Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill — Report (3rd Day) (Continued)

– in the House of Lords at 10:05 pm on 9th February 2011.

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Schedule 1: Further provisions about the referendum

Amendment 31 not moved.

Amendment 31ZA

Moved by Lord Low of Dalston

31ZA: Schedule 1, page 19, line 26, at end insert-

"( ) directions about the discharge of their functions in relation to voters with disabilities"

Photo of Lord Low of Dalston Lord Low of Dalston Crossbench 10:26 pm, 9th February 2011

My Lords, I rise to move Amendment 31ZA and shall speak briefly to Amendment 31ZB, which is also in this group.

Amendment 31ZA adds to the matters on which the chief counting officer may give directions to regional counting officers or counting officers regarding the discharge of their functions in relation to voters with disabilities. In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, gave very welcome reassurances, setting out the Government's clear expectations around the accessibility of the referendum for disabled people. It was most welcome that the noble Lord stated on 31 January:

"The chief counting officer will issue guidance and directions to RCOs and COs that will cover their duties in relation to accessibility and disabled voters under relevant equality and electoral legislation. These include: ensuring that polling stations meet the accessibility requirements of the DDA; ensuring that information, forms and notices relating to the voting process are available in alternative, accessible formats; making available enlarged sample versions of the ballot paper in polling stations; and providing a tactile voting device in each polling station to enable voters with visual impairments to vote".-[Hansard, 31/1/2011; col. 1292.]

I know that disabled people's organisations outside this House have very much welcomed those reassurances, but it would help to underline the priority that should be given to meeting the needs of disabled voters to have the power to give directions on these matters on the face of the Bill.

Amendment 31ZB gives the chief counting officer power to give directions regarding the handling of complaints from persons dissatisfied with the way in which regional counting officers and counting officers have discharged their functions. This would apply not only to disabled voters but to voters generally and would in effect establish a complaints procedure that could be used by voters dissatisfied with the conduct of any aspect of the referendum. I raise this matter because it is surely right that there should be an avenue other than the costly and legalistic process of judicial review for members of the public to register complaints about the conduct of the referendum-whether that be over a failure to make reasonable adjustments to inaccessible polling stations or to provide the tactile voting template to a sight-impaired person, or because they feel that the arrangements for access made by regional counting officers and counting officers have fallen short of the standards that the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, set out in Committee.

The nature of the complaints procedure would be up to the chief counting officer to decide, no doubt in consultation with local authorities and other stakeholders. Following the serious access problems experienced at the last election, it is essential that we provide a lighter-touch, non-legalistic way of addressing complaints which enables the chief counting officer to investigate and leads to the complainant receiving a report of his findings, perhaps an apology, and a statement about the steps which will be taken to ensure that the problems do not recur. None of this is a million miles away from the powers given to the Electoral Commission by Section 67 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 to determine and publish performance standards for electoral officers, to direct them to provide the commission with reports on their performance against those standards and to publish an assessment of that level of performance.

Noble Lords may say that my amendment will have no impact on future elections. I accept that. This amendment is designed purely to ensure that we can deal with complaints that arise during the referendum. That is all we can do in this Bill. However, if the Government could see their way to accepting the amendment, I think it would provide a good platform on which to build for the future. I hope very much that we might see provisions along the lines I am seeking by having this amendment enshrined in future electoral legislation as soon as there is a legislative opportunity. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

We on this side support very much the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Low. We hope that the Government will react favourably to them; he is quite right to say that the noble Lord the Leader of the House reacted sympathetically in Committee to the debate that the noble Lord introduced. We hope that the Government might be able to go a little further this evening and agree with the amendments as far as they are able to do so. We look forward to what the Minister has to say.

Photo of The Archbishop of York The Archbishop of York Bishop

I, too, support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Low. I hope that when we talk about functions in relation to voters' disabilities, we do not forget one particular category of people-that is, deaf people. It is no good getting people in if there is no British Sign Language available. I hope that that will be taken into account as well.

Photo of Lord Howarth of Newport Lord Howarth of Newport Labour

My Lords, I, too, support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Low of Dalston. It is the mark of a civilised society that disabled people are able to participate in all its activities. It is certainly the mark of a mature and properly functioning democracy that disabled people are in no way obstructed from participating in elections.

Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Low, for the way in which he introduced his amendment and referred to the discussions we had in Committee. Like him, I thought that they were constructive and useful. I also appreciate the words of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York.

The Government very much understand the concerns raised by the noble Lord, Lord Low. Naturally, this debate has thrown up interesting suggestions which the Government think merit further consideration. Although the amendments tabled by the noble Lord raise some valid and useful points about which we have thought very carefully, the Government resist these commendable amendments.

First and foremost, we remain unconvinced that the amendments in their current form will make any difference to the provisions already in the Bill or, indeed, to voters at the poll. The provisions already enable the chief counting officer to issue directions or guidance in relation to voters with disabilities or in relation to the policies and procedures for the handling of complaints. Therefore, these amendments add very little in terms of substance.

I know that the commission treats disability issues very seriously and is mindful of the importance of ensuring that counting officers are aware of the needs of voters with disabilities. Noble Lords will also be aware of the legal obligations that public bodies are already under to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

However, although the Government resist these amendments, we are entirely conscious that these are important issues, which may well warrant, after proper consideration and consultation, some application-in perhaps a modified form-and for that to be brought to bear on future polls. I know that the noble Lord will regret what I have to say but this is neither the appropriate time nor vehicle for these amendments. To consider carefully and consult on the implications of the kind of changes envisaged by these amendments will require more time than we have at present. However, they are a useful pointer to the issues that need to be addressed.

On that basis, I hope the noble Lord will understand and assist the Government by continuing the dialogue he has already had and withdrawing his amendment.

Photo of Lord Low of Dalston Lord Low of Dalston Crossbench

I thank the noble Lord for his response and all other noble Lords who spoke so warmly in support of the amendments. At this late stage of the proceedings it would be appropriate to withdraw the amendment. The noble Lord the Leader of the House certainly encouraged continuation of the dialogue and spoke positively about aspects of the amendments. He said that there were things there that merited further consideration. I can take just enough away from those words to give me some confidence that the Government will wish to return to this in the context of future electoral legislation. The noble Lord can be assured that we will certainly work strenuously with the Government to ensure that that does indeed happen. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 31ZA withdrawn.

Amendment 31ZB not moved.

Amendments 31A to 32A not moved.

Amendment 33

Moved by Lord Lipsey

33: Schedule 1, page 21, line 9, at end insert-

"( ) These steps shall include measures to ensure that all those wishing to vote and arriving at the polling station within the appointed hours are able to do so."

Photo of Lord Lipsey Lord Lipsey Labour

My Lords, this follows an amendment that I moved in Committee, which included the general duty on the Electoral Commission, as included in this amendment. It was pointed out that in doing that I had not tackled one of the main problems that beset this area, namely that the legislation seems not to allow people who arrive at a polling station on time but have not cast their vote by 10 pm to cast their vote by the expiry of those hours prescribed by the legislation. Therefore, I drafted this amendment so that they should be permitted to vote. To remind the House; in Committee there was general agreement that the chaos of May 2010, when 1,200 eager citizens were denied the right to vote-in one of the most advanced democracies in the world-must never happen again. Many moving words were spoken about that.

The Electoral Commission also inquired into that, as you would expect. In its initial report it asked for legislation. It has produced a briefing document that summarises the position in the report, saying that,

"we recommended that the Government should urgently change the law so that people who are ... in the queue to enter the polling station at the close of poll are allowed to vote".

If I could pick one phrase out of that, it would be "urgently change the law". When I picked up the Electoral Commission's briefing for these debates, I expected that at least it would offer me some support in trying to do that. That was perhaps naive, because in between its initial report and now, the Deputy Prime Minister has made it clear that he is not in favour of legislation on this subject. I do not like to ascribe motives or to deduce cause and effect, but in the briefing the Electoral Commission went rapidly from calling for an urgent change to saying that the change proposed in my amendment would be significant, that it could be open to different interpretations, that there was insufficient time to consider its full implications, and that the Electoral Commission was unable to support it.

If the Electoral Commission did not like my amendment, given that it wanted urgent legislation it would have been perfectly sensible for it to have proposed a substitute. There is Third Reading to come, and if the matter remained not cleared up we could have debated it then. However, the Electoral Commission has not proposed a substitute. Here we have a situation, only the facts of which I describe, of a body urgently seeking a legislative amendment, an indication in the press that the DPM is against it, and a legislative vehicle to deal with the situation, and what is commission's reaction? It shows all the urgency of a tortoise on valium.

You cannot spend long in either House without discovering that the Electoral Commission does not always command the total confidence in its activities which Members of both Houses would hope for. To some extent that is right, because the commission must not be a puppet of Members in either place. However, I detect an underlying lack of confidence that this is truly an efficient and fit-for-purpose body. The commission's reaction in this case seems somewhat to underline that charge and suggests that it has validity.

I say nothing more than that the time has come for the Electoral Commission to up its game. I am sure that tonight Ministers will be absolutely delighted to hide behind the commission's coat tails and will therefore not embrace the amendment or put forward a preferred amendment of their own. I should be highly delighted to be surprised. I beg to move.

Photo of The Archbishop of York The Archbishop of York Bishop

My Lords, the incident referred to by the noble Lord happened in my province, Sheffield. Had that happened in Africa or India, we would have said it was scandalous that people had been in the queue for three hours but, because the voting had to stop at 10 o'clock, were told to go away. There would have been an outcry that people had been queuing for hours and were denied a vote. For me, the purpose of the law is to state public policy. This amendment is a statement that such an occurrence must not be allowed to happen again, and the regulations should make that clear. If you do not prescribe it now, the same will happen somewhere else. The African saying, "People in Britain have watches, while in Africa we have time", might come true in the end.

Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Lipsey raises an interesting couple of points in the amendments. They seem to us on the Front Bench to be absolutely unarguable. They are sensible and deal with the situation very well indeed. My noble friend's points about the Electoral Commission were interesting. I should make a revelation; I found the Electoral Commission much more impressive when I was in government than I do now, sitting on the other side of the Chamber. That may reflect on me, but it also reflects to some extent on the Electoral Commission. I know that the noble and learned Lord who will respond will deny that it is anything other than pure coincidence that the Electoral Commission should change its mind so quickly on this issue and shut off any chance of my noble friend's amendments being accepted.

Photo of Lord Tyler Lord Tyler Liberal Democrat 10:45 pm, 9th February 2011

Perhaps the noble Lord also saw that the Electoral Commission, in its advice to your Lordships' House, also said something that the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, did not mention: namely, that while it supported the principle of the amendment, it did not feel that it was necessary as its intended outcome could be achieved through the chief counting officer's power of direction for the referendum, as provided for in the Bill. Therefore it is not entirely fair to say that the situation has changed in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, and the noble Lord, Lord Bach, said.

As someone who has in the past given informal advice to the Electoral Commission, I agree that it is not beyond criticism. I am sure that some criticism of it is entirely proper, but it would be unfair to suggest that it has changed its mind in the way that was mentioned.

Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, as always-and the Electoral Commission must be even more grateful than I. These are sensible amendments that one would have thought the commission would have supported, given all that it said about the scandalous issues that arose in Sheffield and a few other places during the last election. It is remarkable that it seems to have changed its mind.

I will put that to one side. The Government will make up their mind about whether to do something about the scandal in May last year. My question to the noble and learned Lord is: what do the Government intend to do to make sure that this does not happen again in May this year?

Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), Lords Spokesperson (Wales Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office)

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, for returning to this important issue in his amendment. Many of us who watched the election night coverage of the scenes at certain polling stations where people who had been queuing were not given the opportunity to vote found that it offended our sense of justice as democrats. The Government certainly take it seriously. The Electoral Commission's report found that queues built up at a number of polling stations on 6 May for various reasons. It identified 27 polling stations across the country. In most cases, it found that the common factor was inadequate planning processes and contingency arrangements that were not in place.

I assure the House that the Government are considering the Electoral Commission's report. We will consider what steps are necessary to prevent a repeat of the problems. It is important that we make sure that any changes to the rules are workable and will benefit the public. The noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, referred to the briefing from the commission to Members of your Lordships' House in which it indicates that a change to the rules on the close of polls would be significant; that details of any changes would need careful consideration to ensure that they could be consistently applied and would not have any unintended consequences; that the amendment could lead to inconsistent practice; and that there has not been sufficient time to consider the implications of how the provisions of amendment might work in practice.

We previously assured the House, in a reasonably long debate on this issue in Committee, that the Bill already gives the chief counting officer the necessary powers and discretion to ensure that the referendum runs smoothly. She will have sufficient flexibility to decide what is right in particular circumstances, including the steps that have already been taken by the Electoral Commission to ensure that some of the problems that occurred on 6 May are not repeated. This will include all counting officers having effective planning processes and contingency plans. We advised the Committee that the Electoral Commission had indicated that the chief counting officer intends to issue directions to counting officers on the maximum number of electors who will be allocated to any polling station, and the associated minimum number of staff who must be present at each polling station to ensure that polling runs smoothly and that all electors who wish to vote are able to. The Government take this seriously and are considering the Electoral Commission's report.

Photo of The Archbishop of York The Archbishop of York Bishop

The amendment simply refers to taking measures to ensure that all those wishing to vote and arriving at a polling station within the appointed hours are able to do so. What could be the unintended consequences of that?

Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), Lords Spokesperson (Wales Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office)

The Electoral Commission and the chief counting officer ultimately have responsibility for the smooth running of the election. Certainly-this may well be because we are running relatively close to polling day-they have taken the view that making such a significant change could have unintended consequences. In their judgment, it could lead to some inconsistencies in different parts of the country, and it would be regrettable if, in trying to address one very serious problem, we opened up some other unintended and unforeseen problems. I do not think we would be thanked for that, and therefore I urge the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Lord Lipsey Lord Lipsey Labour

I have enjoyed the contribution of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace, to our proceedings and notice that tonight he has transformed himself into Sir Humphrey. That could come straight out of "Yes Minister" and we would have them rolling in the aisles.

The Electoral Commission rushed out a report within two weeks of this scandal because people were outraged. We are now nine months on from the incident and we are told that I am rushing by putting forward an amendment tonight when no alternative proposal has been put forward. It is another three months until the referendum. The Electoral Commission has plenty of time to put these things right and the Government have plenty of time to put the legislation right, which they could have started doing tonight. Therefore, I feel a sense of deep unease and disappointment. In the Government's response I see none of the urgency that the Electoral Commission pressed for last May.

I wholly agree with, and am delighted with the contribution from, the most reverend Primate, who spoke from the experience of knowing just how bad it was for the people who were not able to vote. I cannot do anything further about it myself but I urge Ministers to push this to a resolution of some kind so that we can go out into the world in the future with a sense of pride that, when something goes wrong in our democracy, we put it right and do not let it linger, stinking, over our system. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 33 withdrawn.

Amendment 34 not moved.

Amendment 34ZA

Moved by Lord Phillips of Sudbury

34ZA: Schedule 1, page 21, line 13, at end insert-

"( ) The Chief Counting Officer must take whatever steps the officer thinks appropriate to facilitate co-operation between that officer and the officers to whom sub-paragraph (3) applies in taking any steps under sub-paragraph (1) or (2)."

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I hope to deal with this amendment quickly. It is a modest and practical amendment, and it is similar in effect to the amendment moved in Committee. I see that a number of Members of the House do not have a copy of this manuscript amendment and I hope that it will be in order for me to read it out:

"The Chief Counting Officer must take whatever steps the officer thinks appropriate to facilitate co-operation between that officer and the officers to whom sub-paragraph (3) applies in taking any steps under sub-paragraph (1) or (2)".

The nub of the amendment is a desire to ensure that there is co-operation between all those who under paragraph 10 of the schedule have a duty to "encourage participation". The regional counting officer is given that duty under paragraph 10; so, too, is every regional counting officer, every counting officer and every registration officer. Your Lordships may remember that, when I moved a similar amendment in Committee, there was support for it all around the Chamber, and the noble Lord, Lord Bach, was very generous in strongly supporting it. This amendment brings back that principle, and I have tabled it following very helpful discussions with the Minister and the Bill team.

I think that I need say little more. The point is that, under the Bill as it stands, no one is given the task of co-ordinating what could be extremely dislocated efforts to encourage participation. This amendment, as I said, simply states that, among the four groups of officials involved, the chief counting officer has the role of ringmaster in trying to maximise the encouragement of participation, because everyone in this House wants this referendum to engage as many members of the public as possible. That is the size of it. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

My Lords, the manuscript amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, comes under the part of the schedule headed "Encouraging participation". As I understand it, he wishes to place on the chief counting officer responsibility for co-ordinating the activities of a regional counting officer, a counting officer and a registration officer in performing their duties under paragraph 10 to encourage participation. It is very hard to see how anyone could object to that. I do not know whether there are any technical objections to the terms of the noble Lord's manuscript amendment, but it seems a sensible measure, because there is no one in the House who does not want to encourage participation.

If there are technical problems with the manuscript amendment, I imagine that they could be tidied up at Third Reading on Monday. On the basis on which it has been advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, we support the principle of the amendment, subject to any difficulties that we have not foreseen to which the Minister may draw our attention.

Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), Lords Spokesperson (Wales Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office)

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury for tabling the amendment. He gave a history of the debate in Committee. We agreed when he withdrew his amendment in Committee that we would have further discussions. I am pleased that we have been able to have those discussions. In Committee, the Government indicated that we were not persuaded that such an amendment was necessary. My noble friend and I have agreed that there was merit on both sides. Our meeting has added clarity. It has put the issue of co-operation right up front. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, has emphasised the importance of co-operation, with which we all agree, in trying to ensure encouragement of participation in the referendum, usbregardless of which side of the campaign one might be on.

It is a manuscript amendment. If my noble friend is willing to give us the opportunity to reflect on its wording, I very much hope to be able to come back to him with a definitive response during Third Reading. Perhaps he would be prepared to withdraw his amendment at this stage on that basis.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Liberal Democrat

I am grateful to my noble and learned friend. I assume that there was a clear implication in that-

Noble Lords:

No.

Noble Lords:

No.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Liberal Democrat

I hope that there was a clear implication that my noble and learned friend accepts the nub of the amendment and that it is just a question of technical jiggery-pokery.

Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, for making two loud noises from a sedentary position, but his point was precisely that which was going through my mind about the noble and learned Lord's response. It was not clear from what he said whether he would come back with something or whether he was just considering something. The response of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is exactly the response that I would have given.

Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), Lords Spokesperson (Wales Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office)

If it helps, I very much hope to be able to come back with a very positive response to my noble friend. I just wanted to check.

Amendment 34ZA withdrawn.

Schedule 2 : Rules for conduct of the referendum

Amendment 34A

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

34A: Schedule 2, page 35, line 27, after "entry" insert "1A,"

Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

My Lords, this is a series of government amendments to deal with the issue of postal and proxy voting. They provide that anyone who registers or is already registered to vote by post, or has a proxy vote in a combined poll, will receive a postal vote for the referendum. They include, I fear, a long string of consequential amendments. Therefore, I beg to move Amendment 34A and will then move en bloc Amendments 34B to 34AS, with the leave of the House.

Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

I am slightly at a loss. Roughly, in a sentence or two, what are they doing and why are they being done at Report?

Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

I spoke in one sentence, and I thought that I was the object of clarity. Why are we doing it at Report? Because we did not spot it before. No doubt in those long days in Committee the officials were busily looking at these issues again and came to the conclusion that there needed to be some clarification.

The point is that an elector who is already registered for a postal vote for one of the polls combined with the referendum, and who is therefore entitled to vote in the referendum, is now as a result of these amendments, which I hope will be agreed, also automatically registered for a postal vote for the referendum. It is about dealing with the issue of the combination of the polls at the same time. It is designed to make life easier, and I am sure that the noble and learned Lord will agree it.

Amendment 34A agreed.

Amendments 34B and 34C

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

34B: Schedule 2, page 35, line 30, after "entry" insert "1A,"

34C: Schedule 2, page 35, line 33, at end insert-

"( ) in the case of a peer within entry 1A of the table, state that the peer's entitlement to vote by proxy in the referendum arises by virtue of the peer's inclusion in the list of proxies for a specified poll mentioned in that entry;"

Amendments 34B and 34C agreed.

Schedule 3 : Absent voting in the referendum

Amendments 34D to 34AS

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

34D: Schedule 3, page 80, line 17, at end insert-

"1A A person who- (a) is entitled to vote in the referendum and in a poll that is taken together with the referendum, (b) is included in the postal voters list for that poll, and (c) is not within entry 1 in this table or entry 1 in the table insub-paragraph (3). Address provided in the application that gave rise to the person being included in the postal voters list or, if the person is included in more than one, the address provided in the latest of those applications."

34E: Schedule 3, page 80, line 23, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34F: Schedule 3, page 80, line 24, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34G: Schedule 3, page 80, line 37, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34H: Schedule 3, page 80, line 38, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34J: Schedule 3, page 81, line 14, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34K: Schedule 3, page 81, line 15, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34L: Schedule 3, page 81, line 23, at end insert-

"1A A person who-(a) is entitled to vote in the referendum and in a poll that is taken together with the referendum, (b) is included in the list of proxies for that poll, and (c) is not within entry 1 in this table or entry 1 or 1A in the table in sub-paragraph (2). Proxy appointed for the purposes of that poll or, if there is more than one, the proxy appointed for the poll in respect of which the latest of the person's applications to vote by proxy was made."

34M: Schedule 3, page 81, line 29, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34N: Schedule 3, page 81, line 30, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34P: Schedule 3, page 81, line 43, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34Q: Schedule 3, page 81, line 44, after "1" insert ", 1A"

34R: Schedule 3, page 82, line 14, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34S: Schedule 3, page 82, line 15, after "1" insert ", 1A"

34T: Schedule 3, page 83, line 9, at end insert-

"( ) in relation to a principal who is included in the list of proxies by virtue of entry 1A in that table, the appointment of the person mentioned in column 3 of that entry;"

34U: Schedule 3, page 84, line 2, leave out from "paragraph" to ", and" in line 3 and insert "7(2)(a)"

34V: Schedule 3, page 84, line 7, after "7(2)" insert "(b), (c) or (d)"

34W: Schedule 3, page 84, line 28, at end insert-

"1A A proxy who-(a) was appointed as mentioned in column 3 of entry 1A in the table in paragraph 5(3) for a person mentioned in column 2 of that entry, and (b) is included in the proxy postal voters list for the poll in respect of which that appointment was made. Address provided in the proxy's application to vote by post as proxy in that poll."

34X: Schedule 3, page 85, line 41, after "3(9)" insert ", 4(6)"

34Y: Schedule 3, page 85, line 43, at end insert-

"( ) articles 8(9), 9(6) and 12(13) of the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007 (S.I. 2007/236) (dates of birth and signatures of certain electors and proxies) in relation to persons entitled to vote in the referendum,

( ) articles 8(9), 9(8) and 11(12) of the Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 2010 (dates of birth and signatures of certain electors and proxies) in relation to persons entitled to vote in the referendum,"

34Z: Schedule 3, page 89, line 27, at end insert-

"1A A person who- (a) is entitled to vote in the referendum and in a poll that is taken together with the referendum,(b) is shown in the absent voters list for that poll as voting by post, and(c) is not within entry 1 in this table or entry 1 in the table in sub-paragraph (3). Address provided in the application that gave rise to the person being included in the absent voters list or, if the person is included in more than one, the address provided in the latest of those applications."

34AA: Schedule 3, page 89, line 33, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AB: Schedule 3, page 89, line 34, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AC: Schedule 3, page 90, line 14, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AD: Schedule 3, page 90, line 15, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AE: Schedule 3, page 90, line 29, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AF: Schedule 3, page 90, line 30, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AG: Schedule 3, page 90, line 38, at end insert-

"1A A person who- (a) is entitled to vote in the referendum and in a poll that is taken together with the referendum, (b) is shown in the absent voters list for that poll as voting by proxy, and(c) is not within entry 1 in this table or entry 1 or 1A in the table in sub-paragraph (2). Proxy appointed for the purposes of that poll or, if there is more than one, the proxy appointed for the poll in respect of which the latest of the person's applications to vote by proxy was made."

34AH: Schedule 3, page 90, line 44, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AJ: Schedule 3, page 90, line 45, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AK: Schedule 3, page 91, line 14, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AL: Schedule 3, page 91, line 15, after "1" insert ", 1A"

34AM: Schedule 3, page 91, line 29, after "1" insert "or 1A"

34AN: Schedule 3, page 91, line 30, after "1" insert ", 1A"

34AP: Schedule 3, page 92, line 15, at end insert-

"( ) in relation to a principal who is included in the list of proxies by virtue of entry 1A in that table, the appointment of the person mentioned in column 3 of that entry;"

34AQ: Schedule 3, page 93, line 9, leave out from "paragraph" to the end of line 10 and insert "18(2)(a),"

34AR: Schedule 3, page 93, line 24, after "18(2)" insert "(b), (c) or (d)"

34AS: Schedule 3, page 93, line 45, at end insert-

"1A A person who- (a) was appointed as mentioned in column 3 of entry 1A in the table in paragraph 16(3) for a person mentioned in column 2 of that entry, and (b) is included in the proxy postal voters list for the poll in respect of which that appointment was made. Address provided in the proxy's application to vote by post as proxy in that poll."

Amendments 34D to 34AS agreed.

Schedule 4 : Application to the referendum of existing provisions

Amendment 34T

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

34T: Schedule 3, page 83, line 9, at end insert-

"( ) in relation to a principal who is included in the list of proxies by virtue of entry 1A in that table, the appointment of the person mentioned in column 3 of that entry;"

Amendment 34T agreed.

Schedule 5 : Combination of polls: England

Amendments 34AU and 34AV

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

34AU: Schedule 5, page 159, line 6, after "entry" insert "1A,"

34AV: Schedule 5, page 159, line 10, after "entry" insert "1A,"

Amendments 34AU and 34AV agreed.

Schedule 6 : Combination of polls: Wales

Amendments 34AW and 34AX

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

34AW: Schedule 6, page 194, line 26, after "entry" insert "1A,"

34AX: Schedule 6, page 194, line 30, after "entry" insert "1A,"

Amendments 34AW and 34AX agreed.

Schedule 7 : Combination of Polls: Scotland

Amendment 35 not moved.

Amendments 36 and 37

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

36: Schedule 7, page 235, line 26, after "entry" insert "1A,"

37: Schedule 7, page 235, line 30, after "entry" insert "1A,"

Amendments 36 and 37 agreed.

Schedule 10 : The alternative vote system: further amendments

Amendment 38

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

38: Schedule 10, page 304, line 24, at end insert-

"Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986

In Schedule 2A to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (public hearings about Boundary Commission proposals), in the definition of "qualifying party" in paragraph 9, for "votes" there is substituted "first-preference votes"."

Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 11:00 pm, 9th February 2011

My Lords, this is a small and technical amendment dealing with the definition of a qualifying party. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

The obvious question is, "What are these for?", but it is just too late at night to ask that-so don't even get up to respond.

Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

I cannot resist, because I know that it would be helpful to the noble and learned Lord if I tell him that this amendment is relevant only to Northern Ireland.

Amendment 38 agreed.

Amendment 39

Moved by Lord Strathclyde

39: After Schedule 10, insert the following new Schedule-

"Schedule

Section 12

Public hearings about Boundary Commission proposals

The Schedule referred to in section 12(1A) is as follows-

"Schedule 2A

Section 5

Public hearings about Boundary Commission proposals

Purpose of hearings

The purpose of a public hearing is to enable representations to be made about any of the proposals with which the hearing is concerned.

Number of hearings

(1) In relation to any particular report under section 3(1)(a) of this Act-

(a) the Boundary Commission for England shall cause at least two and no more than five public hearings to be held in each English region;

(b) the Boundary Commission for Scotland shall cause at least two and no more than five public hearings to be held in Scotland;

(c) the Boundary Commission for Wales shall cause at least two and no more than five public hearings to be held in Wales;

(d) the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland shall cause at least two and no more than five public hearings to be held in Northern Ireland.

(2) The public hearings in an English region shall be concerned with proposals for that region, and shall between them cover the whole region.

(3) The public hearings in Scotland shall be concerned with proposals for Scotland, and shall between them cover the whole of Scotland.

(4) The public hearings in Wales shall be concerned with proposals for Wales, and shall between them cover the whole of Wales.

(5) The public hearings in Northern Ireland shall be concerned with proposals for Northern Ireland, and shall between them cover the whole of Northern Ireland.

Chair of hearings

For each public hearing the Boundary Commission concerned shall appoint a person to chair the hearing.

Length of hearings

A public hearing shall be completed within two days.

Procedure at hearings

It is for the chair of each public hearing to determine the procedure that is to govern that hearing.

The chair shall make arrangements for a public hearing to begin with an explanation of-

(a) the proposals with which the hearing is concerned;

(b) how written representations about the proposals may be made (as mentioned in section 5(1)(a), (4)(b) or (5)(c) of this Act).

The chair of a public hearing must allow representations to be made-

(a) by each qualifying party;

(b) by any other persons (whether individuals or organisations) considered by the chair to have an interest in any of the proposals with which the hearing is concerned.

Paragraph (b) above has effect subject to sub-paragraph (3)(b) below.

(2) The chair may restrict the amount of time allowed for representations-

(a) by qualifying parties, and

(b) by other persons, and need not allow the same amount to each.

(3) The chair may determine-

(a) the order in which representations are made, and

(b) if necessary because of shortage of time, which of those wishing to make representations are not allowed to do so, in whatever way the chair decides.

(1) The chair may put questions, or allow questions to be put, to a person present at the hearing.

(2) If questions are allowed to be put, the chair may regulate the manner of questioning or restrict the number of questions a person may ask.

Interpretation

In this Schedule-

"the chair" means the person appointed under paragraph 3 above;

"English region" means an electoral region specified in Schedule 1 to the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 (ignoring paragraph 2(2) of that Schedule and the references to Gibraltar) as it has effect on the day referred to in rule 5(2) of Schedule 2 to this Act;

"public hearing" means a hearing under section 5(1)(b) of this Act;

"qualifying party" means a party that is registered under Part 2 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and either-

(a) has at least one Member of the House of Commons representing a constituency in the region, or (as the case may be) the part of the United Kingdom, in which the hearing is held, or

(b) received at least 10% of the votes cast in that region or part in the most recent parliamentary general election.""

Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

I beg to move.

Amendments 40 to 68 (to Amendment 39) not moved.

Amendment 39 agreed.

House adjourned at 10.03 pm.