CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

POINT OF ORDER – ELECTION COUNTS – 18 January 2010

Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will remember that during last Thursday's Business Questions there was strong and welcome agreement between the Leader and Shadow Leader of the House that when the General Election is held, the votes should be counted on the night and not the following day, unless that is absolutely unavoidable. Is it in order to ask you to express your definitive viewpoint on the matter?

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, both for his point of order and his courtesy in giving me advance notice of it. I hesitate to say that my opinion would, in any way, be considered to be definitive, but I am happy none the less to offer him and the House an opinion. For my own part, I am a passionate believer in instant, not slow motion, democracy. It seems to me that it is in the interests of the House and the country that the count should take place on the night, and there are two overwhelmingly compelling reasons why: first, I believe that there could be a threat to the security of the ballot if the count is delayed; and, secondly, it seems to me that on the day the election takes place, it should be possible for the count also to take place so that we get the result speedily. Frankly, it should not be beyond the wit and sagacity of humankind – or indeed of local authorities – to ensure that that happens. I politely suggest to the House that what is required is not a passive acceptance of the particular views of individual local authority chief executives, but rather an assertion of leadership nationally and politically, at a local level, to achieve what I sense the House is uniting in wishing to see.