Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the hon. Member for City of Chester, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, whether the Commission (a) plans to enable itself to take prosecutions to court without prior police investigation, and (b) currently is entitled to empower itself to do so. 
[Due for Answer on 2 June.]
Christian Matheson: Later this year the Electoral Commission will be consulting with political parties, with police and prosecution authorities, and with the public on changes to its Enforcement Policy. This will include proposals setting out how we will decide to bring prosecutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This does not require a change in legislation and will bring the Commission’s regulatory work in line with a wide range of other regulators.
When the capability is in place, the Commission will be able to investigate and bring lower order offences before the courts in a way which is swift and proportionate, and complies with the necessary investigation standards. It will act as an important deterrent to those tempted to break electoral law, deliver more effective regulation of political finance and support public confidence. It will also free up the resources of the police and prosecutors, although they will remain in the lead on complex and more serious criminal investigations.