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Electronic Voting

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons Commission – in the House of Commons on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Whether the Commission has discussed the potential merits of including trials of electronic voting systems in the restoration and renewal programme.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

I commend the hon. Gentleman on being, I think, the sixth member of his party who in this Session has raised the issue of electronic voting; however, I am afraid that I cannot give him a different answer to the previous five responses. [Interruption.] I am afraid my response is that this is not a matter for the Commission; it would only be responsible for ensuring that, for instance, the funding that was necessary to ensure that that happened was in place.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his answer. I am sure when the Victorians built this place, the voting system we still have was state of the art, but now, for the modern age, we need to move to a current state-of-the-art system—electronic voting—and I hope he agrees that that would allow us more time to debate the substance of Bills.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

Absolutely; I agree that it is time for change, although I suspect that the new Leader of the House may not be giving his entire support to such proposals as we revert to the Victorian era. I draw to the hon. Gentleman’s attention the fact that the Procedure Committee is looking at electronic voting, and he has until 27 September to submit a request to it.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

I noticed that the whole House cheered when the right hon. Gentleman said he had no authority over this matter, but does he recognise the fact that many people see the current voting system as a huge advantage, because it enables us to nab Cabinet Ministers as they come out of the voting Lobby?

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

I would suggest to the hon. Gentleman that there are ways in which electronic voting can take place and he would still be able to nab a Cabinet Minister. I would also point out to him that Opposition Members often have difficulties in nabbing Cabinet Ministers in the Division Lobby.