New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: I assure the Leader of the House [Peter Hain] that Conservative Members want all their constituents to have the opportunity to vote, but we want each to have the opportunity to cast his or her own vote, not other people's votes en masse on their behalf. But does he accept that, when he accuses us of being insufficiently democratic, the sort of democracy that he may be talking about is the democracy of the former German Democratic Republic, which used to have turnouts of 98 per cent. in elections? Will the Leader of the House deal with the fact that a journalist reported last Sunday that he was able individually to obtain 36 postal votes? Of course the turnout will go up if he chooses to use those 36 votes, and if he had not disclosed them, he could have used them.

[Mr Hain: The hon. Gentleman's comparison with the German situation is, frankly, insulting drivel. On the question of postal votes, he is making a case against such votes under the old system. He is making a case against postal votes of any kind at all, ever. That is what he is saying. We know that there were instances of fraud under the previous system. We know that that is the case. That is why extra procedures were put in place. The concerted attempt by the Conservatives – the hon. Gentleman, I am sorry to say, included – to derail the opportunity for at least 2 million more people than before to vote from the comfort of their own homes means that the Conservatives are scared of democracy. They are scared of a high turnout, and the question is why.]

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