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Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on how all-postal election pilots will operate next year under the Government's proposals for the 2004 English local elections and European parliamentary elections to take place on the same day. [113543]

Subject to Parliament's approval of the provisions in the local government Bill, it is the Government's intention that the European parliamentary elections, Greater London Authority elections and the English local elections in 2004 will be combined. In these circumstances, further legislative provisions would be needed to allow piloting of any sort to take place. As indicated in the consultation paper 'Combining English Local Authority, Greater London Authority and European Parliament Elections in 2004' announced to the House in October 2002, the Government is currently considering very carefully whether we should hold pilots at the proposed combined elections in 2004.For local elections generally, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will decide what steps to take on extending all-postal voting at local elections in the light of the Electoral Commission's evaluation of each of the 2003 pilot schemes, and will consult widely on any such proposals. In the meantime the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will continue to consider applications from local authorities seeking to conduct all-postal pilots at by-elections.