Before we recommence debate on the Bill, I wish to inform the committee that the Bill has been reconsidered by the Government in the context of speculation about an election and how the Bill would impact on a summer election. It is the Government's intention to move an amendment on Report Stage to ensure that the disclosure provisions for donations in the Bill, that is £500 to an individual and £4,000 to a political party, would become operational immediately on the enactment of the Bill. The remaining sections relating to the funding of political parties and the capping of expenses will not have effect until 1 January 1998.
This is proposed to meet the practical requirement that Deputies have voiced and of which the Government is aware, for the Public Offices Commission to establish itself, issue proper guidelines and enable candidates in an election to have a reasonable understanding of the legal framework within which they would be required to operate. The Government intends to propose one or two other non-related sections to the Bill, for example the establishment of the boundaries commission to take account of the expected publication of the most recent census of population. Rather than do that on an ad hoc basis, which is how it has been done for some time, statutory provision should be made. There are amendments to the register or elector provisions that are encompassed in the Bill and which all sides would like to see in place immediately.
The sections dealing with the main issues on which we have had discussion, the capping of election expenses and the funding of political parties, will not be brought into effect until 1 January 1998. I hope this arrangement will meet the many concerns expressed over the many days of discussion and will allow for the speedy passage of the Bill.