Charities must not support or oppose any particular political party or candidate. One way of making sure that a charity does not do this is to hold non-selective hustings featuring candidates from as wide a political spectrum as possible.
In some circumstances, charity law allows charities not to invite a candidate or party on the basis of their views or policies.
For example, in their guidance for English and Welsh charities, the Charity Commission of England and Wales say this could apply to:
“a representative from a political party which advocates policies which are in contravention of the charity’s objects, or whose presence or views are likely to alienate the charity’s supporters.”
It can be justifiable for a charity to hold a selective hustings of this kind.
However, in our view, if you decide not to invite a party or candidate on the basis or their views or policies, this is not an impartial reason, in the sense that we have defined in this guidance. The hustings would therefore be selective.
If the selective hustings takes place in a regulated period, then the spending will be regulated and count as regulated spending towards your total in the relevant part of the UK.
Spending on a hustings is often low. Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), there are spending, donations and reporting laws that apply depending on how much you spend at a UK Parliamentary general election (UKPGE), starting at spending above £700.
Non-party campaigners intending to spend more than £10,000 on regulated campaign activity must submit a notification to the Commission following which they will appear on the register of notifications. Only certain types of entities can submit a notification to the Commission.