Committee (11th Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Kilclooney Lord Kilclooney Crossbench 5:00 pm, 19th January 2011

My Lords, as one-time Minister responsible for electoral registration in Northern Ireland, I have been interested by the references to the introduction of individual registration in Northern Ireland. As several speakers have said, several conclusions could be reached about what the result of that individual registration was. However, it certainly was not, and I strongly refute the suggestion, that it was because elderly people there did not know what they were doing-the word "illiterate" was used. I remind the House that the standard of education in Northern Ireland, and indeed in Scotland, is generally higher than in England.

On a serious point, the average size of the family in Northern Ireland is considerably larger than a family in England. When the head of a household filled in the registration form, he would very often put down all the members of the family whether they were living in Northern Ireland, England, New York or wherever. That was brought to an end when the requirement for individual registration was introduced and people outside Northern Ireland were no longer registered, only those who were actually living there. That is one of the reasons why the electoral register fell in numbers.