Skip to main content

Government response to Electoral Commission report published

19 January 2023

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has published the Government’s response to the Committee’s report on The Work of the Electoral Commission.

The Government has not accepted any of the Committee’s recommendations to them, which included to:

  • Start work to set out a long-term strategy to rationalise electoral law, with cross-party support, ahead of the next General Election.
  • Commit to a three-month statutory consultation period for future Strategy and Policy Statements for the Electoral Commission.
  • Increase the maximum fine for election campaign rule breaches to £500k or 4% of total campaign spend
  • Strengthen transparency around digital campaigning by making it a separate category in election spending return
  • Give Ofcom the power to set minimum standards for social media’s political advert libraries.

The Government response offers limited detail on the timetable to implement further measures of the Elections Act 2022. It says measures to extend the franchise for overseas electors, enable online applications for absent voting and reform the rules on postal and proxy votes will be brought into force from Summer 2023, with further measures to follow in the Autumn “in good time for the scheduled polls in May 2024.”

The Committee is still awaiting the Electoral Commission’s response to its report.

In its report, published in October 2022, the Committee warned that “challenges lie ahead” for the Electoral Commission to navigate the changes of the Elections Act 2022 ahead of local elections in May 2022. The Committee criticised the Government for inaction on the longstanding cross-party calls to simplify electoral law. It was also raised that the legislative framework has not kept pace with the nature of modern, online political campaigning, and that the Government’s Strategy and Policy Statement significantly alters the Electoral Commission’s relationship to Government as an independent body.

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright