All 1 Ronnie Cowan contributions to the Elections Act 2022

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Tue 7th Sep 2021
Elections Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading

Elections Bill Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Elections Bill

Ronnie Cowan Excerpts
2nd reading
Tuesday 7th September 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Chloe Smith Portrait Chloe Smith
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That is exactly the case. Indeed, countries around the world already operate this system with ease, and not only other countries. This policy is already successfully and easily operated inside our own United Kingdom, and we need to learn from the Northern Ireland experience.

Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP)
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The Minister alludes to Northern Ireland, which already has this in place. What analysis, if any, have the Government made of the situation in Northern Ireland? Can she tell me that the scheme has not had a negative impact on voter turnout in Northern Ireland? What analysis has there been, and by whom?

Chloe Smith Portrait Chloe Smith
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There is a considerable evidence base on what has happened in Northern Ireland, and the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), would be only too happy to respond further to that point later in the debate. Both he and I are happy to say that there is not a clear direct link between turnout and this scheme, because turnout can be influenced by lots of different factors. The hon. Member for Inverclyde (Ronnie Cowan) will accept that, especially when he thinks about how much turnout he would like in a future referendum, for example.

We need to put in place a scheme that commands confidence, that aids people’s confidence in elections and that will not be discriminatory. In answer to the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry), the work we have done through our pilots, modelling and analysis, through the Northern Ireland experience and through working with organisations shows us we can be sure that, with the free local voter card, there will be an opportunity for everybody who is eligible to vote to continue to do so. That is fundamental to the concerns that have been expressed.