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Electoral Register

Volume 603: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2015

4. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of methods used to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the electoral register. (902471)

The Electoral Commission will publish its assessment of the 2015 annual canvass in spring next year. In the meantime, there is a growing acceptance that while the annual canvass is an essential tool in maintaining complete and accurate registers, the processes and techniques we use to undertake it look increasingly out of date. They were developed from an analogue, not digital, world. As I said in my speech to the Policy Exchange in October, we will look to give electoral registration officers more discretion to adapt their canvass activities in order to make the canvass more efficient and effective in future.

Only 6.4% of homeowners are not on the electoral register, yet for those living in rented accommodation this figure is a massive 36.7%. The Government have made, and are making, it harder for generation rent to get on the property ladder, or obtain a secure tenancy. Is that why the Government do not want to hear the voices of private renters in our democracy?

We absolutely do want to hear everybody’s voice in our democracy. One of the things we are aiming to do with the new approach, as I said in the speech I mentioned in my initial response, is look at other ways to make better contact with groups that are under-represented, and to make sure more of them use their voice and their democratic right.

On the topic of using other ways to contact people to register to vote, has the Minister considered using credit reference agencies as a way to boost electoral registration?

That is an intriguing and, to me, new idea. I would be very interested to hear anything more the hon. Gentleman has to suggest on that.