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Commission on Civil Society and Docratic Engagent - Ekklesia

By Lorraine Boyd,2014-01-29 00:19
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Commission on Civil Society and Docratic Engagent - EkklesiaCommis

Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement

Report 2 Recommendations and Proposed Amendments

    Please note that these amendments are drafts only. Further technical refinements are likely to be made before final versions are available.

1. The definition of regulated non-party campaigning

    The PPERA definition, as amended by the Lobbying Bill, should be used for the 2015 General Election; but this recommendation is entirely contingent on the Lobbying Bill being amended to implement this report’s other recommendations on: registration thresholds,

    spending limits, constituency cap, the definition of an organisation’s supporters, and the range of campaigning materials and activities subject to regulation.

AFTER CLAUSE 41

    Insert the following new Clause––

    Duration of sections 26 to 35

    Sections 26 to 35 shall expire and cease to have effect on 31 May 2016.”

    Insert the following new Clause––

    Post-election review

    (1) Within six months of the parliamentary general election following the passage of this

    Act, Parliament shall appoint a committee to conduct a review of Part VI of the

    Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

    (2) The review must address, in particular, the following matters-

    a. the effect at that parliamentary general election of Part VI of the Political

    Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 on-

    i. recognised third parties;

    ii. third party campaigners which are not recognised third parties;

    iii. political parties and candidates;

    iv. public perception of undue influence in elections;

    v. expenditure on third party campaigning; and

    b. any other matters the committee considers appropriate

    (3) The committee shall publish the conclusions of its review in a report, which shall be

    debated in both Houses of Parliament.”

2. Campaigning materials and activities subject to regulation

    The wider range of campaigning activities set out in Schedule 3 of the Bill should remain but be subject to two amendments to secure alignment with the regime for political parties. First, staff costs should be specifically excluded. Second, the definition of market research and canvassing should be covered only where this relates to ascertaining polling intentions.

SCHEDULE 3

    Page 58, leave out from beginning of line 15 to end of line 21

    Page 57, line 14, at end insert

    “PART 1A

    QUALIFYING EXPENSES: EXCLUSIONS

    2 (1) Nothing in paragraph (1) shall be taken as extending to

    (a) any expenses incurred in respect of the remuneration or allowances

    payable to any member of the staff (whether permanent or otherwise) of the

    third party,

     (b) the reasonable costs of oral or written services for translations into

    languages other than English,

    (c) safety or security measures for public meetings or to ensure the safety of

    one or more individuals,

    (d) the reasonable costs of making documents accessible to those with

    physical or learning disabilities, or

    (e) communications between third parties and their supporters.

    (2) In relation to sub-paragraph (1)(e) “supporters” shall include any person who has

    given specific consent to be contacted by the organisation and by the relevant

    means in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.”

    Page 57, line 1, leave out ‘seeking’ to end line 2 and insert ‘for the purpose of ascertaining polling intentions’

3. Registration thresholds

Registration thresholds should be increased to:

    ? ?20,000 in England

    ? ?10,000 in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

CLAUSE 27

    Page 14, line 44, leave out “?5,000” and insert “?20,000”

    Page 14, line 44, leave out “?2,000” and insert “?10,000”

4. Spending limits

    Spending limits for non-party campaigning organisations should be increased to reflect the 2013 value of the limits within PPERA (i.e. PPERA limits plus inflation).

Page 15, leave out line 1 to end line 12 and insert-

    “() In Schedule 10 of that Act (limits on controlled expenditure by recognised third parties)

    (a) In paragraph 3(2), for paragraph (a) for “?793,500” substitute “?1,125,000”

    (b) In paragraph 3(2), for paragraph (b) for “?108,000” substitute “?155,000”

    (c) In paragraph 3(2), for paragraph (c) for “?60,000” substitute “?86,000”

    (d) In paragraph 3(2), for paragraph (d) for “?27,000” substitute “?40,000”

    Note: If a six month regulated period is agreed, these figures will require revision.

Leave out Clause 29

5. Constituency limits

    Remove constituency spending limits for non-party campaigning proposed in the Lobbying Bill.

CLAUSE 28

    Leave out clause 28

6. Reporting Requirements

    All additional reporting requirements for non-party campaigning proposed in the Lobbying Bill should be removed.

    Introduce the option of a declaration by non-party campaigns that have registered that they did not spend above the threshold.

CLAUSE 31

    Leave out clause 31

    () Section 96 of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 shall be amended in accordance with subsections (1) and (2).

    (1) In subsection (1)(a) after “expenditure” insert “in excess of the limits in

    section 94(5)”

    (2) After subsection (1) insert-

    “(1A) Where-

    (a) during any regulated period the total controlled expenditure incurred by or on

    behalf of a recognised third party is below the limits in section 94(5) in any

    relevant part or parts of the United Kingdom, and

    (b) that period ends,

    the responsible person shall submit a declaration to the Electoral Commission that it

    has not spent in excess of the limits in section 94(5) in respect of the relevant part or

    parts of the United Kingdom.”

Leave out Clause 32

Leave out Clause 33

7. Coalition campaigning

    Where an organisation only takes part in regulated activity as part of a single coalition, it will not have to register separately with the Electoral Commission, provided that all its relevant spending does not exceed the registration threshold and is reported through either the coalition or one of the coalition partners.

    () The Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (Limits on controlled expenditure by third parties) is amended as follows.

    (1) In section 85, after subsection (4) insert-

    (4A) “Minor third party” means a third party -

    (a) that incurs controlled expenditure only as part of a single plan or

    arrangement falling within section 94(6) and

    (b) does not incur controlled expenditure in excess of the limits in section

    94(5)

    (4B) “Nominated third party” means a recognised third party in relation to which a

    declaration under section 94(7A) has been submitted to the Electoral

    Commission.

    (2) In section 94, after subsection (5A) insert-

    “(5B) Subsections (3) and (4) shall not apply to a minor third party.”

    (3) In section 94 after subsection (7), insert-

    “(7A) Where subsection (6) applies, a minor third party may submit a declaration to

    the Electoral Commission specifying a recognised third party to act as its nominated

    third party, and any such declaration must be signed by the minor third party and by

    the responsible person for the recognised third party.

    (7B) A nominated third party shall:

    (a) count the relevant minor third party’s controlled expenditure towards its

    own applicable limit under Schedule 10.

    (b) report the relevant minor third party’s controlled expenditure in its return

    under section 96

    8. Regulation of non-party campaigning in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

    ? Increase thresholds for registration in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to

    ?10,000.

    See under Recommendation 3

    ? Exempt costs relating to translation, security and safety from regulation.

    See under Recommendation 2

9. Duration of the regulatory period

Reduce the regulatory period to six months before the poll.

     () In Schedule 10 of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (Limits on controlled expenditure) is amended as follows.

    (1) In paragraph 3(3)(a) for “365 days” substitute “six months”

    (2) In paragraph 3(3)(b) for “365 days” substitute “six months”

10 Supporters

    Exclude communications between non-party organisations and their supporters from activities related to ‘the public’ in the list of regulated activities.

    The definition of supporters should include people who have given specific consent to contact from the non-party campaigner in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

    See under Recommendation 3.

11. Charities and non party campaigning

Charities should not be exempted from regulation of non-party campaigning.

12. Equalities and Human Rights

Exempt from regulated spending costs associated with:

    ? Translation to any language.

    ? Making documents accessible to people with physical or learning disabilities. See under Recommendation 3

II) Evidence, Review and powers to amend the Act

    We have identified a range of evidence that should be gathered during the pre-2015 General Election regulatory period to inform an assessment of the Act and any proposals for new legislation.

Review of the law

    We recommend a Committee of the House, such as the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee review the regulation of non-party campaigning as a matter of urgency after the 2015 General Election.

See under Recommendation 1.

Amending the Act

Recommendation

    Changes to proposed Schedule 8A should be undertaken through primary legislation.

    Page 58, leave out from beginning of line 15 to end of line 21

Implementing the Recommendations

Recommendation

    The Bill should be amended according to the full package of our recommendations or Part 2 of the Bill should be withdrawn.

    Further changes will be needed to the regulation of coalition campaigning before the Bill is completed.

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