Thank you for contacting me about the Elections Bill.
The new Elections Bill will strengthen the integrity of our election system, prevent foreign interference, tackle intimidation and make it easier for British expats to vote. The Bill will also put British citizens’ participation at the heart of democracy and will support voters in making free and informed choices at elections. Measures will address postal vote harvesting, introduce digital imprints, as well as require a photographic ID before voting at a General Election – a requirement in Northern Ireland since 2003.
I understand your concerns about civil society organisations being prevented from adding their voice to the debate. Government Ministers have been clear that this is not the case and that CSOs will continue to play an important role in providing valuable information on policies. The Elections Bill aims to make elections fairer and more open by requiring greater transparency from campaigners.
Regarding the particular clauses raised with me most often in recent weeks, Clause 24 of the Bill would require third party campaigns to give notice to the Electoral Commission at a lower level of expenditure that is currently required, and Clause 25 would also require campaign spending, which is part of a joint plan between a registered party and a third party or parties, to be counted as part of the spending limits of all parties involved.
Lastly, I believe that joint campaigning has an important role to play in our electoral system but it needs to be transparent and fairly regulated particularly when it could be regarded as intending to achieve a common purpose.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about these important matters.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking