For the last election the limit that a candidate could spend on campaign expenses was £600. Given that a number of constituencies are geographically large and may included a number of islands, constituency candidates may need to travel considerable distances to speak to crofters. The costs of travel in addition to other expenses such as hiring meeting halls has led to suggestions that the upper limit for expenses should be increased.
Question 11: Should the limit of election expenses for candidates be increased from £600 to £700?
All respondents provided a view on the whether the limit of election expenses should be increased. Overall, a majority of 12 respondents thought that the limit should increase, with the remaining three (Scottish Crofting Federation; Community Land Scotland; and an individual) opposing any increase. Indeed, the Scottish Crofting Federation called for a decrease in the limit.
Those in favour of increasing the limit for election expenses cited the costs of travel, overnight stays, hall hire, advertising and postal expense as contributing to the need for an increase. A few individuals considered that by raising the limit, a greater pool of possible applicants may result.
Whilst one individual welcomed the proposal for an increase of £100, others (National Farmers' Union Scotland and one individual) recommended an increase to £1,000 to reflect the actual costs involved.
Those arguing against any increase felt that by restricting the expense limit this could lead to an increase in potential applicants, particularly amongst those less well off. Community Land Scotland also pointed out that inflation had been low since the last elections and increasing the limit by £100 would be disproportionate.
Question 12: Please include any other comments about election expenses or the process for declaring expenses here.
Six respondents provided further comments. There was general agreement with the view of the Scottish Crofting Federation:
"Expenses should be receipted, checked and published."
Two individual respondents recommended that expenses be published on the Commission website; two individuals emphasised that the process of claiming and declaring expenses should be transparent. One individual called for random audits of expense claims. Another emphasised the importance of explaining to candidates the expenses protocol prior to their standing for election.
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