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Electoral Register

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Electoral Commission has undertaken research on the effect of recent changes in the law that allow local authority electoral registration officers to consult local government databases. (257311)

The Commission informs me that it has undertaken no such research. However, its performance standards for electoral registration officers include the requirement to check council tax, housing benefit and any other council records that would help them to carry out their registration duties. The Electoral Commission will publish an assessment of the performance of electoral registration officers in respect of this standard in spring 2009.

The Electoral Commission further informs me that it will also review the use and effectiveness of local government databases as part of its longer term research programme into the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers.

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what representations the Electoral Commission has received on electoral registration officers using central government databases to improve their electoral registers. (257313)

The Commission informs me that in its 2002 consultation “Electoral registration: a review of the process”, it specifically sought views on whether better data-sharing between local and central Government databases would help electoral registration officers improve the accuracy of electoral registers. The Commission received 32 representations addressing this issue, from electoral registration officers, political parties and other organisations.

The Commission further informs me that many respondents to the consultation supported the principle of better gathering of data to improve the accuracy of electoral registers. However, there was considerable variance in views on, or understanding of, the extent to which this would be possible under existing law.