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Electoral Commissioners

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Speaker’s Committee has considered the implications of the statutory disqualifications from appointment as an Electoral Commissioner for the effectiveness with which the Commission discharges its functions. (97483)

The effect of section 3(4) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 is to disqualify from appointment as an Electoral Commissioner a wide range of people who have been actively involved with political parties, or held elective office, over the preceding 10 years. At its meeting on 3 May 2006, the Speaker’s Committee agreed to write to the Lord Chancellor raising the issue of whether these restrictions reduced the effectiveness of the Electoral Commission in discharging its functions, and to seek to place the exchange of correspondence in the public domain.

I have now placed in the Library copies of Mr. Speaker’s letter to the Lord Chancellor on this matter, and the Lord Chancellor’s reply. In view of the relevance of the exchange to the current inquiry of the Committee on Standards in Public Life into the Electoral Commission, I am also arranging for it to be sent copies, as I undertook to do when I gave evidence to that Committee on 7 September.