Use of personal identifier information
Baroness Hanham (Deputy Chief Whip, Whips; Conservative)
My Lords, although pilot schemes have been abandoned as a result of the amendments that have been made, there is nothing to say that under the provisions of the 2000 Act, a pilot scheme would not include all-postal voting. This group of amendments would ensure that no all-postal voting was piloted in any scheme. The most important effect of this whole cluster of amendments is implemented by subsection (2) of Amendment No. 98, which would ensure that, regardless of pilot schemes, no all-postal voting would ever be allowed to take place.
I was extremely interested to read in the Evening Standard of an electioneering scandal in the weeks leading up to the local elections held at the beginning of this month. I am sure that all noble Lords read of the postal voting fraud in Tower Hamlets and that the council candidate for that ward from my own party was denied her vote due to postal vote theft. So this problem is not going to go away.
Postal voting has been tried and tested. It is clear that it is in no way ideal. Its function is to provide a solution for otherwise unworkable situations, to enable people who cannot be present at the polling station for a number of reasons to cast their vote and to ensure that geographical distance or unavoidable inconvenience do not result in their being unable to vote. But to extend the remit of personal voting is to expose the electoral system, as we have already found out, to a serious risk of fraud.
In principle, these amendments go hand in hand with a pragmatic approach to the electoral system as laid out in my amendment on individual voter registration. With this Bill, we have an opportunity to clarify the extent of the franchise by providing registration to every individual and to close the back door on election fraud once and for all. We must close the door also on all-postal voting pilot schemes, which is the burden of my amendment. I beg to move.