Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140-144)|
9 MARCH 2004
Q140 Mr Cummings: Is there any evidence
that all-postal voting favours one political party or another?
Cllr Sir Jeremy Beecham: No.
Q141 Mr Cummings: You do in your evidence
raise general concerns about the impact on the campaigning of
the rolling out of postal elections.
Cllr Sir Jeremy Beecham: It is
the timescale problems that Mori touched on. I found it rather
eerie last year effectively when the election was in May, the
campaign finished in canvassing terms a couple of weeks before
polling day and I was bereft really, there was not that much to
Q142 Chairman: You could have gone to
one of neighbouring authorities that did not have a pilot.
Cllr Sir Jeremy Beecham: We had
pilots in the neighbouring authorities.
Q143 Chairman: What about making sure
that everyone gets the information at the same time? When ballot
papers go out ought each candidate be able to send one piece of
literature in the same envelope.
Cllr Sir Jeremy Beecham: I have
mixed views about that because of course for minority and extremist
parties that is a convenient way of distributing their literature
when they might not have the resources to do it. I am not sure
I would want to facilitate that, if they were going to put their
literature out then so be it, you could not exclude any candidate
from availing themselves of that opportunity. Moreover, if you
have multiple elections, as you will have this year, you will
have parcels delivered at the same time rather than envelopes
if you had leaflets from goodness knows how many candidates.
Q144 Mr Cummings: Are independent candidates
at parish level in any way disadvantaged by the all-postal elections?
Mr Green: There has been some
concern about that. Not ignoring Sir Jeremy's concern about how
they might be used, if each member, each person standing in a
contested parish council election was allowed to put one piece
of literature in that went with the ballot paper in the post it
would not matter whether you were the Labour Party, the Conservative
Party, the Lib Dems or Independent in a sense the electorate would
have access to your additional input which at our level in some
of the first tier councils it would be difficult because most
people might know the candidates involved but we would find that
a useful tool. In the context that every political party gets
during a general election the right to have one piece of communication
delivered it is not much of an intellectual step to bring that
into the terms of local government elections and for it to be
fair and reasonable.
Chairman: On that note can I thank you
very much for your evidence. Thank you.