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Clause 16—(Right Of Person Registered To Vote)

Volume 393: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1943

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Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

There is one point I want to raise on this Clause. It reads:

"Subject to the provisions of this section every person registered under this Part of this Act for an election in any constituency shall be entitled to vote at that election."
This Clause refers to the arrangements made under the Bill for dealing with elections under the present difficult conditions. What I am mainly concerned about is that although all these persons will be entitled to vote, I do not feel satisfied that under the present machinery adequate arrangements have been made to facilitate that vote. It seems to me there ought to be, either in this Clause or in some other part of the Bill, some power for making regulations which will facilitate voting on polling day in view of the very difficult conditions under which such voting would be done at the present time. I will give only one example. Both men and women are working very long hours, and in addition many of them have to travel for an hour in the morning to work and an hour in the evening to get home. Is there any reason to suppose that many of these people will be able or at any rate can be relied upon to exercise their privilege and duty of voting unless this matter is taken into consideration and some facilities given?

I will certainly take into consideration what has been said by my hon. Friend. Clause 16 is merely a reenactment of existing law, but the question which my hon. Friend has raised in regard to facilitating voting by means of an extension of hours during which the polling booths remain open seems to be one which should be discussed by the Conference on Electoral Reform. No doubt what my hon. Friend has said will receive the attention it deserves.

I thank my right hon. Friend for what he has said, but I am not so much concerned about the hours when polling booths are open. It is the long hours of work that I have in mind, and I think some provision should be made when people are working very long hours that they should be excused an hour's work on polling day.

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clause 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.