My Lords, I welcome the continuation of the current arrangements, as I believe the reduction proposed by the coalition Government would have been an impediment to fair and adequate representation and services to constituents and not in the best interests of the electorate.
Despite the debates today and within wider political bubbles and implied consultations, the consequences of these matters were not agreed by large swathes of our population—hitherto unrepresented groups—in any meaningful way. Specifically, I suggest that significant numbers of them are minority women and people with disabilities. They will rightly feel excluded.
I have two principal questions. If the Government are committed to every vote counting equally, how do they propose to address the glaring points raised by the Electoral Reform Society, which stated that 9.4 million eligible voters are currently missing from registers? These include 40% of minorities, thus further disfranchising already vulnerable citizens disproportionally impacted socially and politically. I therefore look forward to my noble friend Lady Hayter ensuring that the Bill leaves here with sufficient standing to strengthen parliamentary scrutiny and the backstop.
Will the Government ensure that any anomalies that discard 20% of our population, leaving them excluded and alienated from our democratic structures, will be redressed and that those structures will be made inclusive of groups systemically disadvantaged as a result of age, race, religion and socioeconomic position? Otherwise, we may face grave societal consequences from marginalised citizens and continued inequity and division in housing, education, employment, health and social care. They will not be counted and their views and needs not reflected in shaping our parliamentary democracy, and this surely cannot be right.