Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 11:15 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Anderson of Swansea Lord Anderson of Swansea Labour 11:15 pm, 19th January 2011

I hope the Minister will concede that this is an important point, and perhaps he can truncate this debate by offering to have a cup of tea with his officials and my noble friend. I see that there are problems, but it is clear that the Government will have to respond in some way to the determination of the European Court of Human Rights, which has said, in terms, that the matter cannot be delayed for much longer. Indeed, the Government have said that they will respond. We know that there could be substantial expenditure implications if they do not respond and a multitude of applications. However, I see some problems in practice.

Once upon a time I was a barrister and I did a fair amount of work on the criminal side. All too often one's clients were of no fixed abode, so how is one going to determine the constituency in which the prisoner votes? That is one obvious problem. Equally, prisoners are more likely to come from socioeconomic groups that might be determined among the population but are not on the electoral register because they are alienated and do not bother to put themselves on the register. Therefore, there are problems in deciding which will be the relevant constituency in this matter.