Electoral Fraud

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th October 2017.

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Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole 12:00 am, 11th October 2017

What steps the Government are taking to tackle electoral fraud.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office

We are committed to providing a clear and secure democracy. Following our manifesto commitment, we are working with four local authorities to pilot voter ID in polling stations, and working with Tower Hamlets to pilot changes in postal voting in 2018, as part of a developing programme to strengthen electoral integrity.

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole

I welcome the fact that the Government are piloting voter ID. I had the privilege of being in Iraqi Kurdistan for the recent independence referendum, when voter ID was used with apparently few difficulties. Which local authority areas are involved in the Government’s pilot, and how can the system be rolled out to further authorities in due course?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office

I am pleased to be able to confirm that the four local authorities that have agreed to take part in the voter ID pilot are Woking, Gosport, Bromley and Watford; and, as I have said, Tower Hamlets is involved in the postal vote pilot. We had an agreement with Slough as well, but at the last minute Labour councillors voted against joining the pilot, against the advice of their own officials. As we have heard this morning, the Labour party does not seem to take electoral fraud very seriously.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Labour, City of Chester

Is it not a fact that in 2015, when more than 50 million votes were cast, the number of convictions for electoral fraud was in the low double figures? Is not the truth that this is a Trojan horse, introducing voter suppression methods to enhance the electoral prospects of the Conservative party?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office

If the hon. Gentleman wants to be taken seriously on this issue, he should listen to the Electoral Commission, which in 2014 urged the Government to adopt the kind of measures that we are adopting now. He should also persuade Labour councillors, in Slough and elsewhere, to take it seriously. If Labour is seen as the party that is soft on electoral fraud, that will not be a very good look for Labour.