Clause 13 - Removal of requirement that canvass form must be prescribed form

Part of Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:15 am on 16th July 2013.

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Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 9:15 am, 16th July 2013

The shadow Minister makes a very good point, which we have discussed before. It is why I brought through individual registration this year, early: so that we can have door-to-door canvassing and a much better understanding of the situation.

The accuracy of the register is not the only big issue in Northern Ireland; there is also the big issue of having people on the register. As politicians, we go out and try to convince individuals to vote for us, but there is no point if they are not on the electoral register. That is an issue that the Electoral Commission and I will take forward, so that we can better educate the electorate on their rights. As I say, if people are not registered, they cannot vote.

Also, it is imperative to have an accurate register if we want democracy anywhere in the UK. That is why we will report to the House as to the accuracy of the register; that is a very important point. I will ensure that that takes place, but at the same time the accuracy of this year’s canvass will be very important. I urge all political parties in Northern Ireland to work together on that canvass.