HC Deb 21 June 1915 vol 72 cc932-3
45. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Prime Minister if he is now in a position to announce whether the usual Courts for the registration of electors will sit this year or new registers be prepared; and, if not, what arrangements the Government propose to make with regard to this matter and the postponement of elections?

51. Mr. TOUCHE

asked the Prime Minister if, to avoid the waste of public money and effort he will announce the intentions of the Government on the subject of registration of voters on the earliest possible day, and take into consideration the following facts: that the preparation of the usual registers of Parliamentary and parochial electors imposes labour and heavy cost on local authorities; that the work comes this year at a time when new duties in connection with recruiting, the administration of relief funds, and other matters arising out of the War, devolves on staffs already depleted by enlistment; that interest in the ordinary divisions of party and municipal politics is suspended; that elections cannot be representative owing to the absence of many voters on active service; that the postponement of elections until after the War would give expression to the unity of the nation; and, amongst other solutions, will he consider the introduction of legislation to reduce to a minimum expenditure on the compilation of the usual voting registers for the present year or, preferably, to render it unnecessary by providing that where lists have to be used, as in the case of by-elections, the existing register is to apply?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

A good deal of the work in compiling the registers of electors in the present year has already been done, and I do not think that it is desirable that the ordinary procedure should be suspended. I anticipate, however, that the activities of the political parties will be in general stayed.

A Bill to postpone elections for a year, and to provide for a register for the future, will be introduced forthwith.


Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed an announcement which appeared on this subject in the "Times" on Saturday, and is it not in the public interest that the House should be first informed?


I read no such announcement.