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«The Transparency of Lobbying, Non Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill House of Commons Second Reading Tuesday 3 September 2013 On ...»

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37. The new requirement for weekly reporting after Parliament has been dissolved is likely to be particularly onerous and potentially impracticable for large organisations with branches or other complex structures. These new donation reporting rules are modelled on those that apply to political parties.

Our recently published regulatory review included recommendations 7 to simplify the reporting rules for parties, and if these are adopted for the proposed new regime they would help to reduce the new burdens imposed on campaigners.

38. The Bill also requires organisations to submit a statement of accounts covering the regulated period with their post-poll spending return, unless other legislation already requires them to publish accounts of a certain standard (it seems likely that charities will benefit from this exemption, but that companies publishing abbreviated accounts may not). The new requirements appear onerous, in that the accounts will have to be produced within a few months of polling day and will cover a period of time that is not a standard accounting period. The Bill provides for us to mandate common standards for these accounts, but we do not expect to be able to do this in time for 2015, given the timing of the Bill and the diverse organisations that will be affected by the new requirements.

Paragraphs 3.9 – 3.20.

The Commission’s regulatory remit

39. The Bill includes a change to the Commission’s regulatory remit. The Commission’s Board and Accounting Officer were not consulted on the change, and we are concerned that it has been brought forward without consultation and with no clear rationale. We are particularly concerned that the introduction of a “duty … to take all reasonable steps” to ensure compliance will increase the risk of challenge to any of our regulatory decisions, including those involving political parties. This in turn will affect our ability to deal promptly with spurious or politically motivated unfounded allegations.

The Commission’s resources

40. The Impact Assessment published by the Government acknowledges that the Electoral Commission is likely to need additional resources in order to regulate the new rules. We think its resource estimates are significantly understated, and will discuss this with the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission which is responsible for our funding.

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