European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Bill
Baroness Hanham (Conservative)
My Lords, I was not going to intervene but this has stirred up my recollection of what the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, said earlier. He gave a very graphic description of what would happen if all-postal votes became a generality. He said that there would be a disconnection between the candidates and the electorate. It is one of the reasons why, although we see some of the difficulties, we do think that it is important to have access to the list of people who have voted. It is absolutely clear that that does not mean a description of how they voted—they may have spoilt their ballot paper within the envelope—but the mere fact that they have voted means that candidates can concentrate on those who have not voted.
It may be that all electors will be thrilled to bits that nobody calls on them ever again—neither rings them up nor has a go at them, but it is not what our system allows for. As long as we have a party political system where candidates are trying to present their manifestos and themselves to the electorate then it seems perfectly proper that there is some way of knowing when and at what time people return their ballot papers, or whether they have returned them at a given stage. I see that the policy paper allows for that—it suggests that the political parties within each area should come to a conclusion with the electoral officer as to how they want that information to be presented. That seems fair and reasonable.