Overseas Electors Bill: Prompt to register as an overseas elector

Mike Wood: rose—

 

Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

I was about to move on, but as my hon. Friend went to the same school as me—he is a far better advertisement for it than I am—I will give way to him.

 

Mike Wood: Yes, we did go to the same school and I was at the prize-giving last summer where I was reminded by the chairman of governors that in my final year I had won the Philip Davies prize for debating no less—so very big shoes to fill.

I have no doubt that my hon. Friend’s new clause would be both effective and popular. In the third line it says

“the registration officer shall contact that elector”; it does not say “may” contact or, as our right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General might put it, “use best endeavours” to contact. This clearly would create a legal duty, therefore, so has my hon. Friend given any thought to what might count as the reasonable steps that one would expect ROs to take, and what remedies might be available should they fail to use them?

 

Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

My hon. Friend makes a good point and highlights once again why he is a far better example of our school than I am. I am sure that it uses him on its advertising brochures in a way that it does not use me. The point he makes goes without saying, and I like to think that that is how the law would be treated. People can only do what they can do; by definition, they cannot do what they cannot do. He might be right to say that the new clause would have been better drafted to include the words “use their best endeavours”, but personally I take it to mean that anyway, as it is written, because by definition someone cannot do something that they are not physically able to do. However, he is as eagle-eyed as ever, and I am grateful to him for highlighting that point.