Campaigning by charities during elections and referendums is governed by Part VI (Controls relating to third party national election campaigns) Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which must be read in conjunction with Part 2 (Non-party campaigning etc) Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014. The 2014 Act was clearly intended to operate in conjunction with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011; and the fact that its operation has been suspended to allow for a snap General Election on 9 June has rather confused the issue. But be that as it may, the rules in relation to pre-Election campaigning have now kicked in and churches, faith-groups and others need to be very careful about observing them: Greenpeace was fined £30,000 for refusing to register as a third-party campaigning organisation under the 2014 Act in the run-up to the 2015 election. Continue reading
It has been confirmed that so-called “purdah”, the pre-election period during which there are restrictions on contacts with civil servants and campaigning by charities – which include religious charities, whether they are registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales or not – will begin tomorrow: Saturday 22 April. Continue reading
Motion for early election announced
Following the ruling of the Divisional Court of Queen’s Bench [Thomas LCJ, Etherton MR and Sales LJ] on R (Miller & Anor) v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union  EWHC 2768 (Admin) we observed there were a number of commentators who had suggested that this might result in the Prime Minister calling a “snap” election. However, on the Andrew Marr show she had expressed her “absolute certainty” that there wouldn’t be a General Election before 2020, here. Continue reading
A week dominated by THAT vote in Synod…
The week in Synod
The Rt Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, prefaced the week with a tweet:
“For half term week the C of E sets up a special holiday club called Synod, where we try to play nicely with all the other girls and boys”.
Whether they did “play nicely” was not easy to discern; Continue reading
Implications of independent report on electoral fraud and “undue spiritual influence”
On 12 August, the Cabinet Office published the independent report (*the Report”) of Sir Eric Pickles, former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Sir Eric had been asked by the previous government to consider what further changes were needed to make the electoral system more secure in light of the 2015 Tower Hamlets election court judgment and the consequent disqualification of the elected mayor for a number of corrupt and illegal practices. The Report, Securing the Ballot, includes recommendations about how the government can prevent such crimes in the UK. Continue reading
A surprisingly quiet week, in which the reserved judgment in the Ashers Bakery case was put back from 7 May – possibly because there was something else going on…
General Election 2015
There is little to say that hasn’t by now already been said, except that the Charity Commission is apparently investigating a complaint that a religious charity indulged in party-political campaigning. However, there’s always the BBC’s Election quiz: How well have you been paying attention? with a reprise of the some of the trivia you may have missed – David certainly did.
On a more serious note, the fact that David Cameron has been able to form a majority Government presumably means that any radical reform of the House of Lords – Lords Spiritual included – is now off the agenda until 2020. Yesterday the BBC reported that Chris Grayling was to be replaced as Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary by Michael Gove and it remains to be seen what will happen to the Human Rights Act 1998 and UK adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights under the new regime. For a reaction to the change of government see Adam Wagner’s post on RightsInfo: The Election Result Means Big Changes Are Coming For Human Rights. Continue reading
Civil Society News reports that the Charity Commission is investigating allegations that members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church provided campaigning and leafleting support for Conservative candidates and held prayer services for a Conservative victory at the General Election. The Church (otherwise known as the Exclusive Brethren) is a charity; and it is a basic principle of charity law that charities may not undertake party-political campaigns. Continue reading