Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Lipsey Lord Lipsey Labour 10:00 pm, 19th January 2011

I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord for that offer, which I would happily take up for my education, if not for that of his officials. It enables me to make a point, because a lot more noble Lords are in the Chamber now than when they were enjoying pudding and I was moving the amendment. With the exception of the utterly disgraceful spat between north and south on my own Benches, anyone reading the debate, which has lasted for just over an hour, would agree that it was in the very best traditions of this House-as was the previous debate about the Isle of Wight. Without going into the past, I hope that I speak for the House in being glad that, on this amendment, we have returned to our great traditions in this Chamber.

Perhaps I may make one point to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. Perhaps, having just come into the Chamber, he missed the point that I made at the beginning, which goes to the heart of this matter. He rightly said that these estimates of notional electorates would be imprecise, which of course is true. However, a figure that is imprecise is not necessarily worse than a figure that is utterly precise and utterly bogus, and that is what the electoral registers are. By consent, the registers are only 91 to 92 per cent accurate overall. Also by consent, in many areas their accuracy is very well short of those figures. There would also be imprecision in the estimates-of course I accept that and it would be silly to do otherwise-but I think that that imprecision would be very much less than the precise falsity represented by the numbers on the electoral register.