HC Deb 20 July 1987 vol 120 cc54-5W
Mr. Allen

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps were taken between 1979 and 1987 to increase the level of electoral registration; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

We are fully committed to improving the accuracy of the electoral register and to ensuring that all those eligible to vote are able to do so. Proposals for improving the accuracy of the register were discussed in chapter 1 of the Government reply (Cmnd. 9140) to the Home Affairs Select Committee's report on the Representation of the People Act (HC32). Since that reply was published in January 1984, the Home Office has taken a number of steps to give effect to these objectives. Six seminars have been held with groups of registration officers from different regions of England and Wales; these seminars were widely welcomed and produced a valuable interchange of ideas. A code of best practice has been issued to registration officers—and subsequently revised in the light of comments received—to encourage them to re-examine and improve their methods of compiling the register. The electoral registration form, form A, has been redesigned to make it more attractive, and easier to understand and complete. A video aimed at teenagers has been produced explaining the registration and voting procedures in a simple and entertaining way; and it has been distributed to all registration officers and local education authorities for use in schools, colleges and youth clubs. In addition, notices have been produced in Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Greek and Turkish, which explain the importance of filling in form A and checking the draft register to ensure one's name is included. More recently the Department commissioned a survey into the effectiveness of electoral registration procedures; it has now been published and we are looking carefully at its findings and recommendations; copies have been sent to each electoral registration officer in England and Wales.

In addition to these specific measures, the Home Office runs an annual publicity campaign aimed at encouraging all eligible people to register as electors.