Changes to electoral law passed this week will help disabled candidates

An order passed by the House of Lords this week will mean that expenses reasonably attributable to a candidates’ disability will no longer count towards their election expenses.

The Minister, Lord Young of Cookham, told the Lords:

Examples of such expenses include, but are not limited to, British Sign Language interpretation for hearing-impaired candidates, the transcription of campaign material into braille for visually impaired candidates and specialist equipment. This order will also exclude expenses funded from grants provided through the Government’s interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office from electoral spending limits. This £250,000 interim fund will support disabled candidates and help cover disability-related expenses that people might face when seeking elected office, such as those I have listed

Our John Shipley welcomed the proposal:

I thank the Minister for explaining this order and I want to record that I agree with it. It is entirely appropriate that any disability-related expenses in elections should be exempt from spending limits, on principle. That is because it helps disabled candidates to stand for election on equal terms with others. I noted the Minister’s comments about some objections that may have been raised on some of the details—but none is more important than the overall principle of equality of opportunity.

This order is in force now for the May elections.

But it isn’t any use to disabled candidates unless we actually help them with the costs of getting elected. 

If the Government is serious about getting more disabled people into elected office, they are going to have do put more than £250,000 into it. There are thousands of Council seats up for grabs. That £250k is not going to go very far. If you had one disabled candidate per parliamentary constituency, all 650 of them, and you consider that  BSL interpretation can cost £130 for half a day, you can see the problem. The previous Access to Elected Office fund at £2.5 million wasn’t enough.

If we are truly serious about making our Parliament more diverse, we need to put the cash in to help people to stand.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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One Comment

  • Richard Underhill 16th Feb '19 - 9:54am

    Stephen Lloyd https://stephenlloyd.org.uk/en/ might be a beneficiary.
    He did not resign his party membership and will work with the Lib Dem council in Eastbourne.
    Perhaps the Brexit issue will be resolved by 2022.
    Apparently No 10 thinks so.

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