The Electoral Commission

2.26The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 established an Electoral Commission, consisting of between five and nine Commissioners appointed by the Queen on an Address by the House of Commons, moved with the agreement of the Speaker and after consultation with the leaders of each registered party to which two or more Members of the House belong.1 The provisions were amended by the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009, s 5, to add a further four Commissioners nominated by the main political parties represented in the Commons and increasing the maximum number of Commissioners to ten. The functions of the Commission include reporting on the administration of specified elections (including parliamentary general elections) and referendums, reviewing electoral law, provision of policy development grants to qualifying political parties, promoting understanding of electoral and political matters, registering political parties, scrutiny and investigation of parties' income and expenditure and the administration of referendums.

To ensure independence from Government, the Commission's Estimate is presented to Parliament by a Speaker's Committee appointed under s 2 of the 2000 Act, consisting of the Speaker, the Chair of the Justice Committee, the Lord Chancellor, a Minister with responsibilities relating to local government (appointed by the Prime Minister) and five Members who are not Ministers (appointed by the Speaker).2 The Committee also approves the Commission's five-year plan, and fixes the maximum number of deputy Electoral Commissioners who may be appointed.

Footnotes

  1. 1. Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, ss 1, 3. Members who have not taken the oath do not count towards the specified two Members. For the first appointments, see CJ (2000–01) 50, 53. Commissioners may be reappointed, see CJ (2004–05) 100; see Votes and Proceedings 23 January 2018 for defeat of a motion to appoint a Commissioner.
  2. 2. For the first appointment by the Speaker, see CJ (2000–01) 93, and for the first annual report of the Committee, see HC 56 (2002–03). The Act provides that the select committee whose Chair is a member of the Speaker's Committee shall be the one with functions relating to electoral matters. The relevant Minister is also an ex officio member. This is currently the Minister for the Cabinet Office (SI 2016/997).