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28 Jun 2006 : Column 306

Mr. Love: Research may well have been carried out, but I am more interested in the practical realities of the situation in Northern Ireland. A graph showing the number of people who are registered—this is the reality, as opposed to limited academic research—demonstrates that the numbers grew significantly when a comprehensive canvass was carried out, which suggests that many people had been omitted from the register. That is the reality.

I wish to move on, as other Members wish to contribute to our debate. I am concerned about the registration process and, more importantly, about whether we can return to the halcyon days when electoral registration was a relatively foolproof method of putting people on the register. First, there is a funding problem. The Bill will provide significant additional funds, but many Members have asked for reassurance that the money will be spent on the electoral process. I accept the point made by the Minister, but it is 10 years since my local authority increased the amount of funding for electoral registration, thus causing a significant deterioration in the quality of registration. It has had a direct impact, too, on the pay of canvassers.

I have been told by several canvassers about the hostility they experience on the doorstep from people who do not want to be bothered by someone asking them to sign up to the electoral register, the importance of which they may or may not fully understand. The consequence is that many canvassers no longer carry out the job, because they are not paid enough to put up with the hostility. Indeed, there is a direct relationship between places where canvassers are put off and areas of low registration. Areas with 98 or 99 per cent. registration have canvassers, and it is in areas with 70 per cent. registration that canvassers cannot be found. When canvassers cannot be found, letters are sent out, but if a canvasser has failed in one or two visits—the number of visits is consequent on the level of funding—it is very unlikely that a letter will trigger registration. We must increase funding, ensure safety and provide support to enable the canvassing process to be carried out properly.

Mr. Heald: I am sorry that the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr. MacNeil) has left, because we have been unfair to the Scottish National party, which said in its response to the Department for Constitutional Affairs that it supports the individual registration of voters in order to decrease the chance of fraud. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that is not the impression that we have been given?

Mr. Love: That is certainly not the impression that I have been given. I support the thrust of the remarks by the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr. MacNeil) about the need for a comprehensive registration process. Although part of my argument is that we need to bolster the electoral registration process, I would not want hon. Members to think that I believe that we can get back to some halcyon day, and that that process by itself will lead to mass registration. It certainly will not lead to mass registration in my area of London, and I doubt whether it will in other areas up and down the country.

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We must look more closely at registration. Although I do not normally cite Australia as the perfect example—it has compulsory registration and compulsory voting, which would not be appropriate at this point in the United Kingdom—the fact that more than 98 per cent. of people there are registered to vote is instructive.

Mr. Michael Wills (North Swindon) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend state the circumstances in which compulsory registration would be appropriate?

Mr. Love: It is already a requirement that people should return an electoral registration form. Interestingly, the law does not state that they are required to fill it in, or to provide accurate information, although the registration form asks for accurate information. If we were to move towards compulsion in this country in relation to elections, it should involve registration in the first instance, and if that were to work, we could perhaps consider compulsory voting.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman, so that he does not stray too far, that we are looking at the Lords amendment and personal identification.

Mr. Love: I take the point, Madam Deputy Speaker. I apologise for drifting off into that important subject, because I recognise that time is limited, and we need to stick to the issue.

Mr. Heald: Is not the problem in this country, as opposed to what happens in Australia, that most experts think that about 3.5 million people are not registered who should be, and a similar number of people are registered who should not be? It would be impossible to introduce a system like the Australian system without cleaning up the registers, but how does the hon. Gentleman propose to do that?

3.15 pm

Mr. Love: I am not sure whether I accept that so many people are on the register who should not be, although there is undoubtedly significant double counting. The issue involves not only putting people on the register, but ensuring that the register accurately reflects the people who have the right to vote in a particular election. Nevertheless, I take the point, which is important.

In a modern context, registration should involve more than someone knocking on the door. The registration process should involve tapping into all the available information, because we do not make use of the available information from utilities and the postal service. Local authorities have enormous amounts of information, such as council tax records, that could be useful in ensuring that the register is accurate.

We do not need to concentrate on registering everyone. Many people return the form annually, which gives no difficulty in the compilation of an accurate register. However, research shows that groups such as young people, people who live in council accommodation, the
28 Jun 2006 : Column 308
unemployed and people from black and ethnic minority groups are vastly underrepresented, and we should focus our resources on them. At the end of the day, the objective is to ensure that everyone can cast their democratic vote, which is surely what we are all about. If we can clean up the register in the process and make it more accurate, that would be welcome.

I welcome the Government’s rejection of the Lords amendment and hope that this House will support them.

Bridget Prentice: I reiterate that I hope that the House will oppose the Lords in the said amendment.

It being one hour after the commencement of proceedings, Madam Deputy Speaker put the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [13 June].

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 290, Noes 204.
Division No. 271]
[3.17 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry

George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Lammy, Mr. David
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine

Ryan, Joan
Salmond, Mr. Alex
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Hywel
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Steve McCabe and
Mr. Dave Watts

Afriyie, Adam
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Cash, Mr. William
Clark, Greg
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Donaldson, Mr. Jeffrey M.
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Mr. Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Gove, Michael
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic

Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Herbert, Nick
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rowen, Paul

Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Mr. Roger
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Andrew Rosindell and
Mr. Crispin Blunt
Question accordingly agreed to.
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Lords amendment disagreed to.

Committee appointed to draw up a Reason to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to their amendment No. 8B to the Bill: Mr. Michael Foster, Mr. Oliver Heald, Simon Hughes, Martin Linton and Bridget Prentice; Bridget Prentice to be the Chairman of the Committee; Three to be the quorum of the Committee.— [Mr. Michael Foster.]

To withdraw immediately.

Reasons for disagreeing to the Lords amendment reported, and agreed to; to be communicated to the Lords.

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National Lotteries Bill (Programme)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83A(6)(programme motions),

Question agreed to.

National Lotteries Bill

Lords amendments considered.

Clause 7

National Lottery Distribution Fund: Apportionment

Lords amendment: No. 1.

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