Amendment 1

Elections Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:05 pm on 6 April 2022.

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Lord Woolley of Woodford:

Moved by Lord Woolley of Woodford

1: Clause 1, leave out Clause 1

Photo of Lord Woolley of Woodford Lord Woolley of Woodford Crossbench

My Lords, I will not be making a long speech today, which I am sure many noble Lords will be pleased to hear. I begin by thanking Jessica Garland from the Electoral Reform Society, Maddy Moore from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Mr Alfiaz Vaiya, who heads up my office here at Westminster.

I said a lot in the previous debates, so I do not want to go over that, but I do want to highlight some of the key matters that we need to focus on. This Elections Bill came into this Chamber for a number of principal reasons. One highlighted by the Government is voter fraud, as well as voter integrity. When it comes to voter fraud, I am sorry to say that the Government have not made the case. Noble Lords will all know that there was just one conviction out of 47 million voters. You have more chance of being struck by lightning at, I think, one in 3,000 and more chance of winning the National Lottery, at one in 46 million. The case for fraud has not been made; that is just a matter of fact.

Let us move on to the other key point that the Government have made. It is a valid point, which needs to be addressed: as the noble Lord, Lord True, has rightly said, this was in the Government’s manifesto. We must acknowledge and, in part, honour that. My only contention is that in their manifesto the Government talked about voter ID, which is distinct from voter photographic ID. Noble Lords may think “What is the difference?”—I am here to tell your Lordships that. The noble Lord, Lord True, might say that a lot of people have voter photo ID but not everybody does. The calculation, even with the Government’s figures, is that we could lose over 2 million voters if we persist with photographic ID. That is 2 million, because of one case of voter fraud.

Noble Lords all know that I am a disciple of Dr Martin Luther King, fighting for social and racial justice. Can we sit here in this beautiful building and allow a Bill to go through Parliament which removes 2 million voters? Will we allow that to happen or will we tell the Government that, with the best will in the world, they have got this wrong and need to be big enough, strong enough and brave enough to say, “We need to make an amendment that does not lose us so many valuable voters”? If there is an amendment that removes photo ID I will, begrudgingly but democratically, accept it. If there is no movement, however, I will put my amendment to a Division.

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour

My Lords, I have heard speeches from the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, on a number of occasions. Each time, I have found him completely convincing. The one line I will pick up on is his reference to the level of fraud identified by prosecutions as being “a matter of fact”. I just want to put another couple of matters of fact in front of the House.

Fact one is that, whatever you think are the rights and wrongs of voter ID, it is a new hurdle that people will have to surmount in order to vote. Whether it is a big hurdle or a small one is a matter of debate, but there is no doubt whatever that it is a hurdle. In our many experiences of elections, great effort is made in our electoral system at the local level to try to minimise the difficulties that people may experience to make it easier for them to vote.

A simple example is the siting of polling stations. I am sure that dozens of people in this House have spent ages saying, “It’s no use putting the polling station there because people won’t go to it—it’s too far away. You need one nearer”. Why do we say these things? Because we want to make it easier, with the fewest hurdles possible in the way of people exercising their right to vote.

I remind the House that there has been a serious decline in turnout in British general elections. When I first fighting them, the turnout was around 75%, generally speaking. It is now around 65%. We are going in the wrong direction. I submit that this clause will send us even faster down that slope.

All I propose to say for now is this: what has been missing throughout our debates is any estimate whatever —even a guesstimate would be an improvement—from the Minister as to precisely what the effect on voter turnout will be in the event of this Bill becoming law. He cannot have it all ways. It will either improve turnout or worsen the situation. Which way it will go cannot be a matter of fact because it is an estimate, but I would have expected at least some information from the Government Front Bench, in this crucial respect of voter turnout, on their estimate of the effect of this Bill on that figure. We have not had one so far. I am not optimistic that we will get one from the Minister when he winds up—but I live for ever in hope, as you do when you are in opposition. Even at this stage, so that we can judge it in the event, I hope that he will tell us his estimate of the effect of the Bill on turnout.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

My Lords, I rise to speak to these amendments and throw the Greens’ considerable weight behind the noble Lord, Lord Woolley. It is slightly scary speaking after him and the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, because they tend to carry the House, whereas I am not sure that I do.

Some people have described voter ID as a solution in search of a problem. Actually, I think that gives the Government far too much credit, because this is a cynical ploy. It is a clear attempt by the Government to make it harder for people to vote in elections. That is the only motive I can see when we have this sort of Bill in front of us. More cynically still, it will disproportionately stop BAME, working-class, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people voting. These people find it hard enough to vote already. Anything you put in their way will stop them voting completely; that is preventing democracy.

The Government are spreading fake news about there being massive election fraud in this country. I hope we can get these figures out there, because that is a nonsense. I do not understand why the Government persist in this fake news.

Of course, the real interference in our democracy comes from the top. We all know that the problem is billionaire donors and lobbyists bankrolling the Tory party. That is where a failure of democracy is happening. I hope that the next Government is a Labour Government —with Green support, obviously—and that they start unravelling some of the mess this Government have created for the country. I want a ministerial position—I just point that out. Treasury, please.

We do not even know how far Russian interference in our election goes. Why not try sorting that out before we sort out this non-existent problem of voter fraud? We have to stop the Government’s interference with democracy, today and on subsequent days.

Photo of Lord Desai Lord Desai Non-affiliated 4:15, 6 April 2022

My Lords, I will speak to my Amendments 2, 3 and 4. Throughout the debates on the Bill I have been of an opposite view from most of my friends about the fear of identity cards. I do not have any fear of identity cards at all, nor do I believe that BAME people are so backward and so bad that they would be frightened by an identity card. I just do not see the logic. As I have said before in your Lordships’ House, India has ID cards; the 900 million voters there all use them and electronic voting machines. It is perfectly straightforward stuff and nobody is intimidated or discouraged from voting. If people are not voting, it might be that the quality of politics has declined and people do not see any point in voting—but that is a point that I will come to another time.

The main problem is that responsibility for getting an ID card should not be put on the voter. The Electoral Commission has to enable people to have an ID card. It has the resources. It is very simple. We live in a digitised world, so why are we still using pencil and paper?

For example, I recently moved from where I had lived for 17 years to somewhere in Lambeth. I immediately got a letter from the electoral registration office, saying, “This flat used to be vacant, now suddenly somebody’s occupying it. Will you please tell us who you are?” I sent back a form with my name and saying who else lived in the house. I posted it off and so I will be voting at my local polling station.

The electoral registration office has my particulars and my address. It would be very easy for it to send me an ID card. I do not see what the fuss is about. It has much more resources than I have as a voter, so it would be very easy for it to send me an ID card. It is a no-brainer, as far as I am concerned. My children’s and grandchildren’s generations laugh at this electoral system, in which people have to go to some booth, take a little pencil and put a cross.

Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour

I do not understand what the noble Lord is saying. The last Labour Government started the procedure for introducing photo identity cards for everyone; the Conservatives scuppered the whole scheme. We should have had ID cards for everyone. The Government could then have introduced this, but they cannot when it is only privileged people with passports and driving licences who have photo IDs. The noble Lord should understand that.

Photo of Lord Desai Lord Desai Non-affiliated

My Lords, I used to be on those Benches with the noble Lord, so I am not a stranger to that story. It was not only the Government who stopped it but the Liberal Democrats, whose great leader Nick Clegg cared so passionately for privacy that he has gone to work for Facebook. That was his price for agreeing to ID cards; the Labour Party could not pay it.

I do not care who was responsible—they were responsible, you were responsible—I now want to move on. The Bill is an opportunity for us to thoroughly rethink our electoral system, bring it into the 20th century if not the 21st and get on with it. We conduct our elections in the most antediluvian way possible.

Photo of Baroness Chakrabarti Baroness Chakrabarti Labour

The noble Lord made such an important point about the need to move on, this being Report after a very extensive consideration of the Bill in Committee. There are crucial amendments to get through and vote on. I throw that into the ether of your Lordships’ House.

Photo of Lord Desai Lord Desai Non-affiliated

I thank the noble Baroness but, as she knows, I have been here listening to all the debates. This is the first time I have introduced amendments, so I have to explain them. If I do not, nobody will understand what I am saying. Because I am putting an argument contrary to that generally put forward in the context of this clause, let me continue.

My amendments say that the Electoral Commission should provide everybody with an ID card that has to contain some very simple facts, which we all have. Amendment 4 says

“address … date of birth, and … NHS number”.

BAME, white or black and whatever religion, we all have an NHS number. When I call up for anything, the hospital asks for my date of birth and knows immediately who I am. NHS number and date of birth should be sufficient to identify anybody. If you have the address, you will be able to see which is the nearest polling booth.

I recently had my fourth jab. To make an appointment for it, I had a text message from the NHS. It took me five minutes to book myself a jab, with the location and time all in a simple text message. It is not difficult. People will be able to find out where and when they can vote as long as they have this ID card.

Since my time is being rationed, I urge people to vote for this because it will simplify the voting procedure and remove the problem that somehow this special class of untouchables who are called BAME people will be frightened by this. Nobody needs to be frightened by this; everybody would receive an ID card.

Photo of Lord Rennard Lord Rennard Liberal Democrat

My Lords, this House can spend a great deal of time discussing the meaning of a single word. Words such as “may” or “must” have great significance in law, and today we are debating the difference between compulsory “photo identification” and just “voter identification”. We are debating the word “photo”.

It is important for many people because voter identification was in the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto, while “photo identification” was not, and manifesto commitments may be treated differently by Members of the House. In Committee the Government’s position appeared to be that the word “photo” was irrelevant or that whoever wrote their manifesto was careless and used sloppy wording, but the Government know the difference between “photo ID” and “voter ID”.

How do we know that for certain? Because the Government specifically legislated for different forms of ID requirement when they introduced pilot schemes in 15 local authority areas in 2018 and 2019. In the 2019 pilots, the Government legislated for different rules in 10 different authorities. In two areas people had to show a specified form of photo ID. In five areas they could choose to show either a specified form of photo ID or two pieces of specified non-photo ID. In three areas people could show either their poll card, which does not have a photo, or a specified form of photo ID. So the Government understand the difference between different forms of voter ID, including those which require a photo and those which do not. Their manifesto did not mention “photo”.

As the highly regarded expert from the Electoral Integrity Project, Professor Toby James, pointed out on Twitter the other day, the fact that the manifesto did not specify photo ID means that we should “allow non-photographic” ID as in many other countries, or allow those without the requisite ID at the time to be vouched for by someone accompanying them who does have it, as in Canada.

Many of the references made by Ministers to photo ID in other countries have been very misleading. That is because everybody already has a compulsory national ID card in almost all the rest of Europe, so there is no extra barrier to voting by requiring one to be presented at a polling station there.

It is ironic that, as the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, has just pointed out, one of the main reasons we do not have national ID cards in the UK is because Conservative Members of this House opposed attempts by the Blair Government to introduce them on the grounds that they were not specifically mentioned in the Labour manifesto. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. National ID cards were not in the Labour manifesto, so this House blocked their introduction. Compulsory photo ID at polling stations was not in the Conservative manifesto, so the Government’s attempt to abuse their majority in the other place to change election rules should be prevented here.

In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, highlighted what the former chair of the Conservative Party, the noble Lord, Lord Pickles, said in the report which the Government commissioned from him—that

“The Government should consider the options for electors to have to produce personal identification before voting at polling stations. There is no need to be over elaborate … measures should enhance public confidence and be proportional. A driving licence, passport or utility bills”.—[Official Report, 21/3/22; col. 695.]

Utility bills do not have photos.

There is, however, one form of voter ID eminently suitable for the purpose—the official poll card. Making poll cards an acceptable form of ID is proposed in both Amendments 6 and 7, and these amendments are both compatible with Amendment 8, which includes many other forms of possible ID. A polling card is issued to every voter by electoral registration officers. Anyone impersonating a voter would not just have to expose themselves to risk at the polling station, but they would have to steal the poll card as well prior to going to vote. If a polling card was stolen, a replacement could be issued, and a note made to question anyone turning up at a polling station with the original poll card.

In the pilots in 2018, poll cards were allowed in both Swindon and Watford. In Swindon, 95% of voters used their poll card, 4% their driving licence and 3% their passport. In Watford, 87% used their poll card, 8% their driving licence and 3% their debit card. Altogether across the two local authority areas, 69 replacement poll cards had to be issued. In Swindon a vouching or attestation scheme was also used, and 107 voters used this option.

There were more pilots in 2019, three of which accepted poll cards. In those three areas, 93% of people used their poll cards, 5% their driving licence, and 1% their passport. Using the existing poll card avoids any additional cost. The pilots also showed that adding QR codes to poll cards was, in some cases, unnecessary, more expensive and less secure. So, the existing poll card, with other forms of ID as set out in Amendment 8, and a vouching system will do the job well.

We know from multiple sources, including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Runnymede Trust, that those without the requisite photo ID proposed are most likely to be the most deprived in the country and from diverse communities. We know that the groups most in need of a new form of photo ID are also the groups who are hardest to get on the electoral register in the first place. Putting another unnecessary barrier in the way of them taking part in the democratic process is at least open to suggestions of voter suppression.

There have been several references in our debates to Northern Ireland. I will not repeat them, but there, in 1983, there was a clear case of multiple voter fraud and the Government acted. As the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, has pointed out, in an electorate 20 times as large, and in two sets of elections, there was only one such conviction in Great Britain, showing that there is simply no case.

The Government even accept that photo ID may be acceptable at the polling station even if the photo is not recognisable, so what is the point of requiring photo ID at all? Non-photo ID would be sufficient and proportional to deal with any perceived threat of election fraud. The Government should concede that they have consistently failed, at every stage of this Bill, to show that there is any real evidence of a significant level of fraud at polling stations. They have failed even in trying to assess the scale of any problem with personation, as was powerfully demonstrated by my noble friend Lord Scriven in Committee. Spending £180 million over the next 10 years to address this potential problem is unnecessary and disproportionate.

Photo of Lord Willetts Lord Willetts Conservative 4:30, 6 April 2022

My Lords, I will briefly speak to Amendment 8 in my name and the names of other noble Lords. The proposal in Amendment 8 would extend the list of accepted documents beyond the narrow group of photo ID that the Government are proposing, but I regard my amendment as consistent with the commitment in the Conservative Party manifesto. I approach this from the perspective of red tape. Is the extra regulation being proposed proportionate to the problem that needs to be tackled? As we have heard from all sides of this House, there is no evidence that personation is a significant problem in the British electoral system.

That is very different from Northern Ireland, where ID and then photo ID were introduced. There, there was in the words of the then chief electoral officer a “planned and well organised” programme of personation. In the absence of any such evidence of personation as a significant problem in the UK, the costs imposed by this measure seem to go way beyond the scale of the problems—costs estimated at £180 million over 10 years. If a broader range of documents is accepted, that removes the need for a new, separate group of voter ID cards and, hence, lowers the costs involved.

I acknowledge the way in which the Minister has engaged with these issues and has recently written to us on these proposals. He may say, “Well, there’s not a problem now, but we still need to do this to boost confidence in the security of the British electoral system”, despite the evidence that our problems are actually in postal voting and proxy voting and not in personation. We know that confidence in the British electoral system currently runs at over 90%. It is not clear that confidence could be much higher than that. Indeed, the attempt to legislate may have the opposite effect to the one that Ministers are seeking and may create anxiety and uncertainty where none existed before. In Northern Ireland, where there is a track record of voter ID, confidence in the system is no higher than in Britain—indeed, on some measures, it is lower.

Besides this, I have one wider concern: what might happen at the next election if a significant number of voters—hundreds of voters per constituency—confronted with a new requirement with which they are unfamiliar in order to vote, photo ID, are turned away from polling stations and do not return? Let us imagine that the outcome of the next election is a modest majority—I hope a majority for the party of which I am a member—where, throughout the day, the media story has been of voters being turned away from polling stations. That seems a significant political and constitutional risk that needs to be taken into account if this measure is introduced. Here we do have a precedent from Northern Ireland: the first use of voter ID in polling stations there was estimated to have reduced voter turnout and turned away the equivalent of approximately 1 million voters across Great Britain, so this is a real risk.

In light of that, while I respect the similar thinking behind Amendments 5 and 6, for example, my intention is to divide the House on Amendment 8, because I regard it as protecting our system from a major political and constitutional risk while remaining consistent with the manifesto on which the Conservative Party fought the last election.

Photo of Baroness Lister of Burtersett Baroness Lister of Burtersett Labour

My Lords, I rise to support Amendment 8, to which I have added my name. I am very pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Willetts.

The one real argument put by Ministers to support the restriction of identification to photo ID was that it is the most secure form of ID. However, we never got an explanation of how it was decided that, in the necessary balancing of the two, security trumped accessibility to the point that only the most secure forms of ID were permissible, despite the lack of evidence of fraud, as we have heard. In reaching that position, it was not clear why the Government rejected what we might call the “Pickles principle”—that perfection must not get in the way of a practical solution. Amendment 8 and some of the other amendments offer such a practical solution, but the Government’s response hitherto has been disappointing.

Ministers have also frequently cited the finding of the Electoral Commission tracker that 66% of the public say that the requirement to show identification at polling stations would increase their confidence in security. But I note that the word “photo” is never mentioned, so I can only assume that the question did not specify photo ID. Also, we do not know how members of the public would weigh up that balance between security and accessibility. It would appear from the latest election tracker—a point made by the noble Lord—that a much larger majority, eight in 10, are confident that elections are well run, and that nearly nine in 10 think that voting at polling stations is safe. But there is a real danger, as has been said, that perceptions will be tainted by the Government’s narrative of voting fraud, which risks reducing trust in the system, as has been pointed out by a number of bodies. According to the Electoral Reform Society, recent US studies have found that talking up voter fraud reduces confidence in electoral integrity and has indeed corroded trust in the system.

As I made clear in Committee, I am particularly concerned about the impact on people in poverty or on a low income, who are not necessarily caught in the Government’s focus on groups with protected characteristics. Of course, I am concerned about them too; I particularly noted the position of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities in Committee. The Government have chosen not to enact the socioeconomic duty in the Equality Act, which might have encouraged them to focus on people in poverty. As it is, the more I have read, the more convinced I am that they have in effect been ignored in consultations with stakeholders and in the pilots.

According to 2019 data from the British Election Study, provided to me by the Library, there was a clear income gradient in turnout in the 2019 election, with half—or slightly more than half—of those in households with an income of £15,599 or less not having voted. If the JRF is correct that, as it stands, Clause 1 and Schedule 1 risk disenfranchising as many as 1.7 million low-income members of the electorate, these worrying figures can only get worse.

Finally, the noble Baroness, Lady Scott of Bybrook, promised that she would get me

“a list of the consultees that we worked with because that is important.”

This was in response to my questions as to

“what engagement there has been with organisations speaking on behalf of people in poverty, or in which people in poverty are themselves involved, so that they can bring the expertise born of experience to these policy discussions”.—[Official Report, 17/3/22; cols. 562, 567.]

I repeated the question when we returned to the issue on day three of Committee, but there was still no sign of that list. Instead, in his letter to Peers, the Minister assured us that there has been a comprehensive programme of engagement with civil society organisations, with a heavy emphasis once again on those with protected characteristics. However, once again, the implication of the letter is that the impact of poverty has been ignored, and that there has been no engagement with organisations working with people in poverty or with those who can bring the expertise of experience of poverty to bear on the matter. Yet, their perspectives could be particularly valuable when considering appropriate voter ID and the process of applying for a voter card. I ask yet again whether there has been such consultation and, if not, will the Government now prioritise it?

As it happens, I was at an event this morning organised by Poverty2Solutions, an award-winning coalition of grassroots organisations led by people with direct experience of poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage and supported by the JRF. The key message was the need to put lived experience at the heart of policy-making, complementing other forms of expertise. I asked whether Poverty2Solutions would be willing to engage with the Government on the development of voter ID policy, and the response was an enthusiastic yes. The door is open.

Photo of Baroness Meacher Baroness Meacher Crossbench

My Lords, I rise to support—I could say all the amendments in this group, but that is slightly inconsistent. There is absolutely no evidence at all to support the need for any voter ID in British elections in person, as highlighted by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Government’s plans are unnecessary, discriminatory, expensive and a regressive step.

There is also no public support for these changes at all. The latest edition of the Electoral Commission’s public opinion tracker, which measures public views on the electoral process, showed that 90% of voters say that voting at a polling station is safe from fraud and abuse. That is an exceptionally high percentage in any poll. Overall, public confidence in elections is apparently at its highest level since data collection began.

We know that the idea of voter ID arose from the allegations of election fraud in Tower Hamlets. However, as noble Lords know, the Tower Hamlets allegations had nothing to do with personation at polling stations. It is interesting that the judge in the Tower Hamlets case told the Bill Committee:

“Personation at polling stations is very rare indeed.”—[Official Report, Commons, Elections Bill Committee, 15/9/21; col. 15.]

This is basically the view of most noble Lords in this House.

The voter ID system will cost an estimated £120 million over three years—there are various estimates, but that is the median. I must say that I find it quite shocking that any Government would spend that sort of money on a completely unnecessary reform when there is so much need which is unmet all over the country—it is really upsetting. I like the Liberty analogy on the voter ID issue: a householder who has not had a problem with burglary for years and yet decides to spend a fortune on a new lock. In similar ways, his house was perfectly safe and so is our electoral system at polling stations. However, I would not say the same necessarily of postal votes.

This is a serious matter. By far the most important cost, as others have mentioned, is the democratic deficit caused by depriving citizens of their right to vote. The Electoral Commission’s latest research shows that about 2 million—I think the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, mentioned this—are potentially being denied their vote. The Government say, “Oh, there’s no problem. We’re going to issue these voter cards.” But the Cabinet Office research found that 42%—nearly half—of those without an ID are either unlikely or very unlikely to apply for a voter card. In addition, there are another 186,000 voters who do have an ID but who will not vote if the ID system is introduced, probably because they will forget to take their ID with them and they certainly will not go all the way back to vote later in the day.

The consequences of the voter ID system are considerably worsened because of the fact that this will not be spread evenly across the population. About three times as many unemployed people, or local authority and housing association tenants, as the rest of the population do not have any form of acceptable ID. The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, pointed to other groups and other ways of looking at this, but it is a huge difference. Disabled people will be similarly disadvantaged.

I particularly support Amendment 6 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, because it accepts the Government’s manifesto commitment to the principle of voter ID but goes a long way towards ameliorating the worst consequences of a thoroughly undesirable and unnecessary proposal. Allowing a range of documents, including the poll card, to be presented as ID, and allowing another elector with ID to vouch for the one who does not have any, would greatly increase the likelihood of minority groups successfully voting.

Photo of Baroness Verma Baroness Verma Conservative 4:45, 6 April 2022

My Lords, I would like to pick up on a couple of comments. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, spoke about the objection to grouping all BAME communities together and believing that they will not be in favour of an ID card. I have spent weeks talking to people from all communities, including BAME and poor communities, in my own city of Leicester, which is one of the most diverse cities in the country. When I asked them whether they would object to a voter ID card with a photograph, not one person said that they would. I do not understand where this evidence keeps coming from that BAME communities or people on the lowest incomes are going to be disfranchised.

I have spent my whole life in Leicester. I understand the worries that there are in Leicester. One case has been pointed to, but I have had people coming to me, over several elections, worried about the integrity of the elections being held in Leicester. I am speaking about Leicester because it is my home city and I want it to be a city that believes voting in this country is fair for everyone.

When people in this Chamber say that eight or nine out of 10 people are happy with the system as it is today, I do not know who has been consulted or how far that has reached out into communities such as mine, because I would love each and every one of your Lordships to come and speak to people in my home city and get a real reflection of why I am so passionate about making sure that voter ID is part and parcel of the way we take our elections forward. So many people tell me that they do not feel safe or happy with the current system.

Following on from the noble Lord, Lord Desai, I say: please stop talking on BAME communities’ behalf as if all of us are grouped as one lump and we all think and do things in the same way. We do not. We actually are consistent in our duty as citizens to try to partake in elections in the UK, but part of the problem, which I have seen, has been demonstrated to me. At the last local election I was involved with, people showed me two cases where people came with proxy votes: five proxy votes in one case, four in another, and the only registered proxy was one vote in the council.

I really want there to be a genuinely good system for all of us. This is not about the BAME community. It is about the integrity of voting, which is all I am interested in. Not one of the people I spoke to has objected to voter ID. The only clarification I should like from my noble friend on the Front Bench is: will the ID card be for everyone, or for those people who do not hold a photo ID of any kind? Will this £180 million be spent on ID cards for everyone, or is it particularly for those who have no photo ID of any sort? I was not sure about this.

Photo of Lord Maxton Lord Maxton Labour

Can the noble Baroness tell me exactly what “photo” means? Looking at the list produced by the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, it could all be contained on one identity card or, as I prefer to call it, a smart card for all.

Photo of Baroness Verma Baroness Verma Conservative

My Lords, I am only saying that I have had no objection to it being a photo ID. The implication seems to be that we, as communities, would object and become disenfranchised but I have not found that. This is the only point I am trying to raise.

Photo of Baroness Fox of Buckley Baroness Fox of Buckley Non-affiliated

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Verma. She has raised some of the issues that have prompted me to speak today. I have had a slight change of heart or mind—or my mind has been changed—which is why I am speaking, rather than repeating everything that I previously said.

My concerns about these photo IDs have fairly consistently been that there is no evidence of voter impersonation; it is not an issue. I do not like any move towards a “show us your pass” society. I worry about the unintended consequences of the Government pushing voter ID. In itself, it implies a problem which might then undermine trust in the democratic process. In particular, I echo the query from the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, about the consequences of people being turned away from polling stations. I have raised that before.

I am not very good at paperwork. I am the kind of person who gets it wrong. We have only to look at the best-intended interventions in Ukraine, or in Poland with the issuing of visas to Ukrainian refugees, to see that paperwork can go wrong. I am concerned about people turning up with the wrong thing and being sent away when they only have that day to vote. It would imply to fellow citizens that something dodgy was going on—that they were cheating, rather than just having the wrong piece of paper. What does the Minister advise in this instance?

In following the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, the problem is that we have probably got to a point where the ship has sailed regarding trust in democracy. Something has gone wrong. A constant theme in commentary on elections is that too many people seem to think it impossible for their side to have lost without implying that the other side has somehow won by cheating or that the vote was manipulated. I have been quite shocked by the commentary around the vote in Hungary, in which it has been implied that the only basis on which Orban won was become something dodgy happened and that it was unfair. That was said about Brexit, about Trump’s win and about Biden’s win. In all those instances, there have been implicit or explicit accusations by losers that somehow cheating has happened. There is a broader problem of the undermining of trust in democracy, which I think a lot of people in this Chamber and outside it have created, but it has nothing to do with voter ID.

When I started to talk to people after my speeches at Second Reading and in Committee, I was absolutely inundated by those who said that they disagreed with my opposition to voter ID. Those were not the cut-and-paste emails, which we all receive, or from organised lobby groups. They appeared to be from ordinary people. Pundits and loads of people contacted me—some I knew and some I did not. I have had more correspondence on this than on anything else.

I tell your Lordships this because I was taken aback, but when I started to talk to people, they said that because there is a big debate about trust in the democratic process, for whatever reason, they want reassurance that the ballot box is secure. People said that their motives were about protecting the vote and respecting democracy. I do not know that it can be described as fake news when the Government say there is a discussion about the democratic process, because it seems that there is. I suppose that has happened in the name of transparency, accountability and trying to be honest, so when people say that they want to shore up democracy through ID, I want to take at least some notice.

Another thing that was said, which fits in with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Desai, and the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, was that they felt insulted by the idea that showing ID would put them off voting. They said, “You think we have such a low view of democracy, that we are so easily put off voting. The problem is that we go out to vote and when we do, people tell us we voted the wrong way.” That was their problem.

I have thought about it a lot and am still not sure but I am prepared to consider some compromise, particularly on Amendment 8. It does the job by letting us have some ID, as wide a range of IDs as possible so we do not have the problem of turning people away at the ballot box. It is also important to recognise that, whether we like it or not, there is a debate about how much we can trust the democratic process, so if there is a way of reassuring people—although I wish we had not got to that point—then maybe we should think about this.

I would like to know what the Minister thinks about the dangers of undermining our trust in democracy by pushing this too hard. Is there a compromise that the Government can make that would, relatively speaking, satisfy all people? Even the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, said he might reluctantly go down that line, despite it going against what he wants, which is to get rid of it altogether.

Photo of Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts Chair, Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, Chair, Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

My Lords, I did not participate in Committee but I intervened a couple of times, most notably when the noble Lord, Lord Collins, tried to pray me in aid to something I did not say. I want to put my position on the record and, bearing in mind the strictures from the noble Baroness, Lady Chakrabarti, I will be quick.

I want to add a cautionary note about this group of amendments. My caution is absolutely not because I want to restrict participation in our elections in any way. The reverse is true, as evidenced by the work we have done in the Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement, a follow-up report to which was published a week or two ago. I was lucky enough to chair that committee and place on record my thanks to the noble Lords, Lord Blunkett and Lord Collins, the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and my noble friend Lady Eaton. The committee did important work and I made sure that I personally sent the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, a copy of our report last week, as he had made a powerful speech during the last stage.

I argue that our primary objective has to be to ensure that people use their vote. I come back to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, about declining turnout. While I understand that you cannot vote unless you are on the roll and have ways of voting, we have failed to persuade people that their vote is worth using, as evidenced by the figures laid out in the earlier remarks by the noble Lord.

I suggest that there are principally two reasons why people go out to vote. The first is that they see the act of voting as having their say—“to chuck the rascals out” is the famous phrase that is often used. We need to find ways to encourage more people to think like that, and about what is meant by being a citizen, and by rights and responsibilities. I am afraid that the Government’s response to our work to try to encourage citizenship education can so far be described only as desultory. I think I speak for all members of our committee when I say that we do not intend to give way on this. However, equally, nothing in these amendments deals with the question of participation. That is the problem, and that is what I am really interested in getting at.

The second reason people have confidence is that they want their vote to be fairly weighed—that is to say, they believe in the integrity of the system. We have heard a lot from my noble friends Lord Willetts and Lady Verma, and from the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, about various aspects and views that people take. I add that, when I was doing the third-party campaigning review, there were rumblings when we talked to third-party campaigners about what was going on. It was not easy to put a finger on it, but there was a general feeling that things were not quite as they should be.

We have to recognise that electoral malpractice—alleged, maybe, but not proven—is big news. Should it be? Well, bad news tends to be news and this is seen to be news. Once a few cases begin to work through the system, a climate is created—one that is jolly difficult to dissipate and dispel and it takes a great deal of effort to do so. I put it to those who tabled these amendments, which would widen the ability to vote, that it is a difficult balance to strike. I am not sure, from hearing some of the speeches and reading some of the amendments, that all other noble Lords recognise just how difficult the balance is or that there is a balance that we have to deal with.

Finally, and potentially more controversially, in my youth, the poster of choice on the wall of my girlfriend’s hall of residence or of her flat was a picture of Che Guevara in battle fatigues—she thought he seemed very attractive; not quite my sort of thing, but there we are—carrying a rifle, which had a flower coming out of the barrel. Some noble Lords will probably have seen it. The underlying message was that you have to make some effort to achieve something if you want to value it when you have got it. I accept that defining “some effort” is exceptionally difficult, but if being a good citizen gives you rights, it also gives you responsibilities. Somehow, we have to reach a situation where being able to vote is seen as infinitely more precious than getting a driving licence.

Overall, having heard the arguments, having read my noble friend the Minister’s letter of 4 April in response to the Committee debate, particularly the paragraph on turnout, and having heard my noble friend Lady Noakes explain the ways in which our society is changing and the ever-increasing use, in the digital age, of other ways to ensure we have a system that people feel is worth while and want to participate in, and in which their vote is weighed fairly, I think that this is extremely difficult. The Government have the balance about right in what they propose.

Photo of Lord Maxton Lord Maxton Labour 5:00, 6 April 2022

My Lords, I rise very reluctantly to speak in this debate because I participated only very briefly in Committee. However, it seems to me that ID cards for all—or smart cards, as I tend to describe them —is the future. It is time to move the electoral system on, not backwards, as the Minister is trying to do by describing photo ID or whatever it might be as the way forward.

The way forward is one card. I have gone through the list in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, and believe that they could all be on one card: an ID card. In fact, an ID card or smart card could be in the back of your hand, which you carry with you all the time, and not one that you carry in your wallet. A driving licence, a birth certificate, a marriage or civil partnership certificate, or an adoption certificate could all be on a smart card for all and used as an ID card. It could all be contained within one card. You would then use your thumb or finger, or your eye, wherever you need to use your ID card, certificate or whatever it might be.

This policy needs to be withdrawn at this stage of the Bill in favour of the introduction of an ID card or smart card for all that contains many of the things listed. I would object to a bank or building society chequebook, for instance—when did the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, last use a chequebook? I do not even know where mine is, let alone use it. I want to see all those things put on to one card or in the back of the hand.

Photo of Lord Stunell Lord Stunell Liberal Democrat

My Lords, it has been a very wide-ranging debate, considering it is Report. I wonder if the House would accept me just focusing as far as possible on the business in hand and the amendments that we have in front of us.

First of all, I fully understand and accept the argument that the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, has put forward: that if everything else fails, we must pull this out. That would be my starting and finishing point. My noble friend Lord Rennard and I have tabled Amendment 7, which has found some favour among those who have spoken. We have made it clear that that would be something which fits very well alongside the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Willetts. It is just an addition to his list, but a very important addition, because people are familiar with the poll card. Those of us who, on election days, very often spend time trying to persuade people to put their coats on, always hear things like, “Oh, I have lost my poll card.” People already assume that the poll card is a significant thing that they need to take with them, so when it comes to acceptance, we understand it to be very much there.

To the noble Baronesses, Lady Verma and Lady Fox, and the noble Lord, Lord Desai—who feel that, somehow, to point to the fact that having voter ID might deter some people from voting is to pick out, talk down to or single out people in a patronising way—I say that we are responding to the evidence of the trials which were conducted by the Government and which are fully certified facts. The facts are that in those places, fewer people finished voting because of the ID system: it is not a huge number fewer but, as the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, pointed out, if we were to read across the data from those experiments, it would be 2 million voters who failed to vote as a result of having such a system in place.

The Government understand that there could be a problem, which is why they are prepared to spend somewhere between £120 million and £180 million getting those 2 million voters to come and vote—if only they would spend that amount on the 8 million not registered, it would be a very good thing. If we acknowledge that there is a problem whereby introducing voter ID reduces participation, let us look at the most straightforward ways of rectifying and lowering that barrier.

I believe that all these amendments are, in their different ways, making the same point. Obviously I want to make the case for Amendment 7 in particular, but I certainly do not exclude the others. It is important to get participation; it is important to consider the issues that have already been raised in the excellent speech by the noble Lord, Lord Willetts, where he prayed in aid the Pickles report. As I have said to the House before, I served with the noble Lord, Lord Pickles, in the department for a couple of years and I never heard him in favour of red tape. I cannot imagine that he seriously thinks that spending £120 million or £180 million on this scheme makes any sense when he has said himself that a utility bill would do.

I say to this House that, from every side, the argument is made that there will be a reduction in participation with an ID scheme. It will be lower if we can manage to make it without photo ID. The pilots showed exactly that: the schemes where no voter ID was needed had fewer voters refused and losing their vote. It is a very straightforward issue; there are bigger issues floating around, which we have heard already, but surely this House must understand and accept the case that, if we want to keep participation up, we need barriers to people going to vote to be at the lowest practical level consistent with a secure system.

Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, I will not go over the ground that we have already covered—and there has been a lot—and will just speak to my amendments. Like a number of others in this group, they extend the acceptable forms of voter identification to broaden them out to include non-photographic identity documents. As has been said, the manifesto commitment for voter ID was not for photographic ID, but we respect the fact that the Government had a manifesto commitment to voter ID. My Amendment 6, in particular, would allow a polling card to be an accepted form of identification and would allow for the vouching system currently used in Canada, for example.

The noble Lord, Lord Rennard, mentioned that polling cards were used as the primary method of identification in some of the pilot schemes that were held and that some used a QR code on the card, which was then scanned at the polling station. It was felt that this was more secure but more expensive. However, the evaluation of the pilots also noted that:

“It is also not clear … that additional IT in polling stations … is absolutely necessary to support the use of the poll card as a form of identification.”

We believe on these Benches that the Government need to look at this again.

The Government could learn a lot from Canada on this subject. Its vouching system allows a citizen who has ID and appears on the electoral roll to sign an affidavit to confirm the identity of another voter who does not have identification. That provides a clear paper trail linked to registered voters so that any suspicions of irregularities can be investigated. It also ensures that many citizens without identification, or those who feel uncomfortable providing it, can still cast their vote.

In Canada, it is possible to present identification in up to 50 different formats. We have heard that even the Pickles report, on which the Government are leaning heavily in this part of the Bill, suggests that utility bills could be included as a possibility. The noble Lord, Lord True, has stated that photographic ID is the most “secure and appropriate” model of voter ID. However, the Government have consistently failed, as we have heard today from other noble Lords, to provide any evidence of personation fraud that would require this tightening of security around voters’ identity. As the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, said, the case for fraud has not been made.

In Committee the noble Baroness, Lady Scott of Bybrook, said that the issue is

“about making sure that as many people as possible take up their democratic right to vote”.—[Official Report, 17/3/22; col. 550.]

I could not agree more. However, if that is the Government’s intention, I genuinely do not understand why amendments to expand the acceptable documentation are not being accepted. We debated this long in Committee. We have heard again today that the availability of identification is lower among a certain number of groups and would likely drive down participation. There is clear evidence to support this. As my noble friend Lord Grocott said, this is a new hurdle. Enabling non-photographic identification and the adoption of a vouching system, as in my amendment, would help to mitigate against the serious concerns about the impact of photographic voter identification on turnout.

My noble friend Lady Lister mentioned engagement. Noble Lords will be aware that I have previously expressed concern about the lack of engagement in and scrutiny of much of this Bill. The Minister has claimed that extensive engagement has taken place to understand the needs of voters with protected characteristics, and that there has been a significant programme of work to engage civil society organisations. Unfortunately, despite considerable concern from groups representing voters with protected characteristics and wider civil society groups, nothing in the proposals has changed and the Government have adopted the most stringent form of voter identification possible.

If the Government were keen to gather views, they could have done so with pre-legislative scrutiny of the proposals and a search for consensus and common ground. I repeat my request to the Minister for post-legislative scrutiny of parts of the Bill—including this clause, which will have a huge impact on the way in which our elections are run. Does he also accept that we need a much wider range of acceptable identification documents so that, if the Government insist on bringing in voter identification at the polling booth, it will have as little impact on participation as possible?

We believe that my Amendment 6 and Amendment 7 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, are compatible with Amendment 8 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Willetts. I commend the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Willetts; if he tests the opinion of the House, we will support it.

Photo of Lord True Lord True Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 5:15, 6 April 2022

My Lords, I am grateful to those who have spoken. In case I forget it, I will take up right at the start the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, about post-legislative scrutiny; she has made it before. As I have said from the Dispatch Box and in our engagement, it is something on which the Government are reflecting.

If the proposition put by the noble Lord, Lord Woolley of Woodford, and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, to leave out Clause 1 and Schedule 1 is accepted, your Lordships’ House will be saying to the other place, in striking out the whole proposition, that noble Lords find it perfectly reasonable for photographic identification to be required in our society for travelling, picking up a parcel and being allowed to drive but not for choosing Members of another place. That is the message your Lordships would send to another place, which has sent us this Bill with its approval.

As has been said by a number of those who have spoken, this topic has been discussed exhaustively in both Houses at almost every single stage of the passage of the Bill. This is not the first time that we have seen these amendments so I will keep my speech on the main points short; however, I will answer the detailed amendments that have been put forward.

The Government’s position on this debate has not changed. As the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, acknowledged, introducing a requirement to show identification to vote in polling stations was a manifesto commitment, was discussed during the election and is an issue in which the Government believe strongly. In our submission, voter identification is part of a series of measures that will help to prevent fraud and abuse taking place at polling stations.

There are issues of climate and balance, both of which were spoken to wisely by the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, and my noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts. We have thought carefully about these matters and believe that this is a reasonable and proportionate measure. I want to reassure the Chamber again that everyone who is eligible to vote will continue to have the opportunity to vote.

In an impressive speech that should give food for thought to a number of us, my noble friend Lady Verma asked whether the voter card was only for people without other accepted forms of identification. It is certainly in the interests of accessibility and helping people to vote and intended for those without other accepted ID, but there is no restriction on anyone applying for the free voter card, as long as they are registered or have applied to be. Cards will be available free of charge from each elector’s local authority for any elector who does not have one of the wide range of accepted forms of identification that the Government are already proposing—not unrecognisable identification, as the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, claimed, but yes, expired identification if it is recognisable.

Similar measures have been in place across the world and in this country; Northern Ireland has had photographic voter identification since 2003, when it was brought in by the Labour Government of the time. As I have said before, we submit that this is part of an essential suite of measures to ensure that our democracy continues to be effectively protected from fraud. The Government therefore cannot support an amendment to remove these propositions.

I will address specifically the various amendments that fall short of the total rejection of the proposition of photo identification. I think the noble Lord, Lord Desai, would fairly acknowledge that his speech was not entirely welcome to some in the House, but he spoke one truth that was picked up by my noble friend Lady Verma. He said he saw no reason why anyone should be put off by having to show photographic identification, and we agree with him on that.

The noble Lord’s Amendment 2 would provide that the Electoral Commission should be responsible for issuing voter cards, rather than individual EROs. Amendment 3 would say that voter cards should be issued automatically to all eligible electors rather than just those who apply for them, and Amendment 4 has specific details that should be on the cards. Collectively, they would make a significant change to our voter identification policy. By including significantly more personal information and mandating that they be issued unilaterally to the entire electorate for relevant elections, the noble Lord’s proposition would in effect become tantamount to a national identity card. He is very happy about that, as indeed is the noble Lord, Lord Maxton, but this is not something that the Government intend in any way in these propositions or have plans to introduce, and therefore—I regret to tell the noble Lord, Lord Desai—not something we can support.

I now turn to Amendments 5 to 7, spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, and the noble Lord, Lord Stunell, regarding alternative options for voters to prove their identity at polling stations. The Government cannot support these amendments either, as they would open the way to use of documents that are less secure than those in the list we have put before your Lordships.

The first suggestion, in Amendment 6, is that an elector could prove their identity by showing any document issued to them by their local authority or returning officer that shows their name and address, or their poll card. This is not something we can support. Few, if any, such documents will show a photograph of the elector, so they cannot be used simply and easily to prove at the polling station that the bearer of the document is who they say they are. Such documents could easily be intercepted—particularly in places of multiple occupation, for example—and could give false legitimacy to a potential personator.

Allowing any documents issued by local authorities or returning officers would also open significant avenues for forgery, for a forger would simply need to copy the letterhead from correspondence, which would be straightforward to extract from an electronic version emailed to them by their local authority.

Similarly—and I know the noble Baroness feels strongly about this, and I understand her feelings about it—permitting attestation at polling stations is not something this Government can support. Again, all attestation would leave open an avenue for electoral fraud, and potentially expose legitimate electors to a situation which I know from our previous debates everyone in this House wishes to prevent, where an elector could be intimidated or coerced into breaking the law to falsely vouch for a person.

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour

The Minister mentions attestation, but this Bill specifically introduces at a later stage the allowing of attestation for overseas voters to get on the electoral roll, so I cannot see why he is quite so concerned about this.

Photo of Lord True Lord True Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

My Lords, I am explaining to the House why we are concerned in this particular context. I would have thought the noble Lord, having listened to the speech by my noble friend Lady Verma, might feel there is something in what she said.

I wish to reassure your Lordships that our intention remains to realise our ambition that the last possible point at which electors can apply for a voter card will be 5pm the day ahead of a poll. We consider that this too should reduce the need for attestation. Up to 5pm the day before a poll, the card will be available.

I now turn to Amendment 8 laid by my noble friend Lord Willetts—others have supported it. It suggests an even wider number of new documents that could be used as a form of identification at the polling station. This too is a topic debated at length in both Houses, and the other place settled on the propositions we have before us.

As I have already discussed, the majority of these suggestions do not show a photograph of the elector and so cannot provide the appropriate level of proof that the bearer is who they say they are. Looking further down the list in Amendment 8 at some of the suggestions which do display photographs, I wish to reassure noble Lords that the list of identification was developed with both security and accessibility in mind—this point was addressed by my noble friend Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts in his thoughtful speech. Unfortunately, some of the forms of identity listed in my noble friend’s amendment are not sufficiently secure for this purpose.

We cannot permit any workplace ID or student ID card, as we cannot be sure of how rigorous the process is to issue these documents. The 18+ student Oyster photocard and the National Rail card have also been suggested before—unfortunately, currently, the process for applying for these documents is insufficiently secure for the purposes of voting. The final suggestion on the list is the Young Scot National Entitlement Card. This card is accredited by PASS, the National Proof of Age Standards Scheme, and so will already be accepted as proof of identity under the current proposed legislation.

Should further forms of photo identification become available and—I stress this—be sufficiently secure, I reassure the House that the Bill already makes provision, in paragraph 18(4)(1Q) of Schedule 1, for the list to be amended so that additional identification can be added or removed as necessary without the need for further primary legislation.

In summary, taken together, these amendments would weaken the security of our elections and the propositions that we have put before your Lordships. Therefore, they are not something we can support. I urge the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour

I apologise for intervening again, as we are trying to get on with this, but I did ask a specific question. What, if any, estimate have the Government made of the effect of these proposals on turnout in elections? If they have not made any estimate of that, why not?

Photo of Lord True Lord True Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 5:30, 6 April 2022

My Lords, the Government’s objective—as indeed is the objective of anybody who practices the art of politics—is to achieve the highest number going to the polling station. The noble Lord knows well that turnout is not affected by any specific institution or object; turnout varies according to the electors’ very broad perceptions of the state of politics. If the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, were standing as a candidate in the constituency in which I was living, I would flock—if an individual can flock—to the poll to vote for him; I might not for others. Turnout is contingent, but the Government’s desire is to see as many people as possible voting. That is why the photo ID card will be free and why the Electoral Commission will operate a major national publicity campaign from next year to ensure that people are fully aware of it.

Photo of Lord Woolley of Woodford Lord Woolley of Woodford Crossbench

It has been an interesting debate. I want us to move on, but I want to pick up a couple of points raised, not least those raised by my noble friends Lady Verma and Lord Desai regarding the point that there is not a race issue around voter ID. I think we should put our political colours aside for the moment—that is really important—and look at the facts. When we did these pilot projects, there was one in particular in Derby in which Africans, Asians and Caribbeans—more colloquially, black and brown people—came to vote and did not have the right identification. Many—and this is the point—disproportionately black and brown people, did not come back to exercise their franchise.

I do not know where people get their information from but if we base this on the facts we see that we are hit harder—and that is before we even get to the polls. If you calculate the number—it was between 0.5% and 0.7%—of those who came to the polls, were turned away and never came back, and translate it to the general population, you will see that we would be looking at hundreds of thousands, if not more than 1 million people, being turned away before exercising their franchise. Are we happy to accept that? Ask yourself that one question.

The other point I want to make is this. People talk about identification cards, but let me ask the House these straight questions. How many noble Lords—raise your hands—have been stopped and searched by the police? How many noble Lords have been stopped and strip-searched? I am sorry if noble Lords find this funny. It really is not funny—ask Child Q if it is funny. I say to my noble friend Lady Verma that for a lot of young Africans and Asians the worry is that, in the hands of the authorities, identification cards will be used to target us, because that is our lived experience. So we worry: we worry that it will be abused; that we will be harassed and humiliated. I know this is a digression, but the subject came up and I wanted to knock it on its head.

I am also from Leicester and I also know the young Africans and Muslims there. They are worried about what we do here. They want us to use our energy and our wisdom to ensure that they know about this institution, that they understand it, and that they can effectively register to vote—which I hope we will vote on shortly—and for people like me to express their lived experience and protect them. That is why I am worried about photo ID. I want to make it work. I want to bring people in, not lock people out.

I thank noble Lords for giving me that time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.

Schedule 1: Voter identification