EU Referendum: Electoral Commission Resources

The Hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South, Representing the Speaker’S Committee on the Electoral Commission, Was Asked – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th December 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter 12:00 am, 7th December 2017

What assessment has been made of the adequacy of resources available to the Electoral Commission to undertake multiple investigations into the EU Referendum campaign.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South

The Electoral Commission has experience of undertaking multiple investigations and is confident that its resourcing for this year is sufficient. Nevertheless, it recognises that its workload in this area has increased. Early in 2018, the commission will be submitting its budget for the next financial year for scrutiny. It is for the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission to agree the estimate before its submission to Parliament.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

I hope that the Speaker’s Committee will ensure that the Electoral Commission has all the resources it needs to do this important work. As well as investigating Russian interference, which the Electoral Commission’s chairman, John Holmes, confirmed it was doing yesterday, will my hon. Friend comment on whether the commission is examining whether there was any collusion between Vote Leave, Leave.EU, Labour Leave, BeLeave, the Democratic Unionist party and Veterans for Britain? Will she also comment on whether the role of the United States hedge fund billionaire, Robert Mercer, is being investigated?

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South

I know that the commission has had useful and positive engagement with my right hon. Friend about these matters. Various investigations are under way, so it will not be possible to comment further, but I can assure him that once any investigations are complete, the commission will decide whether any breaches have occurred and, if so, what further action may be appropriate. The outcome of all investigations will be publicised on the Electoral Commission website in due course.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I think the hon. Lady has already asked a question in this group, so I am afraid it is not within the rules for her to come in, but I am sure we will hear further from her in the course of the day—possibly on multiple occasions. We will see.