The Electoral Commission recommended in 2003 that individual electoral registration should be introduced in Great Britain. Requiring all electoral registration applications to be verified makes it harder to create false register entries, and helps to prevent electoral and other types of fraud.
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. As he said, the Electoral Commission recommended the adoption of IER in 2003. Does he agree that it is long overdue and that the ability to register online will make it much easier for many people to engage with the democratic process?
As usual, my hon. Friend is right: IER has been a long time coming, but it has been carefully and successfully introduced in the past 12 months. We must pay tribute to all the electoral registration officers all over the country for their hard work. As a champion of youth engagement in democracy in his constituency, he makes an important point about online registration. There is no question but that a lot of young people have exercised their ability to register online, so making sure that our register is as full as possible.
The hon. Gentleman has raised an important point. The Electoral Commission recommended that the original date of December 2016 be maintained. The Government disagreed with that, and have now decided that December 2015 is the appropriate date. Ultimately, however, it is a matter for the House to decide, and the Electoral Commission has not changed its mind.