The hon. Gentleman should want us to learn from what works in one part of the UK for the whole of the United Kingdom. I am very pleased to see the United Kingdom aligning further, with Northern Ireland leading the way as Great Britain takes forward a measure to protect the integrity of elections, which has been tried and tested to great effect in Northern Ireland.
Some of the wider claims we have heard in today’s debate are simply not borne out by the experience of Northern Ireland. They echo some of the scaremongering when this Government successfully introduced individual electoral registration. Many Opposition Members cried that that would result in mass disenfranchisement, but we saw the effect in the last UK general election, when a record number of people were registered to vote. The Minister for the Constitution and Devolution, one of the hardest working Ministers with whom I have had the pleasure to work and herself no stranger to Northern Ireland, excellently articulated the reasonable and considered approach we are taking across the Bill.
We heard a number of very powerful speeches in support of these measures from my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet (Craig Mackinlay), my right hon. Friends the Members for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr Goodwill), for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) and for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller), my hon. Friends the Members for Wycombe (Mr Baker), for Southport (Damien Moore), for Leigh (James Grundy), for Bolsover (Mark Fletcher), for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa) and for South Cambridgeshire (Anthony Browne), my right hon. Friend the Member for Elmet and Rothwell (Alec Shelbrooke), and my hon. Friends the Members for Gedling (Tom Randall), for Keighley (Robbie Moore), for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Aaron Bell), for Peterborough (Paul Bristow) and for Broadland (Jerome Mayhew).
I want to try to answer some of the points that have been raised and some of the questions that have been put to me in Members’ contributions. Before I do, however, I think it is worth reflecting on the work undertaken to get to this point and the long pedigree of some of the measures in the Bill. This is not just a product of the Government or the Cabinet Office; it has been inspired, informed and enhanced by the input of a wide variety of organisations and individuals. We are grateful to a number of parliamentary Committees, many of whose thoughtful contributions are reflected in the measures and some of whose Chairs we heard from in today’s debate. To highlight just a few individuals, the important contribution of Lord Pickles has been critical in understanding the very real risks and challenges our electoral system faces. Similarly, the reports by colleagues in this House, as well as by the House of Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies, have highlighted key considerations, from the need for more transparency in areas of digital campaigning to political finance.
Along with the valued contribution of the electoral sector experts, I know the Minister for the Constitution and Devolution has been meeting a wide range of organisations in the voluntary and community sector, which have raised some important points and will play a vital role in ensuring that the detail that will be developed in secondary legislation will meet the needs of all those who manage and use our electoral services. In particular, she is committed to continue engagement with people with disabilities, other minority groups and some of the key groups of vulnerable people who have been all too often, as my hon. Friends the Members for Wycombe and for Bolsover pointed out, the major victims of electoral fraud.
I want to turn to some of the specific questions that have been asked. The hon. Member for Putney (Fleur Anderson) and her colleague the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare) asked about an impact assessment. I would direct them to the 21-page equality impact assessment and the 120-page impact assessment published alongside the Bill.
The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) and the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) asked about the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. I welcome the report published by the Committee in July. As the Minister for the Constitution and Devolution said, the recommendations will be given full and proper consideration, and the Government will respond. In fact, I should point out that we are bringing forward measures in the Bill which are closely linked to recommendations made in that report, such as a new requirement on political parties to declare their assets and liabilities over £500 on registration, and a restriction of third-party campaigning to UK-based or otherwise eligible campaigners.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) made a powerful speech, as he always does. Like many on the Government Benches, I happen to disagree with him on this particular one, but let me point out that the Government research he quoted also found out that 98% of people across the age groups have access to accepted forms of photographic ID already, 99% of people from ethnic minority groups have that level of access, and 99% of those aged between 18 and 29 already have an acceptable form of photographic identification.
The hon. Members for Ceredigion (Ben Lake) and for Cynon Valley (Beth Winter) asked about important issues of engagement with the devolved Administrations. Devolution means that we already have different arrangements for devolved and reserved elections. We do engage regularly and I can offer him the reassurance he sought that the strategy document will not undermine the partnership between the Electoral Commission and the devolved Administrations.
There are many other points that I would like to address, but I will not have time. Let me conclude by thanking hon. Members for all their valuable contributions. The Bill will place British citizens’ participation at the heart of our democracy and will keep it modern, secure, transparent and fair, so that our democracy can continue to thrive. I know that my hon. Friend the Minister for the Constitution and Devolution will do an excellent job of steering it through Committee, and I look forward to a lively debate in the next phase of its passage. I commend the Bill to the House.
Question put, That the amendment be made.