Elections: May 2021

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:37 pm on 13th January 2021.

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Photo of David Linden David Linden Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 1:37 pm, 13th January 2021

We look forward to seeing the Minister back at the Dispatch Box; much as I like the Leader of the House, he was a poor substitute throughout the final stages of the Parliamentary Constituencies Bill.

Last month in Holyrood, legislation was endorsed by all parties to establish contingency measures in respect of May’s elections. The legislation was developed with the Electoral Management Board for Scotland and the Electoral Commission and makes provision for an earlier deadline in respect of postal voting applications, given the increased demand that would be expected. Dissolution will not take place in March but instead on the eve of the poll, to allow Parliament still to function and pass emergency legislation in what is clearly a very volatile situation. There is scope to allow polling to take place over more than one day, if needed, to support physical distance in polling stations.

At the moment, it is our expectation that elections can go ahead as planned, but I think we would all agree in this House that it is prudent and responsible to ensure that we have planned for every eventuality, so that the poll can be conducted safely and indeed fairly during the pandemic. Although we in the SNP have no skin in the game in terms of what happens at elections in England, it is clear that this Government are less well prepared for an election that cannot be treated as business as usual. Has the Minister looked at the measures adopted in Scotland, and will the Government be following suit with similar primary legislation to ensure that voter safety and confidence can be maintained during this year’s election?