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Written Question
Elections: Proof of Identity
Monday 14th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what levels of documented scrutiny, including photo ID, is expected to apply in future for voters at a polling station; what assessment they have made as to how far this documentation may be more easily available for (1) older voters, (2) younger voters, and (3) people who move their address most frequently; and how this scrutiny will compare to that applied to UK citizens applying to register as overseas voters who are not recorded on previous electoral rolls.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

The Elections Bill will bring in the requirement to show a photographic identity document when voting in polling stations. The Government has carried out research on the levels of ownership of relevant forms of identification amongst various demographics including age. This research is available here (attached) - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/voter-identification-photographic-id-ownership-in-great-britain>

Following the extension of the overseas electors franchise, the identity of all applicants will (as now) need to be verified as will their connection to an address in the UK before they can be added to the electoral register. Further detail can be found in the Government’s policy statement, “Overseas electors: Delivering ‘votes for life’ for British expatriates”
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/overseas-electors-delivering-votes-for-life-for-british-expatriates/overseas-electors-delivering-votes-for-life-for-british-expatriates>


Written Question
Political Parties: Finance
Monday 14th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to bring into force the un-commenced provisions of the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009, regarding donations from non-resident donors.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

The Government has no plans to bring into force the uncommenced provisions of the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 regarding donations from non-resident donors.

As set out in a related answer to a question from Jon Trickett MP (268970) (attached), it is the view of the Government that this provision is not workable given that an individual’s tax status is subject to confidentiality between them and HMRC.

Further, taxation is not connected to enfranchisement in the UK and if a British citizen is able to vote in an election for a political party, they should also be able to donate to that political party, subject to the requirements for transparency on donations.

Registered overseas electors are eligible to make political donations and it is only right that they should be able to donate in the same way as other UK citizens registered on the electoral roll.


Written Question
Absent Voting: British Nationals Abroad
Monday 14th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to facilitate more rapid (1) distribution, and (2) return, of postal votes to UK citizens overseas who are registered voters in general elections.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

Returning Officers are responsible for the issue of postal votes at elections. The Electoral Commission guidance advises Returning Officers that they should prioritise postal votes that are to be sent overseas in order to maximise the time that postal voters have to receive, complete and return their postal vote.

The Government has recently taken steps to enhance the postal vote system for UK citizens living overseas. At the 2019 General Election, the Government funded a scheme to expedite the issue of postal vote ballot papers to overseas electors via Heathrow Airport. The Government has also funded the use of the International Business Response Licence which expedites the return of ballot packs from overseas, as well as covering any postage costs that might otherwise be incurred.

The Elections Bill includes measures that will make it easier for overseas electors to participate by enabling them to remain registered for longer with an absent vote arrangement in place. The registration period for overseas electors will be extended from one year to up to three years, and electors will be able to reapply or refresh, as appropriate, their absent vote arrangements at the same time as renewing their registration. The Bill also provides for an online absent vote application service to be introduced that will enable electors, including overseas electors, to apply for a postal vote online.


Written Question
Political Parties: Expenditure
Monday 14th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase national party expenditure limits in general elections in line with the written statement made by Lord True on 3 December 2020 (HLWS610); and whether any such increase will take place before July 2023.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

Election spending limits are fixed in absolute terms. This requires them to be updated by inflation from time to time. The underlying primary legislation passed by Parliament explicitly provides for this.

In 2020 government officials consulted with representatives of the Local Government Association, political groups, the Parliamentary Parties panel and other political parties on uprating spending limits at reserved polls. Naturally a range of views were received during these consultations, however, it is for these groups to make public their position on this matter, not the Government.

As set out in the Written Ministerial Statements published on 3 December 2020 HCWS618; HLWS610 (attached) the Government intends to review both candidate and party spending limits, at reserved polls with a view to uprating them by inflation. We cannot, however, comment on any specific figures until the necessary review has concluded.


Written Question
Political Parties: Expenditure
Monday 14th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of political parties that would be able to raise and spend more than the present national limit on party expenditure in a general election, based on expenditure in general elections since 2000; and which parties that includes.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

Election spending limits are fixed in absolute terms. This requires them to be updated by inflation from time to time. The underlying primary legislation passed by Parliament explicitly provides for this.

In 2020 government officials consulted with representatives of the Local Government Association, political groups, the Parliamentary Parties panel and other political parties on uprating spending limits at reserved polls. Naturally a range of views were received during these consultations, however, it is for these groups to make public their position on this matter, not the Government.

As set out in the Written Ministerial Statements published on 3 December 2020 HCWS618; HLWS610 (attached) the Government intends to review both candidate and party spending limits, at reserved polls with a view to uprating them by inflation. We cannot, however, comment on any specific figures until the necessary review has concluded.


Written Question
Inflation
Monday 14th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the rate of inflation between 2000 to 2022; and what assessment they have made of the effect on national spending limits for a registered political party contesting every constituency in Great Britain of increasing the present limit by the rate of inflation.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

Election spending limits are fixed in absolute terms. This requires them to be updated by inflation from time to time. The underlying primary legislation passed by Parliament explicitly provides for this.

In 2020 government officials consulted with representatives of the Local Government Association, political groups, the Parliamentary Parties panel and other political parties on uprating spending limits at reserved polls. Naturally a range of views were received during these consultations, however, it is for these groups to make public their position on this matter, not the Government.

As set out in the Written Ministerial Statements published on 3 December 2020 HCWS618; HLWS610 (attached) the Government intends to review both candidate and party spending limits, at reserved polls with a view to uprating them by inflation. We cannot, however, comment on any specific figures until the necessary review has concluded.


Written Question
Political Parties: Expenditure
Monday 14th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord True on 10 March 2021 (HL13610), what representations they received from (1) the Local Government Association, (2) political groups, (3) the Parliamentary Parties Panel, and (4) other political parties, in 2020 on the issue of uprating spending limits at reserved polls; and in particular, which political parties expressed support for increasing such spending limits for national elections in line with inflation since 2000.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

Election spending limits are fixed in absolute terms. This requires them to be updated by inflation from time to time. The underlying primary legislation passed by Parliament explicitly provides for this.

In 2020 government officials consulted with representatives of the Local Government Association, political groups, the Parliamentary Parties panel and other political parties on uprating spending limits at reserved polls. Naturally a range of views were received during these consultations, however, it is for these groups to make public their position on this matter, not the Government.

As set out in the Written Ministerial Statements published on 3 December 2020 HCWS618; HLWS610 (attached) the Government intends to review both candidate and party spending limits, at reserved polls with a view to uprating them by inflation. We cannot, however, comment on any specific figures until the necessary review has concluded.


Written Question
Elections
Friday 11th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to removing the means by which a voter at a polling station who finds that their name has already been crossed off the list of voters issued with ballot papers may then be given an extra ballot paper to ensure that their vote can be counted if appropriate.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

The Electoral Commission gathers and publishes data on all major elections. Their report on the 2019 General Election included figures on how many tendered ballot papers were issued. This information is available on the Electoral Commission’s website.


Written Question
Elections
Friday 11th March 2022

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have requested, if any, from (1) returning officers, and (2) the Electoral Commission, regarding the number of people arriving at polling stations in elections in the last five years who have had to claim a tendered ballot paper; and what assessment they have they requested as to how many of those people had to ask for an extra ballot paper as someone else had already claimed their vote.

Answered by Lord Greenhalgh

The Electoral Commission gathers and publishes data on all major elections. Their report on the 2019 General Election included figures on how many tendered ballot papers were issued. This information is available on the Electoral Commission’s website.


Written Question
Local Government: Constituencies
Thursday 24th May 2018

Asked by: Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask Her Majesty's Government which local authorities in England that are due to hold elections in May 2019 have been subject to boundary reviews conducted by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England; which of those boundary reviews have already received parliamentary approval; and when they expect to lay the remaining orders before Parliament.

Answered by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

There are 52 local authorities in England due to hold local elections in May 2019 that have been subject to, or are currently the subject of, an electoral review conducted by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. Those authorities are: Allerdale; Ashford; Babergh; Basingstoke and Deane; Bath and North East Somerset; Bolsover; Carlisle; Cheshire West and Chester; Chichester; Copeland; Crawley; Dartford; Dover; East Cambridgeshire; East Devon; East Hampshire; Eastbourne; Forest of Dean; Harborough; Hertsmere; Horsham; King's Lynn and West Norfolk; Lewes; Mid Suffolk; North Devon; North East; Derbyshire; North Norfolk; Norwich; Nottingham; Preston; Redcar and Cleveland; Reigate and Banstead; Ribble Valley; Richmondshire; Rother; Runnymede; Rutland; Scarborough; South Gloucestershire; South Norfolk; South Somerset; Surrey Heath; Teignbridge; Tendring; Test Valley; Tewkesbury; Torbay; Torridge; Warwick; Wealden; West Berkshire; and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Full details of all current and previous reviews are published on the Commission’s website www.lgbce.org.uk/

The Commission intends to lay any outstanding orders for Parliamentary approval by, at the latest, Christmas recess.

In addition, there is an expectation that the Commission is likely to undertake electoral reviews of the five new district councils – Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole; Dorset; East Suffolk; Somerset West and Taunton; and West Suffolk – which would be established by the secondary legislation that Parliament has recently approved, and which provides for their first elections to be held in May 2019.