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Armed Forces: Voting

Volume 693: debated on Wednesday 27 June 2007

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of the report of a survey on service voting conducted by the Defence Analytical Services Agency in 2006.

The MoD has been working with the Electoral Commission to improve the electoral process for the Armed Forces. The survey was undertaken to provide evidence of the numbers of service personnel who are currently registered to vote and to draw comparison with the results of a similar survey carried out in 2005. The surveys provide information that is helping us to judge how best to encourage service personnel to register in future.

I welcome the survey, which gives us the facts needed to target future work. It indicates that 63 per cent of service personnel are currently registered, in comparison with 60 per cent previously, the majority of whom (65 per cent) choose to register as ordinary rather than service voters. The number serving abroad who are registered has risen from 36 per cent in 2005 to 42 per cent in 2006.

These figures indicate that registration levels have improved but there is still much work to be done, particularly for those serving abroad; the results will help to indicate where our efforts should be concentrated. We will work closely with the Electoral Commission to understand the reasons behind the results and to use them to make further improvements to the quality of information available to all service personnel.

We remain committed to improving arrangements for members of the service community to exercise their right to vote. We will do this by encouraging our people to register and to vote, and underpin this by clear information provided in a timely manner. We shall continue to work hard, with the Electoral Commission, to achieve this.