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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

Clearly, we all want to encourage individual responsibility, and I think that there is an individual responsibility to try to register to vote. However, there is a propensity for certain categories of people not to vote because it is more difficult for them to do so. Examples include the one in five people in Britain who is functionally illiterate and finds it very difficult to fill in forms. And what about people who do not speak English very well?

We are about to move to the next stage, which is individual registration as opposed to household registration, and that will have a dramatic impact, particularly on ethnic communities, where there may be a lead member of the household who is the only person in the household who can speak English; in such cases, we may start off with five votes and get one. Some people might say, "It's their fault; they should learn English," and all the rest of it, but our law is that an eligible voter is an eligible voter, whether they are educated or not.

Through the amendment, I am saying that the boundaries should be drawn on the basis of eligible voters. Parallel to that, we want more registration, because the people who can vote are those who are registered. The point is that Parliament should represent the people. Poorer people should not be less well represented because they do not register as a result of failures in the education system, or for a host of other reasons.