§ Further consider in Committee.—[Progress 1st July.]
§ [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]
§ CLAUSE 1.—(Penalty for Voting in more than One Constituency at in General Election.)
- (1) During the continuance of a General Election of Members to serve in a new Parliament, a person shall not vote as a
1902 Parliamentary elector, or ask for a ballot or voting paper for the purpose of so voting, in more than one constituency.
- (2) If a person acts in contravention of this Section, he shall be guilty of a corrupt practice other than personation, within the meaning of the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act, 1883, and the expression "corrupt practice" shall be construed accordingly.
- (3) The expression "constituency" in this Act means any county, borough, or combination of places, or university or combination of universities, returning a Member to serve in Parliament, and where
1903 a county or borough is divided for the purpose of Parliamentary elections means a division of the county or borough so divided.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment upon the Paper, in the name of the hon. Member for the Enfield Division (Mr. Newman)—[in Sub-section (1), after the word "Parliament," insert the words, "or in any subordinate Parliament that may be hereafter set up in any part of the United Kingdom"]—is covered by what took place yesterday. The next one, in the name of the Noble Lord the Member for the Newton Division (Viscount Wolmer)—[in Sub-section (1), after the word "Parliament," insert the words "at which women shall not be debarred from voting solely on account of sex"]—is outside the scope of this Bill. The following one, in the name of the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson)—[in Sub-section (1), after the word "Parliament," insert the words "summoned after the appointed day"]—is consequent upon what was disposed of yesterday. The same thing applies to the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. Charles Bathurst)—[in Sub-section (1), after the word "Parliament," insert the words "in any part of the United Kingdom."]
§ Mr. HOARE
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "person" ["a person shall not vote as a Parliamentary elector"], to insert the words "registered as a Parliamentary elector in respect of ownership."
The effect of this Amendment would be simple. It would confine the operation of this Bill to those electors who are upon the register as ownership voters, while those electors who have occupation qualifications would still be able to record their votes in the constituencies in which they have an occupation vote. That is a very reasonable proposal, and, after what we heard last night from the Under-Secretary for India as to the Government's readiness to accept reasonable Amendments from this side of the Committee, I hope that this Amendment will be accepted. It is reasonable, first of all, because it would only affect a comparatively small number of electors. We are in some difficulty as to the exact number of electors affected, because, so far as I know, up to now we have had no accurate statement from the Ministers in charge of this Bill as to the exact number of voters affected. So far as I can discover, 1904 there are some 800,000 plural voters in the United Kingdom, of which 650,000 are in England and Wales. I believe I am right in saying that the vast proportion, something like 80 per cent. to 90 per cent, of those plural voters would be ownership voters, and therefore would not be affected by my Amendment. The Amendment deals with the other 200,000 voters, who are plural voters because of their occupation qualification. Secondly, the Amendment is reasonable and deserves the approbation of the Committee, because, if it is passed, the main grievance of hon. Members opposite would still be remedied. So far as I can understand it, the main grievance which hon. Members opposite feel against plural voting is the fact that a large number of ownership voters, who do not reside in the constituencies in which they have several votes, come into another constituency upon the day of the poll and swamp those resident electors who really have some stake in the constituency. I find that is the case by referring to a book recently written by the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King), who is, I believe, an authority upon these election questions. It is worth while quoting the exact words he uses. The quotation is founded—this ought to elicit the sympathies of hon. Members opposite—upon an article which appeared in the "Liberal Magazine" for January, 1911. The hon. Member is giving an instance of the grievance under which the party opposite are supposed to suffer. He says:—One instance will illustrate this. The Darwen Division of Lancashire had, in 1910, 17,732 electors, of which over one-sixth, 2,976, were ownership voters. Of these 746 did not reside in the constituency, and 2,230 owned property in the Parliamentary borough of Blackburn which, for ownership purposes only, is part of the constituency. 2,722 of those ownership voters went to the poll, and the Conservative majority was 215. In these circumstances the resident voters in the constituency cannot be said to have the decision.My object in reading that quotation is to show that the grievance which has played a prominent part upon the platforms of hon. Members opposite is a grievance against ownership plural voters rather than against occupation plural voters. That seems to be a very reasonable attitude to take up from the point of view of hon. Members opposite, but, when it comes to occupation voters, it seems to me that the case is quite different. I cannot see why an elector, who has a business in one constituency and his residence in another, should not vote in each of those two constituencies. The case might not have been so common a few years ago as 1905 it is now, but now that case is becoming more and more common every year. Speaking as a London Member—and every Member will agree with the truth of what I say—I can say that the number of men who reside outside our great towns is becoming larger and larger every year. It is of vital importance that these men, who have every interest in the constituency in which they have their business and in the constituency in which they reside, should still be left with these two votes, as they would be if my Amendment were carried. I know it is said that this Chamber is an Imperial Chamber, therefore a man should have only one vote in a House which deals primarily with Imperial questions. That is only a part of our functions. A number of local questions in which an occupation voter has a most direct interest come up more and more frequently every Session. At this period of the Session scarcely a day of the week goes past without some local question coming up at a quarter past eight, and it is quite possible that a voter might take one view with reference to a question affecting a locality in which he has business premises and another view as to the locality in which he happens to reside. In view of that fact it will be making this House not more but less representative if the voter were not allowed to give his vote for two or three Members. That seems a very reasonable suggestion. Members are much more likely to pay attention to the representations made by voters, when these questions of local government come before the House, than we should be if we were to receive correspondence from people who are not voters. In view of these facts, I desire to commend my Amendment to the goodwill of the House First, it concerns only 200,000 voters; secondly, it would leave the main grievance of hon. Members opposite remedied; and, thirdly, it would leave this House much more representative of public opinion outside than it would be if these occupation voters were deprived of their present qualification.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. J. A. Pease)
I think I had better be perfectly candid with the Committee and with the Opposition.
§ Mr. PEASE
Having regard to the Amendments upon the Paper—especially 1906 with the Opposition. This is the first of a series of Amendments which, in the opinion of the Government, go against the fundamental principle of this Bill. We intend in this Bill to abolish the plural vote. This Amendment seeks to make an exception with regard to a certain class of elector. After this Amendment there is a series of other Amendments, some even contradictory to this Amendment, for two Amendments lower down there is one standing in the name of the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson) which seeks to give the owners that very preferential advantage which the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare) is seeking to take away from them under this Amendment. I want to explain to the Committee that it is not only our intention that there shall be no plurality of votes exercised, but that that principle, in the judgment of the Government, was approved upon the Second Reading of the Bill; therefore I cannot go in detail into the subject of the principle upon which this Bill is based. Our objection is fundamental. We cannot accept any alteration in the provisions of the Bill which are going to give any particular class of elector a preference on grounds of business interest, on grounds of occupation, on grounds of ownership, or because he happens to be a copyholder or a freeholder, or because he happens to give particular services to the State, or because he happens to be better educated than his fellow. We believe, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), thatevery elector has an equal stake in the good government of the country, and his life, his happiness, and his property all depend upon legislation, which he is equally entitled with everyone else to frame.
§ Mr. PEASE
That means that every voter should have one vote. That was the right hon. Gentleman's view some years ago, and I have no reason to believe that he has altered his views in regard to that principle. That is the principle of the Bill. It is because this Amendment violates the fundamental principle of the Bill that the Government are bound to resist it, and I trust the Opposition will not think it necessary to go to a Division against a principle which has already been established by the Second Reading.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
I put it to the Committee that the right hon. Gentleman's answer is hardly worthy of the Amendment or of the speech in which that Amendment was moved. My hon. Friend, in a most able and temperate address, explained that if his Amendment were accepted, the grievance which is always brought forward when plural voting is discussed would be effectively removed and that nothing could be more unreasonable than to detract from the representative character of this House by saying that if a man occupies an important and influential part in the life of two communities, in one of which he resides and in the other of which he carries on his business, he shall not be entitled to a vote in respect of each of those premises. You make the representation less complete; you withdraw an element which everyone would say is essential to the full representation of the locality on any occasion on which it is necessary to consider whether the locality is adequately represented. What is the answer which the right hon. Gentleman makes? He does not condescend even to discuss the question. He merely says the Government have determined that there is to be no such Amendment. The Government have determined that no man is to have more than one vote, and he explains that by saying it is an obvious fact that the interest of every voter is the same, and he therefore comes to the conclusion that you are not to allow a man to vote in each of two localities where he possesses, it may be, interests of a very far-reaching kind. I put it to the Committee that this Amendment has not been met in the manner in which Amendments should be met. I have ceased to have any confidence in any Amendment being considered by the Government on its merits at all. It seems to me that there is to be no Report stage and no Amendment is to be accepted. Hon. Members who move Amendments are at least entitled to have their arguments weighed and dealt with.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I quite agree that the arguments advanced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite were not very convincing. The Amendment may touch a fundamental part of the Bill, but if that fundamental part is bad that would not convince us on this side that something ought not to be done merely because it seeks to render better the fundamental part of a bad Bill. But, on the other hand, I am not quite certain that I agree with 1908 my hon. Friend that the ownership voters should be singled out and put in an exceptional position as compared with anyone else. The Amendment says that if you are not an ownership voter you may vote in more than one place, but if you are an ownership voter you may only vote in one place. I am against the prohibition of plural voting, and I do not see why I should say everyone may be a plural voter except the ownership voter. Why should I establish for the ownership voter a class in which he is to be put, which is a different class from anybody else? I do not remember that my hon. Friend brought forward any argument to show why that should be done. I believe if there is to be a class for the ownership voter, he should be put at the top, and should have more votes than anyone else instead of fewer. How is it that a man becomes an ownership voter? In the majority of cases it is because he has been a hard worker. He probably has not spent his money on drink, and he has not put his money into foreign investments. On the contrary, he has taken an English investment and put his money into it, foolishly, I think, as long as that bench is occupied as it is. But surely it ought to be encouraged. It would not be advisable that the Amendment should be carried. I am not quite sure whether the view of the case which I have put forward has ever been considered by my hon. Friend. Perhaps he will see the force of my argument, and will not think it necessary to go on with his Amendment. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) will some day be Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it will be to his interest that home investments should be en-encouraged. In the days to come he may regret that he has not taken an opportunity to put a premium upon home investments. I hope I have shown that the Amendment is not a very good one, and on the face of it, I am inclined to think it would be better that it should not be pressed to a Division.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
A double fire has been directed against me, by my hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) and by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. A. Pease). The right hon. Gentleman quoted some observations made some time ago by my right hon. Friend and relative (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain). I am always reluctant to differ from my right hon. Friend, and very seldom do on any question of public interest and importance. I should 1909 perhaps be more impressed by the quotation if the right hon. Gentleman had said where and under what circumstances it was made. As I listened to it, it did not appear to be conclusive on the issue which the Committee has to try. Neither did the observations of my hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury), whom I so often have the honour and pleasure of following into the Lobby.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
If I have time to read the speech I dare say I shall know more exactly the circumstances to which it applies. I think the hon. Baronet really did not appreciate the basis on which this Amendment is laid before the House. He objects to the Bill as a whole. He therefore wants not to exclude from its provision this or that Clause, but to strike out all its provisions—a very possible, perhaps a very proper course, but not one which you can submit to the Committee in the Committee stage. You can do that on the Second Reading or on the Third. In the meantime we are obliged to consider that the House, by passing the Second Reading of the Bill, has affirmed, not that whatever the Government choose to consider its principle is henceforth to guide our discussions, but at any rate that there is a grievance in the existing state of the law which needs a remedy and for which the Committee stage must provide a remedy. My hon. Friend (Mr. Hoare) and my right hon. Friend (Sir R. Finlay) said truly that the grievance on which the party opposite have habitually laid stress is one which will be absolutely remedied if we carry the Amendment. That grievance, which plays so large a part in their platform speeches, is that men who have no real connection with a constituency, who do not share in its life in any shape or form, but are only related by the accident of ownership to a place which they may never have seen in their lives, unless they visit it at election time, should be allowed to come in at election time and outvote, or destroy the balance of the resident electors. That is the grievance of which we have heard so much here and even more in the country. The whole of that grievance would be swept away and the whole of this argument would be met by making the Bill what my hon. Friend proposes by this Amendment to make it. But my hon. Friend would say, not those who have no right to vote, not those who have a merely incidental interest, not those who never 1910 come near it except at election time, but people who have as living and as permanent an interest in it as any other voter in the particular constituency. Surely that is not an unreasonable thing.
Even more important than the views held by the right hon. Gentleman of what is the fundamental basis of the Government's proposal, is the view which the House and the Government may take upon what is the fundamental basis of our electoral system. That is the real question at issue. I do not know whether it has ever occurred to the right hon. Gentleman, I do not think it has, because I really do not think if he had thought of it for a moment he would have contented himself with the very perfunctory and jejune performance with which he declared that as the Second Reading of the Bill was passed, he proposed not to consider the major portion of the Amendments on the Paper. I invite the Committee to consider what is the fundamental basis of our electoral system. Is it, as the right hon. Gentleman appears to suppose, merely and simply that you should represent individuals whom you put on the roll as electors, that every individual should have one vote, and that under no conceivable circumstances should any individual have more? Clearly that is not the basis of our present system. Clearly, it never has been the basis of any electoral proposal which Parliament has yet carried into law. If you want merely to represent voters and nothing else, you do not need constituencies. If every individual's voting power is to be equal, as the right hon. Gentleman said, not only must no man have more than one vote, but no man's vote must have more influence than another. That leads to another field of controversy closely connected with this Bill which the Government have very carefully refrained from dealing with. But if that were the only object you do not need constituencies. You have only got to take each elector, make him of equal value, give him an equal right and let him vote for the House of Commons as a whole. The House of Commons never has been elected on that basis. It does not exist on that basis now. We exist on the basis of the representation of constituencies.
The proposal of the Government Bill would destroy the representation of those constituencies. Take a constituency like the City of London. Are you going to say because the main portion of the electors in the City of London live and sleep out- 1911 side, that, therefore, all that makes the City of London what it is is to be without a voice in the constituency which is still called the City of London? You may say so if you like, and that is your proposal, but then you destroy the principle of our representation, which is that of representing the constituency. In the same way, though in a minor degree, you destroy the representation of all the other constituencies of which my hon. Friend (Mr. Hoare) spoke. In the neighbourhood of big towns you get a large number of people who live outside and work inside these towns, who have an equal interest in both constituencies, and who form an equal factor of great importance in the life of both. You cannot get real representation of either constituency without taking account of that section in both of them. That is what our Amendment proposes. My hon. Friend says that the remedy for the grievance which you have made your chief complaint both inside and outside Parliament is to strike off those voters who have no real connection with a constituency in which they have a vote, but to leave to that section who have a real connection with the constituency the right to vote where they are so largely interested. It requires more than the perfunctory speech of the President of the Board of Education to dispose of the argument of the Mover of the Amendment. Having called the attention of the Committee to this matter, I hope my hon. Friend will go into the Lobby with the rest of his Friends in support of the Amendment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must say that the Debate has taken a very much larger range than I anticipated when I called the Amendment. It seems to me that the discussion is too wide. What has been said by the right hon. Gentleman involves a discussion of the whole electoral basis. The Bill was approved on Second Reading. It imposes a penalty on an elector who votes during a Parliamentary General Election in more than one constituency. I do not think we can go beyond that question.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
On the point of Order. When a general principle of wide extension has been approved on Second Reading, has it not always been the practice to allow limiting Amendments to be moved in Committee with respect to the application of that general principle?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that is so. Of course, it is within the discretion of the Chair to rule whether an Amendment is competent. For instance, I have already said that the question of the universities stands apart from the general application of the principle. That is a question on which difference of opinion may arise in the Debates.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir John Simon)
In view of what you have just said I will confine myself, as indeed in any case I intended to do, to dealing with the Amendment on somewhat narrower lines than might otherwise have been necessary if we were discussing the general application of the proposal to restrict the right of the plural voter so as to entitle him only to vote in one constituency. In spite of the interesting speech to which we have just listened, I do not feel quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman has precisely appreciated what would be done by the Amendment he speaks in favour of. He describes it as though it was an Amendment which would prevent owners from exercising the ownership vote, and otherwise leave the exercise of the franchise where it is now. That may or may not be the view which the right hon. Gentleman would wish to impress upon the Bill, but as I follow the argument of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare), he proposes to combine with what he is now proposing an Amendment lower down on the Paper, which creates some exception in constituencies. His later Amendment is to insert, at the end of Sub-section (1), the wordsexcept in constituencies in which he has a direct interest by occupation of business premises or by residence for a period of three months in the previous year.I understand that the two Amendments are parts of one proposal.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I looked through the Amendments on the Paper with the desire to understand what the proposal was. Let the Committee see, therefore, what the proposal really is. It is not a proposal that nobody shall exercise the ownership vote. That is not the proposal at all. The proposal is that in the case of those electors who happen to have the ownership vote, they are to be subjected to a 1913 certain restriction, and I gather from the consequential Amendment that they are only to be allowed to vote in those constituencies where they have a direct interest, either because they have resided there for a period or because they occupy business premises there. That is the proposal for electors who happen to have among their qualifications the ownership vote. The electors who have not the ownership vote are to be left to do exactly as they please. Hon. Members know very well that many persons who have the occupation vote neither reside in the place nor occupy business premises there. The hon. Member proposes that everyone of them should be at liberty to exercise his vote as he likes, where he has a bare occupation vote and where he has no business connection or residence. On the other hand, if they have the ownership vote, they are to be prevented from voting in more than one constituency. That is not a proposal which proceeds on any broad basis of principle such as the right hon. Gentleman has been arguing for, and in which the ownership voter is at a slight disadvantage as compared with other voters. The Amendment does not proceed in itself on any clearly defined principle, and from the point of view of those who do not believe in plural voting it leaves the anomaly very much where it is. It is a proposal that would not possibly work. The hon. Member proposes in his consequential Amendment that a man who has the ownership vote——
§ Sir J. SIMON
Let us see what the effect would be, reading it by itself. The hon. Member proposes that a person "registered as a Parliamentary elector in respect of ownership" should not vote in more than one constituency. That is to say, if I happen to have two or three qualifications, and if they happen to be for occupation or residence where I am neither a resident nor the owner of business premises, I may vote, but if I happen to have among my qualifications one ownership vote, that is to prevent me voting anywhere except once. That is the principle which is in this Amendment if it is read with the consequential Amendment. I think the hon. Gentleman is not doing justice to his own proposal when he 1914 thinks that the two things can be severed. I was surprised to hear that he does not read them in connection with each other. Read in connection, they cannot possibly work, because you could not find whether a man demanded a voting paper in respect of a place where he had resided for three months or in respect of business premises. Apart from the difficulty that it would not work, it does not provide any logical definition in cases where the Bill is to apply and where it is not. Therefore, on the general question, I submit that the Amendment should be rejected.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
May I ask whether the hon. and learned Gentleman means that he is in favour of the reverse? If a man had business and some interest in a constituency, would the hon. and learned Gentleman be in favour of that man having the ownership vote?
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
There is nothing that is more resented on the benches opposite than what is called misquotation of Mr. Gladstone—that is to say quotations from earlier speeches which were contradicted by arguments used later in his life. The President of the Board of Education has done just the same with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), and I think that is hardly a fair method of argument, especially when employed by a Minister in charge of a Bill. We have the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham about a proposal exactly similar to that contained in this Bill, and his last opinion was to denounce the Plural Voting Bill, as at present drafted, as a constitutional outrage. Under those circumstances, I ask the Committee whether it is fair for the Minister in charge of the Bill to quote an opinion of the right hon. Gentleman as being in favour of the principle he is advocating when he has plainly and specifically denounced it in his last recorded utterance in "Hansard"? The Solicitor-General, we all know, is a very ingenious speaker, and the last time he spoke on the Home Rule Bill he endeavoured to prove that there was no such thing as religious animosity in Ireland before the last century. But I do not think his argument against this Amendment is even founded on the facts of the case. He says that it is impossible to treat the ownership vote as distinct 1915 and separate from the occupation vote, and that to impose a special penalty on ownership voters would not deal with a great part of the grievance which the Radical party think they have against the present system. But the Solicitor-General knows perfectly well that the occupation vote in boroughs cannot be exercised by any of those who live outside the seven-mile radius. It is on an entirely different basis to the ownership vote, but he knows, no one better, that the old argument which has served its turn on all their platforms is the denunciation of the ownership vote, which has been called the faggot vote, exercised by those who have no interest in the constituency. That is the whole point made in speech after speech by those who talk of it as being an insult to a constituency for a horde of men to come from outside and exercise the franchise where they have no real interest. That has been applied to the ownership vote, and the ownership vote only. It has never been applied to the occupation vote, because an occupation vote in a borough is only exercised, if exercised at all, more than once by those who live within seven miles of the borough, and who have presumably an intimate interest in the borough—men who live outside and exercise their business or profession, and very likely employ large numbers of men, within the circuit of the constituency. But I wish to urge that, in refusing to accept the Amendment and limiting the disqualification to ownership voters only, you are really severing the last link that binds this House to communities as such. The basis of representation in Parliament is the representation of communities. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) spoke of "constituencies," but I prefer the earlier word "communities." That is the word which always occurs, and it is the representation of communities by virtue of which we are here. Our very name signifies the representation of communities. For the first time, under this Bill, we are going to sever the link that binds this House to the communities. Merely to disqualify the owners as such would not have that effect. The owners cannot be said to have that intimate connection with the communities which occupation voters might fairly be said to have If that is so, you might accept the Amendment and yet preserve that continuity of representation in principle which, after 1916 all, is desirable in a place where we are always boasting of our historical connection with the past and of our Parliamentary traditions. In this matter we cannot argue on the basis of right. It is a mere matter of convention, and I say that it would be perfectly possible to do away with the dual exercise of the ownership vote and yet not do the harm which must come from severing this House from the communities are preventing voters from exercising their power in the constituencies, and from having the political representation that belongs to them. For that reason I believe that as the lesser of two evils, possibly not a very grave evil in itself, it is possible to accept the Amendment, and yet keep what is most valuable in that connection between social and industrial power, and political responsibility, which we have at present as part of our system of representation.
Major MORRISON - BELL
The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Lawson) has dealt sufficiently with the speech of the Solicitor-General, and I need not refer to it further except to remark that when he started he was going to deal with the Amendment before the House, and he proceeded to deal with an Amendment not yet reached on the Paper. I rose really to comment upon the extraordinary theory put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that hon. Members on this side should not move an Amendment because it is in conflict somewhat with an Amendment lower down on the Paper. After all, we are entitled to ask the judgment of the House of Commons on this ownership qualification. If the House does not see fit to accept that Amendment, we are entitled to submit a further Amendment on the occupation qualification. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill said that it was based on the principle that each elector should have equality. If it was not for the fact that every elector in Ireland has double the power of every elector in England, the right hon. Gentleman would not be in the position to submit this Bill at all. He is asking for one-sided equality, equality which he thinks will inure to the advantage of his own party, absolutely ignoring the fact that his whole Government exists——
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is a matter for argument on Second Reading. The hon. Member cannot pursue that point now.
I bow to your ruling, but I thought it competent for 1917 me to call attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman was preaching equality for this Bill while his own Government simply exists owing to the fact that there is no equality for English Members in this House at all. Having reminded the right hon. Gentleman of that fact, that is all that I wish to bring to the attention of the House.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
The Solicitor-General did not deal with the merits of the Amendment, but dealt with it in the way of special pleading. I think that there is a great deal to be said for the view that the particular words would want some supplemental words later on, in order to carry out their full intention. For instance, you could put in words later on that he shall not vote in respect of his ownership qualification. Words of the kind are quite sufficient to meet any technical difficulty such as the Solicitor-General suggests. Therefore, an Amendment of this kind ought not to be dealt with from the point of view of special pleading and apart from the real question which is involved. It is quite clear that the question of ownership vote depends on an entirely different principle from the occupation vote, and I agree that the extent to which plural voting has been in any sense reasonably attacked is in respect of multiplication of ownership votes. There the owner has no interest whatever in the community in respect of which he has voting power. If this Bill was limited, as this Amendment would limit it, it would deal with that special difficulty which is felt at the present time. Therefore, not only do I sincerely support the Amendment, but I think that the objections raised by the Solicitor-General are purely technical and easily overcome by the addition of a word or two at a later stage.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
I think that this Amendment raises a very clear issue. It is always a very good thing to put yourself in the place of hon. Members opposite. I can quite imagine that if I had been brought up as a Liberal or Radical or a supporter of the Labour party, I should regard those 500,000 plural voters as something in the nature of an army of Bashibazouks. If I had been brought up in that way, I should regard with special aversion those particular battalions of that army who form the ownership electorate. I have here a list of those electors in my own Division, the Enfield Division of Middlesex, and if I were to put myself in the 1918 position of a Liberal, I say at once that it would make me fairly mad. For instance, I find Richard Kimber, who lives at Dulwich, but who votes in my Division in respect of plots 107 to 110, Gordon Hill, Enfield. They are in the occupation of William Piggott. He may be a very good Liberal, and perhaps votes Liberal, and his vote may be neutralised by that of Richard Kimber. Then, again, we have James Rourke, of 16, Ormond Place, Canonbury, N. He has got building land in Birkbeck Road, Enfield, in respect of which he has a vote. Here we have these grievances, which I quite admit; but, of course, the ownership grievance is to the Liberal and Radical party what the question of the voters in Kilkenny is to us. The hon. Member for Kilkenny represents 1,600 voters, while we represent 23,000 voters or perhaps more, and the Liberal party do not think it unfair that these Gentlemen should come down and neutralise the votes of this side in the Division Lobby. If that is so, here is a test for the Liberal party. If that is their chief objection, if they really sincerely put forward the argument that they have not got time to pass into law a really good Franchise Reform Bill, then let them tack on a Clause postponing this Bill coming into law until we have Redistribution. If they do that, then, as far as I am concerned, I do not think I shall vote against it. I do not think that it would be unfair to hang up this Bill for a year or two. I do not suggest that the Government will do that, but——
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I see some little difficulty in voting for this Amendment as it is worded, and I quite see that it is open to the Solicitor-General to argue that if the Government accept this Amendment as at present worded, it would be possible for the person who was an owner and also an occupier to be deprived of his occupation vote because he happens to be an owner. I have myself put down an Amendment to a similar effect a little lower down, which I think exactly meets the case, and if the main objection is the one that I have stated, I would suggest that the Government might, with advantage, accept the Amendment in the form in which I have drafted it, namely, "after the word 'elector,' insert the words 'by virtue of an ownership qualification.'" I 1919 think that that is what my hon. Friend desires, and that a more correct way of expressing it is that a person should not vote as a Parliamentary elector in more than one constituency by virtue of an ownership qualification. That would meet the main objection, which has been stated by the Solicitor-General, and have the effect which I think the majority of the House desire. The Government approach this question from an entirely wrong standpoint. They seem to assume that every elector votes a certain way because he professes certain so-called Liberal principles on the one hand or Conservative principles on the other. My experience is that these are not the only considerations that actuate them in recording their votes. I wish specially to apply my remarks to that class of elector which is to be found living on the outskirts of a borough and at the same time having trade interests within the borough. There are cases within my own knowledge in the city of Salisbury, which is so ably represented by my hon. Friend (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson), where the individual who has a vote both in the county and the borough is good enough to give me his vote in the county, but for some reason or other does not see his way to vote for my hon. Friend, who professes the same political principles as I do, so far as his borough vote is concerned.
Conversely, I know of cases where electors in the county who have interests in the borough of Salisbury vote Conservative in the borough and vote Radical in the county. This shows how unfair it is to assume that because an individual has two different votes, which he can at present register in two different constituencies, therefore, necessarily, he votes for persons of the same political colour in each constituency. To my mind, one of the great drawbacks to the existing party system is that because there happens to be a conglomeration of measures which represent one party policy and a similar conglomeration of measures which represent another party policy, therefore it is assumed that each elector has made up his mind definitely to support the one conglomeration or, alternatively, the other conglomeration. That is not the fact, and the sooner we get the Referendum the better, because it will enable individuals to vote more according to their principles and their consciences. But you have to recognise the fact that all electors do not 1920 vote for either Liberal policy on the one hand or Conservative policy on the other, but very often vote for individuals—on the question of their suitability to represent them in the Imperial Parliament. That applies particularly to those who have occupation votes and who live on the outskirts of boroughs, and are prepared sometimes to vote in a different way in the borough from what they would vote as residents in the county. For that reason I suggest that if the Government can show no other serious reason why the Amendment should not be accepted, my hon. Friend should be willing to submit it in the form which I have suggested, and that those who are possessed of trade interests in one constituency and residential interests in the adjoining constituency should not suffer gross injustice in consequence of this one-sided provision in the Plural Voting Bill.
§ Mr. BIGLAND
I wish to add one or two arguments to those of the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. H. Lawson). Let me put a case to illustrate how this Amendment would work, if it were allowed to become law, in the port of Liverpool. In the Exchange Division of Liverpool there is a community of business men whose interests are exceedingly strong and powerful. For myself, I occupy premises in that Division from nine o'clock in the morning to six o'clock at night, and my residence is in Cheshire. According to the Bill, I should have a vote for where I reside. In the Exchange Division of Liverpool about £2,000,000 a year is collected in Customs, a fact which shows that there is an enormous business community, which surely ought to have the right to be represented in this House. As I understand the Amendment, those who either own their place of business or have offices in such a constituency, would be qualified to vote there as well as in the constituency where they reside. This Amendment, as I understand it, is directed absolutely to those who have special business interests. I admit that the Solicitor-General pointed out a weak spot in regard to this Amendment, but surely, at a later stage, a definition might be inserted to show that the Amendment is mainly in respect of an occupation qualification in a business centre! There are a great many constituencies in the country in which there is a community of business interests, and which should have the right to representation in this House. With the Bill as it is, the Exchange Division of Liverpool would 1921 be a laughing-stock as to the representative they should send to represent them in this House. I put it that this Amendment is a reasonable one, and if a definition can be arrived at showing clearly what is occupation and what is ownership, I would urge the Government to accept it, adding the proviso that on no consideration should anyone have more than two votes. A man might certainly occupy premises in more than one or two places, and he might claim three occupation votes. If we have that point safeguarded, so that a man should only be allowed to have a vote for his residence and one for his place of business, a great deal of the opposition to this Bill would be withdrawn.
§ Mr. KING
I only rise to point out how fall of ignorance and carelessness are the arguments addressed to the House by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Bigland), who has just spoken, does not understand either the Bill or the Amendment, and that is thoroughly characteristic of what we have already been listening to. He says that if this Bill passes in its present form, he will have to vote in respect of his place of residence, and not in respect of his offices in Liverpool. He is quite wrong. He will have the choice of voting in which place he likes, and that is what is not understood by hon. Members opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, yes, it is."] A lot of them do not understand it, or really will not understand it. However much I tell them about it, they will not be convinced. I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer, but I hope that this perfectly futile Amendment will not be accepted. I merely rose to point out the ignorance, prejudice and carelessness which are at the bottom of so many of the arguments addressed to us by hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. JAMES MASON
The argument put before us just now by the Solicitor-General in respect of this particular Amendment seems to me to be completely overcome by the words suggested by the hon. Member for Wiltshire (Mr. C. Bathurst). The real position is this: There are three sorts of electors—the ownership electors, the residential electors and the occupation electors. The words proposed by the hon. Member for Wiltshire would equally well, perhaps better, provide for a distinction between the ownership elector and the other two classes of electors. Whatever may be 1922 said about the elector having a multiplication of votes in respect of ownership, I think it cannot be denied that in addition to the vote which everybody has the right to exercise on residential qualification, some electoral power should remain in the hands of those men who carry on business in this country, and do not carry on business in foreign countries. Surely there is some argument in favour of those who carry on business in those great business communities, which are to be be found in our cities, exercising their voice in the public affairs of the country. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), suggests that because he could not get the whole loaf he would not take a half loaf. What would happen to the constituency which the hon. Baronet represents if this Bill becomes law? It is quite obvious that a very large number of people who carry on business in the big cities of this country and have their residences in the country, would only choose to exercise the vote in the constituency in which they reside. Consequently, the electoral power of those great cities would fall to a very large extent into the hands of caretakers and perhaps of policemen and other people of that kind, and the representatives of those cities would no longer be representatives of business communities, which, above all other communities, are entitled to have a large share and voice in the conduct of our public affairs, but would represent an entirely different class of people, who have a very small stake in the country. For this reason it seems to me extremely desirable, whatever may be thought of the ownership qualification, that some power should be retained in the hands of those who carry on business in the cities of this country.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I submit that it will be necessary to have some such words as those proposed by my hon. Friend (Mr. C. Bathurst) if this Amendment is to be adopted. I am not altogether convinced by the arguments which have been brought forward. My hon. Friend told us that there were electors with plural votes who voted Radical, but that when they came to vote for him they voted Conservative.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
The hon. Baronet apparently did not listen to the whole of my argument. I said that at any rate a certain number of electors voted Conservative in the boroughs and Radical in the adjoining counties.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
In view of the personal charm of my hon. Friend, I cannot understand how any electors could fail to vote for him, whatever his politics. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), expressed the hope that he had converted me by his speech. I am not sure that I have not been to some extent. On the other hand, I still believe that I was right. My right hon. Friend says quite truly that the great outcry which has been made by hon. Gentlemen opposite has been about the fact that the ownership voter comes down into a constituency and swamps the genuine Radical. My right hon. Friend seems to think—I think he is in error—that, if something is proposed to meet this grievance of hon. Gentlemen opposite, they will accept it in the same spirit as that in which he proposed it. I do not think so at all. This, after all, is only a superficial grievance which they put forward, and I submit that they would not meet us on any other point. I quite agree that half a loaf is better than no bread, and if I thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite would say at once that all
§ their grievances had been met, then I should feel obliged to vote for the Amendment. But I believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite would want to do a great deal more than merely abolish the ownership voter, merely put forward as a stalking horse to justify other demands. I want it to be clearly understood that I do not consider this a right Amendment, but I only hope, with my right hon. Friend, that if it is carried, the Bill will be rendered more or less innocuous.
§ Mr. HOARE
May I just say, in order to reassure the hon. Baronet, that if this Amendment is carried, as I hope it will be, I should certainly propose words which would make it quite clear that the contingency imagined by the Solicitor-General will not arise, and, in view of that, I am very glad to think that I should have the support of the hon. Baronet.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 173; Noes, 291.1927
|Division No. 148.]||AYES.||[5.29 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Craik, Sir Henry||Hewins, Williams Albert Samuel|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Hickman, Col. Thomas E.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Hills, John Waller|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Dairymple, Viscount||Hill-Wood, Samuel|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London)||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hohler, G. F.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Denison-Pender, J. C.||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Barnston, Harry||Dixon, C. H.||Horne, E. (Surrey. Guildford)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Doughty, Sir George||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Duke, Henry Edward||Hunt, Rowland|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Duncannon, Viscount||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants., W.)||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Fell, Arthur||Kerry, Earl of|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Keswick, Henry|
|Bigland, Alfred||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Bird, Alfred||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Blair, Reginald||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Forster, Henry William||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile E[...]d)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith||Gardner, Ernest||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)|
|Boyton, James||Gilmour, Captain John||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Locker-Lampson, C. (Salisbury)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Goldsmith, Frank||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Butcher, John George||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Campion, W. R.||Grant, J. A.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Greene, Walter Raymond||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Cassel, Felix||Gretton, John||Macmaster, Donald|
|Cator, John||Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Haddock, George Bahr||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.,E.)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Newman, John R. P.||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Touche, George Alexander|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Spear, Sir John Ward||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Paget, Almeric Hugh||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Starkey, John Ralph||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Perkins, Walter F.||Staveley-Hill, Henry||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Steel-Maitland, A. D.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Stewart, Gershom||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Randles, Sir John S.||Swift, Rigby||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Remnant, James F.||Talbot, Lord Edmund||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)||Wright, Henry Fitzherhert|
|Rolleston, Sir John||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)||Younger, Sir George|
|Rothschild, Lionel de||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Hoare and Mr. C. Bathurst.|
|Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Dillon, John||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Donelan, Captain A.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Doris, William||John, Edward Thomas|
|Adamson, William||Duffy, William J.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Alden, Percy||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Arnold, Sydney||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Joyce, Michael|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Keating, Matthew|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Kelly, Edward|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmett (Somerset)||Falconer, James||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Barnes, George N.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Kilbride, Denis|
|Barton, William||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||King, Joseph|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Ffrench, Peter||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S.Molton)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Field, William||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Fitzgibbon, John||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Bentham, G. J.||France, Gerald Ashburner||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Leach, Charles|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Black, Arthur W.||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Boland, John Pius||Glanville, H. J.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Goldstone, Frank||Lundon, Thomas|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Brace, William||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Lynch, A. A.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||McGhee, Richard|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Hackett, John||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Kean, John|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||Manfield, Harry|
|Clough, William||Hazleton, Richard||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hemmerde, Edward George||Martin, Joseph|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Henry, Sir Charles||Meagher, Michael|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Crooks, William||Higham, John Sharp||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Lelx)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hinds, John||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Cullinan, John||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Middlebrook, William|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Hodge, John||Millar, James Duncan|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hogg, David C.||Molloy, Michael|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hogge, James Myles||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Money, L. G Chiozza|
|Dawes, J. A.||Holt, Richard Durning||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Delany, William||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Mooney, John J.|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Devlin, Joseph||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Morrell, Philip|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Hudson, Walter||Morison, Hector|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Muldoon, John||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Munro, Robert||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Reddy, Michael||Thomas, James Henry|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Neilson, Francis||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Rendall, Athelstan||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Nolan, Joseph||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wadsworth, John|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Nuttall, Harry||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Wardle, George J.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Waring, Walter|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Robinson, Sidney||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|O'Dowd, John||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|O'Malley, William||Rowlands, James||Webb, H.|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Rowntree, Arnold||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|O'Shee, James John||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Scanlan, Thomas||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Sheehy, David||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||Wilson, John (Durham. Mid)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Snowden, Philip||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Pointer, Joseph||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Sutherland, John E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Radford, G. H.||Sutton, John E.||Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
§ Mr. PEASE claimed to move, "That in respect of the words of the Clause to the end thereof the Chairman be empowered Amendments to be proposed."
§ Question put, "That in respect of the1928
§ words of the Clause to the end thereof the Chairman be empowered to select the; to select the Amendments to be proposed."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes. 291; Noes, 179.1931
|Division No. 149.]||AYES.||[5.39 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Burke, E. Haviland-||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Adamson, William||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)|
|Alden, Percy||Chancellor, Henry George||Essex, Sir Richard Walter|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Clancy, John Joseph||Falconer, James|
|Arnold, Sydney||Clough, William||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Ffrench, Peter|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Field, William|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Cotton, William Francis||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Barnes, George N.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Barton, William||Crooks, William||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Crumley, Patrick||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cullinan, John||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Bentham, G. J.||Davies, Ellis William (Eiflon)||Glanville, H. J.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Black, Arthur W.||Dawes, J. A.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Boland, John Pius||Delany, William||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Devlin, Joseph||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, S.)|
|Brace, William||Dickinson, W. H.||Gulland, John William|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Dillon, John||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hackett, John|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Doris, William||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Duffy, William J.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire).|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Manfield, Harry||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Martin, Joseph||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Meagher, Michael||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Menzies, Sir Walter||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Henry. Sir Charles||Middlebrook, William||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Millar, James Duncan||Rowlands, James|
|Higham, John Sharp||Molloy, Michael||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Hinds, John||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hodge, John||Montagu, Hon. E S.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees).|
|Hogg, David C.||Mooney, John J.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Hogge, James Myles||Morgan, George Hay||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Morrell, Philip||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Morison, Hector||Sheehy, David|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Muldoon, John||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Munro, Robert||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Hudson, Walter||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Murphy, Martin J.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Needham, Christopher T.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Sutherland, John E.|
|John, Edward Thomas||Nolan, Joseph||Sutton, John E.|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Nuttall, Harry||Tennant, Harold John|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thomas, James Henry|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Doherty, Philip||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Donnell, Thomas||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Dewd, John||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Wadsworth, John|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Malley, William||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|King, Joseph||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Shee, James John||Waring, Walter|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Lardner, James C. R.||Outhwaite, R. L.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Law. Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Leach, Charles||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Webb, H.|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Lundon, Thomas||Pointer, Joseph||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pollard, Sir George H.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Pringle, William M. R.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|McGhee, Richard||Radford, G. H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Winfrey, Richard|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|M'Kean, John||Reddy, Michael||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Wedgwood Benn and Mr. W. Jones.|
|M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs. Spalding)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Campion, W. R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Cassel, Felix|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Bentinck, Lord H, Cavendish-||Cater, John|
|Astor, Waldorf||Bigiand, Alfred||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Bird, AlFred||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Blair, Reginald||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Clive, Captain Percy Archer|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Boyton, James||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)|
|Barnston, Harry||Bridgeman, William Clive||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Bull, Sir William James||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Butcher, John George||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninlan||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hunt, Rowland||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Dixon, C. H.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Kerry, Earl of||Sandys, G. J.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Keswick, Henry||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Dungannon, Viscount||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l., Walton)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lane-Fox, G. H.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Larmor, Sir J.||Snowden, Philip|
|Fell, Arthur||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Lawson, Hon. H. (T, H'mts., Mile End)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lewisham, Viscount||Staveley-Hill, Henry,|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Forster, Henry William||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Gardner, Ernest||Locker-Lawson, G. (Salisbury)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Swift, Rigby|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Macmaster, Donald J.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Grant, J. A.||M'Calmont, Major Robert C A.||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Magnus, Sir Philip||Touche, George Alexander|
|Gretton, John||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Newdegate, F. A.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southpert)|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Newman. John R. P.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Harris, Henry Percy||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Perkins, Walter F.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Hills, John Waller||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Younger, Sir George|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Sanders and Major Stanley.|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment I select is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for the Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire.
§ Mr. STAVELEY-HILL
I beg to move, after the word "person" ["a person shall not vote"], to insert the words "registered as a Parliamentary elector in more than one constituency."
The Committee will remember that I raised this point on the Second Reading of the Bill when I asked for a ruling from Mr. Speaker as to whether the Bill itself did not go outside the scope of the title. Mr. Speaker then said:—The hon. Member suggests that, the words 'a person' are not the same as 'an elector.' On that ground he has asked me to rule that the Bill cannot, proceed any further. But it appears to me, even if he is right in supposing that the intention of the promoters of this Bill in introducing the word 'person' was to extend it, it would still be open in Committee to insert the words 'qualified to vote as an elector,' or to omit the word 'person' and insert 'elector,' and therefore it would be perfectly easy, by making a small correction, to bring it into accord with the measure for the introduction of which leave was given."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th April, 1913, col. 1221, Vol. LII.]Mr. Speaker went on to say that he did not know what was the view of the pro- 1932 moters on that question. Having regard to that ruling, I think I am entitled to ask the Government to accept this Amendment. The Committee will remember that leave was originally given to introduce a Bill to impose a penalty upon an elector who voted in more than one constituency at a General Election. The title repeats the sentence, but the contents of the Bill impose a penalty upon any person who Fetes or asks for a ballot paper in more than one constituency at a General Election. I submit that the word "person" has a much wider application than the word "elector." In the Plural Voting Bill of 1906, as amended, the qualifying words were "registered as a Parliamentary elector." A person, not being a Parliamentary elector, may vote as one, or may ask for a ballot paper for the purpose of voting in one constituency or more. He is liable to punishment for personation, but at the same time he can do it. I submit that this Bill creates a new corrupt practice and punishes not for personation but for another corrupt practice. If a person not being an elector voted or 1933 asked for a ballot paper in some other person's name, he would be guilty of two corrupt practices, first, the offence of personation, and, secondly, voting in more than one constituency. As was said yesterday on several Amendments, what we desire is to make the Bill perfectly clear, so that persons will not suffer pains and penalties through any ambiguity of language. For these reasons, I beg to move the Amendment.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The hon. Member has put his case very clearly, and I think that the criticism he has made on the phrase in the Bill is well founded. He points out that the word "person" might be understood to have a wider application than the word "elector," and that consequently, although this is a Bill which by its title desires to prevent electors from voting in more than one constituency, the language of the Clause might conceivably be understood to apply to persons who are not electors. That appears to us to be a criticism which, though perhaps a little far-fetched, is none the less well founded in itself, and the Government propose to accept the Amendment. I should not have been so ready to do so if the only case was that put forward by the hon. Member. He has asked us to pity the case of a man who votes in a false name, because he would have committed two offences. I do not feel much sympathy for that man, even if he has committed two offences. But the criticism might be carried a stage further, and it is the second case which makes me think that we must make this change in the Bill. Supposing a man honestly believes that he is entitled to vote in Constituency A: in that belief he applies for a ballot paper, and is then told that he is not on the register in that constituency. It would be a very strange result if, when thereupon he had recourse to his right of voting in Constituency B, he should render himself liable to a penalty because he was a person who had asked for a ballot paper in more than one constituency. With such a case in view, I suggest that the Amendment is necessary, and I think the language is apt. I hope the hon. Member will see, however, that it is desirable to cure both the defects that I have mentioned. It can be very easily done if, after the Committee has accepted the hon. Gentleman's Amendment, it will make a consequential change which will secure the real object of all of us. I suggest that instead of the paragraph ending with the words "in more than one constituency," it ought to run 1934 "in more than one of the constituencies in which he is so registered." The effect will then be that if a man applies for a ballot paper in a particular constituency under the false impression that he is entitled to vote there, he will not be prejudiced in his right to vote once, and once only, in a constituency where he is registered. With that consequential change, I think the Amendment will secure both the object of the hon. Gentleman and the further correction which I conceive is necessary. I therefore suggest that the Committee should accept the Amendment, and I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for pointing out the defect.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment I select is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for Salisbury.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "or" ["or ask for a ballot or voting paper"], to insert the word "knowingly."
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir W. BULL
Do you, Mr. Whitley, refuse to accept the Amendment that is on the Paper to the words in the Clause, the effect of which are that an elector commits an offence by asking for another voting paper? The question is as to whether or not it is an offence by a properly registered person to ask for another voting paper. May we not discuss whether or not that may he made a crime?
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is not a question of refusing. I was under the impression that it raised the same point that has just been dealt with. If that is not so—if it is a separate point—the hon. Member certainly can move.
§ Sir W. BULL
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "or ask for a ballot or voting paper for the purpose of so voting."
This raises the point not of a person who is not an elector, but of a man who is properly registered, and whether the Government intend to insist upon the words in this Clause, so that it shall be an offence to "ask for a ballot or voting paper for the purpose of so voting." In the heat of an election, and in the way elections are run at the present time, to make it an offence merely to inquire whether or not one is entitled to 1935 vote is contrary to the whole principle of election law. The onus could be on the revising barrister to say whether or not a man is qualified—but that is quite a different point. Anyone, however, may very easily and quite innocently go into a polling place and ask for a ballot paper and not be guilty of any offence whatever.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)
I feel quite sure that on further consideration the Committee and the hon. Member for Hammersmith will not really wish to pursue the proposal that has been made. Surely it must be our object, when we are establishing a law not to encourage individuals to attempt to break that law. We may have different opinions, of course, as to whether it is wise to make that law. I quite admit that the hon. Member and I should differ in that; but if and when the law is made, it surely must be the object of everyone to prevent there being any inducement to individuals to attempt to break it. There should not only be left a penalty for the full commission of the offence. You might just as well say that there should be no penalty for attempting to commit murder; that there should only be a penalty after the corpse has been completely killed. I think the effect of this Amendment would be most undesirably to weaken the effect of the Bill. It would be an encouragement to a large number, perhaps, of rash men to have a try, and to run the risk. No hon. Member really wants to make elections more unpleasant than they already are, by encouraging that sort of action at large on the polling day. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment said that a great many things might be done in the heat of an election. This, after all, is a matter of cold deliberation. To ask for and presumably obtain your voting paper in one place to give your vote is not an offence. Where the offence comes in is after you have voted in one constituency, with deliberation, knowing you have no right to do it, to travel to another one, and again to ask for a ballot paper. The hon. Member seemed to think that you went into a polling booth to ask whether you could vote. You do not go there out of curiosity. By applying at the local committee room or by looking on the register you can see whether you are qualified to vote. To go into a polling booth, obtain a ballot paper, and give a vote, is a deliberate offence after you have 1936 given a vote elsewhere. It really, to my mind, is impossible that any man outside-a lunatic asylum—it is only those outside who vote—should knowingly go to another constituency and innocently ask for a second ballot paper.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I agree that the Amendment just accepted by the Government, and the House, has made more sense of Clause 1 than there was before. The Solicitor-General, of course, saw, as probably many of us saw, the hopeless position the Clause was in before the acceptance of the Amendment. Even now I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the Clause as it runs. It says a ballot or voting paper. The distinction is drawn between the two. I think he must have forgotten for the moment that there is a distinction between a ballot and a voting paper. He mixed the two up all the way through. Take the constituency that I have the honour to represent. The ballot papers are sent out before the election comes on, a fortnight it may be, or possibly some considerable time. The voter is perfectly entitled to write or to ask for his voting paper; and the voting papers are sent out before, it may be, he has made up his mind, as to which side he intends to vote for. Both sides, in fact, send him a voting paper: sometimes, that is to say, they are sent without being asked for, and he then makes up his mind whether he will vote at Cambridge, or St. George's, Hanover Square. As the Bill stands at present, the words have been purposely put in to include the universities. The expression "voting paper" are words put in for that purpose. I rather hope that at some later period of this Bill the universities will be exempted from this Bill altogether. As it stands, an injustice might be done. On election petitions points are taken, and these words might lead to them being taken. It must be remembered that a person who asks for a voting paper for Cambridge, and who votes afterwards in some contested election, is guilty of a corrupt practice, and he is liable to be dealt with, and, further than that, his vote can be struck off. We do not want to encourage technical points on election petitions. I submit it should not be open for a man to commit an offence never intended by the Government.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider this matter a little more carefully. He gave us a very un- 1937 fortunate illustration. He suggested that a man would be liable to be indicted for attempted murder as well as for murder. That is all very true. But that is a crime of violence to which the law attaches a penalty and attaches a motive, and it is a breach of the law in itself. As the matter stands, there is no offence in a man asking for a ballot or for a voting paper. The man may be a perfectly innocent man. We are asked to attach a penalty to what is presumably a perfectly innocent operation. I should like to ask the Government whether or not they are going to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Salisbury? If they do, it will have a very great effect upon this Clause, for it will make the person asking for the ballot or voting paper to ask "knowingly." The words as they stand are going, a great deal further than is either necessary under the Bill or than, I believe, is contemplated by the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench themselves. May I point out where the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman to the Committee failed? He has suggested that this offence can only arise if and when a man has already voted in a constituency, and therefore he must be wilfully endeavouring to commit a breach of the law by voting in one constituency and then going on to another and asking for another voting or ballot paper. That is not so. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the Section, it might be that the fact would be that a man might go to a constituency and find he was on the register, but owing to some lapse of election law or some other reason, find it necessary to ask for a ballot paper.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. That probably is right. I have got the Section before me without the new words inserted. I do not want to delay the Committee, and I will only point out this, that it is a very important question to know whether we can have "wilfully" or "knowingly" inserted. Otherwise a perfectly innocent operation is going to be turned into an offence. I think the Committee ought to be very careful before they make an offence of what at present is no offence.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies seemed to think that the plural voter was gifted with the same amount of brains as 1938 he himself. I would respectfully remind him that there are a good many plural voters in the country who never take much interest in politics until the election comes round. Does the right hon. Gentleman really mean to say that because one of these men, who happens to have a vote by virtue of cottage property in an adjoining Division and has removed, while his name has not been removed from the list, goes into the polling booth and innocently asks for a voting paper, that he is to be subjected to the same penalties for plural voting as a plural voter like the right hon. Gentleman himself, who may knowingly, and wilfully, go into more than one polling booth and actually cast a vote for more than one candidate? I submit to the Committee that it is an entirely different case to the man who actually votes twice. I cannot follow the analogy of the right hon. Gentleman in the case of murder. After all, the penalty for attempted murder is very different from that where murder has actually taken place. I respectfully ask them to consider this point. My point is people who may suffer under this are not plural voters in the ordinary sense, but plural voters consisting of workmen and small holders of property throughout the country.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
A half-baked measure of this sort works hardship in cases that have not I think been considered by the Government. I want to take the case of a man who may tender a vote in one constituency and is going to be debarred from any effective vote in another constituency under the Clause as it now stands. The tendered vote is only counted on a scrutiny and if he voted afterwards, that tendered vote would be struck off and he would not exercise the franchise twice. I have known a great many cases and I think the tendered vote ought to be provided for. There is no provision at all events for the tendered vote in this Clause. Supposing a man tenders a vote which was not accepted, then he is prevented from giving an effective vote in another constituency where he may have a good qualification. I venture to suggest that that is a case that ought to be dealt with and that this exhaustive Bill certainly ought to cover it.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I do not think I could support the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Cambridge, because I do agree if we are going to make it a penal offence for a man to vote in two places the attempt to commit the offence should 1939 also be punishable. If there is an intention to vote in two places it should be created a penal offence equally as voting in two places. It seems to me the difficulty raised by the hon. Member for Cambridge has not been met. I do not think, so far as I understand his point, in regard to the voting papers, that it is met by the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Staffordshire, which at the time seemed in the view of the Government to meet all these difficulties. I had an Amendment which dealt with these points. To my mind it covered the whole of the ground. The effect of it was after the word "elector," to leave out the whole of the rest of the Sub-section, and to insert these words, "in more than one constituency, or asks for a ballot or voting paper for the purpose of voting in more than one constituency." That covers, I think, the difficulty raised by the hon. Member for Shropshire, and it also covers the difficulty raised by the hon. Member for Cambridge. I do not know whether it would be possible to go back on what is already decided, but I make the suggestion to right hon. Gentlemen opposite and ask them to see if there is not something in it.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies just now defined the offence to which he said these words were directed. He said that the offence was the cold-blooded offence of having voted for one man before, and attempting to vote a second time. I was going to invite the right hon. Gentleman to adopt a definition in the Act against which lie thinks a penalty should run. The words he has chosen are wider. If he says a man brought under the Act must be subject to some penalty for attempting to vote, I agree with him. These words do not limit the offence to somebody who has already voted, as the right hon. Gentleman did in I is speech. I think he has shown a man might have committed no offence under these words. It is not the intention of the Government, more than anyone else, to make that an offence. I happen to be a voter for the University of Cambridge. Supposing I applied for a voting paper with a view of recording my vote for my hon. Friend and colleague, and supposing subsequently I found that the election prospects were not as good in East Worcester as I anticipated and that I thought my vote would be more serviceable in East Worcester, and supposing I entered the 1940 booth in East Worcester and asked for a paper, does the Government want to punish me? Clearly not. Certainly it is not the intention of the Colonial Secretary, but I have committed an offence, and, as I understand it, anybody who represented my opponent might raise an objection and give me into custody. I am not quite clear whether I should have voted first, but whether that be so or not, the consequences are serious to myself, and whatever view may be taken upon the merits of the Bill, the House does not want to inflict a penalty upon a person who has no intention of committing any such offence. I seriously invite Ministers in charge of the Bill to make the words of the Clause square with their expressed intention. I think it can be done even at the point we have reached. The difficulty comes in because of the words "or asks for a ballot or voting paper for the purpose of so voting." Will the Government consider the point, and at least see whether they could not make the Bill carry out their own intentions
§ Mr. PEASE
I think we may assume that, as a rule graduates of universities know their minds very well, and if they send for a voting paper for the purpose of voting they will not be entitled to vote anywhere else. If an individual like the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who possesses a qualification for Cambridge University and also for East Worcester, does not know his own mind at the commencement of the General Election, he can always, at any rate, wait before he sends for a voting paper for the university until he desires to fill it in. However, I agree there is some substance in the case the right hon. Gentleman has put forward. I do not pledge the Government to introduce any words to deal with this particular case.
§ Mr. PEASE
I do not think I could pledge the Government to introduce words upon the Report stage to meet this case, but I am quite prepared to say we will consider the point and see whether there is a way of meeting such a grievance as the right hon. Gentleman has put before the Committee. I do not myself think that it is conceivable that an individual, after sending for a voting paper for the purpose of voting, ought to be allowed to vote in another constituency. I am quite prepared to consider the matter before 1941 the Report stage. The other point I also would wish to reserve is the point in connection with the tendered vote. In the event of anyone going into a polling booth where he is a registered elector, and finds that he has been previously personated by some other elector, his vote may be tendered, but can only be effective in the event of a scrutiny. It seems hard upon such an individual that his vote is not allowed to be effective if no scrutiny takes place in that constituency. He has a vote in another constituency but did not intend to record it, but his first vote is ineffective because he is only allowed to vote on a pink form, so that he is deprived of any effective vote at all. I am quite prepared to see whether on Report stage we cannot meet that grievance.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
I listened with astonishment to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, anti I think it means this, that when a graduate of a university applies for a voting paper it means that he has irrevocably made up his mind that he is going to vote in the university. I have never heard a more extraordinary thing. Which constituency he intends to vote in may remain an open question till the last moment and may be determined by the exigencies of the case. I certainly cannot for a moment accept, the idea that the act of applying for the voting paper finally determines that he is to vote in the university. In all seriousness I put it to the Government that they must do something to bring the Bill into conformity with the speech made by the Colonial Secretary. He said that what was desired was that if a man votes in one constituency he should not apply for the voting paper for the purpose of voting in another constituency. Very well, but why on earth not say so May I try to assist in the consideration put forward by the right hon. Gentleman? Why should it not run: "A person shall not vote as a Parliamentary elector in more than one constituency in which he is so registered, nor, if he has voted in one, apply for a ballot or a voting paper for the purpose of voting in another."
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
While the Government are considering the very sensible suggestion of my right hon. and 1942 learned Friend there is yet another point which by creating this offence they have failed to provide for, and which is a perfectly innocent offence. The Solicitor-General suggested to my hon. and learned Friend that this difficulty had been solved by the words which the Solicitor-General has accepted. As I understand it, the Clause will now run:—A person registered as a Parliamentary elector in more than one constituency shall not vote as a Parliamentary elector or ask for a ballot or voting paper for the purpose of voting in more than one constituency in which he is registered.I think it is still possible for a perfectly innocent man to vote and to commit an offence by means of the words "asking for a ballot paper." Let me give an illustration. My hon. Friend suggested that a man might ask for a ballot paper and discover he is not on the register. As the Clause stood he would have committed an offence if he thereafter asked for a ballot paper somewhere else. I think the Government omitted this. A man might ask for a ballot paper and discover he is on the register but disqualified from voting in that particular case. There are frequent instances in the law of this country of such persons being debarred. Let me give the Government one or two illustrations. If the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will look at page 202 of "Rogers on Elections," he will find it is provided by the 6th and 7th of William IV. that:No justice or receiver appointed under this Act, during the continuance of such appointment, or within six months afterwards, may vote for the counties of Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, or Meath, or for the city of Dublin, or for any city or borough within the Dublin police district, under a penalty of £100By chapter 13, Section 18, it is provided that:No inspector-general, or his deputy, receiver, county inspector, magistrate, sub-inspector, paymaster, clerk, chief or other constable, or sub-constable, or person belonging to the constabulary force in Ireland, while he shall continue in office, or within six months afterwards, may vote for any county or place in Ireland, under a like penalty.Those are two instances in which a man may go to the polling booth, ask for a ballot paper, find he is registered, and 1943 then, having discovered all that, he may find that he cannot vote in that particular place. You do not mean that if he goes and votes somewhere else he falls within the penalties provided by this Act. I hope the Government will consider that point when drawing up the form of words they propose to bring up on Report. I think this discussion shows the advantages even of a little discussion. When the right hon. Gentleman is considering the form of words for the Report stage, I suggest that this matter is one which is not provided for in the Bill.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
The object of this measure is that a man shall only vote once, and I think we should have a plain declaration to that effect. I suggest that some of the words about the middle of the first Clause should be put at the end, and that the Clause should be a direct statement. I suggest that it should read, "A person registered as a Parliamentary elector in more than one constituency shall not vote as a Parliamentary elector," and then I would stop and continue with the words, "in more than one constituency." Then I would suggest that the words, "or ask for any ballot or voting paper for the purpose of so voting" should be put in at the end of the sentence. When a man has found out that he has not the right to vote and asks for a ballot paper in another constituency he does not do it for the purpose of voting a second time.
Sir H. DALZIEL
I only intervene to ask the Government whether they have not now got to the end of their promises for further consideration of this Bill on Report. I thought, at least, we had had the final word from the Government as to what the Plural Voting Bill ought to be. I regard this Bill as a most unsatisfactory one, not unsatisfactory from the point of view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but from the point of view of a great many hon. Members who sit on this side of the House. To say that we are still going to have further consideration upon points of importance and further concessions on a small Bill of this kind is calculated to give some cause for alarm on this side of the House. The question raised by this Amendment is not a new one. When the Secretary for the Colonies introduced his Plural Voting Bill I thought we had a measure which represented the combined judgment of the House. [An HON. MEMBER: "Question."] I am directly dealing with the question, 1944 and I think there is cause for complaint that when more than one hon. Member on this side of the House in the course of a two days' Debate Intervenes he is shouted down by hon. Gentlemen opposite. We have had many proposals with regard to plural voting, and I view with alarm any further promises in regard to consideration or concessions. We have had three or four different Bills on this subject. We had a measure introduced by the Financial Secretary, we also had one brought forward by the Colonial Secretary, and I think I may describe this as the Solicitor-General's Bill.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I think the right hon. Gentleman is straying some distance from the Amendment.
Sir H. DALZIEL
I want to ask the Government whether it is really worth while, after the years of consideration they have given to this matter, to come forward and promise consideration to such questions as those which are raised in the present Amendment? It proposes that any elector who has voted once in a constituency—[HON. MEMBERS: "No" and "Read the Bill"]. I have read the Bill, and I say that this Amendment will allow an elector to vote and to ask for a voting paper in another constituency—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] But that is the Amendment. It would allow him to vote in one constituency, and if he had twelve other qualifications this Amendment would allow him to go to twelve different constituencies to ask for a voting paper, and he would not be punished for that; he would only be punished when he was found out. That is the proposal of the Amendment. [HON. MEMBER: "No."] Hon. Members who have so rudely interrupted me have not studied either the Amendment or the proposal in the Bill. If the Government are going to give consideration to proposals of this kind, I think it will be much better to withdraw the Bill. Talk about "killing corpses," they will be taking part in killing a corpse if they consider a proposal of this kind. This Bill is weak enough already, and I strongly advise the Government not to give any further concessions such as they have hinted at to-day.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken is quite mistaken in thinking that we resent the interesting contribution he has made to this discussion. With regard to the point before the Committee, we hold that it should not be an offence to ask for a ballot paper even under your Bill, but only an offence to vote twice. The right hon. Gentleman opposite tells us that to make a concession which only punishes a man after he has committed a crime is a concession so wide that the Government ought to be ashamed of it and ought to withdraw their Bill. I can quite understand that that is the feeling by which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs and many of his Friends are animated. I may say that I agree very largely with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, which I do not think was entirely in order. The right hon. Gentleman has found out that the Government have introduced a great many Plural Voting Bills, the discussion of which has shown their defects, and naturally he resents discussion. His idea simply is—and it is one which will be very attractive to hon. Gentlemen opposite—that we Should deal with this matter in Committee, as we have dealt with some other Bills before the House, and that we should have no discussion, but simply pass a Resolution to the effect that the Bill should become law as it is. I do not think that would make any great difference in our proceedings as we see them now in this House, and I can quite understand with what animosity the right hon. Gentleman opposite views anything approaching free discussion in the House of Commons.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs has exhibited quite unnecessary anxiety on this question. The situation raised by this Amendment is a very simple one, and there has been no doubt whatever as to the attitude of the Government with regard to it. The Bill proposes to make it an offence for a plural voter to vote in more than one constituency or to ask for a ballot paper for the purpose of voting in more than one constituency. When a man asks for a ballot paper for the purpose of voting, he offends against the same rule as he does when he uses a ballot paper and actually votes. The principle behind the whole matter is exactly the same, and any difference between the two is disposed of by variation in the penalty. I agree with the 1946 right hon. Gentleman who spoke last but one on this side, that the Bill as it stands does not mete out any more than reasonable justice to the plural voter. We do not take the view that those citizens who have the exceptional advantage of a choice of the place to vote, are entitled to exceptional privileges over the people who have no such choice. We do not take that view and never have done. The difficulty which occurred to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities (Sir R. Finlay) is a special case which naturally appeals to university Members, and the Committee must deal with it because we wish to be fair.
What is the case which has been put? The right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who represents a university, thinks that the electors in his constituency ought to be entitled to ask for a voting paper for the purpose of so voting. He puts the case that the electors in a university constituency should be at liberty to ask for a voting paper for the purpose of so voting, and that they should then be allowed to bide their time—I understand that university elections go on for more than one day, and the way the voting is going is known—and if on the last day they find their vote will not be needed in order to get their candidate in, then they are to enjoy the particular and unusual privilege of voting somewhere else. There may be people who think that is right as between a university graduate and other people who are not university graduates, and who have to make up their minds where they will vote, but that is not the view of the Government. Our view is that if it be true that a university graduate has to ask for a voting paper for the purpose of voting there is no reason why he should not be treated like any other elector who applies for a similar piece of paper, and he must exercise his choice like other electors.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
I said that I desired that which the Colonial Secretary explicitly stated should be carried out—that the offence of asking for a ballot paper should exist only where the person asking for it had already voted in one constituency. That is what I asked, and I gave the case of the university voter as an illustration. But to apply this penalty to the case of a man asking for the first time for a ballot paper, merely because it may be said that he has the intention of going afterwards to another constituency and asking for 1947 another ballot paper, is travelling a great deal too far. I simply asked that what the Colonial Secretary said should be enacted.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The right hon. Gentleman has not grasped the point of this Clause. It is no offence for any person, either a university graduate or anyone else, to go and ask for a ballot paper for the first time to vote in a constituency where he has the right to vote. It is no offence now and it will be no offence then. The offence is that, having exercised your choice, being one of those favoured persons who has got a choice, saying, "This is the place where I propose to exercise my vote," and asking for the machinery for the purpose of so voting, you should then repeat the process in another constituency. The actual difficulty which is now put forward by the right hon. Gentleman is not a difficulty of substance at all, because in every other case, except that of the university voter, the asking for a ballot paper for the purpose of voting is, as everybody knows, exercising your choice to vote in the place where you ask for it.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The case of the tendered vote was the case my right hon. Friend indicated that he was prepared to consider, but that is not what I am talking about at all. Subject to the case of the university seats, that is plainly the facts of the matter. I was at a loss to understand why it should be supposed that there is a special privilege to be given to the university voter, and why he is to be allowed to change his mind and other people are not. Unless I am entirely misinformed you are, in a university election, sent your ballot paper. You may be sent fifty ballot papers, but you are not touched by this Bill. The offence is not receiving a ballot paper, but asking for one. There is no justification whatever for the suggestion that this Bill as framed does anything more than this: It makes it an offence to vote, if you are a plural voter, more than once. I quite admit that it also proposes to make it an offence if you ask for the machinery by means of which you vote with the intention of so voting more than once, and I think that it is right it should be so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Knowingly."] If there is any difference between the two cases, it is a difference which every 1948 practical man in this Assembly perfectly well knows, and which is dealt with without the slightest difficulty and as a matter of course.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by speaking of the intention to vote twice as being what was aimed at in the Clause. Our whole contention is that is not what is aimed at. Well, I will not say it is not what is aimed at, because the Government may aim at anything, but it is not the object which is achieved. Our desire is to secure that that is the only object achieved. We thought a very few moments ago that we had had a conciliatory speech from the President of the Board of Education in which, without absolutely pledging himself to the acceptance of our Amendment, he promised consideration of this on Report. Being pressed a little further by my hon. Friend for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson), he said "favourable consideration with a view to embodying it on Report." What has happened in the meantime, between the two speeches, in order to cause the right hon. and learned Gentleman to give an entirely different account of the intention of the Government, of the purport of the Bill, and of their course of conduct, than that given by his right hon. colleague a quarter of an hour before? I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Dalziel) who sits below the Gangway. A few rather bitter words from him addressed to the Government in, I think I must say a rasping tone, have brought the Government sharply to heel. The promise of favourable consideration is broken almost as soon as it is uttered, and the Solicitor-General hastily gets up to assure the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway that he was unduly anxious, if he supposed that the words of the President of the Board of Education meant anything, or that the Government would stand by it if its fulfilment would inconvenience them.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The right hon. Gentleman is doing me an injustice. I understood, and I understand now, that what my right hon. Friend—he is responsible here and not I—said had reference to a very ingenious suggestion made with regard to the tendered vote. [HON. MEMBERS: "Both."] I am only stating my understanding. It is very likely faulty. If any undertaking was given on anything else, I am sure my right hon. Friend would 1949 be the first to correct me. I am aware of none.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Let us take the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pease) himself. The right hon. Gentleman gave the undertaking. I am quite sure he will say so. His undertaking was, I think, without doubt, as wide as I have stated it.
§ Mr. PEASE
In the case which was put by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I said that I did not see myself that any injustice would be created—and I gave my reasons Why I thought no injustice would be created—if the words stood, but I said that I was prepared to consider the question between now and Report. I did not pledge myself for one moment to accept these words in connection with the grievance which he put before the Committee. With regard to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson), I said that there was substance in his point in connection with the tendered vote, because an individual vote might never become effective if it were recorded on a pink paper. I said that I thought that might create a hardship, and, although I did not commit myself, I said that I would consider it with a view of trying to meet a hard case.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman of what was said not only by himself, but also by the Colonial Secretary. The Colonial Secretary, in the most explicit terms, said that what was desired was that if a man had voted once he should be punishable if he asked for a ballot paper for the purpose of voting again. Do you mean that, or do you not? I have suggested a form of words which would carry out what the Colonial Secretary said. Do the Government accept that or not? If they do not, it is perfectly clear that they intend something more than, and something different from, what the Colonial Secretary assured me was intended.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I should really like to congratulate the Committee upon the fact that at last somebody sitting behind the Government has been induced to get up and break the silence preserved by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Day after day during the progress of the Debate hon. Members have sat there, beautiful but dumb, listening with pleased smiles, while those having the conduct of this Bill have done their utmost to make their seats safe by destroying the votes of those opposed to them. It is to be observed that when at last an intervention does come and a 1950 contribution is made from behind the Treasury Bench at this first sign, those who have the custody of the Bill at once show that they will not accept some of the alterations suggested from this side. If ever there was a case where comment from behind the Government Benches were uncalled for, it is this one. Just think of the monstrous injustice this Clause may work if it stands as it is! The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that it would be an iniquitous thing if a university graduate receives a ballot paper— [HON. MEMBERS: "Asks for one."] Well, asks if you like; it is just the same thing. And, having asked for it, he changes his mind and ultimately registers his vote in some other place. Why on earth should he not? Being registered in two places, I go into a booth and ask for a voting paper. Before I have registered my vote, I change my mind and destroy the paper. I should like to know why on earth I should not do that? If I utilise the paper that has been given to me and register my vote, I bring myself under the Clause as it stands for voting twice, if I go elsewhere and vote again; but if I do not vote, what harm have I done to anybody? Surely the Government have not got to such a pitch that they will say the electors of this country are not entitled to change their minds. Surely what the Government mean is that if a man has voted once, and then goes into a polling booth and gets a voting paper for the purpose of voting elsewhere, he has committed an offence. That is logical and reasonable. If the Government mean that, let them say it.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
It is indeed difficult for hon. Members on this side of the House to meet the tastes and wishes of hon. Gentlemen opposite. When we sit silent, we are accused of being subservient and obedient slaves, "beautiful but dumb," in the felicitous phraseology of the hon. Gentleman opposite. His phraseology is somewhat better than his argument. When my right hon. Friend rises he is immediately accused of being the dictator of the Government and of bringing them to heel. If we are the obedient slaves of the Government, how can we at the same time be their slave-drivers? I leave the right hon. Gentleman opposite to get out of his dilemma. I wish to join my right hon. Friend in his protest against the concessions which have been made. I do so for two reasons. First of all, I think that the tone and temper of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition should teach the Govern- 1951 ment that any concessions which they do make are received without any gratitude from the other side. In the second place, we believe that no case has been made out for any concession at all.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is rather a review of the progress of the Bill. I am not able to see how these remarks are pertinent to this particular Amendment.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
If I may be allowed to say so, before you resumed your place in the chair, the President of the Board of Education indicated other concessions upon this Amendment, and I submit that my reply is relevant to that consideration. I oppose any further concession on the part of the Government. I intended to point out that, in my opinion, and in that of hon. Gentlemen around me, there is no case for further consideration or concession on the Amendment now under consideration. The attempt of the Opposition is to secure immunity for a man who asks for a second voting paper. But he can commit no offence unless he has voted prior to the second asking. According to the phraseology of the Bill, as it stands, there will be no offence unless a man has voted before. That is obviously the view of the framers of the Bill, and, considering the number of distinguished names on the back of the measure, the names of men who, I presume, have carefully considered its phraseology, I take it I am quite justified in the view I am putting forward. Two special cases have been advanced. The first is that raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Andrews University (Sir R. Finlay). He showed that he was totally ignorant of the method of voting in his own constituency. He said that, in a university constituency, the elector asks for the voting paper, whereas the practice is for the voting paper to be sent to him.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
Does the hon. Member not know that on many occasions a man has to write and ask for his voting paper?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think the register is kept up to date every year, and the voting paper is sent to the elector's address. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] It is so. [An HON. MEMBER: "But suppose it is not sent?"] I know something about this matter; I am speaking from my own 1952 knowledge, and I must complain of these interruptions by the hon. Members who profess to be so anxious for free discussion.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON rose——
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Of course hon. Members are all concerned for the dignity and high reputation of the present House of Commons, and it is interesting to find a distinguished representative of a university maintaining those high traditions. I think I have dealt sufficiently, however, with the question of University representation, and I pass on to the point raised by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson), which the right hon. Gentleman says he will consider. It seems to me that that point does not require consideration at all. If a man has merely tendered a vote, he commits no offence. It is only in the event of his having voted and then asking for a second voting paper that the offence is committed. [Interruptions.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must point out that we are hear to listen to arguments, and. whenever a statement is made or an argument used with which hon. Members do not agree, it is not necessary to call out. We have different opinions, and we should be prepared to listen to one another.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not as a rule object to interruptions, being sometimes guilty myself of indulging in them. It is only in respect of the multitude of the interruptions that difficulty arises. I think it will be admitted I have made out a good case on the three points which have been raised—first, on the general ground that no offence is created in the mere asking for the paper; secondly, in relation to university representation; and, thirdly, in reference to a tendered vote. On these grounds we believe the Bill, as it stands, amply meets the case, and we ask the Government to make no further concessions and to give no promise of further consideration, because we believe that, inadequate as the Bill may be for the main purpose we have in view, any further weakening of it will make it absolutely valueless for the purpose of putting an end to plural voting at General Elections.
Mention has been made of one or two occasions when the question of plural voting has been before the House. I think we have a 1953 grievance against the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies. When the President of the Board of Education was speaking he showed that he realised there was some substance in the Amendment before the Committee and indicated that he was prepared to make some concession. Indeed, he went as near to saying that he would accept the Amendment as one possibly could, but the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary intervened with loud cries of, "Speak up!" in such a way as to warn the right hon. Gentleman, who is responsible for the Bill and who is apparently willing to improve it. I think we have a grievance in this matter, because the right hon. Gentleman is not allowed to conduct his own Bill in his own way, and I trust that, if the measure is to be further proceeded with, he will be given more freedom to deal with it on its merits.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
The Committee appear to be in a very singular position. The Solicitor-General gives one account of the intentions of the Government with regard to this Bill; the Colonial Secretary gives another and quite different description; while the Bill itself, as drafted, proposes to carry out an intention different to that indicated by both speakers. Which is really the intention of the Government? Is it that embodied in the Bill or is it to be found in the declaration of the Solicitor-General or in that of the Colonial Secretary? There is only one thing that is quite clear, and that is that the drafting of this Bill cannot be understood or defended by anyone, and certainly not by any right hon. Gentleman on that bench, nor by the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, who has given the only sensible advice I have heard in this Debate, and that is to withdraw the Bill altogether.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I was giving the right hon. Gentleman credit for having tendered sensible advice, and I should be sorry if he now desires to withdraw or modify it. Let us see what has been done already. My hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Staveley-Hill) found one very grave defect and the Government accepted an Amendment accordingly. The discussion of this Amendment has disclosed other grave defects, which have been admitted by the President of the Board of Education, who, if he did not absolutely 1954 promise to accept an Amendment, did undertake to give it most serious consideration, and we know what that means. It is worthy of note that it has been almost by chance that we are discussing this Amendment at all. Had it not been for the special appeal made by one of my hon. Friends that we should be allowed to discuss this particular Amendment, none of these defects would have been brought to light. Here is the undoubted fact that several defects have been discovered, and I must ask the President of the Board of Education which of his colleagues is right in the interpretation given of the intentions of the Government in regard to the attempt to vote twice. The Solicitor-General says quite plainly that, though a man has not voted twice, yet if he attempts to do so the attempt is to be made a penal offence—a corrupt practice, punishable with a year or two years' imprisonment. The Colonial Secretary says exactly the opposite. He says the attempt is not to be a criminal attempt unless a man has already voted once, but if he has voted, and then attempts to vote a second time, that will be an offence.
What do the Government really intend to do? This is a very serious matter. For the life of me, I cannot understand why, if a man has a vote for a university he should not ask for a voting paper to be sent, and then if he does not exercise his vote in the university why he should not be allowed to exercise it somewhere else. Why, in other words, may he not change his mind? If the Solicitor-General is right, this is to be made a criminal offence, and it will be the first time in our jurisprudence that a mere innocent change of mind has been branded as a criminal offence. The Government have done strange things in their time, and for them they will have to suffer hereafter. If, however, they are going to introduce into the criminal law a principle which I do not suppose exists in the criminal jurisprudence of any civilised country in the world, if they are going to say that a perfectly innocent change of mind on the part of a man who desires to exercise his vote shall be made an offence punishable with two years' imprisonment, then they will have sunk to a lower depth, both of folly and of ignominy, than they have ever yet reached. Let me make one more appeal to the Government. Their supporters tell them that they must not exercise any independence whatever, but that they must obey those who sit behind them. 1955 Let me ask the President of the Board of Education one question. There is a difference of opinion between two of his colleagues in the Government as to what are the intentions of the Government. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us which of the two is right? One must be wrong. If he cannot tell us that, then perhaps he will agree it will be right and proper for us to move to report Progress until the Government know what they are really doing.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I think it is a great mistake to talk about concessions. We are not asking for concessions. We are only asking that the phraseology of the Bill should be made to correspond with the declared intentions of the Government as expressed by the President of the Board of Education. When that right hon. Gentleman is undertaking to endeavour to carry out those intentions before the Report stage, it seems to me it is unfair to talk of it as a concession on the part of the Government to a troublesome Opposition. Let me point out that the Bill, as it stands, will impose a hardship on the university voter as compared with any other voter. The ordinary voter may wait until the last moment—until it is time to go to the poll—before he need make up his mind where he will register his vote, but, as the hon. Member opposite well knows, the university voter must get his voting paper a day or two beforehand, because there are certain formalities to be gone through, and the voting paper has to travel by post. Although it is strictly true that as a rule the voting papers are sent out to every member of the constituency, it is possible that, owing to changes of addresses or accidents in the post, it may be necessary for some voters to ask for the vote to be sent on, and he may have to do so before he has made up his mind as to the constituency in which he will vote. If he has written and asked for a voting paper, that should not preclude him from changing his mind and disentitle him to vote in a place which is more desirable or convenient, but that that should be made a criminal offence is what I am sure was never contemplated by the Government.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I desire to ask the President of the Board of Education whether I am not right in assuming that he holds the same opinion as we do as to the effect of this Clause, and a different 1956 opinion from that held by the hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Pringle). In. his judgment will an offence be committed under this Clause unless a man first votes in constituency A, and then asks for a ballot paper in constituency B? Our view is that the offence is committed if a man asks for a voting paper in constituency A and votes, and subsequently asks for one in constituency B.
§ Mr. PEASE
That is the way I understood it, and it is because I understood it in that way that I made what was called a concession. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is no concession."]—I will withdraw the word "concession"—that is why I promised the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson) that I would consider whether, if an individual did not make the tendered vote effective, he ought, perhaps, to be allowed to give an effective vote in some other constituency.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I am glad that has been made clear, for it shows the view that we take of the Clause is correct, and that the view taken by the hon. Gentleman opposite is wrong. I am not complaining in the slightest degree of the action of the right hon. Gentleman, although I should have thought this was a point which might have occurred to the Government before. The right hon. Gentleman is within his rights in reserving the matter for further consideration upon the Report stage. We have already protected the man who asks for the paper in constituency A and discovers he is not registered there. I put earlier in the Debate the case of a man who asks for a paper in constituency A and who discovers he is registered there, but is disqualified owing to personal disqualification, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether that case does not require an Amendment in a subsequent stage. It would not be right to press him now, but I should like to ask him to give us an assurance that the matter will be considered before the Report stage.
§ Mr. NEWTON
So far as I can make out the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Pringle) absolutely agrees with us, save upon one point. If the interpretation of the Clause now given by the right hon. Gentleman is right, as, of course, it is, I am quite certain that the hon. Gentleman agrees with us that the test should be that the offence should not be committed until a person having voted once tries to vote a second time. I think the whole Committee is 1957 agreed upon that. It is therefore wrong to criticise and carp at the Government's desire, so kindly expressed, to make their Bill conform in its phraseology with their intention and that of the whole Committee. All that we ask is that the Bill should in fact do what the right hon. Gentleman said it was the Government's intention to do, that is, punish for a second vote or an attempt to vote a second time.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
I would suggest to the President of the Board of Education that the case could be easily dealt with by inserting after the word "or"—["or ask for a ballot or voting paper]—the words, "if he has already voted." That is a very slight alteration in the phraseology of the Bill, but it makes quite clear the actual meaning of the Sub-section. That would mean there would be no offence in asking for a voting paper a second time unless the person who did so had actually voted once in that General Election. It would meet the case of the university voter and the perfectly innocent case of a man who goes into a polling booth and there for the first time learns that he is not allowed to vote more than once at a General Election. It is obvious that at the next General Election there will be a very large number of plural voters who have never heard of this Bill, and will not hear of it until they get into the polling booth. The first intimation a man will have of it is when he sees upon the voting paper a notice that he must not vote more than once at a General Election. Surely it is very hard upon a man in that position not to allow him to change his mind and ask for a voting paper in another constituency. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will favourably consider this suggestion, for if he puts it into his Bill, it will carry out the intentions of hon. Members upon both sides of the Committee.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Enforcing the argument of the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson), I want to put this case to the President: In the large towns which are divided into several Divisions there is a very large number of electors upon the register in respect of more than one Division, but who are not entitled to vote in more than one Division. The principle of this Bill already applies within those limits. In my own Division there are 500 or 600 electors who are also on the register for other Divisions of the city, but a process in gone through whereby they have an option to decide 1958 in which Division they shall vote, and, failing the exercise of such option, they are assigned by the authorities to vote in the place of their residence, although they remain on the register. Nothing would be easier than for one of these voters to go into the polling booth in the Division where he was on the register, but not entitled to vote, and I submit that under the words as they stand, if, however innocently, such an elector came into the polling booth and asked for a voting paper and was told, "You are on the register, but you are not entitled to vote. You will have to vote in another Division," he would be prevented from giving his vote in another Division. That is a point not covered by the suggested concession with regard to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson). There are three points to be considered: First, the case of the university elector, to which, I understand, some amount of nebulous consideration is to be given. Secondly, there is the case of the elector who is not on the register, but who asks for the voting paper. That, I understand, is to have full consideration. I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the third case, and say whether, as the Clause now stands, such an elector, who is perfectly innocent, might not be prevented from voting at all.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
There has been a great deal of talk about people asking for papers, as if you could walk into a polling booth without any difficulty whatever. I understand that you go into the ballot room, and if you are not on the register you are told so, and that you have nothing to do with the election in that particular ward. If, being an elector in that place, you go in and ask for a ballot paper, the moment that paper is tendered to you by the presiding officer you are, by the Ballot Act, bound to use it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Are you allowed to bring it out? Not by the law. Everybody who knows the Ballot Act knows that one of its most stringent provisions is against the taking of a ballot paper outside the polling booth. Those acquainted with elections know that one of the things a personation agent is always instructed to watch most keenly is to see that no one surreptitiously takes a paper out of the polling booth. When you go to the box where the papers are filled in you can spoil your paper or put it in blank, but you cannot take it out. You have then voted. If you go to a second place where you are on the register then 1959 this Bill comes in. I am not learned in the law, but I have had practical experience of these matters, and I think a body of experienced agents upon either side could, if the case were put before them, soon settle this question. People do not in guileless innocence walk into a polling booth without having had a polling card. I hope the Government will stand by the Bill, which is quite weak enough now.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I do not wish to carry the subject very much further. It is remarkable that after the Debate we have had the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken does not seem even now to understand that this Sub-section creates an offence merely by twice asking for a paper, even if you do not vote at all. I think some hon. Gentlemen must have confused this with votes for women, and think that the same kind of penalty attaches to asking for a voting paper twice as to asking two ladies a very intimate question. The whole point we have been debating is that it ought not to be an offence. I think both sides are agreed that it ought not to be an offence to ask for a paper twice. Apparently both sides will never agree as to the exact effect of the words in the Sub-section. We understand that the Government have undertaken to consider the point sympathetically, and we hope that they will introduce words to meet it, although they have not definitely promised to do so. It is purely a matter of drafting to fulfil the wishes of both sides, or, at any rate, the wishes of the Government. All that we ask is that the matter should be favourably considered. If the Government find better words when the Report stage is reached, the progress of the Bill will be facilitated considerably. I really got up to say that in the opinion of most of us upon this side of the Committee by far the best solution would be to accept the Amendment, to have a perfectly clear statement in the Clause that it is an offence to vote twice, and to leave out altogether the question of asking for a paper. Therefore it will be desirable that we should divide upon the Amendment as it stands, because we believe it to be the best solution; but if we are not successful in the Division, then we shall understand that if these words are not taken out the Government will consider the Amendment of the words before the Report stage.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I think the hon. Member (Mr. Rowlands) has shown the 1960 danger of not accepting the Amendment, and he has shown how true the words which were spoken earlier in the Debate by the hon. Member (Mr. King) were when he said a very large number of people would not, and did not, understand the Bill. I think he was alluding chiefly to hon. Members on this side of the House, but he might have included the hon. Member (Mr. Rowlands), who seems to think that if he was in Peckham, and had a vote in Camberwell, and happened to be starred at Camberwell, and asked for a ballot paper at Peckham, and was told he could not vote there because he was starred at Camberwell—he does not seem to realise that if he went to Camberwell and asked for a ballot paper he would not be allowed to vote, and would have committed an offence under the Bill. It is perfectly evident that a very large number of Members do not understand the Bill as it is. How much more so then will the ordinary elector fail to understand it? It is clear that unless some Amendment of this sort is put into the Bill a very large number of electors will find that they have innocently subjected themselves to penalties. They happen to be plural voters, but it does not follow that all plural voters vote Conservative, and even if they did there is no reason why they should be penalised for doing something innocently which is not a serious crime in the circumstances. I think my hon. Friend (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson) deserves some slight answer. He has shown that in Ireland there are cases where inspectors and other officials are not allowed to vote if they are doing certain duties in the county and still remain upon the register.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not say that phrase is out of order, but the hon. Member has used it before to-day, and it does not show the usual courtesy that Members use towards each other. If he thinks there is inaccuracy in what his opponents have said he may say so.
§ Mr. KING
Ignorance is not a sin always and therefore I do not use the word in any offensive sense. I will say, however, that 1961 the hon. Baronet shows an astounding amount of inaccuracy. He took as an example the case of a Man who was on the list both for Peckham and Camberwell. That is an absolute impossibility. They are two divisions of the same borough and a man cannot, even under the present law, be an elector in both. I only point this out to show that all the knowledge is on this side of the House. I will only add one other thing. It is in reference to the sort of promise of consideration of what might be a concession given by the right hon. Gentleman. In my opinion that was a very unwise thing of him to do. He offered consideration for the case of a man who went into a voting place and found that he had been personated. That has to do with the Corrupt Practices Act and not the electoral law in the sense of registration, and we are now not dealing with the Corrupt Practices Act at all. At present a man who is only on the list for one division may find himself personated and may only be able to tender a vote on a pink paper. This Bill has nothing to do in fact with this man's case one way or the other. Why then should you consider the case at all? You are giving an advantage to the plural voter by the suggested concession at the very time that you are
§ passing a Bill if possible, to sweep him away altogether. I say this because I hope the President of the Board of Education will realise that he must not be too lavish in his promises, because he will find that he will get into the wrong place if he does.
§ Mr. NEWTON
The hon. Member fell into an error that I should like to point out to him. He took the line that no concession should be made because it would grant a privilege to a plural voter who had been personated. I think he was to some extent wrong, because in the case of a non-plural voter having been personated he has the option, at all events tentatively, of recording his vote in that he tenders his vote. That privilege is denied to the plural voter, because of he tenders his vote he then has no opportunity of recording an effective vote. Therefore the hon. Member fell into an error when he described this proposal as one to grant a privilege.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 271; Noes, 177.1965
|Division No. 150.]||AYES.||[7.40 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Chancellor, Henry George||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Gelder, Sir William Alfred|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Clancy, John Joseph||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Adamson, William||Clough, William||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Glanville, Harold James|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Goldstone, Frank|
|Alden, Percy||Cotton, William Francis||Greig, Colonel James Wilson|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Crooks, William||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Crumley, Patrick||Gulland, John William|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Cullinan, John||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Hackett, John|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Barnes, George N.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick Burghs)||Dawes, James Arthur||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Barton, William||Delany, William||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Devlin, Joseph||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Bentham, G. J.||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Dickinson, W. H.||Hayward, Evan|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Dillon, John||Hazleton, Richard|
|Black, Arthur W.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Boland, John Plus||Doris, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Duffy, William J.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Brace, William||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Brady, P. J.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Hinds, John|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Elverston, Sir Harold||Hodge, John|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hogg, David C.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hogge, James Myles|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Esslemont, George Birnie||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Falconer, James||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Ffrench, Peter||Hudson, Walter|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Field, William||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Fitzgibbon, John||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Murphy, Martin J.||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|John Edward Thomas||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Nolan, Joseph||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Norman, Sir Henry||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Sheehy, David|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Doherty, Philip||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Donnell, Thomas||Snowden, Philip|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Dowd, John||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|King, Joseph||O'Malley, William||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S.Molton)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sutton, John E.|
|Lardner, James C. R.||O'Shee, James John||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Leach, Charles||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Lundon, Thomas||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pointer, Joseph||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Lynch, A. A.||Pollard, Sir George H.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|McGhee, Richard||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Pringle, William M. R.||Wardle, George J.|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Radford, G. H.||Waring, Walter|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Watt, Henry A.|
|M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Webb, H.|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Reddy, Michael||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Meagher, Michael||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Menzles, Sir Walter||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Molloy, Michael||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Robinson, Sidney||Wood, Rt Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Mooney, John J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Morison, Hector||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Muldoon, John||Rowlands, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Wedgwood Benn and Mr. W. Jones.|
|Munro, R.||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Boyton, James||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bridgeman, William Clive||Duncannon, Viscount|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Butcher, J. G.||Fell, Arthur|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert|
|Astor, Waldorf||Campion, W. R.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cassel, Felix||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Baker, Sir Randoll L. (Dorset, N.)||Cater, John||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cautley, H. S.||Forster, Henry William|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gardner, Ernest|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Barnston, Harry||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Grant, J. A.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Greene, W. R.|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Gretton, John|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Craik, Sir Henry||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Dairymple, Viscount||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)|
|Blair, Reginald||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Denison-Pender, J. C.||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Denniss, E. R. B.||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Starkey, John R.|
|Hills, John Waller||Mount, William Arthur||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Newdegate, F. A.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Newman, John R. P.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Swift, Rigby|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Hunter, Sir C. R.||Parkes, Ebenezer||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Perkins, Walter F.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Kerry, Earl of||Pretyman, Ernest George||Valentia, Viscount|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Randles, Sir John S.||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Lee, Arthur H||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Rolleston, Sir John||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Winterton, Earl|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Royds, Edmund||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Wright, Henry Fitzherhert|
|M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Sanderson, Lancelot||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Magnus, Sir Phillip||Sandys, G. J.||Younger, Sir George|
|Malcolm, Ian||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Spear, Sir John Ward||W. Bull and Major Morrison-Bell.|
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move, after the word "or" ["or ask for"], to insert the word "knowingly."
The punishment for asking a second ballot paper is so excessive that it does seem only reasonable, that when a person is charged with that particular offence under the Bill, the fact should be taken into consideration whether the attempt to obtain a second ballot paper was made with knowledge, both of the seriousness of the offence and of the penalty for committing it, or whether it was merely committed in ignorance and without properly understanding that the Act was unlawful. Take the case of a small tradesman who Vitas bought a little property at the seaside for the sake of the health of himself and family. He thereby acquires two votes—one for his business premises, and one for the little property he has bought. Naturally, his shop keeps him very hard at work from early morning until late at night, and, although he may take great interest in big political questions, as, for example, whether the Home Rule Bill has obtained a Second Reading, and in various other political questions, he does not see in the daily Press, or if he does, it does not strike him very forcibly, what are the small details of Bills that are going through the House of Commons. I believe that unless this Bill is amended in the way I propose, hundreds of innocent people will, while acting ignorantly, come under the penalty. If, however, the 1966 Amendment is accepted, and the word "knowingly" is inserted, the Public Prosecutor, before initiating a prosecution would satisfy himself whether the Act had been done knowingly or not.
I think this is a valid and reasonable Amendment. It has precedents behind it. I would like to catalogue a few of the precedents which are to be found in other Acts of Parliament. In Clause 7 of the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883, the word "knowingly" is used in connection with the making of illegal payments or contracts; in Clause 8 the word is used in regard to excess of the maximum election expenditure allowed by the Act; in Clause 9 it is used twice—first, in Subsection (1) with regard to inducing a person to vote knowing that such person is prohibited, and then in Sub-section (2) in regard to a person who knowingly publishes a false statement of the withdrawal of a candidate; in Clause 13 it is used in regard to the penalty attaching to illegal payments, and is extended to a person who knowingly provides money for any payment contrary to the Act; in Clause 14 it is used in regard to the illegal hiring of a vehicle for the conveyance of voters to the poll, knowing that the vehicle is intended to be used for that purpose; and in Clause 33 a candidate or an election agent is penalised who knowingly makes a false declaration in regard to expenses. There is only one more Act of Parliament which I should like to cite, namely, the 1967 Ballot Act of 1872. Clause 24 refers to a personator as a person who knowingly personates. That being so, I do feel that it would be reasonable on the part of the Government to accept this Amendment, seeing that it does not in the least affect the intention of their Bill, because the intention is that nobody should be penalised who does not knowingly commit an offence to which a penalty applies under the Bill. I hope that the Government will favourably consider the Amendment.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The hon. Gentleman has explained that what he desires is to introduce this adverb in order that no prosecution will he successfully undertaken unless the prosecutor is in a. position to prove that the person accused had knowledge of the gravity of the offence, and of the Act of Parliament under which it is made an offence. To make such a change as that in the Bill would, I think, be to do a thing quite contrary to the reasonable administration of the law, and quite inconsistent with the ordinary principles on which the law is administered. It is, of course, an elementary principle that it is not in point of fact a good defence for anybody to plead that he did not know that a particular act was contrary to law. If that was not so, all persons who were prepared to make extravagant statements as to their knowledge would get off, and only those persons who did not plead ignorance of the law would be convicted. I do not think the hon. Gentleman quite realises how very strangely this Clause would read if we were to accept the Amendment. The Clause deals with two branches of possible offences. There is the offence of voting more than once in one constituency, and there is the offence of asking a ballot paper with the intention of voting more than once. The hon. Gentleman proposes to leave it an offence for a man to vote more than once, whether he was aware of the gravity of the offence or not, but when he comes to the next line he wishes to qualify the second part of the offence by introducing the word "knowingly" there. I find it difficult to believe that there is any human being this Bill is designed to prevent from voting twice or from asking a second ballot paper who would not perfectly well know that he was breaking the law.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I forgot to say that there is a consequential Amendment to be moved later on to insert the word "knowingly" after the word "acts."
§ 8.0. P.M.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The hon. Gentleman is quite right to point that out. He proposes to introduce "knowingly" in the second part of the first Sub-section, while he proposes to leave it out in the first part of that Sub-section. Let me point out to the Committee what the position would be under the Bill as now drafted, because I think that as drafted it is right. It is quite a mistake to suppose that under the Bill as now drafted if there is any human being who was to offend against this law by some sort of perfectly innocent inattention, as might be supposed to exist in the case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that there would be a conviction for so doing. It a perfectly well-known principle of the administration of the criminal law that unless a person has guilty knowledge, what is ordinarily called mens rea he does not come within the law, because he does not know what he is about. That is a very different thing from asking the prosecution to prove that a person knowingly committed an offence. This Bill provides that the proper way to deal with the plural voter is to impose a penalty if he votes more than once. The fact that an elector has more than one qualification presupposes that he enjoys exceptional opportunities, and that he feels his responsibility is one of peculiar gravity. In those circumstances it would be quite right to say that it is wrong for a man either to vote more than once or to ask for a ballot paper for the purpose of so doing, and he is liable to be prosecuted, but you could not throw on the prosecution the onus of proving that he knew the gravity of the offence or of this Act of Parliament. The thing is never done. The right thing would be to say that he was suffering from some aberration of mind. Convince the magistrate of it, and then he would not have the mens rea. Otherwise the mens rea. would be rightly inferred. The whole of this difficulty is disposed of by the discretionary power of magistrates. It is a pure delusion, which exists sometimes in the House of Commons, but is found nowhere else, to say that because you have an Act of Parliament which says that a certain thing is penalised every person who does the thing is always pursued as a matter of course and always made to pay the full penalty. It is not true. If the law were administered in such a way it would very soon come into disrepute.
1969 If protection is needed for those hard cases which the hon. Gentleman thinks may arise, the penalty here is not always to be exacted. It is capable of any modification or reduction, and every magistrate has got the right to say, "This trumpery case in my judgment should not have been brought, and I will not convict at all." In cases where people are so foolish as to proceed in that vindictive way magistrates do act in this manner. For those reasons I am unable to recommend the insertion of the word "knowingly." The hon. Member refers to certain Statutes in which it is quite true that the word "knowingly" may be found. An instance which occurs to me is the case of a publican who allows a drunken man on his premises, and who could not be punished if he did not know that the man was drunk. That is quite right. But what astonished me was that the hon. Gentleman referred to the 24th Section of the Ballot Act. What I find there is a case exactly parallel to this case. It is made an offence for a man who has already voted in a constituency to vote again in that constituency. There is nothing about "knowingly." This is the language:—A person shall for all purposes relating to Parliamentary or municipal election be deemed to be guilty of the offence of personation who, at an election for a county or borough; or at a municipal election, applies"—not knowingly appliesfor a ballot paper in the name of some other person, or having voted once at any such election, applies—not knowingly appliesat the same election for a ballot paper in his own name.I am much obliged to the hon. Member for referring me to the 24th Section of the Ballot Act. That is what it says.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
May I put a case to the Solicitor-General to show that what he thinks could not happen could in fact happen. Suppose there is a contest impending in my own Constituency, and three months before that contest the right hon. Gentleman says to me, "You have got a contest in Oxford, and I shall be very glad to vote for you. Put down my name and get a paper for me." I make a note, and in due course the ballot paper is sent to the Solicitor-General. Mean- 1970 time he forgets all about it. From that moment he is precluded from voting in any other constituency. The die is cast; the door is shut. He may have a vote, to which he attaches more value, in another part of the country, but if somebody comes up to him on the day of the polling and says to him, "You are incurring a penalty, for you have already asked for a voting paper," that is an incident that might very easily happen; and in the case of, university votes it does constantly happen that people ask for voting papers to be sent months before the election. The Solicitor-General happens to know this. Bill, and therefore is aware of the danger incurred by a great number of people who would think that you were out of your mind if you told them that they were precluded front giving a vote in one place because they had asked for a ballot paper in another. Not knowing the Government, they would say, "The law could not, be such an ass as that." The Solicitor-General falls back upon the magistrates. I always understood it to be one of the first duties of the Legislature to make it perfectly clear that no one can be punished by the carelessness, indiscretion, or folly of a magistrate. Otherwise why should you not have a general law that if people misbehave themselves they should go to prison, and leave all to the magistrate?
The whole conception of the criminal law is that the liberty of the subject is safeguarded, and the magistrate is directed in the closest way by the words of the Act of Parliament so that no injustice can be done. Of course, the Solicitor-General is right in saying that people are supposed to be aware of Statutes which are passed. Perhaps it would not be outrageously hard on a lawyer, or on an Oxford University graduate, but it is often very hard on uneducated people, and it is one of the parts of the law which are least open to defence. The Solicitor-General should not rely on that. If it is true that you are bound to know the law, then at least the law should be made as narrow as it can be made for the purpose of carrying out the view of the Legislature. For those-reasons, I think, that the word "knowingly" is an addition to the Bill. I cannot conceive in any case the slightest possibility of its doing harm, and the simplest course is to accept the Amendment unless the Government can satisfy the Committee, not merely that it is not necessary, but that it would do harm.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The Solicitor-General has been good enough to refer to Section 24 of the Ballot Act of 1872. He only read the first part of the Section, which, as given to me by my hon. Friend, goes on to refer to "any person who knowingly personates."
§ Sir J. SIMON
What I read is the only enacting Clause of the whole Section, and what occurs at the end of the Section does not touch the point at all. In the bulk of the Section there is nothing about personation. There is a provision at the bottom as to the application of the provisions of the Registration Acts to personation under this Act in the same manner as they apply to certain persons who are in those Acts, and those persons are described as persons who "knowingly personate." But that has nothing to do with the point that Section 24 makes it an offence for persons to apply for the second paper without requiring them to know.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I accept what the Solicitor-General says, but there are other instances where the word "knowingly" is used, and where the offence is quite as grave as that in the Bill. There is a penalty attached to illegal payment, extended to a person who knowingly makes it and to a person who is guilty of illegal hiring, knowing that the payment is intended to be used for the purpose. A case which is strongest of all is Section 33 of the Corrupt Practices Act, by which a candidate or election agent is punished for knowingly making a false declaration. An election agent is much more likely to know the law on the subject than an ordinary voter. If he is prosecuted only when he knowingly breaks the law, the same advantage ought to be given to the ordinary voter. There is no part of our ordinary law of which the elector is so ignorant as electoral law. I do not believe that the average voter in the country has the least idea of the provisions of the electoral law. If that is so, he is not likely to have any great knowledge of the provisions of this particular Bill. I could not help thinking, when listening to the Debate that has taken place, that not only has this Bill been prepared by the Government with a very small amount of previous knowledge of the effect which it will have when it comes into operation, and a very small amount of thought as to the possible injustice which may be done by it, but, in addition, that there is a distinct attempt non the part of the Government, if they 1972 possibly can, to trap the plural voter—whom, for reasons which are perfectly obvious, to use a slang phrase, they have "downed"—to come into conflict with the law. Reference has been made by the Solicitor-General to the discretion which is vested in the magistrates with regard to prosecutions. I think that unless the Government are able to show that if the word "knowingly" were put into the Bill a number of persons would evade it, and thereby its object would be defeated, they ought to accept the Amendment. There are undoubtedly many precedents for putting in "knowingly," and I cannot see why the Government think it necessary so to penalise a man who may commit an offence without the slightest idea of the state of the law and may be subject to a very heavy penalty under Sub-section 2. In those circumstances, the Amendment of my hon. Friend should be adopted. The Government have given no reason why it should not he incorporated in the Bill, and they have given no solid undertaking that hard cases will not arise.
It being a Quarter-past Eight of the clock, and leave having been given to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.