Electoral Administration Act

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th October 2008.

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Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Labour, Sherwood 2:30 pm, 28th October 2008

When he plans to bring into force section 59 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006; and if he will make a statement.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

As my hon. Friend will be aware, section 59 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 cannot be brought into force until the Electoral Commission informs my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice that it is satisfied that it will receive the information that it needs from the House authorities. Discussions between the House authorities and the Electoral Commission have been ongoing for some time and are continuing, although I expect them to conclude soon.

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Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Labour, Sherwood

Is the Minister aware that a system of dual reporting to the Registrar of Members' Interests and the Electoral Commission causes concern and confusion across the House? Is it not important to have a one-stop shop? If we do not implement section 59, the Political Parties and Elections Bill, currently before the House, provides other opportunities. Will the Minister take the opportunity and act?

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I take this opportunity to thank my hon. Friend, Sir George Young, who is in his seat, and all their colleagues on the Standards and Privileges Committee for all the hard work that they have done to bring this matter to a resolution. Of course we understand how important the issue is to all Members of the House. We are not far off resolving the issue, and I hope that the solution that emerges will meet the House's approval.

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Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay Senior Parliamentary & Political Advisor To David Cameron

As we all agree, the dual declaration is wrong. It causes confusion, and innocent mistakes are often unreasonably punished. Is it not about time that the Secretary of State pushed the Electoral Commission, which we know has been dragging its feet? This situation has gone on for months and is totally unacceptable. The Electoral Commission needs to moveā€”and move fast.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The time has come to act. This has been going on for too long, and we are determined, as far as we can, to bring it to a conclusion. We think that we are very close to that, and we hope that the solution will emerge soon.

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