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Clause 1 — Registration: provision of signature and date of birth

Part of Orders of the Day — Election Fraud (Northern Ireland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 31st October 2001.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland) 7:15 pm, 31st October 2001

That was one argument. The Minister was adducing arguments under data protection legislation that it would be inappropriate for the chief electoral officer of Northern Ireland to search the whole United Kingdom database. I do not see why it is remotely inappropriate for the chief electoral officer to search the whole United Kingdom database to check that a national insurance number belongs to the person who has claimed it. In the circumstances that the hon. Gentleman describes, that would indeed be appropriate. I was trying to address the arguments that the Minister put forward later. The last refuge of a Minister in trouble when proposals are being made to simplify and clarify the system is the argument that there are problems under the data protection legislation.