Electoral register reforms narrowly passed in House of Lords vote

The vote came within 24 hours of the Lords blocking the Government’s plans for tax credit cuts

Charlie Cooper
Whitehall Correspondent
Tuesday 27 October 2015 19:52
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The Government has narrowly avoided a second defeat in the House of Lords in as many days, as controversial reforms to the electoral register were passed by just 11 votes.

Peers voted 257 to 246 in favour of the Government’s plans to introduce individual voter registration from December.

Labour and Liberal Democrat peers had warned the plans risked 1.9 million names being struck of the electoral register, and have accused the Government of attempting to “gerrymander” the electoral system.

The vote came within 24 hours of the Lords blocking the Government’s plans for tax credit cuts. Peers voted last night for a delay to the £4.4bn cuts and for compensation for those who will lose out.

The independent Electoral Commission had wanted the planned move from household voter registration to individual registration to be introduced in December 2016, but the Government moved it forward to December 2015.

There are fears the move will disproportionately impact potential voters in deprived inner city areas in rented property, as well as students, leaving large numbers unable to vote in May’s Scotland, Wales and London elections.

The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tyler led the attempt to delay the switch to its original date at the end of 2016.

He said: “This is Tory gerrymandering at its worst and a cynical attempt to manipulate the electoral system in their favour.”

Before the vote, Cabinet Office minister Lord Bridges urged peers not to kill off the legislation.

“It would be killing a statutory instrument, something this House has only done five times since World War Two,” he said.

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