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Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 19th October 2010.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton 9:15 pm, 19th October 2010

As far as I can see, the hon. Gentleman has not been in the Chamber for most of the debate. I ask him to listen carefully to this and the next part of my speech. There are reasons why some people are not on the electoral register, but I can assure him that I check whether people live in the constituency and/or are on the electoral register, and if they are not, I try to persuade them to get on to it.

I was coming to the reasons some people are off the electoral register. It is not just a result of how well the registration officer does his job. Among poorer people, the number of people on the electoral register in Manchester declined by about 15% when the poll tax was brought in, because it was the single easiest way of avoiding tax. It has been 20 years since the poll tax was introduced, but the position has never recovered. I could take hon. Members to an estate in my constituency where nearly 60% of people on the electoral register are women. That is not because the estate is not roughly 50:50, but because the men living there do not register so as to get 25% off their council tax. It will take time to address that situation of people avoiding both tax and being on the electoral register. It is not an easy problem, but it should be dealt with.