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The Temporary Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 32, in page 2, leave out lines 9 to 14.

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No. 33, in page 2, line 20, leave out "is resident" and insert

"has his sole or main residence".

No. 9, in page 2, line 24, leave out "and".

No. 10, in page 2, line 25, at end insert
" ; and
(e) in making his application for registration or his declaration of local connection or his service declaration, states all other addresses in respect of which he had at any time within the period of twelve months preceding the relevant date been registered in the register of parliamentary electors for any constituency or part of a constituency.".

No. 35, in page 2, line 35, leave out "is resident" and insert

"has his sole or main residence".

No. 11, in page 2, line 39, leave out "and".

No. 12, in page 2, line 40, at end insert

" ; and
(e) in making his application for registration or his declaration of local connection or his service declaration, states all other addresses in respect of which he had at any time within the period of twelve months preceding the relevant date been registered in the register of local government electors for any electoral area.".

No. 14, in clause 6, page 8, line 23, at end insert--

"(g) whether the declarant is registered in the register of parliamentary electors for any other constituency or for any other part of a constituency and, if so, the name of that constituency or part of a constituency".

Mr. Barnes: Earlier, the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) pointed out that an amendment appeared only in my name. That applies to amendments Nos. 30, 32, 33 and 35. However, as I said earlier, some amendments on rolling registers that stood only in my name in the past were accepted, and their proposals have become common practice for the Government.

The purpose of the amendment is to end double or multiple electoral registrations. A person who has more than one residence currently qualifies to appear on more than one register. However, it is illegal to use more than one vote on the same day, although there is no means of checking whether people have been dishonest and have fraudulently voted more than once.

A fully fledged rolling register should ensure that double registration does not take place. I have tabled amendments--some have cross-party support--that try to extend the provision for a rolling register and build on the Government's proposals. We shall discuss some of those matters later. We want the rolling register to be fully fledged so that, as soon as people move from one part of the country to another, their names are put on the new area's register and deleted from that of the previous area. Such a system removes the need for double registration and its attendant problems.

If we want to know the exact number of electors in the country, double registration does not help us. The Government are tackling some problems: for example, they intend to make arrangements to remove from registers the names of people who have died. Their presence on registers renders current figures inaccurate when calculating turnout.

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The amendment would provide clarity and ensure that someone was registered in one place for voting and could transfer registration only on moving.

8 pm

Mr. Grieve: I am intrigued by the hon. Gentleman's argument. I listened carefully to his earlier argument about votes for foreign visitors to this country, although I fail to see the logic of the position that he is adopting on this matter. People are much more mobile, often have homes in different locations and have multiple residences. If they wish to vote only once, why should they be deprived of the opportunity to choose where in the United Kingdom they cast that vote?

Mr. Barnes: We need a modern, up-to-date electoral registration system precisely because we have a mobile, rootless society in which people move around a great deal or leave bedsitter land to become homeless or live in another area. The rolling register is intended to produce such a system. I believe that the Government version of it is a shadow of what we could have, but, given modern technology, it should be possible for one place to be considered a person's sole or main place of residence. That is where he would register.

Mr. Robathan: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Barnes: In a moment.

Amendment No. 35 allows for such provision to be made. The notion of a sole or main place of residence was introduced by the Conservative Government in the Local Government Finance Act 1988, which introduced the poll tax. People had to register for their main poll tax payments at their sole or main place of residence and, although they paid poll tax for their other residences, arrangements to change the sole or main place of residence could be made quickly when they moved. If that principle could be used for an anti-social measure that cleared masses of people off the electoral register and destroyed electoral registration--attainers, who appeared on the register for the first time, hid from it because their household would have had to make multiple payments--it is only justice to introduce a measure that will help to restore full electoral registration.

The principle of a person having a sole or main place of residence can be used in such a connection. Even if a person has multiple residences, he will be associated mostly with one place and must decide which will appear on the register. If his life style changes and he wants to call another of his homes his sole or main place of residence, the rolling register will make that possible.

Mr. Hogg rose--

Mr. Robathan rose--

Mr. Barnes: I said that I would give way to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan).

Mr. Robathan: The hon. Gentleman has raised so many points that I must prevent myself from making a speech, although I must ask why a person who has to pay

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council tax on each home should not also have a vote. I want to pick up a point that was referred to on Second Reading. He is trying to prevent people from voting more than once. Is it not about time that the Government--I am not referring in particular to the Labour Government or the previous Conservative Government--checked up to ensure that people have not voted more than once? I do not think that we have heard any promise on that yet.

Mr. Barnes: People cannot purchase the vote because they pay a certain amount of tax or council tax. Technically, people are allowed to vote only once. A system that checked the current arrangements to make sure that nobody was abusing them would be useful, but, if the method that I propose were adopted, that would become terribly unnecessary. People would be on one register at any time, it would be illegal to be on another register and there would be nothing to prevent a central system--a link between different electoral registers--from making sure of that. That can be done in connection with the purchase of lottery tickets, so we must be able to do it with franchise rights, which are far more important.

Mr. Hogg: May I take the hon. Gentleman back to our first debate, in which we both participated? He made a point that had certain intellectual logic, asking why overseas voters resident in the United Kingdom and affected by laws were not entitled to vote. He has tabled an amendment that would prevent a person from registering in more than one local government area. If a person has a number of properties, he is affected by local government tax--the council tax--wherever he registers. Is it not right that, as he is affected by the level of council tax in respect of all his properties, he should have a local government vote in respect of each local government area?

Mr. Barnes: Certainly not. Every person should have the franchise; every person should count merely as one and should therefore be able to vote only in the area that he chooses. If someone is wealthy enough to have properties all over the place, lucky for him, but why should he have a say in how local government works in umpteen places? One person, one vote is what we should have.

Mr. Robathan rose--

Mr. Hogg rose--

The Temporary Chairman: Order. Will the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Barnes) say to whom he is giving way?

Mr. Barnes: I am giving way to the hon. Member for Blaby.

Mr. Robathan: I am grateful to you, Mrs. Dunwoody, and to the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) will add his remarks later. Does the hon. Gentleman remember the great cry, "No taxation without representation"? Local taxation concerns local issues, such as what is spent on the road outside my house. If I owned two houses--I regret to say that I do not--surely I should be able to influence rubbish collection,

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road maintenance and what is done in schools. I pay two council taxes because I rent a house by my constituency. As I pay council tax, surely I should be allowed to vote in local council elections.

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