The Government take combating electoral fraud very seriously. Following a recommendation from the Electoral Commission, I directed that this year’s annual canvass should be started and completed earlier so that the register to be used for police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales outside London is the most accurate and up-to-date register possible.
I think, in this particular case, that is perfectly fine. It does not deal with the hon. Gentleman’s question, however, which was about electoral fraud. The reason for bringing forward the canvass was to ensure that we were not using a register that was right at the end of its useful life, with significant numbers of people not being at the addresses on the register. That would have provided an opportunity for fraud, and we wanted to reduce that to the minimum.
Is the Minister aware that there are concerns from cities such as mine, which have a large number of students, about the impact of moving the dates forward, that students who have arrived will not be put on the register and students who have left will still be on the register for far too long? Will he look at ways of avoiding that problem?
The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. One reason for issuing the direction to registration officers as early as possible was so that, in each area, they could think through the consequences for their particular registration and the challenges that they face, and then put in place procedures to ensure that the register used for police and crime commissioner elections is the most accurate and complete register necessary. If he has any specific concerns, I shall be very happy to discuss them with him.