Select Committee on European Communities Second Report


24.  ELECTORAL PROCEDURE

Letter from Barbara Roche MP, Minister of State, Home Office, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  I enclose a copy of an Explanatory Memorandum that I am today distributing to members of your Committee in accordance with scrutiny procedures. The Memorandum relates to the Resolution on a draft Electoral Procedure incorporating Common Principles for the election of Members of the European Parliament which was adopted by the European Parliament on 15 July 1998. The Resolution and draft Act were deposited with the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees in accordance with Standing Orders on 23 November 1999.

  I must apologise for the delay in depositing both the European Community documents and the Explanatory Memorandum. I am afraid that the responsible officials have been heavily engaged throughout the period, first in getting the European Parliamentary Elections Act on the statue book last session, then in administration of the 1999 elections, and most recently in preparatory work for the Representation of the People Bill which is now before Parliament.

  However, as will be clear from the Memorandum, activity on this dossier is only now beginning. It is on the agenda for discussion at the General Affairs Council on 6-7 December, but not for agreement. It is likely that the proposals will be considerably amended before the Council takes them back to the European Parliament for discussion. There will, therefore be a further revised draft and Explanatory Memorandum to be deposited with your Committee in due course. My officials are fully aware of the need to bring this issue forward promptly on the next occasion.

2 December 1999

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Barbara Roche MP, Minister of State, Home Office

  The European Parliament's Resolution was considered by Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) at its meeting on 16 February. The Committee had before it your Explanatory Memorandum of 2 December and your letter and Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 14 January.

  The Committee wishes to draw one point to your attention. Any prohibition on dual mandates would have particular implications for members of this House who are members for life by virtue of a peerage. Such persons cannot, under present arrangements, surrender their membership once taken up. Hence, a prohibition on a dual mandate would appear to mean that persons who have accepted, or in future accept, a peerage conferring membership of the House of Lords would thereby preclude themselves from ever serving as members of the European Parliaments. As you will be aware, there are at present members of this House who are also members of the European Parliament. The present arrangements may, of course, change in the future. The Committee would be grateful if you could bear this point in mind during the discussion of the proposal.

  The Committee decided to clear the document from scrutiny. But it has noted that there is likely to be further work and activity on this proposal and it therefore requests you to keep it promptly informed of developments.

17 February 2000


 
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