HC Deb 01 March 1900 vol 79 cc1458-9

I beg to ask leave to introduce the Electoral Disabilities (Military Service) Bill, which has for its object that in cases where electoral qualifications have been obtained by residence on the part of any person in the Reserve, Militia, Yeomanry, or Volunteer' forces those qualifications should not be lost on account of the person's having gone out to serve in the present war. It is a very fair measure, and I beg to move.

MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES () Lynn Regis

I have no doubt it is perfectly reasonable that when a man has obtained definite qualifications he should, if possible, not be disqualified by giving his services to the Crown in case, of war. But if it is reasonable in the case of those affected by this Bill, surely it is equally reasonable in the case of an ordinary soldier or sailor who has obtained electoral qualification by residence. Or take the case of a civil servant of the Crown. Why should he not be, relieved? No doubt a great number of civil officers have been sent out in regard to matters connected with what I might call the civil side of the military operations in South Africa. There are also the merchant sailors engaged in the transport service. In all these cases there is equally good ground for giving the relief which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to give to the special classes he has mentioned. I am not in the least objecting to that relief being given, but I rose to express my sense of the inequality that will be perpetrated if the relief is given to the classes proposed and refused to others equally deserving and giving equally good service to the Crown. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider the cases I have mentioned when the Bill comes to be dealt with in detail.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill to remove electoral disabilities which may arise in the case of members of the Reserve, Militia, and Yeomanry Forces, and in the case of Volunteers by reason of absence on the Military Sendee of the Crown, ordered to be brought in by Secretary Sir Matthew White Ridley, Mr. Attorney General, and Mr. Jesse Collings.