Committee (11th Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:30 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) 4:30 pm, 19th January 2011

My Lords, in the question that the noble Lord asked he gave the answer as to why it is not possible. He used the word "estimate", which is what it would be-an estimate. The Boundary Commission is using actual figures on the electoral roll.

The secretary to the Boundary Commission for Scotland was asked when giving evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in the other place about the accuracy of population figures compared with electoral figures. His answer was:

"I think there are significant practical problems. One of the things that this country does not have is a precise and continuously updated register of population. Our electoral register is continuously updated and spring cleaned or autumn cleaned once a year, whereas our population is only precisely counted once every decade".

In other words, the secretary of the Boundary Commission for Scotland thought that there were significant practical problems in using the basis of population. Against that background, we would be unwise not to give heed to that very practical consideration. It does not diminish the importance of a drive to have people registered so that they can vote in elections, but in these circumstances I beg the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.