Schedule 10 - Illegal practices

Elections Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 17th January 2022.

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Votes in this debate

  • Division number 164
    A majority of MPs voted to pass the Elections Bill in the House of Commons.

Amendments made: 119, page 149, line 35, leave out “39(3)(b)” and insert

“(Purposes referred to in section 39)(4)”.

This amendment is consequential on NC12.

Amendment 120, page 150, line 28, leave out “39(3)(b)” and insert

“(Purposes referred to in section 39)(4)”.

This amendment is consequential on NC12.

Amendment 121, page 151, line 8, leave out “39(3)(b)” and insert

“(Purposes referred to in section 39)(4)”.

This amendment is consequential on NC12.

Amendment 122, page 151, line 29, leave out “39(3)(b)” and insert

“(Purposes referred to in section 39)(4)”.

This amendment is consequential on NC12.

Amendment 123, page 152, line 7, leave out “39(3)(b)” and insert

“(Purposes referred to in section 39)(4)”.

This amendment is consequential on NC12.

Amendment 124, page 152, line 22, leave out “39(3)(b)” and insert

“(Purposes referred to in section 39)(4)”.—(Kemi Badenoch.)

This amendment is consequential on NC12.

Third Reading

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch Minister for Equalities, Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) (jointly with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 9:53 pm, 17th January 2022

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I thank all Members across the House who have engaged in debating the substance of the Bill on Second Reading, in Committee and on Report today. I also thank my officials for their hard work in getting me up to speed so quickly on the policy, after I took over from my hon. Friend Chloe Smith. I wish to thank my Conservative colleagues for their thoughtful, informed contributions and support for these important measures—in particular, the members of the Bill Committee, and my hon. Friends the Members for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson), for Gedling (Tom Randall) and for Broadland (Jerome Mayhew) for their careful consideration of so many Report stage amendments.

I also want to acknowledge the work of the former shadow Secretary of State for young people and democracy, Cat Smith, together with the hon. Members for Putney (Fleur Anderson), for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara) and for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady). While we may not always have agreed on the policy, I welcome their engagement and indeed the challenge on a number of the provisions. Scrutiny in this place is designed to enhance the quality of our legislation, and indeed on a number of points I did ask my team to consider where we might want to think further on the details.

As always, it is a pleasure to engage in reasoned and informed debate on all matters relating to the integrity of our elections. I know that all of us on both sides of the House share the common desire to keep our elections secure, fair, transparent and up to date so that our democracy can continue to thrive. Fundamentally, that is what the Bill is about. It delivers on the Government’s manifesto commitment to ensure the integrity of our elections and it will protect the right of all citizens to participate in our elections while feeling confident that their vote is theirs and theirs alone. I commend the Bill to the House.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 9:54 pm, 17th January 2022

There are many difficult decisions to make in this place—matters of fine balance, of public policy or of genuine disagreement—that are hard for all right hon. and hon. Members, but this is not one of those. This is a bad Bill brought forward by a bad Government in the pursuit of bad intentions. They have pushed it through without pre-legislative scrutiny, avoided the Committee of the whole House and changed the electoral system for duly elected posts in this country between Second Reading and Committee and during Committee stage.

The Bill has been rushed. It has been debated today on tiny margins—Third Reading will last for seven minutes. The Government could have sought to build consensus, if they had really wanted to tackle the problems that they said they did, but they have not.

What is the sum total of the Bill, when we take account of what the Government have proposed? If someone lives in this country, it will be harder for them to vote. If they live in a tax haven, it will be easier for them to take part. If they work for a poverty charity, it will be harder for them to express their views, but if they have deep pockets, it will never have been easier—[Interruption.] Government Members have had their opportunity; now I will have mine.

The Electoral Commission—an anchor institution in protecting politics from itself—is again to be fettered. That is what the Government want. They want silenced opposition and weaker rules on big money.

As the Minister said in her summing up and in previous stages of the Bill, I know that she has not liked the Opposition, the issues that we have raised or how we have raised them. All I would say is, if she does not like what we have raised, she should wait for the public conversation on the Bill and the conversation in the other place. People will see through it.

I will finish by saying to hon. Members, as they make their decision on the Bill, that there are important questions coming up in the coming days that will define their time and this period in Parliament. This is one of those, because it is indelible. It will be on the statute book and they will be tied to it. We as custodians of this democracy should not be making such changes that weaken it in this way.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Inclusive Society), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 9:57 pm, 17th January 2022

There is no doubt that this is a dreadful Bill designed to undermine democracy, but I put on record my thanks to everyone involved in its passage, particularly all those Members who saw the dangers that it poses to our democracy and sought to oppose it every step of the way. I also thank the staff of the Public Bill Office for, again, the remarkable level of professionalism and assistance they provided throughout the passage of the Bill through the House.

The Bill could have not passed without the support and help of the Committee Chairs, so the steady hand and experience of the right hon. Members for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) and for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) and the hon. Members for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) and for Neath (Christina Rees) were much appreciated. I put on record my personal thanks to my hon. Friend David Linden for his advice and support in the last few months and to Mr Josh Simmonds-Upton for all his work in preparing us for Second Reading, Committee and the debates tonight.

To my deep, deep regret, the Bill has passed. The irony that it has passed to the unelected second Chamber to try to salvage an element of democracy should be lost on nobody in this House. What has the United Kingdom become? Hopefully our soon-to-be independent Scottish Parliament will look at the Bill as a perfect example of how not to organise an electoral system.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Division number 164 Elections Bill – Third Reading

A majority of MPs voted to pass the Elections Bill in the House of Commons.

Aye: 325 MPs

No: 235 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The House divided: Ayes 325, Noes 234.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.