Wales Bill could allow Assembly to introduce compulsory voting

Wales Bill - 14 June 2016

Kevin Brennan: The Secretary of State said that he would get to this point, but he has not answered my question, which is not about who will be able to vote, but whether the Bill will give powers to enable the Assembly to introduce compulsory voting if it chooses to do so. For clarity’s sake, it is very important that we know whether the answer to that question is yes or no.

Alun Cairns: I am happy to clarify that matter. The Bill gives provision for who votes rather than for compulsory voting.

Albert Owen: My hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff West and for Wrexham have been campaigning hard on compulsory voting. This is a great opportunity for the Welsh Government to be radical. Let us give them the tools to do the job. If the Welsh Government decide that they want compulsory voting in Wales, that would be a good step forward.

I give way to the Secretary of State. I realise that I have taken up more time than I wanted to.

Alun Cairns: The hon. Gentleman is making a considered speech. I have had further information since the earlier questions about compulsory voting. I am happy to clarify that compulsory voting is permitted under the Bill as drafted.

Albert Owen: That is excellent news, and it is on the record. It is a victory for the three of us on the Labour Back Benches that we will now have the opportunity for compulsory voting in Wales, which I think is a radical step. Hansard will make that known, but I hope the media in Wales are watching the progress of the Bill. After all, it is not dry as dust, but is about the real issues affecting people, including compulsory voting.