Time to Stop Putting Democracy Up for Sale
Liberal Democrat candidate for Northampton North constituency, Andrew Simpson has welcomed the report by the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas recommending that the practice of selling names and personal details from the electoral register be stopped as soon as possible.
"This is a Government which has seemed to specialise in fairly dodgy relationships with big business. So Labour's decision in 2002 to legislate for the sale of electoral registers - presumably as a favour to their friends in the direct marketing industry - was just another diminution of the political process.
"I know that voters can tick a box to say that they do not give permission for their details to be sold in that way - but not everyone sees the box and the whole approach in any event just devalues democracy by putting a price tag on voter registration.
"What message does it send that you register to vote in return for the right to receive double-glazing circulars?" Andrew asked.
"The Government will have to pass new legislation admitting it was wrong - and typically it has so far ducked a full response to the Information Commissioner."
Notes to Editors:
See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7500826.stm for summary of report
The Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 states that local councils must sell copies of the edited registers to anyone who asks. The wording is:
Sale of edited register
110. - (1) The registration officer shall supply a copy of the edited register to any person on payment of a fee calculated in accordance with paragraph (2) below.
(2) In the case of the register -
(a) in data form, the fee shall be at the rate of £20 plus £1.50 for each 1,000 entries (or remaining part of 1,000 entries) in it; and
(b) in printed form, the fee shall be at the rate of £10 plus £5 for each 1,000 entries (or remaining part of 1,000 entries) in it.