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 Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 1:37 pm, 13th January 2021

This is an excellent point on which to end the session. This is exactly the measure that I was referring to earlier that will complete the set of preparations to enable that to happen for anybody who might be affected by covid-19 in the few days before an election, when, traditionally, it would have been too late to apply for an absent vote. The details of this scheme will be coming to the House shortly. This also allows me to recap on the point that I have been making throughout this session, which is that to change the date of these elections at this stage would require primary legislation, which is a high bar and it is not something to be taken either lightly or quickly, and I know that the House will understand that. That is why we are keeping this point under review. Clearly, given the Prime Minister’s announcements of further national restrictions, circumstances have changed, but we are taking a careful review of the situation, being conscious of the timescales that would be required to make any changes were they strictly necessary. I also hope the House will have understood from my tone that we are all extremely keen to ensure that democracy goes ahead and does not suffer further delays. I look forward to bringing those other details to the House, as such scrutiny is important and hon. and right hon Members have a close interest, as we all should, in helping our residents be best informed about the choices in front of them.