Government Ministers in the House of Lords have refused to back local MP Nick Brown’s accusations against Newcastle City Council.

Mr Brown, who is Labour’s Chief Whip in the Commons, sparked outrage among Council officials last week when he spoke out against a cross-party decision to count the General Election result for Newcastle constituencies on the day after polls close. He said, “The scope for fraud is obvious…with the blank ballot papers and ballot boxes [left] overnight.”

Lord Tyler, the Liberal Democrat Constitutional Affairs Spokesman, challenged Ministers to say whether the comments represented Government policy during a mini-debate on Tuesday.

Speaking in the Chamber, he said, “The Minister will be aware that Nick Brown, the government Chief Whip, has apparently expressed a view that he is against next-day counts at the general election on the grounds that he does not trust the local returning officer, his staff and the police to provide sufficient security to prevent tampering at the ballot box. Is that government policy?”

The Minister, Lord (Willy) Bach, failed to support his colleague.

Commenting afterwards, Lord Tyler said:

“Nick Brown is evidently trying to play politics by suggesting Councils can’t be trusted to secure ballot boxes.

“But even Government Ministers won’t support his spurious complaints.

“He should have greater confidence in hardworking local officials, and in the police, who are more than capable of maintaining security for a count to take place on Friday, if that is what is necessary.”


The full exchange is available at:

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