Skip to main content

Electoral Register

Volume 491: debated on Monday 27 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the timetable is for the introduction of individual electoral registration in Great Britain; in what ways the system will differ from that deployed in Northern Ireland; and whether he plans to pilot different systems prior to permanent adoption. (269892)

As I announced at Commons Report stage of the Political Parties and Elections Bill, the phased introduction of individual registration will involve the voluntary collection of personal identifiers (alongside the existing process of household registration) from the autumn 2010 annual canvass until the autumn 2015 canvass. From this point it would be compulsory to provide identifiers for new registrations. By 2017 the provision of identifiers would be compulsory for all entries on the register. The shift to compulsory provision of identifiers in 2015 would be subject to a parliamentary vote on a recommendation by the Electoral Commission as to whether two statutory tests relating to the state of preparation for the change and the robustness of the registration system had been met.

The Government will table amendments to the Bill ahead of Grand Committee in the House of Lords to put this into effect. The system proposed will be closely modelled on that introduced in Northern Ireland in 2002, although we will wish to learn the lessons of Northern Ireland when implementing in Great Britain.

The proposed phased introduction of individual registration is intended to ensure that we can deliver a register that is both accurate and comprehensive. It will also allow the opportunity to effectively plan the necessary infrastructure to deliver the system. In addition, clauses 22 and 23 of the Bill provide for the piloting of data matching schemes that will allow us to test, in a controlled way, new tools to help electoral registration officers improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of their registers.