Early parliamentary general election

Part of Early Parliamentary General Election Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 29th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley 7:15 pm, 29th October 2019

Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and the hon. Lady is right to say that we need to ensure that we have time to get the legislation that pertains to that wonderful part of the UK through properly. We must make certain there is sufficient time for that, and that the legislation is not dropped and Northern Ireland has to wait until after the next general election for that to be dealt with properly.

There are lots of other reasons involved in this. We all have staff working here as well, and they need to have proper notice for all the plans they need to make for when we have Prorogation and they leave. A lot of people outside do not realise that when Prorogation comes and this place closes those of us fighting elections are pretty well banned from the parliamentary estate. I made the grave error once of having left something in my office, and I had to arrange to come to my office during an election. I was met by a security clerk, who walked with me to my office, let me into my room—all the rooms were locked—and then stood over me watching what I was taking out of the drawers. People do not appreciate all of this. So having an extra three days—[Interruption.] I can see the Opposition Chief Whip laughing, but it was proper stuff that I had left behind. [Laughter.] Yes, addresses, telephone numbers—who knows? So there is merit in having this time, as some people, particularly those elected in 2017, may not quite understand what is about to befall them when this place closes down.

It is therefore appropriate to have that lead-in and I am still persuaded by 12 December, because Thursday is the traditional day. It was probably chosen because it was the old market day. I know that lots of people have elections on a weekend. Clearly, we could have the election on a Sunday. I am a member of the Council of Europe and a lot of Council of Europe countries have general elections on a Sunday, but I can understand, from a religious point of view, why that might not be totally appropriate. I am even persuaded of having early voting, as whether it was 9 December or 12 December would not be as important for those who all of a sudden are told by their works that they have to be away. They may not know until a day before that they have to be away from their town and they may be away for two or three days, so it is too late for them to get a postal or proxy vote. I therefore rather like the idea of people being able to turn up to the town hall with proofs of identity—yes, photo ID—to prove that they are who they say they are and they live where they say they live, and then being able to cast their vote. Such an approach would mean that the ninth or the 12th, if we had this in play now, would be so important.

I hope that, no matter who wins the next general election, we can have a proper, considered debate about elections and the way they are held. We have heard all sorts of ideas about how schools should not be used, and I fully appreciate this—