Amendment to the Motion

Part of Electoral Commission Strategy and Policy Statement - Motion to Approve – in the House of Lords am 7:00 pm ar 6 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Khan of Burnley Lord Khan of Burnley Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 7:00, 6 Chwefror 2024

I thank the Minister for her response and her attempt to address the issue. I also thank noble Lords across the House for their thoughtful contributions. A number of them raised concerns about the policy statement and others about wider electoral law.

The function of the Electoral Commission is

“to ensure a level playing field between political parties”.

One team should not get to tell the umpire how to enforce the rules of the game. That is what this statement is doing and is clearly perceived to be doing, which ultimately is undermining trust in our politics.

There are issues that need tackling. There are rising considerations, such as the threat of generative artificial intelligence, the use of deepfakes, the spread of disinformation, overseas involvement, and the scraping of people’s data. None of that has been tackled today, but instead the Government are paying attention to a problem that just does not exist. Both the levelling-up committee and the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission, as statutory consultees, concluded that no statement was necessary. The levelling-up committee said that

“no evidence has been provided justifying it”.

The guidance in the Statement presented before us today would add complexity, confusion, and extra legal risk.

Nothing is wrong with the current system, in which the electoral system reports to the elected House and not to the Government. If something is not broken, why fix it? The Minister did not give us one example of something that the commission is not doing right at present which it will be made to do right and better by means of this statement. What are the problems that need addressing, and what will be different tomorrow from today? She did not give one example of that.

In view of the huge importance of this issue, I would like to test the opinion of the House and put my amendment to a vote.

Ayes 175, Noes 159.