Hon. Bernard Jenkin (Shadow Secretary of State for the Regions, Local and Devolved Government Affairs; North Essex, Conservative)
I fully agree with my hon. Friend; that is the only safe way to conduct elections. Without individual registration, and having no provision in legislation for the declaration of identity to be witnessed, there is no way that the authorities will be able to tell the scale of any fraud.
England is the mother of Parliaments. The democratic institutions in this country used to set the standards for countless democracies throughout the world. The English constitution was the inspiration of Locke and Montesquieu—the philosophers who in their turn were the inspiration of the founding fathers of the American constitution. Our Parliament here at Westminster has established countless constitutions for new nations around the world, yet now, after centuries of nurturing and developing the world's benchmark for democracy, we are faced with constitutional chaos, which the Government have created in a remarkably short period.
Earlier this month, we saw a collapse in public confidence in the voting system unprecedented in modern times. In the style of a dictatorship, the Government declared the all-postal pilots to have been "successfully completed", and less than five months away from referendums on significant constitutional change, we are told that they may never take place. If they do, they are likely to be a farce.
No wonder politics is becoming the despair of voters across the country. If the Government are truly interested in raising turnout at elections, they should look more closely at the way in which they conduct the government and stewardship of our constitution, rather than seeking short-term increases in participation through the use of voting gimmicks.