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Individual Voter Registration

Volume 584: debated on Tuesday 8 July 2014

6. What steps the Government are taking to avoid a fall in the number of people registered to vote as a result of the introduction of individual voter registration. (904713)

As part of the transition to individual electoral registration, we are using data matching to confirm the majority of current electors on the existing register without their having to make a new application. The transition is being phased in over two years, which means that no one registered to vote at the last canvass will lose their right to vote at the general election in 2015. The Electoral Commission will have an awareness campaign; in addition, the introduction of online registration makes electoral registration much more accessible.

I understand that two thirds of electoral registration officers have not data matched their records with Government databases. What action will the Minister take to ensure that they do so?

No, the hon. Gentleman is out of date. Of the applications made since 10 June, more than 90% have been successfully confirmed with Government data, so it is going extremely well. The electoral registration community around the country is pretty pleased with the progress.

I welcome the Minister’s good news about the take-up and about online registration. To go back to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Nick Smith), is the Minister aware that more than 250 local authorities have not confirmed whether they have data matched their registers with central Government databases, as they were supposed to do, and that almost 100 have failed to conduct a door-to-door canvass at least once in the past five years of those who are not on the register? Will he look into that and tell us what he is going to do about it?

The right hon. Gentleman is getting ahead of himself. The new system started on 10 June. There is a big campaign in which every electoral registration officer will write to every household in the weeks ahead. They will then follow that up with the door-to-door canvass. After that is the time to see how they have performed. The right hon. Gentleman needs to reflect on the current rather than the past system.