Currently, Parliamentary candidates have a set limit on their spending once a general election has been called. This averages out at £11,000 (depending on the size of the constituency). This Bill would see the spending limited triggered as soon as a candidate starts campaigning.
Similar "trigger" rules existed before 2000, but were changed in light of the Fiona Jones case.
The new rules would come in on Royal Assent of the Bill next Spring, before statutory guidance has been issued. This could cause a great deal of confusion, and lead candidates to inadvertently break the law.
Moreover, campaigning by trade unions is unaffected, as is the Communications Allowance. The latter enables MPs to spend up to £40,000 communicating with their constituents. Although rules are in place that seek to prevent the phenomenon, there are strong feelings that some MPs use these missives as campaigning tools.
Francis Maude, now Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, has put out a press release in advance of the debate. He comments:
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