HC Deb 22 February 1979 vol 963 cc608-9
10. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that British subjects resident in the Netherlands who are given the right to vote in the election for the European Parliament do not lose their electoral rights in the United Kingdom.

Mr. John

Under United Kingdom law, a qualified elector does not lose his right to vote by virtue of having voted in an election abroad. No one may vote more than once, however, in the forthcoming European Assembly elections.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Since the Home Office has neglected its duty to enfranchise British subjects living in Europe for the forthcoming election, does not the Minister have some sense of shame in relying on the charity of the Dutch to give these people the franchise that they deserve?

Mr. John

No. This was a decision of the House and I am only sorry that we were spared a contribution from the hon. and learned Member. The House having taken that decision, it is not merely a Home Office diktat.

Mr. Grieve

Will the Minister look again at the question of disfranchisement of British subjects living in the EEC? This was raised at the time of the Common Market referendum and it has caused very considerable disquiet among British subjects. There are an increasing number of them living in the Community now.

Mr. John

The decision of Parliament has been taken in this case and any change in the franchise should be looked at by Mr. Speaker's Conference. If hon. Members want to refer it as a subject to Mr. Speaker's Conference, they are at liberty to do so.