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Higher Education and Research Bill - Report (1st Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 6th March 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Labour 7:15 pm, 6th March 2017

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for outlining all the initiatives that the Government are taking, and of course we all share the same aim. However, he outlined a piecemeal list of initiatives rather than a comprehensive plan. We have been talking about these things for a long time and the pilot undertaken in Sheffield was completed many months ago. The Government said that they would evaluate it and, indeed, they are in the process of doing so, but I simply do not understand the delay. In the meantime, many students have not been able to vote simply because they have not registered to vote.

The Minister also says that universities and electoral registration officers should have a choice about what they do and about whether they improve registration efforts for students. I think we have a duty to ensure that the maximum number of students is registered to vote. I understand the problems in London, for example, where students do not necessarily live near their university. I have talked to many people about this and I am advised by those at the most senior level that these issues are not insurmountable. I would prefer a system which all universities have to adhere to in order to maximise the number of students on the electoral register. I therefore wish to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 200, Noes 189.