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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 8:30 pm on 31st October 2001.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland) 8:30 pm, 31st October 2001

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but I am still attracted by the explanation from Mr. Field. The Government would have to admit that the entire national insurance system was in chaos. If it is in chaos, it is imperative that the Government sort it out. That is no argument against a cross-reference system to help protect against electoral fraud.

My right hon. Friend Mr. Trimble suggested that the Government were putting the shutters up; that they had produced the Bill and were too inflexible to consider change during the proceedings. That is one explanation, which we have encountered too often in the House, when the Government have been defeated on the detail of the argument. In this case the Government have been defeated strategically and in detail. We will press the matter, and if we are not successful this evening, the Minister will not have heard the last of it.