Lord Collins of Highbury Portrait Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
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My Lords, I too wish the noble Lord, Lord True, a speedy recovery and a quick return to duty, hopefully in time for Report. I am sure that the noble Earl would be pleased by that.

This has been a very good debate, because it has focused on broader issues of principle which we need to probe the Government on. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, is absolutely right, as we have said at a number of stages, that this Bill represents missed opportunities. It is not so much what is in it as what is not in it that has been a problem. I am sure that the amendments which we have tabled will be considered. If they are not in this legislation, we will return to these broader issues of principle. The one thing that we would have all hoped for in terms of that right to vote is clarity, which we do not get here for all kinds of reasons, not least legacy reasons. Noble Lords have spoken about the complications that we will now face which we had not faced previously, not least that we will have some EU citizens with the right to vote and some without the right to vote, based on when they arrived—an arbitrary date as far as they are concerned.

Of course, the principle that we have sought to highlight in our amendment is what sort of qualification would make sense, would be clear and would be easily understood. We bandy terms such as “no taxation without representation” around, but lots of people who should be perfectly entitled to vote do not pay tax, particularly council tax. Residency is an important principle and perhaps the missed opportunity that this Bill could have addressed more properly, not least because of that legacy. I am not arguing at all for a change in what happened in the Brexit vote. We have left the EU. However, there is a legacy that we must consider there, particularly on people who have made their home here.

I must declare an interest, not least because in my household, with every general election that comes around, we are denied the right to vote. I wish we could vote but we cannot. My husband has lived here for 27 years; he has been a taxpayer, a national insurance payer and a council tax payer. He is a member of the Labour Party, has campaigned for candidates and has voted in every local election that he has been permitted to. The legacy of that will continue. The complication is that it will not apply to other EU citizens who establish the right of residency, who work here and who pay tax here. After a certain date they will not have that right to vote. It causes unnecessary complication.

Throughout this Bill I have readily agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, particularly on citizenship education—and by the way, citizenship education should not be limited to citizens of the United Kingdom. The rights and responsibilities of living in this country should be understood by all who live in this country, and we would create a much safer society if we undertook that responsibility. That is why we should consider a right to vote based on the clear principle of residency. Maybe we will not have the opportunity in this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, said that people who just pop over here should not have the right to vote. However, because of our legacy as an empire and our legacy in terms of the Commonwealth, it is a bit ironic that a student from Australia on an overseas experience visa can land in this country and get the right to vote, but my husband, who has been here for 27 years and paid tax, does not. It does not really make sense.

This is, sadly, a missed opportunity. Amendment 156, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Suttie, and my noble friend, deals with precisely that issue: instead of clarity we end up with confusion, with some people having the right to vote and others not, but both having the right of residency and to work and pay tax and national insurance. This country will have to consider that at some stage, if not now. I hope the Minister will understand why we have tabled our amendment. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, that this is a missed opportunity. I am sure none of these amendments will be agreed to, but I hope that the principle we are trying to establish will be considered in the future.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, I begin by conveying the regret of my noble friend Lord True that he is unable to be in his place today because of illness. As a result of his indisposition, the Committee finds itself with a deputy Minister in the shape of me. That is a privilege for me, but I am only glad that I am so ably supported by my noble friend Lady Scott in this endeavour.

My Lords, this group of amendments deals from various perspectives with the voting franchise in the context of UK national elections. I hope that I can be of help to noble Lords in setting out the Government’s approach to this issue and the logic that lies behind it. I was grateful to my noble friend Lord Hodgson for what he said in connection with Amendment 152, which I shall begin with.

The purpose of Amendment 152 is to require the Government to allow EU citizens to vote in UK parliamentary elections. It may be helpful if I explain our policy position on this. Our policy has always been that after our exit from the EU there should not be a continued automatic right to vote and stand in local elections solely by virtue of being an EU citizen. The provisions in this Bill are based on two main planks: first, to respect the existing rights of those who chose to make their homes in the UK before the end of the implementation period; secondly, to look to retain rights on a bilateral basis where possible.

Amendment 152 would extend the parliamentary franchise to EU citizens where no such rights previously existed. In a similar vein, Amendment 156 seeks to allow EU citizens to continue to vote and stand in local elections in Northern Ireland. Those who are nationals of an EU member state have never been able to vote in UK parliamentary elections by virtue of their EU citizenship. If an EU citizen becomes a British citizen, they will be eligible for the parliamentary franchise from that point.

The Government stand by their commitment to EU citizens resident before EU exit, and the Bill ensures that any EU citizen who was a resident before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 and who has retained lawful immigration status will retain their voting and candidacy rights in England and Northern Ireland. This goes beyond our obligations in the withdrawal agreement. EU citizens who arrived after the end of the transition period will move to a position whereby local voting and candidacy rights rest on the principle of a mutual grant of rights through voting and candidacy rights agreements with individual EU member states.

On Amendment 156, the noble Baronesses, Lady Suttie and Lady Ritchie, and the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, referred to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. As was rightly said, both those commissions have sought clarification on EU voting and candidacy rights in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol. The UK Government’s position is very clear and has been explained to both commissions. Removing voting and candidacy rights from EU citizens arriving in Northern Ireland after the implementation date does not run counter to article 2 of the Northern Ireland protocol.

Article 22 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union confers a right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections only in respect of EU nationals who are resident in another member state, having exercised their rights of free movement and residence. As the UK is no longer a member state, EU citizens self-evidently no longer enjoy the right to reside here, so the ancillary article 22 right to vote and participate in municipal elections is no longer applicable to it in this context. This is entirely consistent with part 2 of the withdrawal agreement, “Citizens’ rights”. I hope that is helpful.

I submit to your Lordships that the Government’s approach is a sensible and fair one, whereby established rights are recognised while moving to new bilateral agreements with individual nation states in the EU. I am afraid, therefore, that the Government cannot accept either of these amendments.

Amendment 155 is intended to extend the parliamentary franchise to foreign nationals with certain types of immigration status in the UK. The right to choose the next UK Government is rightly restricted to British citizens and those with the closest historical links to our country. In this respect, the UK is in line with international norms. Citizenship is the normal criterion for participating in national elections in most democracies, including the UK.

Amendment 155A in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, proposes to enfranchise all who pay council tax in the relevant local authority area. Taxation has never been the basis for representation in the UK in modern times. There is a long-standing principle in the UK, as originally recommended by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in 1998, that those who do not pay income tax, such as those earning less than the tax-free personal allowance, rightly remain entitled to vote. Similarly, full-time students are legally exempt from paying council tax but still have the right to vote in local elections. So, I submit that that connection between taxation and voting does not exist. The Government hold to that principle and therefore cannot support Amendment 155A.

The noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, asked me a number of questions. I will arrange for a letter to be sent to her, but I will comment on her point about credit scoring and being on the electoral roll. The noble Baroness is, of course, not wrong in pointing out that credit reference agencies use the electoral roll to enable lenders and other service providers to confirm someone’s identity. However, it is true to say that lenders look at the entirety of the information on a person’s credit side, as well as other factors, to decide whether to lend to somebody. Lenders and other providers of financial services can ask for other forms of identity and confirmation.

The noble Baroness also asked whether we were taking steps to inform local authorities about the measures being taken. The Government are very conscious of the competing priorities that local authorities have and, particularly, electoral registration offices, both in relation to their business as usual activity and in the new activity that will be conferred by the Elections Bill. We are committed to working closely with the electoral community throughout the development of secondary legislation and implementation planning. We will commit to funding all new burdens incurred by EROs as a result of implementing this policy, as is customary.

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Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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Before the Minister sits down, he rightly said that taxation has not historically been used as a justification for the right to vote, but have the Government actually looked at it? In the context of a Bill that will supposedly rationalise and make sense out of our electoral system, have the Government looked at the idea that taxation would be a good, sensible rationale for the right to vote—at least at local elections, where it would be a lot more straightforward than national elections?

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, I understand where the noble Baroness is on this. I think one has to distinguish national elections from local elections, and the rules do so in respect of the various categories of individuals who live in this country. To answer her question directly: the Government have looked at this issue and we do not believe that a change is warranted. As I say, we do not deny the vote to those who happen not to be earning. Equally, we do not grant the vote, in general elections, to foreign nationals who happen to pay council tax. I think there are good reasons for that.

Lord Shipley Portrait Lord Shipley (LD)
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Before the Minister sits down, can I clarify what he has said about liability for payment? My Amendment 155A relates to the liability to pay council tax. Where people are excused, they might otherwise be liable to pay council tax but, because of government legislation, they have been excused the need to do so. I make the point that although I planned this as a probing amendment, I now realise we have a much bigger issue to address, and we will need to discuss this further on Report.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, may I point out one other anomaly? I imagine everyone in this House pays tax, and yet we do not have the vote. I think that is really rather unfair and hope to see that rectified.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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The noble Baroness, Lady Deech, is, of course, quite correct and we will be looking at the question of voting rights for noble Lords in a subsequent group of amendments.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire Portrait Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD)
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My Lords, this has been a very useful debate, which has yet again exposed how unco-ordinated and ill thought through this Bill is. I strongly agree with what the Minister said: local elections are different from national elections. Indeed, in the late-night debate we had last week on overseas voting, it was pointed out that overseas electors are allowed to vote in our national elections but not in our local elections. If there is a good, rational argument for that, then there is an equally strong argument why long-term residents in Britain should be allowed to vote in local elections but not in national elections. If one were to think these things through, and clearly the Government have not, we would be moving in that sort of direction.

Similarly, if we had automatic voter registration, the complexities of residents and non-residents would be clearer. Incidentally, the logic that says overseas electors are not allowed to vote in local elections because they no longer have any connection with the local area goes completely against the logic that they should be allocated to constituencies, which they have lost touch with over the decades since they were in Britain. That is why I put down the amendment on the creation of overseas constituencies, but that has not been thought through either.

We all understand, as someone said to me at the weekend, that the Bill is driven by staff in No. 10 who are above all concerned with increasing the chances that the Conservatives win the next election. One of the strongest arguments for prioritising overseas voter registration over other categories is that they are thought to be more likely to vote Conservative.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Lord for allowing me to intervene. As I understood it, it was official Liberal Democrat party policy to scrap the 15-year rule that has existed up to now on overseas voters. Can he confirm that that is the case, because that is what the Bill does.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire Portrait Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD)
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Yes, and to create overseas constituencies. I am looking at the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, who was deeply shocked to be told by the noble Lord, Lord True, in a meeting a few weeks ago when he recommended the creation of overseas constituencies on the French model that that was Liberal Democrat policy. I hope he has now recovered from the shock.

There are tremendous problems with the Bill and the failure to connect all these dimensions. We will come in the sixth group to one of the other reasons why the Conservatives want to push ahead with extending the rights to overseas voting without thinking through the other dimensions of it, which the Liberal Democrats have thought through—the expectation that, once overseas voters are on register, they will be able to increase the systemic advantages—

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Lord Collins of Highbury Portrait Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
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My Lords, we talk about piecemeal reform, and changes to this House have not necessarily been a result of legislative change or even reform. I have mentioned in previous debates the excellent book by Antonia Fraser about the debate on the Great Reform Act 1832. What I found most fascinating was that most Members of the House of Commons were sons of aristocrats and were put there by their fathers to have proper training to come into the House of Lords. Of course that was in the days when the powers of this House were great, as noble Lords have mentioned.

What recently shocked me even more—and I have cited this too—were the diaries of “Chips” Channon, who, when he was writing pre-war, leading up to the 1938 Munich debacle, mentioned that most of his friends in the House of Commons were sons of aristocrats who eventually ended up in this House. I hope things have changed. Constitutionally, things have radically changed, quite rightly, in the powers of this House, which can no longer challenge the democratic mandate of the House of Commons. The question is not simply about whether we are here for life or not; it is about what we do here. Even where we have particular circumstances of power, I am one of those people who would not use it to challenge the democratically elected House of Commons.

My noble friend made a very powerful case, and the point that struck me was that not many people in the public out there are aware that we have not got the vote. I remember campaigning in the 2017 election and a young, radical activist stopped me and asked if I had voted yet. When I explained I could not vote for Jeremy Corbyn, she nearly issued an internal disciplinary notice. Once I had explained, I was eventually forgiven. But I think it is a point worth making that most people assume that everyone in this country has a free and fair democratic right to vote, and it just seems ridiculous that we do not.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, this amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, who is joined on the Marshalled List by my noble friend Lord Naseby, brings us to a topic on which each of them has tested government policy on a number of occasions in the past, including, as I recall and as the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, mentioned, through my noble friend’s Private Member’s Bill in 2019. On the latter occasion, my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham set out the Government’s response, and I therefore hope it will not come as a shock to the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, that my response today bears an uncanny resemblance to the one given to the House previously.

I understand and respect the case that noble Lords have articulated on this issue. However, I am afraid it is not a case I can accept, and the reason is clear and straightforward and was well articulated by my noble friend Lord Cormack. Noble Lords will be aware that although, as the noble Lord, Lord Collins, rightly said, the role of this House has changed over time, our place in Parliament still gives us a position of influence not held by other citizens. My noble friend Lord Sherbourne asked what the downside would be of accepting the amendment. Enfranchising noble Lords to vote in general elections would give Peers two ways of being represented in Parliament. Members of this House have an opportunity to debate and vote on legislation. To provide a vote for Peers in UK parliamentary elections would undermine the principle that all citizens are equally represented in politics.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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Is that not true of MPs? Why should they be allowed to vote? They have two grabs.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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When Parliament is prorogued for a general election, MPs cease to be Members of Parliament. They therefore become ordinary voters, if I can put it that way.

In our democracy, everyone should have a voice, but the Government’s view is that Peers who are Members of this House have that by virtue of their participation in this Chamber. That principle has been upheld for more than 300 years, including by the courts. It has not altered over successive Governments: in fact, in the debate on his Private Member’s Bill nearly three years ago, my noble friend Lord Young reminded the House that, as recently as 1999, Section 3 of the House of Lords Act explicitly enfranchised hereditary Peers who are not Members of this House and disfranchised Peers who are.

The noble Baroness, Lady Quin, asked whether Peers who have retired from this House have the right to vote. My understanding is that they do, because they ceased to be parliamentary Peers at that point.

The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, asked about the cost of taking parliamentary Peers off the register. I doubt that that cost has been computed by anybody—of course, there must be a cost—but it is a very considerable privilege that we as Peers have, and I for one would argue that it is not unreasonable for that privilege to carry a public cost.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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Of course, we are on the register and can vote in every other election, including local government elections, referenda—the lot.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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I think the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, was that a distinction must be made on the register between different types of election, and that that carries a cost; he can correct me if I am wrong in assuming that.

This House is a respected voice that adds depth and, I hope, wisdom to our legislative process. It allows us, as its Members, full participation in the life of the nation. The Government therefore have considerable reservations about this proposed new clause, and I ask the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Dubs Portrait Lord Dubs (Lab)
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My Lords, I never thought that so many different sorts of opinions would come out of the woodwork. It has been absolutely fascinating. The arguments have been somewhat different from the last two or three times we debated this issue. I just want to comment on them briefly.

As regards the voting list—this is a technical point—my understand is that there is no obvious way in which when we register we can declare that we are Members of this House. Somehow, in some local authorities, the polling clerks are aware of it but, in others, they are not. I am always mystified by that; it is not clear. I have known of people who have not been debarred from voting and could have gone to vote—they did not do so but they could have—simply because it was not obvious to the polling clerks that they were Members of this House.

On my noble friend Lady Quin’s comment about Members of Parliament, again, it is purely a technicality that they cease to be Members of Parliament during the period of an election campaign. Nobody knows about it except for a few nerds like us—sorry, nerds like me. It just means that they are technically not MPs. However, for all practical purposes, of course they are; they still get representations made to them, constituency casework and so on. Even during the election campaign, they cannot just say, “No, I’m not prepared to do it.”

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Lord Collins of Highbury Portrait Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
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My Lords, I have some sympathy with the points made, but I wish this amendment could have been debated in the group of amendments we had on the entitlement to vote, because I do not really want to move away from the principle I articulated before. Not everyone wants to lose the status of their nationality. For example, my husband does not want to give up his Spanish citizenship, which he may have to do. A number of European countries have started to change but they did not allow dual nationality. A lot of people could lie about that, but he does not want to give it up. I certainly do not want to give up my nationality.

When we were in the EU, we were in the comfortable position of being, as we used to describe ourselves, EU citizens; we could locate and meet our families in our respective countries with ease. Now that has changed and we accept that, but I do not quite understand why we do not accept that there is a settled status, where someone has lived in the country for 27 years, paid tax, national insurance and everything else—they have taken the responsibility of a citizenship—but for one reason or another do not want to take formal citizenship, and why that should preclude them from having the right to vote.

It is crazy that, as I mentioned, an Australian student who comes over for their OE can immediately apply for the right to vote. I would rather the debate focused on what entitles somebody to vote. We have talked about taxation, we have talked about responsibility, and I say that clear levels of residence should establish some basic rights, so that we treat people who live here equally, and when they contribute to the success of our country we should acknowledge that.

I come back to what the noble Lord, Lord Green, said. One of the issues his amendment ought to probe and cause us to think about is: what is a British citizen? He says that British nationals (overseas) are not included. We can make commitments suddenly; for example, we made a commitment to Hong Kong citizens who are BNOs because of the breach of an international agreement. I have no doubt that in future, as we have done in the past, we will want to protect our legacy. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, spoke about the legacy of British Empire, which of course we cannot ignore, and things have changed.

I welcome the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Green, has tabled this amendment but we need to consider it in the light of all the amendments we have had on the right to vote and what the qualifications are. I do not think we should ignore residency.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, with Amendment 154 we return to the franchise. The purpose of the amendment, as the noble Lord, Lord Green, explained, is to require the Government to confine the voting rights of Commonwealth citizens to citizens of countries that grant British citizens the right to vote in their general elections. The effect of this would be to limit the franchise to Commonwealth citizens from countries where British citizens are entitled to vote in general elections.

I take this amendment seriously but perhaps I could clarify the position as it relates to Commonwealth citizens. First, it is important for me to point out to the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, in particular, that there is no blanket voting right in this country for Commonwealth citizens. The right to vote applies only to qualifying Commonwealth citizens: those who have leave to remain in this country or have such status that they do not require such leave. The noble Lord, Lord Green, asked me to expand on that definition. The definition of “Commonwealth citizen” is a broad term and is not limited to citizens from Commonwealth countries listed in Schedule 3 to the British Nationality Act 1981. It applies equally to other types of British nationality defined in Section 37 of that Act. This includes Hong Kong British nationals (overseas), British overseas citizens and British Dependent Territories citizens. It also includes British Overseas Territories citizens.

I acknowledge that the approach adopted in relation to Commonwealth citizens is different from that that we take towards other categories of foreign nationals. However, there are sound and well-rooted reasons for that difference. The rights of Commonwealth citizens to vote are long standing and reflect the historic connections and well-established links with the Commonwealth of this country and Her Majesty the Queen, as the noble Lord, Lord Desai, outlined.

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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The noble Lord, Lord Desai, is once again perfectly right.

Successive Governments and Parliaments since 1981 have concluded that the existing voting rights of Commonwealth citizens should not be disturbed, and it is on this basis that the Commonwealth citizens are granted the right to vote in UK elections.

I have enormous personal sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and his husband in the situation he has outlined. The best answer I can give him is to refer back to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Desai. As a country, we have found ourselves at various times in our history as members of different families of nations; for example, the family of EU member states and the family of Commonwealth nations. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the links and historic traditions, and hence entitlements, relating to each such family are different from one another. Our formal ties with the EU have been severed. Our ties with the Commonwealth endure. The weight of history plays a very considerable part in all sorts of aspects of our national life—

Lord Collins of Highbury Portrait Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
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The noble Earl says that our ties with the Commonwealth endure. I agree with the sentiment but the reality, as the noble Lord, Lord Desai, said, is that the relationship with Commonwealth countries has changed fundamentally, and is continuing to change. As Prince William said yesterday in his press statement—I have forgotten the exact words but it seemed relevant to me—the relations endure but Commonwealth countries change. The fact is that we have not changed what we define. With all these different British nationals as a consequence of our imperial legacy, we find it very difficult to define citizenship in that regard. That is why I come back to this fundamental point. I am not arguing that my husband has a special right as a former EU citizen. I am saying that someone who has lived here for 27 years, and paid tax and national insurance, should have the right to vote. It is residence that I am arguing for, which is what a number of noble Lords have been making the case for.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, I understand that. It is clear that this is an argument that runs very deep. We may or may not return to it on Report but if there is anything else that I can add to the remarks that I have made, I will ensure that a letter is sent to all noble Lords who have taken part in this short debate.

In short, it is for reasons of history and because of the well-established ties that we in this country have with the family of nations that we call the Commonwealth that the Government have no plans to change the voting rights of Commonwealth citizens. Therefore, I am afraid we cannot support this amendment.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, it has been a very interesting debate. I welcome the response of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats and note the careful response from the Labour Front Bench. There are wider issues here, and I hope that both opposition parties will look at this and that the Government will, too.

The point that the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, made is a very important one. This loose end, to call it that, rather devalues the worth of UK/British citizenship. We need to sort it; this Bill is a very simple one, this could be a very simple amendment, and this is an opportunity to support it. I intend to bring it back at Report, and I hope that there will be a different reception to it. Meanwhile, I am happy to withdraw it.

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Moved by
157: Schedule 8, page 151, line 5, leave out “or Northern Ireland”
Member’s explanatory statement
The reference in paragraph 12(4)(b) of Schedule 8 to a member of a local authority in Northern Ireland is unnecessary in view of how the qualification requirements in section 3(1) of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 operate.
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Moved by
162: Clause 30, page 42, line 23, after “office” insert “or a relevant Scottish elective office”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment ensures that references to a candidate in clause 30 continue to include a candidate at an election for the office of member of the Scottish Parliament or member of a Scottish local authority, notwithstanding the amendments in Lord True’s name to clause 35 which narrow the general definition of “relevant elective office”.
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Moved by
166: Clause 31, page 44, line 2, after “office” insert “or a relevant Scottish elective office”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment ensures that references in clause 31 to the holder of a relevant elective office continue to include the holder of the office of member of the Scottish Parliament or member of a Scottish local authority, notwithstanding the amendments in Lord True’s name to clause 35 which narrow the general definition of “relevant elective office”.
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Moved by
169: Clause 32, page 45, line 37, after “office” insert “or a relevant Scottish elective office”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment ensures that “relevant election”, in clause 32, continues to include an election for the office of member of the Scottish Parliament or member of a Scottish local authority, notwithstanding the amendments in Lord True’s name to clause 35 which narrow the general definition of “relevant elective office”.
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Moved by
173: Clause 35, page 46, line 24, leave out paragraph (b)
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment removes member of the Scottish Parliament from the definition of “relevant elective office” for Part 5.
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Moved by
177: Schedule 10, page 160, line 33, leave out paragraph 4
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment omits amendments currently made by the Bill to sections 35 and 36 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.
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Moved by
179: Clause 38, page 48, line 1, after “office” insert “or a relevant Scottish elective office”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment ensures that the definition of “candidate” continues to include a candidate at an election for the office of member of the Scottish Parliament or member of a Scottish local authority.
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Moved by
181: Clause 40, page 49, line 25, leave out subsection (2) and insert—
“(2) The first condition is that the sole or primary purpose that the electronic material can reasonably be regarded as intended to achieve is a purpose within section 41.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that the condition in clause 40(2) is met only where the sole or primary purpose that the electronic material can reasonably be regarded as intended to achieve is a purpose within clause 41.
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Moved by
184: Clause 41, page 50, line 1, after “future candidates” insert “, in their capacity as such,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment modifies the purpose in clause 41(2)(c) so that it refers to influencing the public, or any section of the public, to give support to or withhold support from a relevant candidate or future candidate only in their capacity as such a candidate or future candidate.
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Moved by
189: Clause 42, page 51, line 14, at end insert—
“(4) The third condition is that neither the promoter of the material, nor the person on behalf of whom the material is published, has paid for the material to be published as an advertisement.(5) Subsections (4) to (6) of section 40 apply in relation to subsection (4) as they apply in relation to subsection (3) of that section.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that clause 42 does not apply in relation to electronic material where the promoter of the material or the person on behalf of whom the material is published has paid for the material to be published as an advertisement.
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Moved by
190: Clause 45, page 53, line 20, leave out “by a person (“A”)”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment, and the other amendments to clause 45 in the name of Lord True, clarify that the republication exception in clause 45 can apply where both the original publication and the later republication are carried out by the same person.
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Moved by
195: Clause 46, page 54, line 25, at end insert—
“(4A) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) in relation to the republication of electronic material to prove that—(a) the electronic material had previously been published,(b) the person reasonably believed that when it was previously published—(i) section 39 applied to it, and(ii) it was published in compliance with that section, and(c) it was not materially altered when it was republished.(4B) In subsection (4A)(c) the reference to electronic material not being materially altered includes a reference to the electronic material retaining—(a) the information within section 39(3), or(b) the access to such information,as a result of which the person reasonably believed its previous publication complied with section 39.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment inserts an additional defence into clause 46 in relation to the republication of electronic material. The defence applies where material has previously been published, the person charged with the offence reasonably believes that, at the time of the original publication, clause 39 applied to the material and it was published in compliance with that section and the material was not materially altered when it was republished.
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Moved by
196: Clause 48, page 55, line 32, after “(referendums)” insert “where the referendum in question is a referendum to which Part 7 of PPERA applies and the electronic material is published during the referendum period (within the meaning of that Part) for that referendum”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that the Electoral Commission is able to enforce the offence in clause 46(1) in relation to the publication of electronic material which can reasonably be regarded as intended to achieve a purpose within clause 41(9)(referendums) only in relation to a referendum to which Part 7 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 applies and where the material is published during the relevant referendum period.