Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011

Document Number:2011 CHAPTER 1
 
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An Act to make provision for a referendum on the voting system for parliamentary elections and to provide for parliamentary elections to be held under the alternative vote system if a majority of those voting in the referendum are in favour of that; to make provision about the number and size of parliamentary constituencies; and for connected purposes.

[16 th February 2011]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

PART 1 Voting system for parliamentary elections

The referendum

1 Referendum on the alternative vote system

(1) A referendum is to be held on the voting system for parliamentary elections.

(2) The referendum must be held before 31 October 2011.

(3) The referendum is to be held on 5 May 2011 unless before then an order is made under subsection (4).

(4) If the Minister is satisfied that it is impossible or impracticable for the referendum to be held on 5 May 2011 , or that it cannot be conducted properly if held on that day, the Minister may by order appoint a later day as the day on which the referendum is to be held.

(5) Where a day is appointed under subsection (4) , the Minister may by order make supplemental or consequential provision, including provision modifying or amending this Act or another enactment (and, in particular, provision modifying or amending this Act as regards the meaning of “voting area” or “counting officer”).

(6) An order under this section may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(7) The question that is to appear on the ballot papers is—

“At present, the UK uses the “first past the post” system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the “alternative vote” system be used instead?”

(8) In Wales, the following Welsh version of the question is also to appear on the ballot papers—

“Ar hyn o bryd, mae’r DU yn defnyddio’r system “y cyntaf i’r felin” i ethol ASau i Dŷ’r Cyffredin. A ddylid defnyddio’r system “pleidlais amgen” yn lle hynny?”

(9) Schedule 1 has effect in relation to the referendum.

2 Entitlement to vote in the referendum

(1) Those entitled to vote in the referendum are—

(a) the persons who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote as electors at a parliamentary election in any constituency, and

(b) the persons who, on that date, are disqualified by reason of being peers from voting as electors at parliamentary elections but—

(i) would be entitled to vote as electors at a local government election in any electoral area in Great Britain,

(ii) would be entitled to vote as electors at a local election in any district electoral area in Northern Ireland, or

(iii) would be entitled to vote as electors at a European Parliamentary election in any electoral region by virtue of section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 (peers resident outside the United Kingdom).

(2) In subsection (1)(b)(i) “local government election” includes a municipal election in the City of London (that is, an election to the office of mayor, alderman, common councilman or sheriff and also the election of any officer elected by the mayor, aldermen and liverymen in common hall).

3 Conduct of the referendum

(1) The referendum is to be conducted in accordance with the rules set out in Part 1 of Schedule 2.

(2) Part 2 of that Schedule (forms and directions) has effect for the purposes of those rules.

(3) Schedule 3 (absent voting in the referendum) has effect.

(4) Schedule 4 (application to the referendum of existing provisions) has effect.

4 Combination of polls

(1) Where the date of the poll for one or more of the following is the same as the date of the poll for the referendum, the polls are to be taken together—

(a) a local authority election in England;

(b) a local referendum in England;

(c) a mayoral election in England.

(2) The polls for the referendum and the Welsh Assembly general election in 2011 are to be taken together.

(3) The polls for the referendum and the Scottish parliamentary general election in 2011 are to be taken together.

(4) The polls for—

(a) the referendum,

(b) the general election of members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to be held on 5 May 2011 , and

(c) the Northern Ireland local elections to be held on that date,

are to be taken together.

(5) The following have effect—

Schedule 5 , in relation to the polls to be taken together in England under subsection (1);

Schedule 6 , in relation to the polls to be taken together in Wales under subsection (2);

Schedule 7 , in relation to the polls to be taken together in Scotland under subsection (3);

Schedule 8 , in relation to the polls to be taken together in Northern Ireland under subsection (4).

(6) Polls taken together under this section must not be taken together with any other polls (despite provision in any enactment to the contrary).

(7) Section 16 of the Representation of the People Act 1985 (postponement of poll at parish elections etc) does not apply to any polls taken together under subsection (1).

(8) If any of the elections referred to in subsections (2) to (4) are not held on the same day as the referendum, this Part has effect with any necessary adaptations and in particular—

(a) if the Welsh Assembly general election in 2011 is not held on that day, subsection (2) and Schedule 6 do not apply (and Part 3 of Schedule 4 applies with the necessary adaptations);

(b) if the Scottish parliamentary general election in 2011 is not held on that day, subsection (3) and Schedule 7 do not apply (and Part 3 of Schedule 4 applies with the necessary adaptations);

(c) if any of the elections referred to in subsection (4) are not held on that day, that subsection and Schedule 8 either do not apply or apply only in relation to the elections that are held on that day.

(9) Where a day is appointed by an order under section 1(4)—

(a) if that day is the same as the date of a poll mentioned in subsection (1) , the Minister may by order make provision disapplying that subsection or any of paragraphs (a) to (c) of it;

(b) if that day is the same as the date of a poll mentioned in subsection (2) or (3) , the Minister may by order make provision disapplying the subsection in question;

(c) if that day is the same as the date of a poll mentioned in subsection (4) , the Minister may by order make provision disapplying that subsection or either of paragraphs (b) and (c) of it.

(10) Where a day is appointed by an order under section 1(4) , and that day is the same as the date of a poll not mentioned in subsections (1) to (4) , the Minister may by order—

(a) provide that the polls are to be taken together, and

(b) make provision for and in connection with the combination of the polls.

(11) An order containing provision made under subsection (9) or (10)—

(a) may make supplemental or consequential provision, including provision modifying or amending this Act or another enactment (and, in particular, provision modifying or amending this Act as regards the meaning of “voting area” or “counting officer”);

(b) may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(12) In this section—

“local authority election in England” means the election of a councillor of any of the following—

a county council in England;

a district council in England;

a London borough council;

a parish council;

“local referendum in England” means a referendum held in England under Part 2 of the Local Government Act 2000;

“mayoral election in England” means an election in England for the return of an elected mayor as defined by section 39(1) of the Local Government Act 2000;

“Northern Ireland local election” means a local election as defined by section 130(1) of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962;

“Scottish parliamentary general election” means an ordinary election under section 2 of the Scotland Act 1998;

“Welsh Assembly general election” means an ordinary election under section 3 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

5 Press comment etc not subject to spending controls

Expenses incurred in respect of the publication of any matter relating to the referendum, other than an advertisement, in—

(a) a newspaper or periodical,

(b) a broadcast made by the British Broadcasting Corporation or Sianel Pedwar Cymru, or

(c) a programme included in any service licensed under Part 1 or 3 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 or Part 1 or 2 of the Broadcasting Act 1996 ,

are not “referendum expenses” for the purposes of Part 7 of the 2000 Act.

6 Control of loans etc to permitted participants

(1) The 2000 Act has effect in relation to the referendum as if the Schedule set out in Schedule 9 to this Act were inserted in that Act as Schedule 15 A.

(2) Section 120 of the 2000 Act (returns as to referendum expenses) has effect in relation to the referendum as if at the end of subsection (2)(d) there were inserted “and a statement of regulated transactions entered into in respect of the referendum which complies with the requirements of paragraphs 11 to 15 of Schedule 15 A”.

(3) Section 123 of the 2000 Act (declaration of responsible person as to return under section 120) has effect in relation to the referendum as if for subsection (3) there were substituted—

“(3) In a case where the permitted participant either is not a registered party or is a minor party, the declaration must also—

(a) in relation to all relevant donations recorded in the return as having been accepted by the permitted participants—

(i) state that they were all from permissible donors, or

(ii) state whether or not section 56(2) was complied with in the case of each of those donations that was not from a permissible donor;

(b) in relation to all regulated transactions recorded in the return as having been entered into by the permitted participant—

(i)...

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