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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.

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

I should certainly like to help the hon. Gentleman on that point. What the amendment actually says is that we should use figures by the Office for National Statistics for who is estimated

"to be eligible to vote in United Kingdom parliamentary elections".

Obviously, the question is how the ONS would make that estimate. The answer is by using a combination of the register of electors, the census and other data forms.

As has already been pointed out and as we all know by now, there is a systematic bias against the registration of certain categories of people-ethnic communities, people in private rented accommodation, 17 to 24-year-olds and, generally, those in poorer areas. Those poorer areas tend to be more likely to be represented by Labour MPs. That explains the difference in the average figures for registration. The problem that I have with the current thrust towards quickly redrawing the boundaries on the basis of registered voters is that clearly there will be a bias in that, so people from poorer communities will be under-represented. That is not effective or fair democracy.