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Electoral Commission: Political Independence

Volume 682: debated on Thursday 15 October 2020

The Electoral Commission’s independence is established in statute. It is a public body, independent of Government and accountable to Parliament through the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, as well as to Parliaments in Cardiff and Edinburgh. Its independence is a vital part of ensuring that it is able to deliver its functions, and its work is integral to maintaining a democratic system that commands the trust and confidence of voters.

Apologies, Mr Speaker. I have only been here 19 years; I am just getting used to it.

I welcome the hon. Member for Midlothian (Owen Thompson) to his place and send best wishes to the hon. Member for City of Chester (Christian Matheson) for a speedy recovery.

I recently undertook election monitoring training with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. One of the features of any good democratic process is an independent electoral commission, and that is what we have—one that is not afraid to take on the governing party, if necessary, from time to time. I therefore encourage the hon. Member to resist some of the calls from Conservative Members and from the Conservative party to abolish the Electoral Commission, and to ensure, as is required, that the new chair appointed is someone who is not a member of any political party, has not served as an MP, and has not donated to a political party in the past five years.

The independence of the commission plays a vital role in maintaining the legitimacy of our democracy, working across the four nations of the UK. It works closely with Parliaments and campaigners to create a strong culture of compliance, and ensures that the processes of registering votes and casting votes are carried out rigorously and transparently. The commission’s work is integral to those functions.

In order to allow the safe exit of Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for several minutes.

Sitting suspended.