Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill — Third Reading
Baroness Browning (Conservative)
My Lords, Amendments 5, 6 and 7 change the powers of the Secretary of State to make secondary legislation in relation to elections. The Bill, as currently drafted, allows provision to be made about the registration of political parties, candidates' spending limits and spending limits for political parties. Amendments 5 and 6 amend those powers to ensure that the Secretary of State can make provision about all these matters, but can also make provision, as in the case of other elections, in relation to other or third parties who may incur expenditure campaigning for or against a specific candidate or more widely.
Your Lordships will recall that my noble friend Lady Hamwee brought forward amendments in this area on Report, which I committed to consider. I am grateful to my noble friend for raising these important points. Secondary legislation to be made under Clause 59 would have already restricted what candidates and political parties could spend in those elections. Noble Lords will appreciate that the spending of organisations that campaign during elections, but that are not themselves fielding candidates, can greatly affect the result of a poll, even if they are not explicitly supporting a specific candidate. It is important that we are clear that the Bill will allow for that. It is usual in elections for such spend to be regulated and PCP elections should not be an exception. The amendments are necessary to ensure that the powers of the Secretary of State are sufficient to achieve that regulation. I hope that my noble friend Lady Hamwee will agree that they achieve the same end as her amendments on Report. I beg to move.