Saturday, January 27, 2018

Overseas Electors Bill.

Let this be a brief introduction to my Private Members Bill which is to be debated in the House of Commons on 23rd February. This is going to be a very big deal for me. If it progresses by winning the support of a majority of MPs
 Present on the 23rd, it will go into Committee to be debated in detail. Then it will, together with any amendments approved in Committee be debated again on the floor of the House of Commons at Third Reading, before being sent over to the House of Lords.
Of course, it may not make it past Feb 23rd. If a fellow MP so decides, it can be ‘talked out’. PMBs often are. If the appointed hour is reached before speeches have finished (say 2.30ish) my Bill would fall and bite the dust. What sometimes happens, to prevent a PMB being ‘talked out’ in this way, is that a ‘closure motion’ is proposed, which stops the debate. It is then voted on. To progress, at least 100 MPs must be present to vote for the ‘closure motion’. That’s a tall order for a Friday. 
My Bill has not been published yet. That will happen during the next few days. It will probably be called ‘The Overseas Electors Bill’. It’s purpose is to remove the existing 15 year time limit on British citizens who live abroad registering as overseas electors. To qualify, they would have to have been previously resident or registered to vote in the UK - and vote in the constituency where they had been previously registered. 
My Bill will give effect to a manifesto commitment made by the Conservative Party in the 2015 and 2017 general elections, though I do not see it as being a political issue. I will be very keen to present the Bill in as non partisan way as possible. It is intended to be fair, and to increase the numbers of people eligible to vote. It is not intended to deliver any sort of ,party advantage.
I have already received much communication from British citizens overseas thanking me for bringing this Bill forward, and wishing me well. One British citizen, Harry Shindler came over to see me from Italy and discuss what he could do to help. Harry is 97 years old, and in the longest serving member of the British Labour Party. He is an amazing inspirational man whose lifetime ambition is to vote again in a British General Election. For many years he was an election agent. There are many reasons why I want my Bill to succeed, including granting Harry Shindler his greatest wish. I will write more when my Bill is published.

No comments: