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Electoral Register

Volume 547: debated on Thursday 5 July 2012

5. What recent assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the accuracy of the electoral register. (115246)

The Electoral Commission’s 2011 report, “Great Britain’s electoral registers”, estimated the accuracy of the 1 April 2011 parliamentary register to be 85.5% and the accuracy of the 1 April 2011 local government register to be 85.4%. The Electoral Commission defines accuracy as the percentage of entries on the registers that relate to verified and eligible voters who are resident at that address.

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that answer. He will be aware that in areas such as Cornwall, the number of multiple property owners appearing on the register at various addresses is a matter of concern. I welcome the steps the Government have taken to provide electoral registration officers with the tools to help crack down on that issue. Will the Electoral Commission look at that issue to ensure that the guidance to electoral registration officers is absolutely up to date and that they are aware of the role they can play in ensuring that it really is one person, one vote?

I know that this issue has been a matter of continuing concern to the hon. Gentleman, and I am grateful to him for raising it again on this occasion. The Electoral Commission is certainly ready to advise electoral registration officers on how most accurately to ascertain the residences of second home owners and whether the people living in them have the right to be registered for a second home. As the hon. Gentleman will know, there are rules in secondary legislation to make that more precise. I am sure that the Electoral Commission will be willing to advise all electoral registration officers if they feel in need of that advice.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the problem of inaccuracy in the register and, indeed, the lack of registration more generally is particularly serious in inner-city areas. Is it not right that the Electoral Commission should make particular efforts over the coming period to improve registration rates and accuracy in the inner-city areas of our country?

As a Member representing a city area, I share my hon. Friend’s concern about this matter. There are always going to be errors and shortcomings in the register, partly because in areas such as the ones he and I represent people often move house without necessarily informing the electoral registration officer that they have done so. The Electoral Commission stands ready to advise registration officers whenever they seek that advice.