Elections: Commonwealth Citizens

House of Lords written question – answered on 19th December 2011.

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Photo of Lord Ashcroft Lord Ashcroft Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether qualifying Commonwealth citizens resident in the United Kingdom are entitled (1) to vote in all United Kingdom referendums, and (2) to stand as candidates in United Kingdom parliamentary elections, local elections and European elections.

Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords

The question of who is entitled to vote in any particular referendum is considered and determined in the light of the subject matter. The franchise for each referendum is set out in the legislation which establishes that the referendum is to be held.

For the referendum on the voting system on 5 May this year, the Government legislated in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act to allow anyone registered to vote in Westminster parliamentary elections (plus Peers) to vote in the referendum. This meant that British, Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK who met all the eligibility criteria who were aged over 18 were able to vote.

Qualifying Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK who are at least 18 years old and not otherwise disqualified are entitled to stand as candidates in United Kingdom parliamentary elections, local elections and European elections. A "qualifying Commonwealth citizen" is a Commonwealth citizen who either does not need leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or who does need such leave and has it.

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