the order may need to be varied from time to time. It is therefore desirable that there should be some parliamentary scrutiny of orders made in pursuance of this power. It is considered that the negative resolution procedure is sufficient. Clause 145 does not apply to an order made under this provision.

CLAUSE 17 - LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND

Clause 17 enables the Secretary of State, by order, to make provision for the transfer to the Commission of one or more of the functions of the Local Government Commission for England. The order may provide for the transfer of staff and any property, rights and liabilities. The order is subject to the negative resolution procedure. This matter has been left to delegated legislation since different functions may be transferred at different times, depending upon the capacity of the Commission to take on those functions. It will not be possible to identify those staff, property, rights and liabilities that should be transferred until the functions that are to be transferred have been identified. It is thought desirable that there should be some parliamentary scrutiny of orders made in pursuance of this power, since they will confer additional functions on the Commission. It is considered that the negative resolution procedure is sufficient.

Once all the functions of the Local Government Commission for England have been transferred to the Commission, the Secretary of State may by order make provision for abolition of the Local Government Commission for England. The order may provide for the transfer of staff and any rights and liabilities of the Local Government Commission for England. This matter has been left to delegated legislation since it is consequent on all the functions of the Local Government Commission for England having been transferred to the Commission by order. The order is subject to the negative resolution procedure. It is thought desirable that there should be some parliamentary scrutiny of the order made in pursuance of the power because it will result in the abolition of the Local Government Commission for England. It is considered that the negative resolution procedure is sufficient as at the stage the order is made the Local Government Commission for England will be redundant.

CLAUSE 18 - LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOUNDARY COMMISSION FOR WALES

Clause 18 enables the National Assembly for Wales by order to make provision for the transfer to the Commission of one or more functions of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales. The order may provide for the transfer to the Commission of staff and property, rights and liabilities of the Local Government Commission for Wales and consequential, incidental, supplementary or transitional provisions or savings. This matter has been left to delegated legislation since the functions will be transferred over time, dependant on the capacity of the Commission. It will not be possible to identify the staff, property etc to be transferred until it is known what functions are to be transferred. The order is to be made by statutory instrument by the National Assembly for Wales, consistent with devolution under the Government of Wales Act 1998.

Once all of the functions of the Local Government Commission for Wales have been transferred, the National Assembly for Wales may, by order, make provisions for the abolition of the Local Government Commission for Wales. The order may include provision to transfer to the Commission staff and property, rights and liabilities of the Local Government Commission for Wales. It may also make consequential, incidental supplementary and transitional provisions. This matter has been left to delegated legislation since it can only be made when all the functions of the Local Government Commission for Wales have been transferred to the Commission. The order is made by statutory instrument by the National Assembly for Wales, consistent with devolution under the Government of Wales Act 1998.


 
previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 2000