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Commission on Digital Democracy

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 4 December 2014

1. What recent progress has been made by the Speaker’s commission on digital democracy; and when he expects that Commission to publish its proposals. (906418)

Mr Speaker, the specifics of the work of your commission are not directly the responsibility of the House of Commons Commission. However, I understand that work is at an advanced stage, and that it is planning to publish its report on 21 January.

Eighteen-year-old Rachael Farrington from Cheshire has established the successful “Voting Counts” website and social media campaign, which intends to engage young people with politics and encourage them to vote. How is the Commission working with young e-activists like Rachael to encourage young people to get involved with parliamentary democracy?

I congratulate my hon. Friend’s constituent on her work. It sounds absolutely fascinating. All I can tell him, as far as the Commission is concerned, is that the commissioners heard evidence on this matter and it will be reflected in its report. However, it is not for me to anticipate that. In addition to the more traditional evidence sessions, the commissioners met a wide range of people in a number of towns and cities in the United Kingdom.

Is there not a fear that any introduction of electronic voting, which is partly what we are talking about, could give rise to abuses? Would it not be more sensible to stick with the system we have now on the basis that if it is not broken, don’t fix it?

I have to again point out that the House of Commons Commission is not actually responsible for this matter, so as its spokesman I cannot comment on it. However, I know that Mr Speaker, whose commission it is, has heard what has been said and I am sure that it will be taken into account.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy is looking at innovative ways of engaging with the public on democracy, including e-voting and other matters? Does he not think that we should consider such important ways forward in conjunction with consideration of how the public regard voting and democracy in the present day?

My hon. Friend makes an exceptionally good point which I may personally support. However, as the spokesman for the Commission, I have to refer to the answer I have already given and say that I am sure his words have been heard by those who need to hear them.