Earlier this year, I chaired a cross-party group of parliamentarians to examine the problem of non-registration of British nationals who live abroad. About 5.5 million British citizens are believed to live outside the UK and of these about 3 million are estimated to be eligible to register to vote. Fewer than 1% are registered. In March, we published a report making various recommendations as to how to encourage expatriates to register and to exercise their right to vote.
On Wednesday, I led a short debate in Grand Committee on the report. I was supported by Lords Tyler and Lexden, Viscount Astor and, for the Opposition, Lord Kennedy. For the Government, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, devoted most of his time on what he called ‘cautionary remarks’, rather than engaging with the report and the recommendations. There have been some advances, but there is still more to be done. Given the minister’s failure to pursue positively with what we had to say, we have decided to reconvene the group and do a follow-up report.