My Lords, I too welcome this group of amendments. First, on Amendments 8, 9 and 10, I recall the debate led by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, who is not in his place at the moment. He talked about his experience of the parish council and his area, explaining that a part-time clerk did a couple of days a week and it was impossible. He made his case well and I am happy to support him in it. I am glad to see that the Government have listened. I also believe that many Members on all sides of the House in the other place made similar points. I thank the Government very much for that.
I am very pleased with Amendment 12. We, with the Liberal Democrats, raised this issue during a debate in this House. We could not get it all agreed before it left to go to the other place but I had two very positive meetings with Matt Hancock and Margot James. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, also came along to our other meetings and the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, from the Conservative Benches, was also involved. We got to a good place. Nobody from any party thought that this issue should not be properly recognised in legislation. I am very pleased that the Minister and his colleagues have listened to us.
The Minister is of course right that technology changes all the time. We have no idea what we will be doing in four or five years’ time. Things move so fast now, so it is good that our legislation is written to take that into account. I was also pleased to hear the Minister say that the Government intend to consult and work with the Parliamentary Parties Panel, which is very important. It is a statutory body, set up in the PPERA 2000, where practitioners from all political parties can come together and talk with both the Electoral Commission and Cabinet Office officials. It really is the body where the people who know what they are talking about can come together. I sat on the body for many years and there was a lot of agreement among party officials about what needs to be done. I am glad that the Government will do it and I am pleased with what has come forward today.