§ Ms Coffey
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the additional costs relating to the establishment of the Electoral Commission will be met in advance of Royal Assent to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill. 
§ Mr. Straw
The Government intend to press ahead with obtaining Royal Assent in the spill-over and putting the controls in place at the earliest opportunity. I said on second reading of the Bill on 10 January 2000,Official Report, column 45, that I wanted the Electoral Commission established before the end of the year with the aim of having the new regime operating early next year. I believe that timetable can still be met. To that end urgent expenditure estimated at £1.5 million will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund. This is in addition to the sum of £300,000 I announced in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) on 27 March 2000, Official Report, columns 3–4W.