HC Deb 03 February 2000 vol 343 cc650-2W
Mr. Fitzpatrick

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress has been made with the secondary legislation setting out detailed arrangements for the Greater London Authority elections. [108703]

Mr. Hill

I intend to lay a number of orders and the elections rules to give effect to the following decisions.

Early voting

I shall shortly be laying the necessary secondary legislation to allow voters who wish to vote in person, but cannot do so on 4 May, to vote early. The order will provide for voting in one or two locations in each borough on 27, 28 and 29 April 2000, between 7 am and 9 pm daily. The precise locations of early voting polling stations will be publicised locally and voters will complete ballot papers in the normal way. This will be a new option, and is in addition to postal and proxy voting, which will also be available.

Elections rules

Consultation on the detailed elections rules is now complete and these will be laid shortly. As well as providing for all aspects of the running of the elections these will provide for the hours of polling to be between 7 am and 9 pm. They will also provide for the following levels of deposits and signatures for candidates.

Each Mayoral candidate will be required to gather 330 signatures—ten from each London borough and the City of London—in support of his or her candidacy. They will also be required to pay a deposit of £10,000, which would be forfeited if a candidate fails to obtain 5 per cent. of the vote.

Assembly candidates will not be required to collect signatures in support of their candidacies. In respect of deposits, there will be different arrangements for the different categories of candidate. Parties with a list of candidates, and independent candidates contesting London-wide list seats, will be required to pay a deposit of £5,000, which will be forfeited if they fail to obtain 2.5 per cent. of the vote.

Candidates contesting Assembly constituencies will pay a deposit of £1,000 which will be forfeited if they fail to obtain 5 per cent. of the vote.

Election expenses

Following consultation on the proposed limits for candidates' and third parties' election expenditure, I will lay a draft order shortly setting out the following maximum spending limits for the GLA elections:

  • £420,000 per mayoral candidate;
  • £35,000 per candidate contesting an assembly constituency;
  • £330,000 per party or independent candidate contesting the London-wide list.
  • £25,000 per third party supporting or opposing mayoral candidates;
  • £25,000 per third party supporting or opposing London-wide list candidates, including independent candidates; and
  • £1,800 per third party supporting or opposing assembly constituency candidates.

These limits will enable candidates and parties to fight effective campaigns, at either the London-wide or the constituency level.

Some political parties have expressed concern that candidates in GLA elections, in common with local elections generally, are not entitled to a free mailshot. We believe that a free London-wide mailing would be particularly vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous candidates seeking to gain advertising at the tax payers expense for the cost of a deposit. Following the consultation exercise we have lowered the proposed limits to provide a more level playing field for less well resourced parties and independent candidates, and will allow parties with both a Mayoral candidate and a London-wide list to pay for a single election mailshot to every London household should they wish to.

The order is subject to affirmative resolution in each House of Parliament. If approved, the limits will come into force on the day after the day on which the order is made. Candidates' limits will cover any expenditure as defined in section 76 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.


An order will be laid in draft before each House of Parliament specifying the offices and appointments, the holders of which will be disqualified from being elected or being the Mayor or an Assembly member. This order supplements the disqualification arrangements already contained in section 21 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and other legislation.

We intend the GLA to be an inclusive authority, which works in partnership with other organisations on London's behalf. We are therefore keeping to a minimum those offices and appointments which a person will not be able to combine with membership of the GLA. The order will specify only those offices which are required to be or seen to be politically impartial; are with a body which will scrutinise the GLA or one of the functional bodies; or are with a body which may exercise a quasi-judicial role over the GLA or a functional body. I have today placed in the Library of the House a list of offices and appointments which will be designated in the order. Conflicts with public offices, whether of interest or of time pressures, will also be covered in the statutory guidance on ethical standards to which the Authority will be required to have regard. I intend to publish this guidance shortly.

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