Electoral Administration Bill
Baroness Ashton of Upholland (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs; Labour)
My Lords, this amendment provides an enabling power for the Secretary of State to roll out the new provisions in relation to regulated transactions in three further, very specific contexts where there are already existing parallel controls for donations. Those are recognised third parties at national election campaigns; permitted participants at national and regional referendums; and candidates in election campaigns.
The intention is to use the order-making power to replicate as far as possible the regulated transactions regime, which is already in the Bill for political parties and extended to individuals, in each of these three cases making appropriate adjustments to reflect the different contexts. Anything that a political party does is inherently political, and as a consequence it is appropriate to regulate a party's donations and loans at all times. However, recognised third parties, candidates and permitted participants are only regulated when acting in a political capacity. For example, donations to third parties and candidates are only regulated when they are for the purpose of meeting political expenditure related to the election in question. The regulated transactions regime will need to draw a similar distinction.
Another difference arises from the existing position of candidates. The reporting threshold for donations to third parties and permitted participants is currently £5,000, but for candidates it is only £50. There is no provision for the aggregation of donations with other donations of less than £50. Accordingly, we do not think that it would be appropriate or sensible to provide for the aggregation of loans and donations where such small sums are involved. Those are matters of detail. The power is subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, and I look forward to bringing these issues forward to your Lordships' House for discussion. I hope that noble Lords will accept the amendment. I beg to move.