Electoral Registration

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th February 1997.

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Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire 12:00 am, 20th February 1997

To ask the Prime Minister if he will introduce proposals to encourage registration on supplementary lists of those missing from electoral registers before the announcement of the date of the general election. [15312]

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

I see no need to do so. The vast majority of eligible electors are registered and a well-established claims procedure exists for those who are not.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

Why will the Government not publish the number of people who are currently on electoral registers? What have they got to hide? Are the figures as bad as they were last year, when at least 2 million people were missing from the registers? Why cannot we have a massive campaign to put people on supplementary lists, which could be added to lists of those who are eligible to vote at the general election? The Halifax building society organised a massive campaign for what it called its "big vote". The general election is the biggest vote of all, and all our people should be entitled to exercise their vote.

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

I, of course, agree with that. The Conservative party has done all it can to ensure that people are registered to vote at the general election. As for the figures for which the hon. Gentleman asked, the 1996 electoral registers for the United Kingdom contained just under 44 million names—the highest number ever. New registers came into force on 16 February, and the figures for them should be available by the end of March.