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Clause 3 — Absent votes and declarations of identity

Part of Orders of the Day — Election Fraud (Northern Ireland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:58 pm on 31st October 2001.

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Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Opposition Whip (Commons) 9:58 pm, 31st October 2001

This has been an important debate on an important Bill. I am only sorry that despite the many promises that were made by the Government and the previous Government to bring the matter to the Floor of the House sooner, and the consultation that was carried out, we have had to wait until now for the Bill to appear. We may need such legislation much sooner than envisaged in view of some of comments about the Assembly elections that are due in May 2003. Many people in Northern Ireland would welcome that prospect.

It is important that as well as new legislation to strengthen provisions against fraud, the necessary resources are made available to the chief electoral officer. We may have new provisions, but if we do not have the resources to implement them, we will be no better off. Lack of resources for the chief electoral officer has been one of the problems in tackling electoral fraud in Northern Ireland. One of the things that has struck me—

It being 10 o'clock, Mr. Speaker put the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [10 July].

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Third time, and passed.