Electoral Administration Bill
Orders of the Day
Oliver Heald (Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs & Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Assisted By Shadow Solicitor General), Constitutional Affairs; North East Hertfordshire, Conservative)
Yes. I was not sure whether Mr. MacNeil was suggesting that some of his constituents cannot sign their names, because clearly there would need to be provision for that, which is what we have suggested.
"I would support the use of individual identifiers such as signatures and dates of birth".
Redcar and Cleveland council gave its support, saying:
"individual registration would provide a more accurate canvass."
The Minister's colleague, the Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Vera Baird, will have to explain herself to her council. The council where Labour was accused by the judge of systemic electoral fraud was Birmingham, which the Minister has already mentioned. The council's evidence supports collecting individual identifiers and calls that a "useful safeguard". The respected commentator Peter Riddell in The Times has described the Minister's arguments as "false". He says:
"There need not be a choice between fighting fraud and maximizing registration and turnout. They are parallel, not conflicting, issues."
He described our case as "overwhelming"—and rightly so.
I could continue, but instead perhaps I should say to the Minister that all the political parties support the case that I am making—yes, even the Labour party. I will quote from the official Labour party response to the Department for Constitutional Affairs policy paper. The head of the constitutional and legal unit said, on behalf of his party:
"We agree with the collection of individual identifiers when people register to vote as a welcome improvement in enhancing the security of the electoral process."
So, it is not just Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe observers, the Electoral Commission, the Electoral Reform Society, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the other parties, Cross Benchers and the other place who agree, but even the Labour party.