Ballot Secrecy Bill: Amendment 1

I spoke from these Benches in support of the principles of this Bill last July, and I do so again. Once again, I pay tribute to the great tenacity of the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, in pursuing this serious and important matter of the Ballot Secrecy Bill.

Like him, I would like to pay tribute briefly to the late David Butler. When I was an undergraduate student of politics and economics at Liverpool University 44 years ago, the standard textbook was Butler and Stokes, from which I learned, although I have devoted most of the years since to trying to overcome his conclusion in that book that a candidate’s personal vote was worth only about 500 votes. I discussed this with him on a number of occasions and as a result of elections since then, he revised his opinion considerably. We very much miss his contribution to politics and are sorry that we cannot be with his family and friends this afternoon.

I also pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Scott of Bybrook, for the work of her department in support of these measures. I must admit that in considering these amendments and discussing them with the noble Lord, Lord Hayward, I thought the Government were perhaps being overcautious, as is often the case when lawyers are involved. However, sometimes they help provide necessary clarification. Clarity is what we need on these issues if the proper principles behind the Bill are to be enforced. I hope we will proceed very speedily with this Bill becoming law.

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