Government should look again at policy on Electoral Commission
1 December 2022
The cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee has heard that the Government has not made the case that a Strategy and Policy Statement for the Electoral Commission is necessary at this time.
- Read the report summary
- Read the full report
- Find all publications related to this inquiry, including oral and written evidence
The report, published today (Thursday), finds that the Government has not provided independent evidence to justify bringing forward the Draft Statement relating to the Electoral Commission, the independent body that oversees elections and, accordingly, the Government should not make the Statement at the current time.
The Committee’s report warns that if the Government decides to proceed, the Draft Statement will need to be fundamentally rewritten.
Clive Betts, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, said:
“The Government has not provided credible evidence regarding concerns at the Electoral Commission’s performance to justify bringing forward this Statement.
“The Government in bringing forward this Statement, in this form and at this time, risks damaging the independence of the Electoral Commission and undermining public confidence in the democratic process. The Government should think again and consider whether the Draft Strategy and Policy Statement is necessary.”
The report notes that the Committee did not receive any evidence to suggest that the Electoral Commission’s performance is poor and that, instead the impression is the Commission, “was performing either well or at least adequately in a field that is often legally complex and can be politically highly charged”.
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has the power to introduce a Strategy and Policy Statement for the Electoral Commission under provisions in the Elections Act 2022.
As one of the statutory consultees under the Elections Act 2022, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee decided to carry out an inquiry into the Draft Statement and the Committee’s report will be sent to the Speaker’s Committee of the UK Parliament.
The Electoral Commission is accountable to the Speaker’s Committee of the UK Parliament, and as consultees on the Statement, the Speaker’s Committee will also give their own view.
The LUHC Committee received 10 written evidence submissions and held two oral evidence sessions, including with the Association of Electoral Administrators, the Electoral Commission, and with Rt Hon Andrew Stephenson MP, then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Housing and Communities), DLUHC.
Image: UK Parliament/Tyler Allicock