Jacob Rees-Mogg highlighted a ban on MPs wearing overcoats and hats during Commons divisions as he defended the Government’s plan to require photographic identification to vote.
The Commons Leader insisted measures are in place in Parliament to prevent impersonation during votes, and therefore steps should be taken to stop the problem arising at elections.
Labour had challenged Mr Rees-Mogg over the proposal announced in the Queen’s Speech, amid fears it could disenfranchise some voters who do not have any form of photo ID.
Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire described the plan as an “attack on democracy” and added that just “0.000002%” of votes cast in 2019 were found to be fraudulent.
She asked in the Commons: “Will the Leader of the House please explain to his own constituents why they can’t vote by giving their name to a clerk and being counted by a teller when this is how their own MP votes in this place – in normal times at least?”
Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “It is important that elections are fair and proper.
“(Ms Debbonaire) mentioned we don’t have to prove who we are when voting in the division lobbies in normal circumstances, but she’s forgetting that we’re not allowed to wear overcoats in the division lobbies just in case we send somebody through to vote in our place or indeed – as Mr Speaker helpfully says – hats.
“So therefore there are requirements in this place to prevent personation.”
Labour former minister Chris Bryant shouted that MPs are allowed to vote while wearing masks during the pandemic, but Mr Rees-Mogg said they do need to show their identity cards under the current arrangement.
Mr Rees-Mogg added: “Having photographic identification is ensuring a problem doesn’t arise.
“This country has an electoral system of which people can be proud and of which people can have confidence. We mustn’t allow that confidence to slip.”
In a nod to previous election controversies in the United States, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “We don’t want hanging chads and then to deal with it afterwards; we want to stop hanging chads happening before that becomes an issue, and before personation becomes a risk it is only reasonable to ask people to turn up with their photographic identification or get it from their local council so they can vote.
“I fear it is absolutely classic from the socialists – they don’t have any confidence in their own voters.
“We have confidence in our voters. We think our voters will not find it unduly onerous or taxing to turn up with an identity document of some kind.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also used Business questions to confirm the return of the Environment Bill for further consideration on May 26.
New legally-binding targets to tackle the climate crisis will be enshrined in the legislation.