HC Deb 07 January 2003 vol 397 cc15-6
28. Ms Dari Taylor (Stockton, South)

What responses the Lord Chancellor has received on the document "Same day elections and weekend voting". [89163]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Yvette Cooper)

Responses to the consultation paper have to be sent to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, with whom we are jointly conducting the consultation, by the end of January 2003. By mid-December, around 100 responses had been received from local authorities, councillors, MPs and members of the public. We will consider the responses before coming to conclusions.

Ms Taylor

I thank my hon. Friend for her response. Many hon. Members, across the House, are very concerned about low turnouts, and we work hard to legitimise politics and to make politics seem real within our communities. We are therefore very concerned when people choose not to vote. In relation to changing the system, has her Department received evidence indicating that voting at the weekend would increase participation?

Yvette Cooper

Interestingly, very little research has been done on weekend voting, and only a small number of experiments have been done in that regard. That is why we are interested in responses to the consultation in relation to whether more trials should be conducted. For people who go to work and have kids, finding time to vote on a busy Thursday can be a real hassle. Exercising one's democratic rights and going out to vote should not be a hassle. It is therefore right that we consider ways of making it easier for people to vote, without kidding ourselves that changing the voting system will solve all the problems of turnout.