Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 19th October 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West 8:45 pm, 19th October 2010

Amendment 125 suggests that instead of using the register of voters for calculating the relative size of constituencies, we should use the best estimate of eligible voters, so that each MP represents the same number of people who are eligible to vote, not the same number of people who happen to have registered. I propose that because of the demographic bias in respect of the categories of people who are more or less likely to register, and my contention is that all those people have the right to vote. They may at some point register if there are better registration systems, and they should not be denied a proportionate voice. I also contend that those Members, particularly on the Government Benches, who have argued that there is a systematic bias in favour of the Labour party because the average number of registered voters in Labour seats is less than the average number in Conservative seats miss the point that that bias does not exist when account is taken of the number of eligible voters-those aged over 18.

I do not intend to run through a comprehensive list, although I have been provided with figures from the Library. I pointed out earlier that in Bradford West there are 77,848 people over 18, yet only 62,519 are registered. In Holborn and St Pancras in London, there are 119,000 people aged over 18 and the number on the electorate is 86,000, and the electorate as a proportion of the 18-plus population is just 73%.

To summarise, the top line of my argument is that we must have the right basis for doing the calculation before we have a big argument about whether we should then apply other criteria, such as community and geography. We should establish fairly and squarely the basis of the argument put by the Government, and decide who we should be counting. I say that we should be counting those who are eligible to vote.