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22. Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): If he will make a statement on the entitlement of nationals of EU member states to vote in UK referendums. [168405]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. Christopher Leslie): The franchise for different referendums can differ on a case-by-case basis. For example, the draft Single European Currency (Referendum) Bill would not allow other European Union citizens to vote in that referendum, whereas the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 provides for European Union citizens to vote at the forthcoming regional assembly referendums.

Mr. Turner : The national electorate of the United Kingdom do not include EU citizens, whereas the local electorate do. What possible argument can there be for
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EU citizens having a say in the powers of our Government, when they have no say in who should form our Government?

Mr. Leslie: I am not quite sure of the point that the hon. Gentleman is trying to make. He is right that there are different franchises for different purposes, including local elections and general elections, and different types of referendum that depend on the nature of the question at hand. That is an appropriate way to look at the matter—on a case-by-case basis. I do not see that there is a problem in the way that he does.

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): May I bring to my hon. Friend's attention the Constitution for the European Union (Referendum) Bill, which was introduced by the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maples) on Friday? The Bill specifically advocates extending the franchise in such a referendum to EU citizens. The hon. Members for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) and for Stratford-on-Avon should get their act together and agree a common line.

Mr. Leslie: My hon. Friend expects the Opposition to get their act together, and I expect that the hon. Members for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) and for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maples) will talk to each other one of these years.

Mr. Alan Duncan (Rutland and Melton) (Con): In welcoming the Minister's answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner), I ask him to consider this constitutional principle, which is so straightforward and simple that it is undeniable: when a nation is asked to vote on its relations with other nations, only the nationals of the voting country should be able to exercise that democratic right. If citizens of other countries were to vote in such a referendum, it would be illogical nonsense and distort the process, and it should not be permitted.

Mr. Leslie: The hon. Gentleman's point is taken up in the draft Single European Currency (Referendum) Bill, which proposes a franchise of the Westminster electorate plus peers. We will examine different referendums on a case-by-case basis, which is the rational way forward.

Civil Service (Relocation)

23. Hugh Bayley (City of York) (Lab): What assessment has been made of the scope for relocating jobs in his Department and its executive agencies from London and the south-east to the northern regions of England. [168406]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy): Some 13,680 officials—90 per cent. of staff—in the Department for Constitutional Affairs already work in the regions. Nearly 2,400 officials—15 per cent. of staff—work in the northern regions of England. The Department's policy is to relocate staff where it benefits our users and provides value for money for the taxpayer.

Hugh Bayley : Is my hon. Friend aware how effectively York has worked with central Government on the
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relocation to the city of civil servants from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Work and Pensions and his Department? Indeed, there is a Crown Prosecution Service office in York. Will he ask officials in his Department to meet the York inward investment board and, perhaps, senior managers in civil service departments that have been relocated to the city to discuss York's merits as a possible location for future relocations?

Mr. Lammy: Officials in my Department are aware of the city of York's many benefits, and as and when decisions to relocate are made, we will seek to enter into such discussions. Although it is nice to live and work in the city of York, I am sure that my hon. Friend also appreciates the benefits of Tottenham.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con): I am sure that any official moving to any part of the city of York will be made to feel welcome, but the relocation of immigration and nationality directorate officials to Sheffield created some difficulties. Is ministerial responsibility for officials as strong when officials are in York as it is when they are in London?

Mr. Lammy: Civil servants work well both inside and outside London. Such matters are considered carefully across Government as and when they arise.

Political Parties (Funding)

24. Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North) (Lab): What plans the Department has to introduce state funding for political parties. [168407]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. Christopher Leslie): The Electoral Commission is currently undertaking a review of all aspects of party funding. It is due to report this summer, and we will consider its recommendations carefully, including those relating to state funding of political parties.

Julie Morgan : I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that it is important for democracy that political parties thrive, reach out to people, educate people politically and work with their members? Does he see the state funding of political parties as one way to achieve those aims, with donations being used for electoral campaigning?

Mr. Leslie: I agree that we need healthy political parties—the foundation of our democratic system—to communicate political issues and to engage the public on a wider level. A consensus on state funding has not yet been reached, so the Electoral Commission report, which is due in the summer, will be quite interesting, and we will obviously respond to its recommendations. This Administration adopted the principles of transparency and openness on donations, which is the best way to raise confidence in the funding of political parties.

Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann) (UUP): Will the Minister look at this Sunday's Belfast edition of Sunday World, which contains a piece confirming what many
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have suspected for a long time: payments—substantial sums of money—are coming from organised crime to a certain political party in Northern Ireland as a result of pressure from a paramilitary organisation? Is that not a much more serious corruption of our democracy than some of the other problems that are frequently referred to; and is there any way in which the Government can ensure that such dirty money is kept out of politics?

Mr. Leslie: I am afraid that I did not see the article to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. However, there are indeed serious issues that require regulation, largely under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which sets out a framework for ensuring that registered parties have to disclose donations and so forth. I will look at the article to see what action might be appropriate.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): I hope that action will be taken on that important point.

Returning to state funding, does the Minister accept that many hon. Members believe that it would be the kiss of death for parties to be funded other than indirectly, as they are at the moment?

Mr. Leslie: There is an argument that state funding might cause parties to become lazy, neglect their memberships or not wish to raise resources from the grass roots. At the same time, there are already ways in which the state supports certain elements of party policy development. For example, Short money has been useful to Opposition parties throughout the ages—mostly to the Conservative party in recent years, sadly. The Electoral Commission's report on the matter will be most interesting.

Mental Incapacity Bill

28. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): When the proposals in the draft Mental Incapacity Bill will be ready to be presented to Parliament. [168411]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy): The Government plan to publish and introduce to Parliament a revised Bill, to be renamed the mental capacity Bill, before the summer recess.

David Taylor : I am sure that I am not alone in having received numerous submissions on the Bill from Churches, voluntary organisations, families and individuals. May I urge the Minister to ensure that plans for consultation with the wider world are as extensive as possible and that every effort is made to ensure that the Bill reaches the statute book before the next general election?

Mr. Lammy: The Joint Committee has scrutinised the draft Bill, and, as my hon. Friend would expect, the Department has been engaged in conversations with stakeholders, carers' groups and older people. I look forward to bringing the Bill to the House.

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