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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 7:30 pm on 31st October 2001.

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Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Liberal Democrat, Montgomeryshire 7:30 pm, 31st October 2001

I am being challenged to read my number, but obviously I would not like to see it in Hansard as it might cause me unforeseen problems—people might forget my name and would just refer to me by my national insurance number. However, I assure the hon. Lady that if the matter was important enough, I could leave the Chamber and find out my national insurance number, even though I was not prepared for that question. Furthermore, I am sure that for individuals in their own homes who are willing to play an honest and constructive part in the electoral process in Northern Ireland, such a matter would be no more difficult than it would be for me.

I remind right hon. and hon. Members that the change is not being proposed as a blanket, all-pervading necessity. The amendments allow for the fact that it may not be possible to provide a national insurance number. I appeal to the Minister to acknowledge that the amendment is a common-sense proposal that has significant support from both sides of the House, and to show that the Government are willing to listen to sensible ideas and, in the process, ensure that Northern Ireland has a much more reliable system than anything we have so far debated for checking that individuals are who they say they are.