Reading councillors have slammed government plans to introduce voter ID for elections as a “disgrace” but committed to providing ID cards for free or “as cheap as possible” if the law goes ahead.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Full Council approved a motion on Tuesday night agreeing to introduce low-cost ID for Reading residents but slamming the plans to introduce the new law, which was in the Queen’s Speech.

Labour Councillor Richard Davies, who submitted the motion, said the Conservative government’s proposal to require people to show ID at polling stations to be able to vote “look like blatant and disgraceful voter suppression”.

Reading Chronicle: Cllr Richard Davies submitted the motionCllr Richard Davies submitted the motion

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He added: “We should be vigorously encouraging voting, not placing unnecessary barriers to it.

“It is democracy to which Ts and Cs apply. The effect will undoubtedly be to disproportionally discriminate.”

Cllr Davies said the council would look to provide ID cards “for free, if we can do that or as low a cost as possible”.

But Green councillor David McElroy said the Government should pay for any costs needed to provide residents with ID.

The motion was supported by all councillors except the Conservative group.

Tory councillor Simon Robinson said: “I believe it strengthens democracy and increases the integrity of the democratic process.”

He said voter ID is used in countries across the world such as Australia, the USA, France and Germany.

According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, there were six cases of ballot fraud at polling stations at the latest election.

But Cllr Robinson said this “doesn’t acknowledge there are probably many more cases that go unseen”.

Responding to his comments, Lib Dem councillor Meri O’Connell said: “The Tory group has called for elections to be held every four years in Reading to save money. It is ironic they now support £20 million in spending.

“There are so many actual problems this Conservative government should spending money on.”

READ MORE: Tories slammed for 'copying' USA photo ID voting laws

And council leader Jason Brock slammed Cllr Robinson, saying it is “absurd to suggest there must be widespread voter fraud that we don’t know exist”.

Reading Chronicle: Council leader Jason BrockCouncil leader Jason Brock

Others piled on their own criticism of the Government proposals.

Labour councillor Debs Edwards said: “When I first heard about this I thought ‘am I living in fantasy land?’ I think it is a disgrace.”

Councillor Sophia James, another Labour member, said: “This will absolutely hit the most vulnerable people in our society.

“This is clearly designed to maintain a comfortable status quo where only the most privileged people in society go to the ballot box.”

While United States-born Labour councillor Karen Rowland added: “This is certainly not something I think, at the end of the pandemic, that there is a justification for.

“I believe in this country that the democracy is better than America. That takes a lot for an American to say.

“I am really horrified by the idea. It is a non-existent problem.

“I feel money does not need to go to affect something that is not proven to be a problem. It can affect our democracy and cause us to doubt something that is actually very secure.”