Elections (Identification Documents)

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th June 1985.

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Mr. J. Enoch Powell:

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what use he intends to make of the power to extend by statutory instrument the prescribed identification documents in the Elections (Northern Ireland) Act 1985.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

My right hon. Friend is currently reviewing the list of specified documents in the light of experience at the district council elections on 15 May. The Government will in due course consider bringing forward legislative proposals to apply the specified document requirement to other categories of elections held in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Powell:

Making use of the blessed interval between elections to which we are now looking forward in Northern Ireland, will the Government be careful to consult all those with practical experience derived from the local government elections a month ago?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

The Assembly has already had a debate on that subject, and we shall be studying that. We are ready to listen to representations from any quarter in Northern Ireland about the range of the documents electors might produce or, indeed, other aspects of the conduct of those elections.

Photo of Mr Peter Bruinvels Mr Peter Bruinvels , Leicester East

Is my hon. Friend certain and satisfied that those wishing to take part in the recent elections in Northern Ireland were able to do so and were not denied the opportunity because they had the wrong documents available on the prescribed list?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

We got the balance about right. The overriding fact is that, as the Irish News put it, personation was well and truly buried at this election as the result of our legislation. That was our aim, and we achieved it.

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann

Can the Minister assure us that the Central Services Agency is doing everything in its power to issue a post-1973 medical card to everyone in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

In giving that assurance, I wish also to pay the warmest tribute to the staff of the Central Services Agency for their efforts in putting out more than 50,000 cards immediately before the election.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

Will the Minister keep in mind the proposal put in this House—[Interruption.]—when the matter was debated by—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. We have not finished Questions yet.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

Will the Minister keep in mind the proposal put to this House by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) that those who wished to have their names on the electoral list would have to sign the forms themselves and put their date of birth, which would be duplicated so that the presiding officer could properly check that all those voting were on the list?

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

As I said earlier, we shall want to review the experience of the district council elections and ensure that in future elections personation is as well and truly buried as it was in those elections.