§ 7 48 p.m.
§ Baroness Amos
rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 18 March be approved [15th Report from the Joint Committee].
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, these regulations make general provision for the conduct of the European parliamentary elections due to be held on 10 June and revoke and replace the previous regulations, the European Parliamentary Elections (Northern Ireland) Regulations 1986. They also allow citizens of the 10 new member states to vote at and stand as a candidate at European parliamentary elections.
These regulations are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. They are generally being made in exercise of the powers conferred by Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002. The measures relating to the rights of citizens of the European Union to vote at and stand as a candidate at European parliamentary elections, however, are being made in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.
The regulations, which were laid on 18 March and taken through Standing Committee in another place on 22 April, are the first full revision of European parliamentary elections regulations since 1986 and effectively incorporate and consolidate the major changes to electoral legislation since then. The regulations will codify certain provisions from the Representation of the People Act 2000, the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002, the Electoral Fraud Act 2002 and associated subordinate legislation. The regulations also modify legislation to take account of citizens of those states joining the European Union on 1 May 2004, the accession states. The regulations are broadly in line with those that are now in place for Great Britain.
This is a technical piece of legislation and I do not intend to go into the detail of each individual part of it. However, two points caused a degree of confusion in the debate in another place. First, there was the issue of postal voting. The debate in another place referred to a three-week period for a postal vote. This, I think, stems from the fact that an application for a postal vote must be returned before 20 May, three weeks before polling day. The actual postal vote, however, must be returned by 10 p.m. on 10 June, which is of course polling day.
The second point of confusion related to the details that need to be included on the election publications with which Part 2 of these regulations deal. On billboards, placards and other literature the name and address of the printer, the promoter and the candidate must be included. However, it is not necessary to include details of the publisher if he or she is different from the printer. I hope that that clarifies matters. I beg to move.
857 Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 18 March be approved [15th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Baroness Amos.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.