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I have to take issue with the right hon. Gentleman. The reason for the abuse was that a particular individual, whom the right hon. Gentleman constantly quotes and cites in this context, behaved extremely badly, and people will continue to behave extremely badly. Let us go back to Professor Scully. He said in his evidence to the Committee:
“No substantial independent evidence was produced at the time of the GOWA (or, to my knowledge, has been produced subsequently) of significant public concern about dual candidacy. The claims made about dual candidacy ‘devaluing the integrity of the electoral system’, and ‘acting as a disincentive to vote’ therefore remain wholly unsupported by solid evidence.”
Those were the comments of the academic Professor Scully, whom the right hon. Gentleman prays in aid. That same professor demolishes the right hon. Gentleman’s argument.
The prohibition was introduced against the advice of leading academics such as Professor Scully, organisations such as the Electoral Reform Society and independent bodies such as the Electoral Commission. I was very surprised by the right hon. Gentleman’s criticism of the Electoral Commission. We are now legislating to correct this anomaly and I hope that the hon. Members for Pontypridd (Owen Smith) and for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) will not press their amendments, although I am not holding my breath.
The House divided: