February 27th, 2019 by James Goudie KC

The Combined Authorities (Mayoral Elections) (Amendment) Order 2019, S.I. 2019/350, and The Local Authorities (Mayoral Elections) (England and Wales) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019, S.I. 2019/351, amend the rules that apply to Combined Authority Mayoral Elections and Local Authority Mayoral Elections. The rules are amended to remove the requirement that each candidate’s home address must be published during the election process and be included on the ballot paper. The instruments also remove the requirement for each candidate’s qualifying address to be published during that process. A candidate’s qualifying address is the address that qualifies the candidate to stand for election.These instruments are being made to amend the Combined Authorities (Mayoral Elections) Order 2017 (S.I. 2017/67) which sets out the rules for the election of Combined Authority Mayors and the Local Authorities (Mayoral Elections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 2007/1024), which set out the rules for the election of Local Authority Mayors. Candidates in those elections are required to be nominated by nomination paper. That paper must currently include a candidate’s home address. Those addresses will be published in the statement of persons who have been nominated to stand for election and also on the ballot papers. The only exception to this rule currently being made is for persons who have Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) functions and are standing for election as a Combined Authority Mayor. These candidates may currently require that their home address is not made public. The changes made by these instruments mean that in future all candidates in Local Authority and Combined Authority Mayoral Elections will be able to request that their home address is not made public. In addition, candidates will in future provide their “qualifying addresses” separately. A candidate’s qualifying address is the address that qualifies the candidate to stand at the election – it may be, for example, a work address or the address at which the candidate is registered to vote.

This will be in line with the existing provisions in place for candidates at UK parliamentary elections. It is planned to have the changes in place so that they apply for the local elections in England scheduled for May 2019, when local Mayoral Elections are scheduled to be held in five local authority areas, and the election of the Mayor for the North of Tyne Combined Authority is due to be held, and all future elections of Combined Authority Mayors and local Mayors in England after then.

The Electoral Commission agree that these changes should help to reduce the risk of abuse and intimidation of Mayoral election candidates and their families.

The Representation of the People (Election Expenses Exclusion) (Amendment) Order 2019, S.I. 2019/352 will exclude disability-related expenses, to the extent they are reasonably incurred, from the statutory definition of “election expenses”. The statutory instrument will create this exclusion by adding disability-related expenses to the list of matters in Part 2 of Schedule 4A to the Representation of the People Act 1983 (“the RPA”).

It is envisaged that this Order will come into force by 26 March 2019, the start of the regulated period for local government elections in England. This will ensure that any disability-related expenses, including funding from grants provided by the EnAble Fund for Electoral Office are exempted from electoral spending limits. The Order does not impose any new duties on candidates. It exempts a category of expenditure from the requirements imposed on “election expenses” under the RPA.

The territorial extent and application of this Order is UK-wide. It will apply to candidates standing for Parliamentary elections across the UK; including by-elections. In England it will apply to local government elections; Mayor of London elections and London Assembly elections; Mayoral elections; Combined Authority Mayoral Elections. In Northern Ireland it will apply to Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Electoral spending limits for local government elections and National Assembly elections in Wales are devolved matters. Electoral spending limits for local government elections in Northern Ireland is covered under separate legislation and therefore would need to be amended separately with the approval of the Secretary of

State for Northern Ireland. An exclusion for disability-related expenses for disabled candidates from candidate spending limits currently exists in Scotland for local council elections (including by-elections), and Scottish Parliament elections.

The Order will ensure that disability-related expenses which are reasonably incurred do not count towards election spending limits for disabled candidates. Disability-related expenses include, but are not limited to, the cost of providing transport support for mobility impaired candidates, British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation for hearing impaired candidates during election campaigns and the transcription of campaign material into braille for visually impaired candidates.

Matters of expenditure that would be common to both disabled and non-disabled candidates, such as the normal printing of campaign leaflets for distribution to the public, would not fall within the scope of this exemption. However where a disabled candidate requires specially adapted measures to participate in campaigning on a level basis with a non-disabled candidate, then such an additional expense is likely to fall within the scope of the Order, providing it satisfies conditions.

The exclusion created by the Order will also capture disability-related expenses funded from grants provided by the EnAble Fund for Electoral Office for disabled candidates. This interim fund of £250,000, will provide grants to support disabled candidates and will primarily cover English local government elections in May 2019.

The Electoral Commission welcomes the Order and supports the creation of an exclusion for expenses that relate to the needs of disabled candidates, thereby making elections more accessible for disabled candidates. The Commission considers that disabled candidates should not be required to disclose details of expenses relating to their disability in a spending return.

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