Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

'No guarantee' that each armed services vote will count

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Apologies - the start of this clip is missing due to a technical problem. We hope to be able to replace this clip with the video for the full question session in due course.

The government has acknowledged that it is unable to guarantee that every vote cast by members of the armed services on operations abroad will count in the general election.

At question time on 23 March 2010, Justice Minister Michael Wills told the Commons that "better arrangements" were in place for this election than previous elections for postal voting by services personnel.

For those operating in "difficult and remote" areas, like parts of Afghanistan, the government was doing everything it could to get the ballot papers "out as quickly as possible and back as quickly as possible", he said.

But he conceded: "I can't guarantee that every one will be able to be counted."

Mr Wills was responding to a call by Tory MP Mark Harper for an assurance that the votes of all services personnel in Afghanistan would get back in time to count in the poll, expected on 6 May.

"At the last election only 28% of service personnel were able to vote," Mr Harper protested.

Mr Wills said proxy votes were available to all services personnel serving overseas and there would be a "bespoke" scheme to speed up postal voting in Afghanistan.

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