HC Deb 19 November 1964 vol 702 cc600-1
6. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will improve the system for the compilation of the annual electoral register, in order that a smaller percentage of the population entitled to the vote should remain disenfranchised.

Sir F. Soskice

If the hon. Member has any suggestions for improving the present system I shall be grateful if he will let me have them. They will then be brought within the scope of our general review of the electoral law.

Mr. Smith

I thank the Home Secretary for that reply. Is he aware that the present system is far from fool-proof, because it places a responsibility on the head of the household to fill in the registration form? Because a large number of places are now in multi-occupation, the head of the household is often ill-defined and, as a result, the person filling in the form, sometimes through indifference or through misunderstanding, or even through malice, leaves people's names off.

Sir F. Soskice

I will certainly bear those considerations in mind.

Mr. Mikardo

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there is some evidence that the accuracy of registers has declined notably in the last two or three years? When he is considering the reforms about which he has told us, will he take into consideration the possibility of a return to the half-yearly register, which might make some contribution, though it would not solve the problem?

Sir F. Soskice

I am considering, amongst the other proposals made, a return to the half-yearly register as my hon. Friend proposes.

Mr. Sharples

How soon does the Home Secretary expect to complete his review of electoral law?

Sir F. Soskice

This is a very large and comprehensive subject. I would much rather not tie myself to a time, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I most certainly realise its importance and will press on with it.