Annual limit on non-election expenses incurred by represented registered party
18.—(1) This section applies to any expenses (“non-election expenses”) which—
(a) are incurred by or on behalf of a represented registered party; and
(b) fall within Schedule 1; but
(c) are neither—
(i) subject to the controls on campaign expenditure in respect of a relevant election which are contained in Part 5 of the 2000 Act, nor
(ii) required (in accordance with any enactment) to be included in a return as to election expenses in respect of a candidate at a particular election.
(2) In respect of each financial year, the limit applying to the non-election expenses that may be incurred by or on behalf of a represented registered party is such amount as the Secretary of State may by order prescribe.
(3) No more than one per cent. of the amount specified in subsection (2) may be incurred by a represented registered party for the purposes of—
(a) sending unsolicited material falling within paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 which is addressed to any person registered, or entitled to be registered, in the register of parliamentary electors for any particular constituency; or
(b) making unsolicited telephone calls to such persons.
(4) No order is to be made under subsection (2) unless a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.
Clause 18 provides for annual limits on parties’ spending. This is an additional ‘detachable’ suggestion, which is not needed to implement the core of the CSPL’s proposals. However, there is a logic to recognising the modern reality that elections are not won and lost in the four weeks, or four months, of an election campaign, but in the four or five years before it begins. Comments are particularly welcome on this proposal. Because the principle of this suggestion is a new one, the Clause does not specify what the limit should be. One suggestion is that it could be set at 15% below level the present 365-day limit which precedes a General Election. This would remain a generous annual limit for non-election spending of £16,575,000 for parties operating across the UK. The Clause additionally stipulates that no more than 1% of the figure set can be spent communicating directly (by way of unsolicited mail or telephone calls) with electors in any one constituency in a given year. Again, comments are most welcome.