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Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 19th October 2010.

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Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Conservative, Croydon Central 9:45 pm, 19th October 2010

Well, there we go. The hon. Gentleman is suggesting, with his customary eloquence, that we go even further than the hon. Member for Swansea West did. I think he is arguing that we should use the whole over-18 adult population as the basis for deciding the boundaries. Indeed, in an earlier intervention, he said that he had a significant number of asylum seekers in his constituency who, although they were ineligible to vote, still gave rise to casework.

There are many different proposals for ways in which we can develop these figures. My point about the hon. Member for Swansea West's amendment is that we cannot come up with a definitive figure. We can start with the census and take into account the electorate, and we can then use other data sets to refine that information, but we cannot come up with an accurate figure.

My own view is that we should stick with the current basis, which looks at the published electorate, but that we should also take action to deal with under-representation, which affects certain parts of the country more than others. The hon. Member for Swansea West talked about poverty, and Andrew George, who has now left the Chamber, referred to work carried out by the Electoral Commission that showed that the transience of the population-the churn-was the key factor. There are certain groups within the population, including the black and minority ethnic community, young people and people who live in the private rented sector, that are much more likely to move frequently, and that is the main causal driver of this problem.