The Government take their public sector equality duty extremely seriously. In 2021, the Cabinet Office commissioned a nationally representative survey on the ownership of photo identification. The findings from that research and our ongoing engagement with the Electoral Commission and other stakeholders, including a wide range of charities and civil society organisations, will continue to inform our plans to ensure that voter identification is rolled out in a way that is inclusive for all voters.
I could probably write an essay on identity documents, having been responsible for the matter when I was in government a decade ago. I am particularly concerned about constituents of mine who are Commonwealth citizens, who are often seeking to achieve status in the UK but whose identity documents are with the Home Office—they do not have those identity documents to prove that they can vote. What is the Minister’s solution for those individuals?
Research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People shows that one in 10 blind voters and less than half of partially sighted voters could vote independently and in secret at the most recent general election. That is unacceptable. Given the barriers, is the Minister not concerned that the introduction of voter ID will only make it even more difficult for people living with sight loss to vote independently and in secret?
We looked into the impact of voter ID on disabled voters, and our research, which draws on the most comprehensive information available, indicates that 97% of disabled electors report having at least one form of photographic identification, so we do not believe that it will affect them. As I mentioned in response to the previous question, we will have legislation that will make it clear that local authorities must provide a voter card free of charge so that people will still be able to vote. We must remember why we are doing this: no one should lose their right to vote because someone else has assumed their identity. Personation is very difficult to prove and prosecute, but it is not a victimless crime and it is absolutely right that we resolve the matter.