Government’s response on Individual Electoral registration

The response below from the Constitution Group in the Cabinet Office, seems to place voteless British Citizens overseas but still paying UK tax, in the same category as some foreign nationals living and paying tax in the UK and who are also not eligible to vote!

Thank you for your response to the Government’s consultation on Individual Electoral Registration. We have now closed the consultation and are currently reviewing all the responses that we have received.  In your response to the white paper you have raised issues regarding the voting rights of British Citizens overseas. In light of your comments,  it may be helpful if I set out the background to this issue.

As you may know, the Representation of the People Act 1985 provided for the first time for UK citizens living overseas to be able to register to vote in general and European Parliamentary elections in the UK. The voting rights of overseas electors did not continue indefinitely under the Representation of the People Act 1985, but for five years from the
time when the UK citizen was last resident and on the electoral register in the UK.  Parliament decided to impose a time limit on the eligibility of overseas electors to vote because it was thought that generally over time their connection with the UK is likely to diminish. The length of the time limit has subsequently been changed over the years, first increasing to 20 years, then being reduced to 15 years since 1 April 2002.

The UK voting franchise is not based exclusively on being a UK tax payer, so it does not necessarily follow that, because someone pays taxes in the UK, he or she has the right to vote in the UK. Some foreign nationals living and paying tax in the UK are not eligible to vote.

However, I can confirm that the Government is considering whether the 15 year time limit remains appropriate.  If a change is proposed Parliament will need to consider the
issue.

We will publish a formal response to the consultation in due course.

Regards,

The Electoral Registration Transformation Programme

Constitution Group, the Cabinet Office

4S2 | HM Treasury | 1 Horse
Guards Rd | Westminster | London | SW1A 2HQ

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