Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 11:45 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Corbett of Castle Vale Lord Corbett of Castle Vale Labour 11:45 pm, 19th January 2011

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this important debate. I said in moving the amendment that this was not the time and place for a long debate about the merits or otherwise of giving certain categories of prisoner the vote. I also take on board what many noble friends on this side of the Committee have intimated about some of the perils of getting involved in this area.

I had one of the two national youth treatment centres in my former constituency of Birmingham Erdington, Glenthorne. It did a magnificent job with some of the most disturbed and chaotic young people in the country-14 year-olds convicted of murder, rape and offences of that kind. During one general election, each of the candidates was invited to go in and talk to some of the inmates and answer questions. The first question that I was asked came from a 15 year-old and was about income tax levels. I thought that this showed a very commendable interest in current affairs. On the Friday, about a week ahead of the election, the governor of Glenthorne phoned me and said, "I have got some very good news for you, Robin: you came top of the poll". I immediately said to him, "Eugene, do me a favour, please, will you keep this quiet?".

I thank the Minister for his assurance that he will draw the attention of the Electoral Commission to this matter but I am unconvinced about his reasons for not wanting to do something about it in the Bill. I understand what he said about the register last year being used as the basis for the Electoral Commission's considerations under the Bill but, nevertheless, provision could be made for what we anticipate is going to come. The Government have the votes in both Houses now to get their will, as we know, so surely it is sensible to make the provision now rather than having to do so later.

None the less, I again thank noble Lords for their interest in this matter. We will return to it in good time and I seek the leave of the House to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 66BA withdrawn.

Amendment 66C

Moved by Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville

66C: Clause 11, page 9, line 25, leave out "598" and insert "600"