Minister to face Committee questions on Elections Bill
13 September 2021
Constitution Minister, Chloe Smith, will be grilled by cross-party MPs on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee as they wrap up evidence for their inquiry into the proposals in the Elections Bill.
The Bill, part of a manifesto pledge to shore up the integrity of UK elections, has come under fire due to its provisions that would see voter ID required at polls and powers given to Government to steer the work of the Electoral Commission.
During last week’s session, former MI5 chief and crossbench Chair of the Lords’ Committee on Standards and Public Life, Lord Evans, said that proposals enabling the Government to set the Commission’s policy direction undermines its independence, labelling the move ‘dangerous’.
In the same session, electoral experts Dr Jess Garland and Professor Toby James told the Committee there is no evidence of widespread personation fraud at the polls, and so this provides no justification for introducing Voter ID. Witnesses also raised concerns that the system might disenfranchise a significant number of voters particularly in certain groups. Age UK’s Angela Kitching cited the Government’s own research revealing that hundreds of thousands of pensioners could struggle to access the right ID and would be left out on polling day.
MPs on the Committee are likely to call on Chloe Smith to lay out the case for voter ID and probe the necessity of gaining influence over the Electoral Commission. They are also likely to cover proposals in the Bill on changes to proxy voting, overseas electors and third party campaigning rules.
Tuesday 14 September
- Chloe Smith, Minister of State for the Constitution and Devolution
Image: Parliamentary copyright