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I am not convinced that 100 is sufficient, although I take the point that one does not always know who one's supporters are. I believe that a requirement for 500 signatures will discourage recklessness and frivolity. One hopes that the 500 voters will then put their money and their vote where their mouth is.
I wish genuine candidates to be able to stand and not to be deterred by a high deposit. If new clause 23 is accepted nominations will be properly handled, but we do not want difficulties caused by complicated procedures for signing. I hope that, whatever the Committee decision, clear guidance will be given as to the way in which the nomination form should be signed. Even in my own case, one of the 30 assentors did not sign properly. Time is often of the essence, so clear guidance is important.
Amendment No. 52 deals with the number of votes needed to save the deposit. I believe that the 10 per cent. threshold suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr) and myself is reasonable. In the light of the number of candidates who did not lose their deposits, if we are tightening up the rules and preventing some candidates from standing, the rest should still be able to stand. In 1983 there were 2,578 candidates. I want the democratic process to survive and to grow. I want real candidates to be able to stand for real constituencies. Therefore, although I am disappointed that my amendment No. 99 did not find favour, I support the Government's proposal for a £500 deposit.