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Voter Registration

Volume 521: debated on Tuesday 18 January 2011

2. What steps the Electoral Commission plans to take in respect of areas where voter registration remains low. (33918)

The Electoral Commission monitors the performance of electoral registration officers using a set of published performance standards designed to support the completeness of electoral registers. The Electoral Commission advises and works with local authorities that do not meet the standards in order to improve their performance.

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Where electoral registration officers are failing on the ground, what specific powers does the Electoral Commission have to intervene?

My hon. Friend is on to a good point. The Electoral Commission has the power to make recommendations to electoral registration officers—after all, they are primarily responsible for concluding the registers—if they are underperforming, but it has no power to intervene and change the way that things are done. This may be something that the House might like to examine in due course.

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is aware that, peculiarly, electoral registration officers are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so obtaining information from them if they refuse to give it is extremely difficult. Will he examine this point, because it seems that all other local authority officers are subject to this legislation, but electoral registration officers are not?

I am sure that the Electoral Commission was aware of that point. I was not, but I will certainly take it back to the Electoral Commission and to the relevant Departments to make sure that it is examined, because there seems to be a bit of an anomaly.