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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 Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats 10:15 pm, 19th October 2010

I wanted to make a couple of brief comments, even before I was provoked by Geraint Davies. As it happens, I was inaccurately provoked, because he misread the table produced by the Library. I am one of the Members of Parliament whose constituency is in the top 10 of those where the proportion of the population registered to vote is smaller and the population is larger. The official figures in a House of Commons table show that Bermondsey and Old Southwark has a population of 122,510-we are No. 10 in the list-and an electorate of 77,628: almost the quota that is suggested across the country. The electorate make up 63.4% of the population according to the latest figures.

There are two explanations. One is that a lot of the differential is accounted for by people under 18; that applies across all our seats. The second is that there is a mixture of people-inner London has this in common with many places-who live there perfectly lawfully but are not entitled to vote. They are not UK citizens, they are not Irish citizens, they are not EU citizens and they are not Commonwealth citizens. We have a lot in my constituency; we are very proud to do so, and I serve them without discrimination, just as I would serve anyone on the electoral roll.

However, there is a problem of under-registration of those who should be on the electoral register, and I am never going to take any lessons from the Labour party because throughout the period of Labour Government the problem was exactly the same, and the legacy is that the Labour party left us with an under-registration of 3.5 million people.