Ministry of Justice
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Government launches consultation seeking views on future of Edited Register
Should the Government abolish the edited version of the Electoral Register or should it be retained but with changes made to who can purchase it?
These are two of the six proposals put forward by the government today as it launches a public consultation on the future of the Edited Register.
The Edited Register is a record of the names and addresses of electors who have opted to have their details made publicly available. 'Electoral Registers - proposed changes to the Edited Register' seeks views on the recommendation in Dr Mark Walport and Richard Thomas's independent review of the use of personal information in the public and private sector that the Edited Register should be abolished.
Justice Minister, Michael Wills, said:
'There are strong opinions on the future of the Edited Register and before considering any changes we need to further understand the impact that this may have on different groups of people.
'The Government has noted Dr. Mark Walport and Richard Thomas's recommendation that the Edited Register should be abolished. But we also recognise that the edited version of the electoral register acts as a comprehensive list of names and addresses of use to businesses, organisations and individuals. This consultation will help us consider the potential impact of the changes proposed.'
The consultation seeks views on six proposed options. These are:
- abolish the Edited Register as soon as practicable.
- set a timescale or trigger point for abolition of the Edited Register.
- abolish the Edited Register as soon as practicable, but consider extending access to the full electoral register.
- retain the Edited Register, but impose restrictions in legislation on who can purchase it and for what purposes.
- replace the current provision on the Edited Register which enables electors to 'opt out' of being on it by ticking a box with an 'opt in' option.
- improve guidance for the public about the Edited Register.
The consultation closes on 23 February 2010.
Notes to editors
- Since 2002, two versions of the electoral register have existed: a full version and an edited version. The full register includes information such as the elector's number, name and address, which elections each elector is eligible to vote in, date of birth (if the person's 18th birthday falls within a year of the register being published), if a postal vote has been requested, and an indication after the election of whether a vote was cast. The full register is used only for elections, preventing and detecting crime and checking applications for credit. The law clearly defines which organisations and individuals can obtain a copy of the full register and the purposes for which it can be used.
- In October 2007, the Prime Minster asked Dr Mark Walport and Richard Thomas to undertake an independent review of the use of personal information in the public and private sector. Recommendation 19 of this review recommends that the Edited Register should not be commercially available and that if it is not available for sale it would not serve any purpose and so should be abolished.
- For more information, please contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536.