12th July 2012: This contribution from Andrew Brons was to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) yesterday on The European Union 2013 General Budget.
"Mr. Guerrero in the second of his six suggestions says that there should be a special budget heading to inform citizens of their voting rights and to inform them of the issues at stake. This afternoon we have heard that we should also tell voters of the achievements of the European Union, though not presumably of its failures.
"It should be the function of the electoral authorities to tell people of their voting rights.
"It is certainly not a proper use of Parliamentary money to tell people what the issues ought to be. That is the function of the parties and the candidates.
"If the purpose is to encourage people to vote, I would say that, in most European countries, voting is a right and not a duty. Something cannot be a right and a duty at the same time. Abstention is a legitimate choice.
"It should be the function of each party and its candidates to persuade people to vote and, in particular, to vote for that party. It is not for public institutions to tell people to vote and it is not a proper use of public money to persuade them to do so."