§ 3.26 p.m.
§ The Lord Chancellor (Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone)
My Lords, I rise to move that this Bill be now read a second time. It is a strict consolidation Bill, bringing together in one Act much of the existing law on elections and electoral procedure. This is the second consolidation of the electoral legislation. The arrangement of the present Bill broadly follows that of the first consolidation, the Representation of the People Act 1949. Its contents fall under four main heads: the franchise and registration of electors; the conduct of elections; election campaigns; and legal proceedings following elections. The Bill applies to all parliamentary and local government elections in the United Kingdom, except that the local government provisions do not apply to Northern Ireland. The Bill also provides for the repeal of certain obsolete provisions in the existing legislation.
If your Lordships give this Bill a Second Reading it will be referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills, in the ususal way. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(The Lord Chancellor.)1314
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I wonder if I might take a very brief moment to suggest that the Government deserve praise for this important and massive piece of consolidation, not because it occupies 216 pages but because it brings into one statute so many provisions now spread about the statute book, and these provisions govern the necessary working of our parliamentary democracy. Voters who really care should be grateful for this, including those who speak Welsh.
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
My Lords, I should like to confirm the view we take of the value of this consolidation. I confess that the additional boon of a reference to the use of the Welsh language makes it even more acceptable.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, I am deeply grateful both to my noble friend and to the noble and learned Lord. I am, as I hope the House will recognise, very keen on promoting consolidation. I have even more ambitious projects in my sights, but they sometimes find unexpected difficulties on the way.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.