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Political Finance Regulation and Electoral Law

Volume 723: debated on Thursday 1 December 2022

5. Whether the Committee has made a recent assessment of the effectiveness of the commission’s oversight of political finance regulation and electoral law in the UK. (902564)

The Speaker’s Committee has not made a recent assessment of the matters raised. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee recently concluded an inquiry on the work of the Electoral Commission. It recognised the complexity of electoral law, recommending that it is rationalised and improved. It also noted a “strong record” of the Electoral Commission’s monitoring, investigation and enforcement work, and made a range of recommendations to support that.

I thank the hon. Lady for that answer. With the ongoing mystery funding of think tanks, the reluctance to regulate online campaigning and the introduction of voter ID, nobody trusts this Tory Government on regulating elections and the franchise. However, I wonder what the commission’s view is of the UK Government’s proposals for a strategy and policy statement?

The commission’s view remains that a strategy and policy statement by which the Government can guide its work is inconsistent with the role of an independent Electoral Commission. It has published its response to the current consultation, highlighting where the draft departs from the existing plans for its work, which have been considered and approved by the UK’s Parliaments. The commission will continue to act in an independent and impartial way to help maintain public confidence in elections across the UK.

I welcome my hon. Friend to her new position. In that role, may I ask her to use the offices of the Speaker’s Commission to push both Ministers and the Electoral Commission on the point about regulation for the forthcoming voter ID requirements in May’s local elections? She will know the concerns of electoral registration officers that they still have not got all the information they require from the Government.

The Electoral Commission has been clear that major changes to electoral law should be made at least six months ahead of those elections, and the legislation has been a bit slow in coming forward. However, the commission is working hard to make sure that electoral administrators get that guidance as soon as possible.