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Clause 8 — Reports of the Boundary Commissions

Part of House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 10:15 pm on 19th October 2010.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central 10:15 pm, 19th October 2010

If this Bill passes, we will make the most significant reduction in parliamentary representation since 1922. If we are to make such a fundamental change, we need carefully to examine the basis on which we do it. There needs to be a proper assessment of constituency size, which the electoral register will not provide. In particular, any electoral register from December of any one year will not provide it.

My hon. Friend Geraint Davies said earlier that we know that there are particular groups of voters who are under-represented-young people, students, those living in houses in multiple occupation, those in black and minority ethnic communities and those in social housing. In a constituency such as mine, all those groups combine and are linked to a very high level of turnover to create significant under-representation and under-registration. In just one of my wards, 23% of households have no one registered. In another, the figure is 19% and in another it is 16%. Across the constituency, the average is 15.5%. Many of those who are not registered to vote are those who face the problems that translate into higher levels of casework for me and for my office.

Registration in the constituency contrasts sharply with the neighbouring constituency, Sheffield Hallam, which is represented by the Deputy Prime Minister. It was a traditional Conservative seat until 1997 and some might say it is again. With the demographic profile of Sheffield Hallam and the stability of the population in that constituency, there are very high levels of registration. The number of unregistered households averages just 4%.