To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure that adequate numbers of counting agents are permitted by Electoral Registration Officers to attend and monitor the counting process during the election counts of 6 May 2021.
Arrangements will be put in place by statutorily independent Returning Officers and their teams to allow the effective scrutiny of the counts while ensuring each count is COVID-secure for everyone present. The pandemic means that the arrangements for these polls will be necessarily different from those normally in place.
The Electoral Commission, in consultation with public health bodies, has provided guidance for Returning Officers on the organisation and conduct of the polls, including the count, in the context of the pandemic. We are aware that discussions on arrangements have taken place at local level and that Returning Officers are working with candidates and political parties to set out what is practicable within relevant legislation and with due regard to the need to ensure that count processes can be, and can be seen to be effectively conducted.
I have the utmost confidence in the ability of the Returning Officers to run these polls in a way that meets the highest standards of both public safety and democratic integrity.