- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
On the 15 November, I sat on the committees of two Statutory Instruments related to elections:
The Police and Crime Commissioner Election (Amendment) Order 2022
The Police and Crime Commissioner Elections Order 2012 sets out the rules of conduct at PCC elections, including provisions on the regulation of candidates spending and election expenses. In July 2018 the Supreme Court, in R v Mackinlay ruled that there is no requirement that the provision of these benefits must be authorised by the candidate or their election agent. This created concerns that candidates and election agents could be liable for spending that they were unaware of. The Election Act 2022 corrects this by clarifying the notional expenditure rules, and this order replicates the correction in PCC secondary legislation – It states that ‘property, goods, services or facilities is or are made use of on behalf of the candidate only if their use on behalf of the candidate is directed, authorised or encouraged by the candidate or the candidate’s election agent”. The order also inserts two welfare benefits into the list of qualifying benefits for certain proxy voting applications for those receiving such benefits for these elections.
I asked the Minister:
“Can the Minister confirm it is the Government’s policy to have police and crime commissioner elections, particularly in the West Midlands?”
The Minister responded:
“Police and crime commissioners have been an established part of the electoral landscape of the United Kingdom since 2012. I cannot comment on individual areas, but there is always a debate about how things are organised—Members should not read anything into that. The principle of police and crime commissioner elections is seeded. Those elections are utilised and are making differences on a daily basis across the country.
The proposed changes are being replicated at other polls, including at English local elections, Greater London Authority elections and London mayoral elections. Separate secondary legislation following a negative procedure will be laid before the House in due course to cover those. The instruments today are essential to ensure that improvements to support disabled voters in the polling stations introduced by the Elections Act are applied consistently across all polls reserved to the UK Government.”
The Assistance with Voting for Persons with Disabilities (Amendments) Regulations 2022
This Statutory Instrument Amends the rules relating to support for disabled voters. It removes the regulations which provide for a specific device to assist blind or partially sighted people and replaces it with a broader requirement for polling stations to provide equipment to support voters with a wide range of disabilities. The SI would also require the Returning Officers or Counting Officers pay regard to guidance produced by the Electoral Commission when carrying out this duty. Finally, it alters the criteria for who can act as a companion to a disabled person so that it can be anyone over the age of 18, whereas beforehand is had to be a family member or registered elector themselves.
Both instruments were passed without objection.