Debates between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Fox of Buckley during the 2019 Parliament

Thu 10th Mar 2022
Elections Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 1 & Committee stage: Part 1

Elections Bill

Debate between Baroness D'Souza and Baroness Fox of Buckley
Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I appreciate that I am surrounded by Labour noble Lords who object to what I am saying. One of the great advantages of votes for women was that occasionally we get to say the odd thing that does not go with the grain.

I am raising the problem that the Electoral Commission is not necessarily all good. I want to say this about it. There was a great deal of dissatisfaction about the Electoral Commission’s lack of independence in its response to the 2016 referendum, which I referred to in my Second Reading speech. Such were the concerns about the bias of the Electoral Commission in that period that it had to apologise for the bias of many of its members. This is not me saying it—I am quoting the Electoral Commission, which we are all told we have to listen to.

The bias led to many voters feeling that the Electoral Commission was not fit for purpose and was in fact biased against their wishes as an electorate in that referendum. Many of those people were not Tory cronies but Labour voters—Labour voters who may no longer be Labour voters because they became disillusioned by the fact that the Labour Party told them they had got it wrong, they were duped and they needed to think again. While the Labour Benches are very keen on democracy, they were less keen on the democratic decisions of many of their voters in 2016 and subsequently.

At the very least, therefore, it is important that we look at the role of the Electoral Commission critically and seriously. I do not think the way the Government have gone about reforming it will clarify or help things. I will make those points another time. But to say, as has just been said by a number of noble Lords, that we have a responsibility to take the Bill and thwart it, scupper it, throw it out and all the rest of it, seems to me rather to fly in the face of democracy. A little humility is maybe needed to remember that the plans for the Elections Bill were in the Conservative Party manifesto—which noble Lords will be delighted to know I did not vote for, before they all start.

Nevertheless, I clocked that they were there. We in this House are unelected legislators and need to take at least a smidgen of note of what the electorate might consider priorities. Not everything is a Conservative Party plot but one reason many people voted for the Conservative Party in 2019 was that they felt abandoned by the opposition parties.

Baroness D'Souza Portrait Baroness D’Souza (CB)
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My Lords, I wonder whether noble Lords are fully aware that this is Committee and not Second Reading.