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Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform

Your emails made a difference! What's next for the Elections Bill?

March 4, 2022 5:27 PM
By LDER executive

Your emails made a difference!

What's next for the Elections Bill?

Many thanks to you all for answering our call to write to cross-bench, unaffiliated and Tory peers in advance of the second hearing of the Elections Bill in the House of Lords last week.

There is no doubt that your emails made a difference.

Join us for an Elections Bill briefing with Lord Dick Newby, our Liberal Democrat Leader in the Lords, to find out more.

Tuesday 15th March, 7:00pm - 8:15pm

Zoom | Register here

Liberal Democrat MPs and supporters in front of banner at Westminster: Don't let the government make it harder to vote

The Bill's threat to the independence of the Electoral Commission and the unsubstantiated and detrimental proposals for Voter ID were the two biggest issues for peers.

"What is chilling about the present proposal is that there is no room for the Electoral Commission to say, "We don't agree with that. That has a huge political advantage for the Government in power.""

Lord Judge, Convenor of the Cross-bench Peers

"I question whether photo ID is consistent with the UK's democratic heritage. Any action that risks reducing democratic engagement, especially one which excludes a significant sector of society, needs the most careful consideration, and it should be based on very sound evidence."

Bishop of Coventry

Many - including Labour's opposition whip in the Lords - also referenced the regressive move towards further adoption of the first past the post electoral system at the local level.

"On the introduction of a majority system for certain elections, we question why that change is needed."

Baroness Hayman of Ullock, Opposition Whip (Lords)

"First past the post is a voting system that tends to favour the two main parties and makes it more difficult for small parties or independent candidates to get elected. It is arrogant to argue that this voting system is better than a proportional voting system used by some local councils in this country, as well as many leading democracies internationally, such as Germany or New Zealand."

Baroness Greengross, Cross-bench

Our own Liberal Democrat peers presented a vocal opposition to the most egregious elements of the Bill - and the manner in which it has passed through Parliament.

"This Bill aims to tilt the rules of campaigning further in favour of the Conservative Party. It would be a contempt of Parliament for the Government to push it through without careful examination of its half-digested proposals. Constitutional Bills deserve and require far more examination than this Bill has received so far."

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Liberal Democrat Spokesperson in the Lords)

"On the change to first past the post for mayoral and police commissioner elections, the Minister said earlier that the Government were getting rid of the supplementary vote system because such systems are confusing. Yet only this last week, the Conservative Members of your Lordships' House used the supplementary vote system to elect a new Member to their ranks. Was it that confusing for Members of the Conservative Benches?"

Baroness Pinnock, Liberal Democrats

"The projected cost of introducing photo ID in the Government's own impact assessment amounts to £180 million over 10 years. How many times do we debate necessary things in this House which might require a sum smaller than £180 million and the Government say there is no money, yet they are willing to commit to this extremely wasteful expenditure for which the motivation is suspect? It will affect some communities disproportionately and these are communities that are already under registered."

Lord Rennard, Liberal Democrats

These are purely highlights from the debate, with many others speaking against the Bill. Read the full transcript of the debate here; or take a look at this Twitter thread put together by the Democracy Defence Coalition.

You can also read an op-ed by Lord Wallace of Saltaire in The Times here: "Elections Bill is a nefarious piece of legislation".

What's next?

Peers will come back together on 10th March for the Committee stage of the Bill.

You can see the current set of amendments proposed here - including a cross-party amendment on Voter ID repeal and automatic voter registration.

Our cross-party allies are working together to coordinate amendments.

Let us know if - in your outreach to peers - you have had any discussions on amendments and we will pass them on to coordinators at the Democracy Defence coalition.

Do register for our special briefing with Lord Dick Newby for the latest on the Bill: Tuesday 15th March, 7pm - 8:15pm. There will be plenty of opportunity for Q&A.

Thank you for your ongoing support.