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Electoral Reform

Volume 608: debated on Wednesday 27 April 2016

My hon. Friend will remember that in the last Parliament we held the alternative vote referendum, in which this country resoundingly rejected a proposal to abandon our tried and tested first-past-the-post system in favour of an alternative. I believe that we should respect that result and the clear democratic decision that it represents, and therefore we have no plans to change the voting system.

Given that the British people voted overwhelmingly for first past the post, does my hon. Friend agree that, as with all referendums, the vote is final and settled, and that the Government are absolutely right to push ahead with delivering their vital manifesto commitments?

When it comes to electoral reform, in Northern Ireland we are closing all our electoral offices. Surely, part of electoral reform is trying to get more people involved, and closing electoral offices is the wrong way to do it.

I will not trample on the purviews of the devolved Administrations and the Northern Ireland Office, but if the hon. Gentleman would like to write to me with more details, I would be happy to respond.

Are the Government looking seriously at how the understandable security challenges of online voting might be overcome so that future generations of young people can vote online in this country safely and securely, thereby increasing voter registration and participation?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that online activity is an increasing part of our everyday lives, whether it be shopping or anything else. As technology improves and online voting becomes steadily more secure, it is something that we will need to continue to revisit. At the moment, the prospect of potentially stealing the Government of a country is too grave to allow online voting to happen.

Does the Minister agree that we must do everything possible to bring power closer to people in every part of the country, and that a good start would be to make it easier for people to engage in politics?

I absolutely agree. As I said in response to an earlier set of questions, there is a great deal that Governments can do, but there is also a great deal that political parties and others need to do, to engage the interest of the voters.