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Covid-19: Electoral Arrangements

Volume 679: debated on Thursday 10 September 2020

What recent assessment the committee has made of the effectiveness of electoral arrangements during the covid-19 outbreak. (905856)

The commission is working to ensure that the elections in England, Scotland and Wales next May can be delivered safely and effectively. This includes close collaboration with the UK Government, public health officials, returning officers and political parties, and it is also closely monitoring comparable international elections taking place during the pandemic to see what may be learned from others’ experiences. In collaboration with the UK’s electoral co-ordination and advisory board, it is now working on additional guidance and resources for those administering May’s elections to address the specific challenges of managing the polls in a covid-19 secure way.

Throughout the pandemic, people are accessing news and public affairs online more than ever. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that this highlights more than ever the need for increased investigatory and sanctioning powers for the Electoral Commission, as has been passed in Scotland in the Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020, rather than the public attacks on it from Government Members?

It is true that electoral law as it stands predates much of what we now have from the internet, in terms of the way that information can be found. Any changes to those laws will be a matter for the House, but I am sure that the Electoral Commission will use its experience to give us advice on how those changes might be brought forward.