The Cabinet Office is responsible for the domestic franchise, but my Department has been pressing to negotiate bilateral agreements on voting rights and I have regular contact with Cabinet Office Ministers on this matter. After writing to each member state, we have now signed agreements, as discussed earlier, with Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg to secure voting rights for UK nationals in EU member states and EU citizens here.
In my constituency, I have more than 10,000 Romanian citizens, who are contributing directly to our economy, working hard and contributing to Britain. They want to know when their voting rights will be safeguarded. Given the all-party basis that we have for safeguarding citizens’ rights, why do we not bring forward legislation on a cross-party basis to deliver precisely that?
My hon. Friend makes an interesting suggestion. As he appreciates, it will be for the Government to decide what new legislation is brought forward. It is already the case in law that EU citizens from all member states have the right to vote in our domestic local elections, and it would require a change in the law to alter that.
That is usually a polite way of saying, “I hear what you say and will look at it in the round.” If the hon. Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) is encouraged by that, he is very easily encouraged.