Prompt to register as an overseas elector

Part of Overseas Electors Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:15 am on 22nd March 2019.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 10:15 am, 22nd March 2019

I agree with my hon. Friend. He has made a very good point. I think it has long been a policy of everyone in the House—certainly a policy of Members on both sides of the House—that we should do what we can to encourage more people to register to vote. I have never known anyone to argue against that principle. As my hon. Friend says, this measure could easily help more people to register, which I would expect to be a welcome move.

The hon. Member for City of Chester touched on this when he moved his new clause in Committee. He said that it was likely to engage more people in voting. He referred to the Electoral Commission’s overseas voter day on 10 May 2016, which was supported by embassies and consulates around the world and which was intended to encourage British citizens who were eligible to register as overseas voters to do so in time to vote in the EU referendum. The commission ran a public awareness campaign for overseas voters between 17 March and 9 June, and more than 135,000 overseas voters registered during that period.

As the hon. Gentleman made clear in Committee, the new clause could go some way towards making overseas voters aware of their voting rights at an early stage. I think we should all welcome that, because presumably we want more people to register and we think that the earlier they do so, the better.