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I beg to move,
That an humble address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will re-appoint Rob Vincent CBE as an Electoral Commissioner with effect from
The motion proposes that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that Her Majesty will reappoint Rob Vincent CBE as an electoral commissioner for a period of four years from
It may help if I set out some of the background to this appointment. Electoral commissioners are appointed under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, as amended by the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009. Under the Act, the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission has a responsibility to oversee the selection of candidates for appointment to the Electoral Commission, including the reappointment of commissioners. The Speaker’s committee has produced a report, its first report of 2019, in relation to this motion.
The Electoral Commission includes up to six ordinary commissioners, who are subject to restrictions as to political activity. These are recruited by open competition, under a procedure put in place and overseen by the Speaker’s committee. The Electoral Commission also has four nominated commissioners, who are persons put forward by the registered leader of a qualifying party for consideration for appointment. Mr Vincent is an ordinary commissioner and was recruited through an open and fair competition conducted in 2015.
The Speaker’s committee is required by section 3 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, as amended, to oversee the procedure for selecting candidates for appointment to the Electoral Commission. Under section 3(5A) of the Act, this duty encompasses the recommendation of candidates for reappointment to the Electoral Commission. There is no presumption in the statute either for or against reappointment.
At its meeting in March 2019, the Speaker’s committee considered a request from Sir John Holmes, the chair of the Electoral Commission, seeking Mr Vincent’s reappointment for a second term. In considering the question, the committee had regard to the report on Mr Vincent’s effectiveness in the role, as submitted by Sir John. In particular, the committee was informed that Mr Vincent’s previous experience as a returning officer in a local authority, and the practical understanding of this work he was able to bring to the work of the commission, had been extremely valuable.
Having carefully considered Sir John’s report, the Speaker’s committee concluded that it was content to recommend Mr Vincent for reappointment. Once the Speaker’s committee has reached a decision, statute requires that the Speaker consult the registered leader of each registered party, provided that that party commands at least two Members of this House. The Speaker therefore accordingly wrote to the leaders of the qualifying parties in April, consulting them on Mr Vincent’s reappointment. No objections or concerns were received by the Speaker in response to this consultation. The Speaker’s committee therefore commends the reappointment of Mr Vincent to the House. If the appointment is made, Rob Vincent will continue to serve on the Electoral Commission until
Given the importance of this reappointment to the Electoral Commission’s work, will the Government start working on the Electoral Commission’s recommendations, including the recommendation that electoral fines are too small and seen as normal, day-to-day business by the major UK parties; and the recommendation about revealing donations in Northern Ireland further back than the cut-off date set by the Government?
I will say two things in response to the hon. Gentleman’s question. The first is that it is slightly out of the scope of this debate on a motion concerning the reappointment of an electoral commissioner. I will, however, indulge the hon. Gentleman with my second observation, which is that the wider issues that he has raised would be best taken up with the Minister with responsibility for the constitution, my hon. Friend Kevin Foster.
I thank the Leader of the House for moving the motion. I thank the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission for overseeing the procedure for selecting candidates for appointment to the Electoral Commission, and for producing its report, “Re-appointment of an Electoral Commissioner”, which was published on
Rob Vincent CBE has served as an electoral commissioner since
Sir John also noted Mr Vincent’s past experience, which the Leader of the House has outlined, as a returning officer in a local authority, and the practical understanding of that work that he had been able to bring to board meetings. Mr Vincent was chief executive of Kirklees Council between 2004 and 2010, and of Doncaster Council between 2010 and 2011.
After considering Sir John’s letter, the committee recommended that Mr Vincent be reappointed with effect from
I want briefly, and for the record, to associate myself with the observations made by the Leader of the House and the shadow Leader of the House concerning the suitability of Mr Vincent for his current and future position. The third party has no objection to the motion, and we look forward to Mr Vincent continuing in his role in the Electoral Commission.
Question put and agreed to.