Vote Leave

Oral Answers to Questions — Electoral Commission Committee – in the House of Commons on 28th March 2019.

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Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health and Social Care)

To ask the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, what recent representations the Commission has received on fines imposed on Vote Leave.

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

The commission found Vote Leave guilty of multiple breaches under electoral law and imposed fines of £61,000 in July 2018. Vote Leave made representations to the commission in June 2018, when it was notified of the commission’s proposals for penalties. The commission considered these representations carefully, in accordance with its published enforcement policy, before deciding on the penalties to be imposed. Vote Leave took up its right of appeal to the county court, and the appeal is listed for July 2019.

Photo of Philippa Whitford Philippa Whitford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Health and Social Care)

The Leave campaign was found guilty of sending almost 200,000 unsolicited texts to numbers it had harvested from a football competition with odds of 5 million, million, billion to one. Anyone who is good at trillions can tell me at the end. In view of the threatened economic damage from Brexit, does the hon. Lady really think that a fine of £40,000 is enough to put others off?

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

The Electoral Commission works closely with the Information Commissioner and others in making sure that our rules are followed, but the Electoral Commission, in terms of its responsibilities, continues to urge the Government to introduce legislation to strengthen its sanctioning powers for future referendums and elections. Its view is that the current maximum fine of £20,000 per offence could well be seen as the cost of doing business.