Thank you to the substantial number of constituents who have contacted me about the Electoral Commission, the independent regulatory body which oversees elections and referendums, and regulates political finance in the UK.
As you mention, in June 2021 the Government issued a Written Statement in which it stated that it would seek, via its forthcoming Elections Bill, to provide “clarity in law that the Electoral Commission should not bring criminal prosecutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland”. The change would not apply in Scotland where, the Government’s Statement noted, “there is already a single prosecutorial body”.
I share your concern about any plans of this nature, which I believe would be a harmful and worrying step for the integrity of our democracy. In my view, it is not for any government to dictate the priorities of an independent watchdog into elections. I fully support the role of the Electoral Commission as a strong and effective regulator to oversee our elections and regulate political finance in the UK and I believe there are already adequate provisions in place to ensure the Commission is accountable to Parliament. More widely, I think there is a case for increasing the Electoral Commission’s powers rather than reducing them.
I note that the Commission has also expressed concerns about the Government’s proposals, warning that they would “place a fetter on the commission which would limit its activity”.
Thank you once again for contacting me and sharing your views about this issue.