Taking account of local government boundaries

Part of Parliamentary Constituencies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement 3:45 pm, 25th June 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for making that intervention. The points that he has made during our proceedings today about the nature of his Ceredigion constituency, where the population can fluctuate, highlight the point that the data that we use have to come from a snapshot in time. However, that snapshot is often inaccurate for various reasons, including people moving house. They can delay registering or perhaps they do not register if there is no election imminent.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned students who may or may not register in one or two locations, which means that often the register is inaccurate. When we as constituency MPs hold our advice surgeries, we often support members of our community who do not fill in paperwork, which is how they can find themselves before us. One of the things that they might not fill in, because it does not feature in their lives is the form to register to vote. And yet, as Members of Parliament, we will stand up for them in a tribunal situation or we make representations to various Government bodies because we count them as our constituents and we represent them.

New clause 9 would make the data that the boundaries are drawn on fuller and more accurate than the data that they are currently drawn on. As Professor James outlines in his written evidence, different countries use different data to draw their electoral constituencies, including population data, population estimates and electoral registers that have been made more accurate by using local government data.