Clause 6 - CORE schemes: procedure

Electoral Administration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:00 pm ar 15 Tachwedd 2005.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

May I ask the Minister what is meant by subsection (5)? It seems odd that the power to make a variation that terminates part of a scheme put in place by statutory instrument following consultation should not itself be subject to consultation. I would expect the Secretary of State to take the advice of the Electoral Commission and other bodies before making a variation that deletes part of the scheme just as for a variation that increases the scope of the scheme. I am at a loss to understand why subsection (5) is in the clause.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Clause 6(4) rightly states:

''An order establishing or varying a CORE scheme must not be made unless the Secretary of State first consults—

(a) the Electoral Commission;

(b) the Information Commissioner;

(c) the ERO who acts for each area proposed to be specified in the scheme;

(d) the ERO who acts for an area the specification of which the Secretary of State proposes to remove from the scheme.''

That is all perfectly reasonable, and we have no objection to it, but why should not there be consultation with the political parties? They know how the register works and are aware of what is and is not working correctly in an area.

Photo of Edward O'Hara Edward O'Hara Llafur, Knowsley South

Order. I think that the hon. Lady is referring to something that we shall deal with later.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

In answer to the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome, the clause provides for one exception to the requirement to consult before making an order, where the effect of the order is to terminate part of a scheme only. The thinking behind that exception is that a particular responsibility of a CORE keeper under a scheme may not be working as envisaged, and that it may be necessary to terminate that aspect of the CORE keeper's responsibilities as quickly as possible to limit the negative impact.

In response to the hon. Member for Epping Forest, the proposed consultees in paragraphs (a) to (d) are statutory creatures; political parties are not in quite the same category. Of course, it goes without saying that political parties will be consulted all the way along, but it is just the statutory creatures that are laid out by way of consultation.

Photo of Edward O'Hara Edward O'Hara Llafur, Knowsley South

Order. I stand corrected regarding my previous advice to the hon. Lady. I am getting my amendments out of order; she referred to an amendment that has already been debated.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I beg your pardon, Mr. O'Hara. I appreciate that amendment No. 42 touched on this issue, but we did not discuss it at that point. The Minister has given me a good explanation.

Photo of Edward O'Hara Edward O'Hara Llafur, Knowsley South

Yes; of course, it is not in order to reopen the debate.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I beg your pardon.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 7 and 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Kevin Brennan.]

Adjourned accordingly at half-past Twelve o'clock till this day at Four o'clock.