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Lords to debate polling and digital media report

The House of Lords will tomorrow debate The Politics of Polling, the recent report from the Committee on Political Polling and Digital Media.

The report called for better self-regulation of the polling industry after polling failures in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections and the 2016 EU Referendum.

The Committee made a number of specific recommendations including:

  • An expanded oversight role for the British Polling Council
  • The British Polling Council should develop a programme of training for journalists on how to report on polls and proactively report particularly serious misreporting of poll results to the relevant media regulator.
  • A new role for the Electoral Commission in reporting on polls during elections with a requirement for them to publish the sources of funding of all opinion polls published during the regulated election period.
  • A requirement that all online communications and campaign material published during elections carry an imprint to indicate who has paid for it to bring it into line with printed material.

The Government published its response to the report in June in which it rejected the Committee's recommendation that the Electoral Commission be given the power to insist that the source of funding for political polls undertaken during elections be published.

Commenting ahead of the debate Lord Lipsey, Chairman of the Committee, said:

“Making sure political polls are conducted to the highest standard possible and reported on accurately and responsibly is vital for our democracy. During our inquiry we heard compelling evidence that opinion polls shape the narrative of election campaigns. Only last week allegations emerged suggesting that private polling may have been used at the EU referendum by firms wanting to speculate on the currency markets.

The British Polling Council have responded positively to our report and have committed to improving their oversight of opinion polls. However the government has yet to indicate they see this as an area over which they have any real responsibility.

“Tomorrow's debate in the House of Lords will give Committee members and others in the House of Lords the chance to push the government on this and keep this vital issue on the political agenda.”

The debate will start after 3.30pm on Tuesday 3 July. Lord Lipsey will open the debate and Lord Ashton of Hyde will respond for the Government. Other members scheduled to speak in the debate include:

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