Political parties are facing further restrictions on their election
campaign budgets because a Bill implementing the new regulations has
been held up in Parliament.
The Government was planning to implement a pounds 20 million total
campaign spending limit in the 12 months running up to polling day. But,
because of the hold-up, the Home Office has warned that a lower limit
may be introduced if, as expected, Tony Blair calls the election in
Because of the pounds 20 million ceiling, Labour and the Tories were
already planning to devote much less revenue to ads than the pounds 7
million they spent at the 1997 general election. The delay means the
money for Labour’s agency, TBWA GGT Simons Palmer, and the Tories’
Yellow M will be further curtailed, officials in both parties said.
The Bill will not become law before July and could be delayed until the
autumn. The home secretary, Jack Straw, has told other parties in a
letter that the spending limit would be reduced proportionately.
For example, if it was passed six months before the election, the
ceiling would be pounds 10 million.
Straw said: ’For a spring 2001 general election, the interval between
commencement of the limit and the election would be a good deal shorter
than the 365-day period over which the election expenditure provisions
will normally apply.’
Home Office ministers accused the Tories of ’political point scoring’ by
obstructing the Bill’s passage through the House of Lords. But the
Tories blamed the Government, saying its legislative timetable was in a
mess and that it had devoted little time to the measure in the second
This article was first published on Campaign