I originally planned to make a very straightforward speech in support of the amendment of my noble friend Lord Lipsey. I will not rise to the helpful and interesting trail that my noble friend Lord Maxton has dragged along the ground about ID cards, but his analysis is accurate. We would have had a much clearer database that could inform the electoral registration process and much else besides. However, I will not go down that road.
I cannot allow the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, about the north being disadvantaged because of the south. However, the point that I want to make about the amendment is that it is accepted throughout the House that there are inadequacies with the current level of electoral registration. I have not heard any noble Lord arguing that the electoral register is currently a perfect piece of data collection. It is inadequate. There are significant shortfalls. Reference has been made to the report done by the Electoral Commission in March 2010 The Completeness and Accuracy of Electoral Registers in Great Britain. Noble Lords can see that that is clear in terms of the number of people who should be registered but are not. But the significant point and the one that I want to make which has not been made so far in this debate is that the shortfall is variable.