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Electoral Register

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 1st July 2015.

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Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington 11:30 am, 1st July 2015

What recent estimate he has made of the number of eligible voters not on the electoral register.

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Government Whip, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

As we have heard, the Electoral Commission recently published an analysis, and I am pleased to tell the hon. Gentleman that it shows that parliamentary registers have over 400,000 more entries than a year ago. The last full assessment of the completeness and accuracy of electoral registers was published in July, and it showed that the decline in registration between 2000 and 2010 had stabilised since 2011. The next full assessment will be undertaken when the transition to individual electoral registration is complete.

Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

I thank the Minister for that response, but the number of eligible voters who are missing from registers is a concern. I draw his attention to two specific groups: private rented tenants and the rising 18s. In my constituency, the rising 18s are down 50%. What action is he taking to try to address that issue?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Government Whip, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

As we heard earlier, almost £10 million has been spent on registration activities and drives since the start of this year, and we have made it a great deal more convenient and easier to register through individual electoral registration. We are looking at the report and recommendations produced by the Electoral Commission. In due course, when we respond to them, I am sure that we will have more to say.

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Conservative, Corby

What recent assessment has the Minister made of the number of ineligible electors on registers—namely, EU citizens who find themselves registered for parliamentary elections?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Government Whip, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

One of the benefits of individual electoral registration is that it has a built-in check for validity, which dramatically improves the quality of registers as a result. As more and more of the roll is completed using individual electoral registration, we expect it to have a beneficial effect in weeding out people who are incorrectly registered in the way that my hon. Friend describes.

Photo of Ian Lavery Ian Lavery Labour, Wansbeck

Since March 2014, there has been a reduction in young people about to turn 18 registering to vote. Will the Minister not commit the Government to rolling out the Northern Ireland schools initiative, so that schools and colleges can work with local authorities to make sure that those people register to vote?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Government Whip, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

A number of interesting initiatives are under way to persuade and allow students to vote. Some interesting examples are going on in Sheffield. So there are a range of possibilities, many of which are very promising. We want to ensure that we have analysed them all properly, so that we can choose the best and most cost-effective.