Administration's Response to Points raised
on 28 April 1999 by Members of the Bills Committee
on Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Bill

C1: In relation to publishing of election advertisements, to respond to a member's view that an exemption provision similar to section 19(1A) of CIPO should be included in clause 34 of the Bill.
A1: We are seeking EAC's clarification on C3 and will consider the matters raised in C1 and C3 together. We will respond as soon as possible.
C2: To advise on the relevant provisions of the electoral laws of UK in which media commentaries are excluded from the definition of election advertisement.
A2: According to section 75(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 -

"No expenses shall, with a view to promoting or procuring the election of a candidate at an election, be incurred by any person other than the candidate, his election agent and persons authorised in writing by the election agent on account -

  1. of holding public meetings or organising any public display; or

  2. of issuing advertisements, circulars or publications; or

  3. of otherwise presenting to the electors the candidate or his views or the extent or nature of his backing or disparaging another candidate,
but paragraph (c) of this subsection shall not restrict the publication of any matter relating to the election in a newspaper or other periodical or in a broadcast made by the British Broadcasting Corporation or the Independent Broadcasting Authority".
C3: Members point out that media commentaries published for the purpose of promoting or prejudicing a candidate at an election would fall within the new definition of election advertisement proposed by the Administration (item 1 of LC Paper No. CB(2)1805(01) refers). However, this contradicts paragraph 5 of Appendix to Chapter 8 of the EAC's Proposed Guidelines in respect of the 1999 District Councils Election which states that "Any newspaper is at full liberty to express its support for or disapproval of a candidate". The Administration is requested to comment on this anomaly, and to consider excluding commentaries on candidates by newspapers or concerned groups from the definition of election advertisement.
A3:Please see A1.
C4:Under section 27 of CIPO, "money" within the definition of "donation" has a wide meaning which includes any money's worth etc. To advise whether volunteer service rendered by people outside their working hours, or by people who take their own leave from work is considered to be of money's worth and should therefore be counted as election donation under the Bill.
A4:The existing definition of donation in CIPO could be interpreted to cover the donation of any service for which payment would normally be made. As we have explained at the meeting on 28 April, we consider that our proposal of including an additional element of "work normally undertaken during such time for the purpose of earning income or profit" to narrow the scope of volunteer service to be counted as election donation in the Bill is appropriate in maintaining a level playing field for all candidates.

Constitutional Affairs Bureau
3 May 1999