HC Deb 24 June 2002 vol 387 cc608-10
34. Mike Gapes (Ilford, South)

When the Electoral Commission plan to discuss enforcement of the law relating to imprints on material circulated during election campaigns. [61208]

Mr. A. J. Beith (representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission)

I understand from the chairman of the commission that it has no such plans. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 does not give the commission an enforcement role as regards imprints on election material, although the Government are required to consult the commission before making regulations relating to imprints. In that context, the commission has encouraged the Government to bring in the new requirements for imprints contained in the Act that were suspended by the Election Publications Act 2001.

Mike Gapes

I am disappointed by that reply. Those of us who have been subjected to the distribution of literature without imprint, have complained and had the matter investigated by the police, have found—as in my case—that the Director of Public Prosecutions says that it is not in the public interest to prosecute". That is even though the people responsible have been warned about their future conduct. How can we enforce the law to protect democracy if people can distribute literature with impunity?

Mr. Beith

I can well understand the hon. Gentleman's concern about the experience that he had in his constituency, but such matters of law enforcement are matters for the Director of Public Prosecutions, who will—I am sure—be made aware of these exchanges. It is the job of the commission merely to monitor compliance, and it may make recommendations arising from that monitoring.