Committee (11th Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), Lords Spokesperson (Wales Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office) 4:15 pm, 19th January 2011

I am grateful for the opportunity to explain. I was surprised that when the noble Lord, Lord Bach, sat down the noble Lord, Lord Wills, did not stand up, hence why I intervened at this point. He will, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, said. The point that I have tried to make is that the electoral quota, which is one of the key building blocks of the constituency boundaries, is determined by reference to a relevant date.

In terms of this Bill and the four Boundary Commission reviews for 1 October 2013, the relevant date for the electoral register is 1 December 2010-last month. The point I am trying to make with reference to England is that the relevant date for determining the boundaries is the year 2000. The general election in May last year was fought on boundaries on which, if we do not have a further boundary review before 2015, the general election of 2015 will be fought. The data go back to the year 2000. Therefore we will have constituency boundaries that are based very much on outdated data. The point I am trying to make is twofold. First, that in no way serves those who are not included in the register but are eligible. Secondly, under our proposals and what we intend to do to improve voter registration, voters will be on the register for December 2015, which will be the relevant date for the report to be produced in October 2018 for the general election of 2020.

There are two uses of the electoral register. There is the use of the relevant date, to which the Boundary Commission must have regard in determining the size of constituencies and constituency boundaries; and there is the continuing importance of the electoral register to determine who is eligible to vote at a particular election. That is a very important issue, and work continues to try and ensure that those who are eligible are on that register.