asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 14 June (WA 271), under what powers returning officers in local elections are issuing to election agents forms for the return of election expenses which ask for information that is not statutorily required; and whether such forms should indicate those items that are required and those which are merely requested.
Section 81 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (as amended by Section 26 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006) requires the election agent of every candidate at the election to submit a return to the appropriate officer on behalf of the candidate setting out all election expenses incurred by or on behalf of the candidate within 35 days of the date of election. The Electoral Commission has used its powers under Section 81 (10A) to prescribe a form which may be used by candidates and agents to report their election expenses. Candidates are not obliged by the regulations to make their return on an issued copy of the prescribed form.
It is for the commission to decide whether such a form indicates which information is statutorily required and which is merely requested and for the agent or candidate to decide if they want to provide more than the statutorily required information. The returning officer has no statutory powers to issue a form, but may choose to do so to assist candidates and agents in compiling the information required to be included in their electoral expenses return.