Legal Advice I

opinion4x3.jpgElectoral Registration & Administration Bill

Summary of QC’s opinion re: admissibility of amendments (October 2012)

The Opinion concludes clearly that an amendment to the House of Commons’ Parliamentary constituencies boundary review date is both within the scope of and relevant to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill (ERA), and so can be proposed to it (Para 29)


The Opinion says that:

  • the timing of Boundary Commission recommendations for changes to constituency boundaries “cannot be divorced from electoral registration” and the “conduct and administration of the next General Election”, and vice versa
  • accordingly, the subject matters of the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act (PVSC), which proposes changes to the number of Parliamentary constituencies, and the ERA are “intertwined”
  • “significant” changes to electoral registration, such as the “major change” to individual registration proposed by the ERA, “directly and inescapably impact on the current boundary review process” and the timetable for it
  • the ERA “will make a difference to the boundary review process and its outcomes” , with a “significant” degree of interdependence in the ERA and PVSC timetables
  • changes proposed in the ERA will mean that a number of voters will fall off the register, so that the boundary reviews will be “carried out on the basis of what are, effectively, inaccurate numbers
  • the ERA is “a perfectly appropriate instrument” for the postponement of the boundary reviews: “The amendment to the Boundary Review Date is not merely relevant, but highly relevant, to the ERA”
  • Ministers, led by the Deputy Prime Minister, envisaged the boundary review process under PVSC, including the boundary review date, as “inextricably linked, if not dependent upon”, reforms to the electoral register under ERA
  • amendment of the ERA to postpone the boundary review date would be coherent with the overall statutory scheme for boundary reviews in order to ensure certainty as to which constituency boundaries will be used in the 2015 General Election
  • there is no statutory discrepancy in the 2015 General Election being contested on the current boundaries, providing for 650 Parliamentary constituencies, and later General Election being contest on revised boundaries

The Opinion concludes:

  • “In my opinion, amendment to the ERA so as to postpone the Boundary Review Date under the PVSC is relevant to, and within the scope of, the ERA.” (Para 53)

- ENDS -

*NB. The full document (27 pages), detailing the QC’s opinion is available on request. 

Published 1st November 2012

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