Next week in the Lords: 29 October – 1 November

There are those who suggest that what this country needs is less legislation and more management and proper scrutiny. Perhaps the House of Lords is taking this to heart, as the diary for the week is reflective of such a wish…

Monday sees the beginning of the Committee Stage of the Election Registration and Administration Bill, with Chris Rennard and Paul Tyler leading for the Liberal Democrats, and William Wallace responding on behalf of the Government.

Liberal Democrats will be looking to ensure that voter registration remains mandatory, as well as enabling variations in the day on which polling takes place. Other amendments seek to prevent the scenes outside polling stations at 10 p.m. on General Election day in 2010 and to introduce electronic voting for British citizens overseas.

There are also oral questions from John Sharkey on the impact of the ‘Funding for Lending’ scheme, and from Hugh Dykes on possible delays in publication of the Iraq Inquiry report.

Tuesday is taken up with Day 7 of the Committee Stage of the Crime and Courts Bill.

On Wednesday, the Lords returns to the Election Registration and Administration Bill, whilst Tim Clement-Jones has an oral question on the objectives and work of the Centre for Creativity, Regulation, Enterprise and Technology.

Mike German will be opening a short debate on the challenges faced by the Welsh economy and, perhaps one that should be watched closely by Liberal Democrats, Theresa May will be questioned by the Draft Communications Data Bill Joint Committee. Julian Huppert and Paul Strasburger will be particularly keen to draw out her thoughts on the subject, no doubt.

Thursday is a relatively quiet day for the Liberal Democrats, although Ros Scott will be leading for us during an oral question on the Flood Defence Programme, and there is an interesting debate scheduled on how best to make use of the skills and experience of Members of the House of Lords in performing core functions of the House. If they’re going to be there for a while, they really ought to try to run it better, I guess…

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3 Comments

  • Chris Rennard 28th Oct '12 - 3:26pm

    Earlier this year I led a campaign with Paul Tyler and parliamentary colleagues involving LDHQ, the Electoral Reform Society and others to make sure that registering to vote continued to be a legal requirement in this country. Failing to co-operate with the registration process has been subject to fines since 1921. There was a suggestion that registration might have moved to a very soft ‘you can register to vote if you really want to’ but there will be no pressure to do so. In the US the Republicans devote a lot of their efforts to trying to make it harder for many people to vote on the assumption that the most affluent/articulate/literate/English speaking will be most likely too be able to complete difficult voluntary registration processes. As a result of our campaign, the nature of the legislation changed very considerably from that suggested in the original white paper and maintained the principle that it is an obligation to register. Without this change, levels of registration (particularly amongst those less likely to vote Conservative ) would have fallen dramatically. Conservatives on their own would have sought to make this change to entrench their position in future elections (and boundary reviews) but Nick Clegg was able to make sure that this did not happen.
    But there are still very important issues that Paul Tyler and I are seeking to address as the Lords now considers the detail of the bill. There is a fundamental question about how much effort the Government actually makes to make sure that people entitled to be registered are actually on the voting lists. Some progress is being made on this – but it seems clear that more could be done and the approach taken to use of Government and private data to identify people who should be notified about the electoral registration process should be consistent. For example the DWP database is being used and this will confirm that OAPs on the existing register are most likely to be carried forward to the new one. But DVLA data is not being used meaning that people of working age and in work are less likely to be registered.
    We want to make sure that best practice in electoral registration is adopted and that we have an accurate and a complete electoral register. We should be sure of this before agreeing to future elections and future boundary reviews being conducted on the basis of the new registration system.

  • Chris Rennard 28th Oct '12 - 8:55pm

    There is more on this here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20097076
    mark D’Arcy’s excellent Bbc blog

  • Nigel Ashton 30th Oct '12 - 10:10am

    “William Wallace responding on behalf of the Government” – shouldn’t that be Jim Wallace?

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