Franchise for London Elections

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 1st July 2015.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development) 11:30 am, 1st July 2015

What assessment he has made of the effect of the inclusion of EU citizens in the franchise for elections to the Greater London Assembly and the Mayor of London on voter engagement; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Government Whip, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

EU citizens resident in London are eligible to register and vote in local government elections and elections for the GLA and Mayor. I am sure that both I and the hon. Gentleman would encourage them to do just that. So far I have made no assessment of the effect on voter engagement, but if the hon. Gentleman has thoughts or insights he would like to share, I am very happy to hear them now.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development)

The Mayor of London, now also Boris Johnson, once claimed that London was the sixth biggest French city in the world. Why does the Minister believe that it is right that all those French citizens who have made London their home should be allowed to vote for the Mayor’s successor, but not for whether this country should stay in the European Union?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Government Whip, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The vote for staying in or leaving the EU will be based on the parliamentary constituency franchise, which is based on people who are eligible to vote for this place. British nationals living in EU countries elsewhere in the EU are not allowed to vote in equivalent referendums elsewhere—for example, in the Dutch referendum in 2005.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Does my hon. Friend share my fear that, with an air traffic control strike and transport workers on strike in France at the moment and massive unemployment in France owing to its socialist republic and with all these people coming over here, we could end up with a French-speaking Mayor?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Government Whip, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Anecdotally, quite a lot of people are commenting on the fact that many of the French who choose to come to live in London do so because they prefer it here; they think that it is a more advantageous business environment and a better place to live and work. Therefore, perhaps they have imbibed and imbued themselves with some of the local colour and flexibility, rather than with the attitudes that my hon. Friend describes.