The Government has announced the appointment of Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts to conduct a review of the operation of the regulatory regime governing third parties at the 2015 General Election.
The review will report on the operation and effectiveness of the provisions regulating third parties contained within Part 6 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
The regulation of third party campaigners was amended by the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014.
When assessing the effectiveness of the current provisions governing third party campaigning within Part 6 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums 2000, the reviewer should consider the following principles:
the need to maintain public trust and confidence in the regulatory regime governing third parties; and
the need to ensure campaigning which seeks to influence voting intentions at elections is undertaken in an open and transparent way.
The review will assess whether third parties understood the regulatory rules, complied with those rules, and where breaches of the rules occurred, whether appropriate enforcement activity has been undertaken by the regulator.
In order to determine the above, the review will consider the following specific matters:
suitability of Electoral Commission guidance and whether it was clear to non-party campaigners what the regulatory rules are and their obligations under the regulatory regime;
appropriateness of the registration thresholds and the effect on the number of third parties registering;
the operation of the new reporting regime in relation to donations to recognised third parties;
the operation of the rules on lead/small campaigner provisions, where a coalition of third parties work together to a common plan; and
effective and proportionate enforcement of the rules by the Electoral Commission to ensure third parties comply with the regulatory regime, and where complaints or breaches occur, these are effectively and appropriately investigated and enforced.
Ministers are required to lay a copy of the reviewer’s report before Parliament before November 2016.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords