I propose to take Questions Nos. 112, 113, 121, 126 and 433 together.
In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the co-operation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register.
I recently announced a package of measures, to be implemented over the coming months, aimed at assisting registration authorities improve the Register. The measures include the use of Census enumerators or other temporary personnel to support local authorities in preparing the next Register. Related to this, I am prepared to make increased, ring fenced financial resources available to local authorities this year to update the Register; the details involved are being examined at present. An early start will be made to the local authority Register campaign for 2007/8 and there will also be an intensive information campaign.
My Department has issued updated and consolidated Guidance to ensure that all local authorities work to the same template. The Guidance advises local authorities to liaise with other relevant statutory authorities and utilities who deal regularly with households to explore opportunities for assistance in compiling the Register, and to make maximum use of databases available to authorities to crosscheck the Register.
New IT based arrangements to delete deceased persons from the Register have also been put in place. My Department is now working with a group of local authority managers and senior officials to put in place an enhanced programme for improving the next Register. This would include ensuring that each household is visited and provided with forms and information at least twice, if necessary. In the event that this process does not satisfactorily register the household, it is proposed that written notification would then be given cautioning of the danger of being omitted from the Register.
I consider that there should be a broad political consensus on these issues. For this reason, I recently met the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Local Government and had a detailed discussion regarding the Register. I will continue to keep issues relating to the Register, including longer-term options in this regard, under close review.