Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Harris of Haringey Lord Harris of Haringey Labour 9:30 pm, 19th January 2011

Indeed, that is the case. The interesting issue about that, since we were talking earlier today about the importance of community, is that that is one area where we now see parliamentary constituencies straddling local borough boundaries in London. I think that the MP for the area that my noble friend described is Karen Buck, who also represents part of Westminster. It is a bad idea to cross London borough boundaries; I suspect that we will return to that at a later stage in this Committee. However, my point is about the degree of underrepresentation. I picked on Kensington and Chelsea because, apart from those pockets which my noble friend knows so well, it is not regarded in most people's minds as being an area of acute deprivation-although parts of it are.

The figures are: in Hackney, there was a 72 per cent response rate; in Tower Hamlets it was 76 per cent; in Hammersmith and Fulham, 76 per cent; in Camden, 77 per cent; in Southwark, 77 per cent; in Islington, 78 per cent, and in Lambeth, 79 per cent. The point is that the work which has been done where there are concentrations of poor response, either to the census or to electoral registration, demonstrates a number of characteristics. First, the highest non-response rates come from those who rent from a housing association or a council. There are higher non-response rates: where the occupants are from black, Asian or mixed ethnic groups; where the household contains a single-parent family; where the average age of the people in the household is 70-plus; and in areas with higher income deprivation scores.

I am not making any moral judgment about people in those households. I am only reflecting the research that has been done, which demonstrates that there are certain socioeconomic characteristics suggesting, as my noble friend Lord Lipsey has identified, that there will be lower rates of registration.