Two MPs whose constituencies cover different parts of the borough of Bromley gave differing views on the ID cards residents will need when voting in next week’s council elections to the House of Commons.
As News From crystal palace has previously reported, voters going to the polls in Bromley will be asked to supply ID as part of a pilot scheme.
Ellie Reeves. Labour MP Lewisham West and Penge, told fellow MPs:
“Bromley’s own equality impact assessment has drawn particular attention to the impact on voters with protected characteristics, mainly older people and trans people.
“I listened to Robert Neill and I have to say that we get a very different picture when talking to Bromley residents in Penge and Crystal Palace. “With only one convicted case of electoral fraud following the 2017 election, why do the Government continue to insist on imposing these disenfranchising changes on Bromley voters?” she asked.
Chloe Smith, Parliamentary secretary, cabinet office, responding, said: “I really want to address this idea of one prosecution.
“Members making that point are overlooking the larger examples, such as Tower Hamlets, which I have already mentioned and which are the kind of thing that gives rise to a lack of confidence in our system.
“I do not think that local residents would expect to hear from Members of Parliament that their system should not be protected.
“I would prefer to hear, ringing out from this Chamber, that the people of Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford, Woking and the three areas doing postal and proxy improvements can have confidence in their system.
“They should speak to their local authorities if they feel that they may not have the ID spoken of, because they will not be disenfranchised, arrangements will be made and the local authority will ensure that they have the chance to cast their vote.”
Earlier, Bob Neill, Conservative MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, had told the House: “Bromley is one of the pilot areas.
“The minister might like to know that in every single case where a person has contacted the local authority to ask if they have the requisite ID, they have had it, and certificates have not been necessary;
that Bromley residents will have had five mailings, which is more than any ever before at a local election, and there has been specific targeting of older people through 500 community organisations and more; and that not one person I have spoken to on the doorstep has had any difficulty with the system, and many welcome it.
Responding, Chloe Smith said: “It is incredibly important that electors hear that reassurance from their Member of Parliament, and I am pleased that my hon. Friend has been able to put that on the record.
“I can confirm that Bromley is offering the choice of photographic and non-photographic identification, and electors can also apply for a certificate of identity, free of charge, from the local authority. “That is the crucial point.
“Every elector who is eligible can secure alternative arrangements should they need them. What we are hearing from the Opposition is a self-interested argument. “Instead of doing voters down they should talk our democracy up.”
The MPs comments followed a request from Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement,
to make a statement on the Government’s policy on voter ID pilots taking place at the local government elections on 3 May.
Note: The opportunity to pilot voter ID in May 2018 was offered to all local authorities in Great Britain, and five—Woking, Gosport, Bromley, Watford and Swindon—have committed to do so. Proxy voters in Peterborough will also be required to show ID before they can vote on 3 May 2018.
Source: TheyWorkForYou / Hansard 23rd April 2018