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Electoral Register

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many and what percentage of people eligible to vote in each (a) constituency and (b) ward of each constituency were registered to vote in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2008; (257318)

(2) what percentage of those eligible to vote were registered to vote in each local authority in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland in each of the last 12 years;

(3) how many electors there were in each ward of (a) the Vale of Clwyd and (b) Denbighshire in each of the last 12 years.

Figures in relation to the percentage of people eligible to vote in each (a) constituency and (b) ward of each constituency were registered to vote in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2008 and the percentage of those eligible to vote were registered to vote in each local authority in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland in each of the last 12 years are not available. This is because the Office for National Statistics (ONS) does not hold data for the population eligible to vote in parliamentary elections, which includes British citizens resident overseas and excludes foreign citizens (from outside the British Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland) resident within England and Wales.

In addition, it is not known how many electors there were in each ward of (a) the Vale of Clwyd and (b) Denbighshire in each of the last 12 years. However, I am aware that in response to a recent parliamentary question 17 June 2008, Official Report, column 889 ONS provided the actual number of electors registered in each ward during this period.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what assessment he has made of the likely levels of compliance with requirements for individual voter registration by members of different social groups; (257463)

(2) what assessment he has made of the likely effect of individual voter registration on (a) levels of voter registration and (b) the accuracy of the register; and if he will make a statement.

As my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) explained in answer to similar questions from the hon. Gentleman on 3 July 2008, Official Report, column 1096W, and 24 June 2008, Official Report, column 242W, the Government have not made any assessment of the impact that individual voter registration is likely to have on the levels of registration and the accuracy of the register. We are aware that any new system of electoral registration in Great Britain would need to be tailored to current circumstances, and in particular would need to address the challenge of under-registration.

The Government are committed to the principle of individual registration. But this would be a far-reaching reform, and it would need to be undertaken with great care—both to make sure a new system is robust, and to ensure that it properly tackles the problem of under-registration.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what estimate he has made of the number of people eligible but not registered to vote in each of the last 11 years, broken down by region; (257708)

(2) what the average rate of voter registration is in the 100 (a) least and (b) most deprived wards; what assessment he has made of the effects of individual voter registration on the rate of registration in such wards; and if he will make a statement.

(3) what assessment he has made of the effects of individual voter registration on the level of voter registration.

As my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) explained in answer to these questions from the hon. Gentleman on 16 June 2008, Official Report, column 887W, the Government have not made any estimate of the number of people eligible but not registered to vote in each of the last 11 years, as such information is not available. However, the Electoral Commission estimated that 3.5 million eligible electors were not registered to vote in their report, ‘Understanding Electoral Registration’, which was published in 2005.

It is not known what the average rate of voter registration is in the 100 (a) least and (b) most deprived wards, as this information is not collected by Government. However, any new system of electoral registration in GB would need to be tailored to current circumstances, and in particular would need to address the challenge of under-registration.