§ If, on counting the first-preference votes of all the candidates by the returning officer, no candidate is found to have more than one-half the number of valid votes recorded, the returning officer shall proceed to deal with the ballot papers as follows:
- (a) He shall construct a table (Table I.), as shown in the Ninth Schedule, by setting out in columns the various preferences of the voters opposite the names of the candidates arranged in alphabetical order;
- (b) He shall, in the case of those ballot papers (if any) where second or subsequent preferences are not recorded, distribute equally amongst the other candidates such unrecorded preferences;
- (c) He shall construct another table (Table II.) by multpilying the first-preference votes of each candidate by a figure which is one less than the number of candidates, and the second-preference votes by a figure which is two less, and the third-preference votes by a figure which is three less. and so on, and shall then add together the totals thus found for each candidate and place them to his credit;
- (d) He shall find the average number of all the points thus given to each candidate, and reject all candidates whose points are not greater than this average number, and if only one candidate remain he shall declare him to be elected;
- (e) He shall, if more than one candidate remain, distribute amongst them the preferences of the rejected candidate, and proceed in a similar way till all but one are rejected, and this one he shall declare to be elected;
- (f) IF at any time two or more candidates, one of whom ought to be excluded, have an equal number of points, the returning officer shall by drawing lots determine which of them shall first be excluded.—[Major Chapple.]
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Major CHAPPLE
I beg to move "That the Schedule be read a second time."
Owing to the insertion of these Schedules in the Bill, I should like to say a word or two upon the objections that have been raised regarding their purport. It seems to me we have to keep clearly in mind that there are two distinct parts, or rather, two distinct regions in the alternative vote. There is the part that relates to the voter almost exclusively, and the part that relates to the returning officer. The voter need know nothing about what goes on in the returning officer's room. All systems of preferential voting are the same to the voter, in so far as the marking of the ballot paper is concerned. The ballot papers for proportional representation, or for any system of alternative voting, are practically the same. The voter has simply to put numbers in the order of his choice, and the numbering having been done, he has nothing else to do but to drop the voting paper into the ballot box. I want to emphasise that point, because so many objections to the alternative vote, and more especially to my system of counting. are based on the idea that it is very complex, and that the elector will never be able to understand it. But he need not be in the least concerned with what the returning officer does with the ballot paper. providing that he can be assured that the returning officer is going to carry out his intention as expressed in these preferential numbers. So much, then, for the voters' mechanical part in marking the paper and putting it into the ballot box.
2128 But there are some other points to which I should like to call attention with regard to the voter. He need not mark his ballot paper; he need not give his preferences. The compulsory marking of preferences is the law in Western Australia, where they have the system set out in the draft regulations of my right hon. Friend. It was found there that the result was frequently vitiated and that minority rule obtained: that is to say, a man was very often elected as the representative of a constituency, notwithstanding the fact that he was only able to poll a minority of the electors. This resulted from the fact that only about two-thirds of the electors recorded their second preferences. There was an opinion fostered for party purposes, at any rate, that the recording of second preferences weakened the chance of the first preference man getting in. So prevalent did this idea become that the State passed a compulsory law for the recording of preferences, and now ballot papers are invalid unless they contain at least one preference other than the first. If we adopt alternative voting, as we have already done, it does not matter whether the Government scheme or my own system of counting prevails, the fact remains that the electors can defeat the intentions of the alternative vote if they like to abstain from recording their second preferences, and then the whole system of alternative voting is vitiated, and the old system of vote splitting will continue. The question now is, if we are going to adopt the alternative vote as a means of allowing a multiplicity of candidates to seek the suffrages of the electors, and as a secondary means of preventing minority rule and minority candidates being elected, how are we going to deal with the electors who refuse to play their part in that attempt?
Western Australia has its plan. The suggestion that I make in my proposal is that the voter may be induced to cast his second preference by the instruction given to the returning officer, that all unrecorded preferences shall be divided equally among the remaining candidates. That, I submit, it a perfectly legitimate method of inducing voters to record their preferences. If a man does not give any preference he has no part in the second election, which is conducted by the returning officer in his room after it has been found on the counting of the first preferences that no candidate has secured an absolute majority. If a man does not record his 2129 second preference vote he is taken as not having voted at all at the second election. Take an election in which there are three candidates, A., B., and C. The voter plumps for A. He refuses to vote for either B. or C., and the assumption is that he does not care whether B. or C. is elected. That to him is a matter of indifference—if he cannot get A. elected. He says, in fact, that he has no preference as between B. and C. It may be fairly assumed that if he has a strong preference he will record it. Under my proposal, therefore, his vote will be neutralised. He will get credit for his indifference. [A laugh.] This may be amusing to hon. Members, but surely it is a fair assumption that if a man has a preference he will record it, and if he has no preference then his vote should be neutralised. Suppose there are 100 votes thus to be disposed of, the returning officer will give 50 to B. and 50 to C., and that will make no difference whatever in the result. But the knowledge that the returning officer must take that course will surely induce the voter if he has any preference between B. and C. at all, to record that second preference in favour of the one he prefers. The fact that his second vote will be neutralised will surely induce him to record the preference, unless, indeed, there is some ulterior motive in neglecting to do so. We know that election agents will continue to manoeuvre, as they always have done, to determine which of the candidates is to be defeated, but still I submit that if the voter is made aware that in the event of his failure to record a second preference the returning officer will neutralise that preference by another unrecorded preference on the second ballot, he will be induced to record that preference. That is an essential part of the scheme, because the whole of the alternative vote is vitiated unless by some means or other you induce or compel a voter to record at least a second preference. If we adopt the alternative vote we must ensure its success, and we can only do so by requiring the voter to record his preferences.
Some have thought it would be well to go even as far as compelling electors to vote, because the indifference of voters has frequently in the past vitiated election results, and if, that occurred it might lead to a country being governed by a clique. It is essential to good government that every elector should vote. It is essential 2130 for the success of the alternative vote, for the determination of your preferences, and for the election of the majority candidate that every elector should record at least a second preference. So much for the voter and what he is asked to do under this system.
As to the returning officer, the whole thing turns upon the instructions which are given to him. My right hon. Friend, in his draft Rules has given each returning officer certain specific instructions as to what he is to do when he gets the ballot papers. But in the Schedule which I am advocating I think I have a better scheme. The right hon. Gentleman's scheme is erroneous; mine is free from error. The scheme of my right hon. Friend does not in all cases secure majority rule in a constituency, and, that being so, he does not fulfil the avowed intention of the alternative vote, which is to do away with minority rule and to substitute for it majority rule in every constituency. If the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman does not secure that, then I say it is fallacious; it is even worse, because it means that you will go to the constituency under false pretences. You say to the constituency, "It is your right under a democratic system to have a representative who represents more than half of the electors, and we are going to ensure that you get that, and therefore give you this alternative vote system." But the Government method does not do that. Then I say you go to the constituency under false pretences. You make a fraudulent claim if you claim that with my right hon. Friend's scheme you can ensure majority rule. It is going to have this effect, you will do away with the power of the two party caucuses. The constituency will say that since votes are not to be split it does not matter how many parties come forward. You will have this small body of educationists, or that of women suffragists, saying that since there is the alternative vote there is no danger of vote splitting and minority rule, and therefore all these candidates can stand. There are constituencies where the candidates are teachers, and in the future more teaching will be necessary. As you increase the vote you increase the necessity of having educative Members of Parliament. It is an advantage that as many candidates as care to stand, or who think they have a message and an opportunity of educating the constituency on certain lines, should 2131 do so. It is to their advantage, and to the advantage of the constituency, that you should have as many candidates as care to come forward. You are also encouraging the candidates themselves to come forward; you are saying to young, ambitious men "Come forward and stand if you think you have a message. If you stand you will not split the vote. We have the alternative vote scheme, and under that no matter how many candidates stand we will still ensure that more than one-half the electors will send their man to Parliament." It is a great advantage to have young men come forward. One of the abuses of the past is that a small coterie in a constituency can by a process of elimination say, "No, you must not stand. "No matter how promising they may be, or how great their power of education, they are all eliminated by all sorts of intrigue, because they are told that if they stand they will split the vote. Under my right hon. Friend's scheme we are encouraging the constituencies to call candidates to their platforms, we are encouraging young men to stand, but under false pretences, because my right hon. Friend's scheme does not ensure that in all cases the man who represents an absolute majority is going to be elected. That is my objection to it, and I go further and say that I would prefer our present system of gradually eliminating all but two, to keep vote splitters out, rather than a system which is going to give a multiplicity of candidates in nearly every election on this promise which is fallacious.
What is the instruction to the returning officer under my right hon. Friend's scheme? That instruction is that if he find that with three candidates or more for one constituency one of those candidates has not an absolute majority of all the votes polled, he is to strike out the bottom man. That is grossly unfair. What right have you to say that the third man has not a chance and does not represent the majority in that constituency? It is grossly unfair. You say to him, "Since you are twenty, or a hundred, behind the top man, we are going to throw you out, and we are going to take your second preferences and distribute them among the other two, without taking the second preferences of the other two and giving them to you. "It is grossly unfair, and vitiates the whole principle, bringing about in many cases 2132 that minority rule of which I have spoken. That has occurred in a number of cases. I am going to give some party illustrations, because it is of no use disguising the fact that this is a great party question, in one sense. First of all, it is justice and democracy—and because it, is just, fair, and democratic I am supporting it—but secondarily, it is party. I am bold enough to say that the Liberal party and the Labour party have suffered great disabilities in the past because of the injustice of vote-splitting. The Conservative party can concentrate on one man: the Liberal and Labour parties cannot; and because they in the past, each struggling to get the seat, have split the vote and let the Conservative in, you have a party anxiety in this matter just as you have the democratic aspect of it as well. Under my right hon. Friend's scheme, if. a Unionist, a Labour man, and a Liberal stand for a constituency, the man at the bottom is going to be either the Liberal or the Labour man. In the great majority of cases that is what is going to happen.
§ Major CHAPPLE
Because the Conservatives concentrate on one man, and, the Liberals and Labour being largely allied parties standing for the same programme as they do in this House, either the Labour or the Liberal man will be at the bottom. Without disturbing the Conservative at all, you are going to ask the Labour or the Liberal man to stand out on the first count. You are going to make every three-cornered contest a cockpit In which the Liberal man and the Labour man are to fight each other for second place. The Liberal is going to try to put the Labour man at the bottom, and the Labour man is going to try to put the Liberal man at the bottom.
§ Major CHAPPLE
Not at all! The object of the election is to secure that that man of these three is elected who represents more than half the electors. That is the object of the election, and that is the object of this Amendment of mine. Under my right hon. Friend's scheme the election is going to degenerate into a wrangle between those two parties, each trying to put the other at the bottom in order that he may be eliminated at the first count. It is unfair to those two parties to have a scheme which is going to degenerate into that kind of contest. Not. 2133 only is it going to lead to minority rule, and to defeat the purpose of this alternative vote, but it is going to be a scheme worse than the system in the past, which aimed at eliminating all those who tended to split the vote and to concentrate as much as possible on two candidates. What is my scheme as opposed to my right hon. Friend's scheme? When I say my scheme I am using that term for simplicity. It is not my scheme at all. I had nothing to do with it whatever. The only thing I have done is to interpret the scheme of Professor Nanson, which was brought forward in 1907, which has been tested time and again by test elections, mathematically and algebraically, and which has proved to be without error.
§ Major CHAPPLE
I must say I often tire of people who demand that everything must have been done before or it shall not be done in the future. It is a most pathetic thing to find people constantly resisting new ideas, and constantly asking whether it has been done before. It is a disease with some people. You make a suggestion to them, and they say, "Quote your authority; has it been done before? If it has not been done before, then how on earth can you do it at all?" I have spent a large part of my life in a country where if in the House of Parliament a man got up and said, "There is no precedent for this," the whole chorus would be, "Hurry up and let us make a precedent, and be the first." You do not deter people of that cast of mind from doing a thing by having no precedent. The question to them is, Is it right or is it wrong? Will it suit the purpose? My hon. Friend (Mr. Anderson) turns intellectually pale when I tell him that there is no precedent for this.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
May I make it clear that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was arguing that this had been tried and proved to be mathematically correct? I think I was perfectly in order, without going into the wider question, to ask whether it had been tried, and in what circumstances.
§ Major CHAPPLE
I will allow the hon. Gentleman to escape along that route. What I said was that it had been tested over and over again, tested mathematically and in test elections. Perhaps he did not quite catch my words. The in- 2134 structions which I wish given to the returning officer are simple—the only difference between these and the system of my right hon. Friend being that. I give credit to each candidate for the value of the second preference votes just as he gives them to the bottom candidate. My right hon. Friend takes the second preference votes from the bottom candidate and distributes them among the others. I do this, but I also take the second preference votes of all the men and distribute them, pro rata, among all the candidates. Someone wrote to the "Morning Post" the other day and said that was unsporting; that it was not the sporting method of an Englishman to take the second preference votes of all the candidates and do for one of the candidates what you are doing for the others. If I take the second preference votes and distribute them, pro rata, amongst all the candidates, I am doing only what is fair and just. The right hon. Gentleman opposite who criticised this the other day talked about the different values of preference votes. It is the same vote. There is no difference in value between the first and second preference votes. If a man leaves £1,000 in his will to his eldest son on condition that he marries, and wills that if the son does not do so the money is to go to his second son, it is still £1,000. It has no different value. It is simply transferred from the elder son to the younger son. If a man gives his daughter a hat and tells her that if it does not suit her she is to give it to her sister, it is the same hat. My right hon. Friend gives a vote to Jones, and he tells the returning officer that if nobody else gives a vote for Jones, he does not wish to lose it altogether, and therefore he is to give it to Smith in preference to Pratt. It is the same vote. I have said this, before, and I am sorry to repeat it like a schoolmaster. I do not want to be dogmatic about it, but I must insist that you make no difference in the value of the vote. It is the same vote given by the same man to a different candidate under certain conditions. I have been accused of having entered into some deep and dark conspiracy and of working hand and glove with the Conservative party. [Hon. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] I shudder at the thought, and sometimes I go through a process of introspection. If the Conservative party turns its intellect to the study of this proposal and sees that it is sound. I welcome them to my view. I was even 2135 accused of staying away purposely on Monday last. I regret I was not here, as I should have enjoyed the triumph of standing at the Table and finding my Amendment carried by such a large majority. I was engaged on military duty which I regard as my first consideration, and my presence here I regard as a second consideration.
My first instruction to the returning officer, if there is no one who has a majority of the votes polled, is,He shall construct a table (Table I.), as shown in the Ninth Schedule, by seting out in columns the various preferences of the voters opposite the names of the candidates arranged in alphabetical order."There could be nothing simpler than that. The second instruction is,He shall in the case of those ballot papers (if any) where second or subsequent preferences are not recorded distribute equally among the other candidates such unrecorded preferences."That is a very important part of the whole scheme, and it is a scheme which ensures the success of the alternative vote. Mr. Nanson said this, showing what importance he attached to this provision:The assumption that the electors who plump for A are equally divided as to the merits of B and C appears to he perfectly legitimate, but the electors have the opportunity of stating their preference, if they have one, and as they in the case supposed decline to express any, it may fairly be concluded that they have none. If then we adopt the plan just described—which I propose—for incomplete papers, it would be sufficiently simple for practical purposes and its use will tend to elicit from the electors a full statement of their various preferences.As an Amendment will be moved to this particular provision, I reserve until then what I have to say upon it. The next Instruction is
"He shall construct another table (Table II.) by multiplying the first-preference votes of each candidate by a figure which is one less than the number of candidates, and the second-preference votes by a figure which is two less, and the third-preference votes by a figure which is three less, and so on, and shall then add together the totals thus found for each candidate and place them to his credit."
What is the object of that? [An HON. MEMBER: "I do not know!"] If the hon. Member does not know it is because he has not studied it. When I heard someone remark, when I first put down this Amend- 2136 ment, that it was complex and difficult [...]o carry out, I handed my Amendment Paper to two convalescent soldiers in hospital and asked them whether they could carry out an election upon these Amendments without any further instruction. They selected three candidates remote from anything concerned with the hospital or with politics. They chose Marconi, Edison, and Maxim, and the question was which of those by his inventions, had done most in the War. I got the papers ready for them, and those two men carried out that election without any instruction whatever beyond these Amendments, and without a single mistake picked out the absolute majority man. They came to me some time afterwards and said that the result of the election had led to a discussion as to the merits of those different inventions, and they wanted to carry out another election. They carried out that second election also in every detail of these instructions without a mistake and without difficulty. What is the use of saying the matter is complex and difficult? If it looks difficult it is in the written description. If I had to describe a game of chess to an individual who had never seen it and without a chess board and "men" it would take me an hour and a half to do so, and even then he would not understand it. If you had a chess board you could demonstrate the matter easily. These descriptions look long and tedious, but there is nothing simpler than to construct these tables.
§ Major CHAPPLE
He does not require to understand the calculation or the method of calculation any more than my right hon. Friend would require to understand how a banker keeps his books behind a counter. In that case. all he would require to understand would be that when he handed his money in it would be placed to his credit, and that when he went for it it would be there for him to get. He never inquires how the banker keeps his accounts, and if you put him amongst the books I would undertake to say he would not understand one column from another. My right hon. Friend was not in at the beginning of my remarks, when I drew a clear line of demarcation between the function and 2137 duty of the voter and the function and duty of the returning officer. The next instruction is:He shall find the average number of all the points thus given to each candidate and reject all candidates whose points are not greater than this average number, and if only one candidate remain he shall declare him to be elected.That is simply a mathematical calculation, and it has been proved that it will get for you the man who can beat the others in single combat. You may use other methods, but this is the simplest way to attain the end you want. It is a mathematical calculation and it is perfectly simple and easy to demonstrate that by it you find out which of those three candidates, if he had stood against the other two in single combat, would have won on the ballot papers. It has been proved to be mathematically correct, and, Mr. Nanson says, absolutely free from error. The method of my right hon. Friend is not free from error. The next instruction is:He shall, if more than one candidate remain, distribute amongst them the preferences of the rejected candidate and proceed in a similar way till all but one are rejected, and this one he shall declare to be electedSome of my friends say that that is a little ambiguous. Perhaps it is, but I see an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Enfield (Major Newman) which sets out in full the intention of that instruction. So far as I can see there is no flaw in it. It is wider and there is no chance of failure. My hon. Friend (Major Newman) is equally accurate, so far as I can see. If the House will accept that I shall be prepared to substitute it for mine for the sake of greater clearness in carrying out the intention of the Sub-section. Let me quote again:(f) If at any time two or more candidates, one of whom ought to be excluded, have an equal number of points, the returning officer shall, by drawing lots, determine which of them shall first be excludedI have said drawing lots because it is an invidious thing to put upon the returning officer the task of giving a casting vote. It tends to the selection of a man of some particular party bias. If he draws lots it does not matter whether or not he has any party bias, for it does not in any 2138 way affect the issue. If there are two candidates whose votes are exactly equal, there can be no great harm in drawing lots, rather than that the returning officer should have cast on him the invidious task of making the selection. That, then, is the final instruction. I have just, in conclusion to emphasise the fact that this system has no ulterior party motive behind it. It deals with votes, and not with parts of votes. All the votes are of equal value. It must always be so. The only occasion on which first and second preference votes were not of equal value but achieved the desired result was in B.C. 480. One Greek general was required to control the Greek fleet. There were eight generals, and they were asked to give first and second preference votes. Each gave his first preference vote to himself, and his second preference vote to Themistocles, who, accordingly, was elected and put in charge of the fleet at the battle of Salamis, with what result every schoolboy knows.
>: Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain why, if the alternative vote is equal to the preference vote, you multiply the first preference vote?
§ Major CHAPPLE
I have explained, that that is a mathematical method to determine which candidate could beat all his rivals if several elections were held, and it is flawless. You do not halve or double his vote. You just give a man a number of points for his first preference, and for the second preference a certain number of points and so on. The thing is a mathematical formula by which a simple calculation gives the result you are seeking.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I beg to second the proposed Schedule. I did so the other night. I did so because I understood the Amendment. My whole point, when we were discussing the question, was that the Government scheme was not a fair one, and that it was perfectly ridiculous to settle an election upon a second preference and in favour of the lowest candidate at the poll. I adhere to that opinion. It is because I have heard the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Stirling-shire (Major Chapple) state in the course of his speech that I was perfectly correct that second preferences should be taken into account, that I saw a glimmer of common sense which I had not seen in previous speeches. The Division on the Amendment was by no means a Division 2139 in favour of the Schedule or a proper Division against the alternative vote. If we are to have the alternative vote, which remains in the Bill, the best thing we can do is to try to get the most improved Schedule that we can. I have put certain Amendments on the Paper, and certain of my hon. Friends have put other Amendments on the Paper in order to arrive at this. I am seconding the Amendment, not in the least because I believe in it, or understand it, but because it is capable of improvement, and probably, if we are to improve a system of this kind, I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cambridge University that we had better make the least absurd plan. I take it from the hon. and learned Member that this Amendment would in the least be better than the Government plan. I do not know whether the House has followed the arguments of the hon. and gallant Member with a sufficiently close attention to understand exactly the whole of the points he tried to make.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I did not. I followed it so far. Some of it I did not understand. The hon. and gallant Gentleman explained paragraph (b), where it appears you count second preferences which have never been given. The effect of that would be to throw your own candidate out. That seems to me a somewhat extraordinary proposal to make. If you take out of the Schedule paragraph (b) you take out what appears to me to be the greatest absurdity in the scheme, and you get down then to a much more reasonable calculation than that which appeared in the Government White Paper. You can give a certain value to all preference votes for every candidate, and so you must come to something like a reasonable, fair, and just conclusion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Stirling said it is not his own plan, but that of some philosopher in Australia. It is the best we can possibly provide. I am told there are still better plans which might be devised, which are more simple and more correct, and more easily understanded of the ordinary people. Be that as it may, we have to attempt to provide a Schedule which is the one likely to appear in the Bill when it goes to another place, and we had better send it up as reasonable, fair, and wise as possible.
2140 The whole difficulty arises from the inherent weakness of the alternative votes. The alternative vote is capable of being used in a way which, I am sure, we all deprecate. If there is one thing more certain than another it is that this amended Schedule gives less opportunity than would the Government plan for that kind of corrupt bargaining which I spoke about the other day. At all events it would he a very much more complicated and difficult thing, if I may use something in the nature of a slang expression, to have a " ramp " than under the Government scheme. That, again, is an advantage over the Government plan. There is, at least, two slight advantages. We can by Amendment in this House of paragraph (b) make the whole scheme a little more intelligible, and that I think is secured by the hon. Member's Amendment. We will then, at all events, not send up a quite ridiculous Section in this Bill when it goes to another place. What chance it may have of influencing that Assembly I do not know. I do not suppose they will be any more capable of understanding the situation than probably are some of us. However well some of us might have thought we did our mathematics at school, I do not know that we have carried them on with knowledge sufficient till now to be able to understand quite as easily as the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself all these calculations which appear on the Paper. I do not think I have anything further to add. I have explained, at all events, my position in this matter, and, having seconded the Second Reading of this Amendment, I hope an opportunity will be offered to this House, if the Second Reading is carried, to arrive at a wise decision in this matter.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The House is in the unusual position of having a Motion before it which its own Seconder declares he is unable to understand, and I am afraid that many Members of the House who have listened to the interesting and lucid speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stirlingshire still possibly may not feel that in every particular they are wholly seised of what this system is. I have had the advantage of a little private tuition from the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and, although I do not claim to be able to understand the whole of the system in all its details, I think I am able to understand enough of it to detect what appears to me a fatal objection to its adoption. It is this: Every person under his 2141 proposal who gives a second preference on his ballot paper is giving a vote which is against his first vote. Let me put the thing in a concrete form. If there are, let us say, 1,000 electors in a constituency who wish to see a Labour man elected for that constituency, they vote first preference for the Labour candidate. If they vote second preference for the Liberal candidate, then that second preference will 'count 1,000 points against their first vote. If, on the other hand, they do not give any second preference at all, then, under the scheme as proposed by my hon. Friend, they will be assumed to have given second votes both for the Liberal and for the Unionist candidate, if there is one. If there are four or five candidates they will be assumed to have given votes for all the remaining candidates, no matter how intensely they may dislike them, and no matter how earnestly they may desire their defeat. Of course, the position is much worse if the hon. Baronet's Amendment is carried, and they are not supposed to give any second preference votes.
Take first my hon. and gallant Friend's scheme. There are a thousand Labour electors. They cast no second votes; nevertheless, they are supposed to give second votes to all the other candidates, and, if two, they will count 500 points each for the Liberal and the Conservative candidate. Suppose the hon. Baronet's Amendment is carried, and that particular part of this Amendment is struck out, then they give no votes to anyone else, and no points count to anyone else; but suppose, rashly and foolishly, they say, " We will give our second preference to the Liberal "; immediately that Liberal scores in the counting 1,000 points. If, of course, the Liberals, in their turn, give their second vote to the Labour man they get an equivalent advantage. But suppose they do not, the effect undoubtedly is that the Labour men, who wish to see the Liberal candidate returned in preference to the Conservative, but above all want to see the Labour man at the top of the poll, may find that, because they have foolishly given a second vote to the Liberal candidate, their Labour man is defeated by the Liberal by their own votes. That is the fatal objection to this scheme.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
Will the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to deal with the point that no voter should be com 2142 pelled to give a second preference to any man he did not want to see in Parliament at all?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
They certainly should not; but it seems ridiculous that a man should be invited to vote for a candidate whose return to the House of Commons he above all others wishes to defeat.
§ Sir ERNEST POLLOCK
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the point as to the protection against plumping and misusing this scheme? It is confusing the hon. and gallant Member's plan to put this in as the main scheme. Its object is to avoid plumping.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Perhaps I may be allowed to go on in my own imperfect way. The difference between the alternative vote, as ordinarily understood, and as embodied in the White Paper laid on the Table of the House by the Government, and this scheme of my hon. and gallant Friend is briefly, in my opinion, this: Under the alternative vote, as ordinarily understood, the second preference is never counted at all until it is clear that the man whom you really wish to return is out of the running. It is only counted subsequently when, after the counting, it is clear that the candidate whom you wanted to see returned cannot be returned. Under this proposal the second preferences are counted simultaneously with the first—that is the important difference—and therefore, pro tanto, count against the first, and that is why, if and when this scheme becomes the law of the land, and is put to practical test at an election, no one who really cared for the return of a candidate would ever give a second preference at all, because he would know that he would be assisting the return of the man who is only his second choice, and not the man of his first choice.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
It is to the same effect, but not so fatal. Let me take my 1,000 Labour electors. If the scheme stands as is suggested, and they do not vote for anyone, they give 250 points to each of the other candidates.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Yes, that is so. They give 500 points on the assumption that unrecorded preferences are distributed to each of the other two.
§ Major CHAPPLE
Five hundred votes. There are 1,000 first preference votes which go to the Labour candidate, and no second preferences are recorded. In that case the returning officer is instructed to divide equally among the other candidates the unrecorded preferences, so that they get 500 each. [HON. MEMBERS: " That is what he said ! "]
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The hon. and gallant Member is, of course, much more familiar with this scheme than I am. But their points are divided equally among the other two. If, on the other hand, they give the preference to one they all go to one. Consequently, they have twice as much effect if they give the preference than if they did not give the preference in enabling some second candidate to compete with the candidate whom they really want to get in. That is the flaw in the scheme, and that is why, when it was carefully examined by election experts before a General Election took place, everybody would urge the electors, if they really cared for the return of their candidate, not to give any second preference at all. The consequence of this would be that the scheme would not be applied. People would not give alternative votes, and we should be in just the same position in effect as we are now. It reminds me of what was said of a famous war-horse called Bayard, which was declared to have every possible good quality which could be desired in a charger, and which had only one fault, namely, that he was dead. This theory may have every point of theoretical virtue, but when it came to be applied you would find it would not be applied; consequently, it might just as well not be enacted in a Statute at all. Let me say just one word with reference to the objection that is raised to the alternative vote as ordinarily understood, and the ground on which the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) says he is going to vote for this scheme because he thinks the other scheme is unfair.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Yes; he is going to vote for it, because he thinks the alternative vote is unfair. The reason is that you only count the second preference of the candidate at the bottom of the poll, and not the second preference of the candi 2144 dates who are first and second on the poll. You count the first preference of the men who are first and second on the poll Why, therefore, should you examine their second preference? You ascertain the wishes of the voters, and they are that A. or B. should be elected, and they count as set out in the first count and in the second count, while in the case of the other you count his second preferences, because the first preferences are not enough to secure his election. He is ruled out on the first count, and you have then to see what are the desires of the voters in the event of his election being made impossible, and it is only in regard to him that the question of the second preference arises.
§ Major CHAPPLE
Is it not the case that those who give their first preference to A. might wish if A. cannot be elected that C. should be elected; and those who voted for B. might also wish that C. should be elected if B. is not elected? Neither A. nor B. might have an absolute majority but C. might.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I am not saying that the alternative vote is a perfect system. I admit that is a possibility, but it approximates as a rule more closely to, justice than any other and far more-closely than the present system, which notoriously results in some candidate being elected whom the great majority of the people have actually voted against. It has been said that this system has not been tried in any part of the world, and that we ought not to adopt a scheme which has not been tested. My hon. Friend the Member for the Attercliffe Division (Mr. Anderson) was mistaken in saying that it has not been tried, because it has been tried in the Diocesan Synod of Victoria. Therefore, if the House of Commons and the House of Lords adopt this scheme we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that our opinion is shared by the Diocesan Synod of Victoria, and these-two bodies will be the only ones to adopt this particular scheme. We are not a body of students trying to devise the most theoretical system of the alternative vote, but we are a practical legislature trying to frame a system which can be applied for the use of 16,000,000 electors. I submit to the House that it would be-beneath its dignity to send up to another 2145 Chamber a finely drawn, not to say fantastic system such as this, which everyone knows is not seriously intended by the main body of the House, and which was put into the Bill in a fit of absence of mind on the part of some hon. Members, and because of the absence of body on the part of the others. We learn to-day from the hon. Baronet opposite that he supported it because he regarded it as a means of defeating the alternative vote. Those who are favourable to the latter cannot do otherwise than vote against the inclusion of this particular scheme.
§ Sir E. POLLOCK
I do not think the speech we have just listened to has done justice to the Mover of the Amendment. The hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Major Chapple) made a speech which I am sure the House will agree was good-humoured, and he dealt very aptly with the thrusts made against him. I think his speech deserves a good deal of consideration, and I think that his scheme has not been fairly criticised by the right hon. Member the Member for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel). I am not much in favour of doing sums orally, and I am not capable of doing them. I find just as great difficulty in following the sums and conundrums put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland as I do in following those put by the hon. Member for Stirlingshire. Without a blackboard in front of him the Member for Cleveland fails to instruct me just as much as the hon. Member for Stirlingshire failed. Nevertheless, I observe that there is this similarity, that when the House becomes impatient they both say that it is so simple, and they repeat a jargon of figures and numbers which fail to convince me.
Why I think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland was unfair, is this: The hon. Member for Stirlingshire set out with two objects. His view is that the White Paper prepared by the Government gives an unfair result, and I believe him. I am quite clear, although I do not understand mathematics, that it is advocating a bad system. He starts out with a system which is to give us something better and a more just result, and how did he do it? He says there are two desiderata. You have to secure that the split vote does not result in the return of a member whom two parties do not want to see returned. That is the first thing, and that is the ground on which he complains that that 2146 result is an unfortunate thing. Then he says you have in any of these schemes of alternative voting to avoid the system being used improperly by plumping, and if you allow by means of the caucus a plumping system to be used, all your alternative systems of voting will fail. But he says, " I will show you a more excellent way, and in my scheme I avoid the disaster which may be brought about by a system of plumping." To avoid that you have to assume that every voter has done something more than simply to vote for one candidate. Then he appeals to the arithmeticians and persons well versed in figures. I do not think he is able to put forward his own authority for it, and he says you can appeal to Professor Nanson, who has been endeavouring to overcome this difficulty, and this is the way in which he has solved it. When we are told what is the distance of the earth from the stars or the sun from the earth, or something of that sort, we are quite able to believe it, although we do not quite follow the methods by which the solution is arrived at, and I am prepared to accept the authority of Professor Nanson, and of the hon. and gallant Member and the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Larmor), when they tell me that if you follow this particular method out you will avoid two dangers. This House is accustomed to dealing with matters upon the authority of others, and it is quite justified in accepting from the hon. and gallant Member the authority of Professor Nanson. It is quite true that we are not students here and that the House will never be able by simple debate to find out the best scheme. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Cleveland Division says that this scheme has not been tried except in a diocesan synod. I do not think that is a taunt that should be levelled against any diocesan synod. Why should not a diocesan synod adopt a perfectly fair method of voting? This House ought not to cast any such aspersion on a diocesan synod. I do not know why it should be assumed to be a stupid body. I do not know why it should be suggested that a diocesan synod in Australia should not have the confidence of this House just as any other congregation. I, for one, rather deprecate that sort of taunt. The right hon. Gentleman said that we wanted a system for rough use, and I quite agree with him, but when you adopt a system of alternative voting and get away from a 2147 system which we can all understand you are placed in the difficulty of finding a system which must be commended by experts and not by ordinary Members of this House. The alternative vote was adopted, and Scott tells us:Ever in temptation strong,We leave the right path for the wrong;And ev'ry devious step thus trodStill leads us further from the road.This is quite true, and having gone on the wrong lines we are trying to retrace our steps. If you are not going to have the simple system whereby you vote for one man and not for another, and you are going to have a system whereby you bring in preference votes, then you must rely on experts to guide you; and for my own part I think this system does deal with two very important points which must never be left out of sight. You must rely not upon a Debate in this House, but upon a system which has the greatest authority of mathematicians behind it. We want to avoid the result of a split vote, and the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire says, quite fairly, if there are three parties, A. B. and C., that you must not assume that the person who votes for C. would not have a different preference as between A. and B., and you must not discard his vote. The programme of the Government seems to me to throw out the third candidate much too early and before you can fairly estimate the weight of his votes. It may be that this system is capable of improvement, but, if we are to discuss it and to have every man telling us what his system would be, I do not believe that we shall arrive at any just result. I am perfectly ready to accept the authority given to us, and on these grounds I shall vote for the Schedule of the hon. and gallant Member for Stirling-shire.
§ 9.0 P.M
§ Captain BARNETT
It requires a considerable measure of temerity for any member of the party to which I have the honour to belong to rise in this House and speak about the alternative vote after the very remarkable speech made the other night by the hon. Member for the Attercliffe Division (Mr. Anderson). It is difficult to follow all the mental processes of the hon. Member, but I gather that he regards the principle of the alternative vote as something truly belonging to the party with which he is identified and that he resents any member of any other party 2148 having any views about that great principle or venturing to express them in this House. I repudiate the proposition put forward by the hon. Member.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
What proposition? The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that I associate this principle in some way with some party that I represent. I have never done anything of the kind, and I have never put it forward from a party point of view at all.
§ Captain BARNETT
I would remind the hon. Memebr of his own words, though perhaps he was carried away by his own eloquence. He said that hon. Members on this side of the House, and myself in particular, had a political advantage in our minds when we supported the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire. Those were his exact words.
§ Captain BARNETT
I say most emphatically that the hon. Member for the Attercliffe Division has no right to impugn the sincerity of hon. Members who support the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire, because at the very outset we most carefully explained that it was not that we loved the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire more but that we loved the draft Rules less. We thought the scheme put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill was a less practical scheme than the scheme put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Stirling. I myself said in so many words that I supposed we were now committed to the principle of the alternative vote, and that therefore we ought to address ourselves to the task of seeing how we could best make it a working proposal. Then the hon. Member charges us with insincerity. Why? We have put our cards on the table. We said exactly what was our position. We do not like the alternative vote, and it was carried against our wish, but now that it is carried and the principle is in the Bill, we are trying to make its application as fair as possible. So long as I am a Member of this House, I shall claim for myself the privilege of holding views on any political principle and of expressing them when the time comes to do so. We have heard to-day a very interesting and illuminating speech from the Mover of the Amendment. I wish to identify myself with a great deal of that speech, but there 2149 are one or two things in it which I criticise. There was the hon. and gallant Member's reference to plumping. He sees that plumping is the weak spot in this scheme, as it is the weak spot in every alternative voting scheme. The hon. and gallant Member has made an honourable and gallant attempt to wrestle with that difficulty. He says, as the voters for A. have not thought it worth their while to exercise their preference as between B. and C., that the returning officer shall decide the second preference of these people.
There is another side to the picture, namely, that you may make a man give a vote to people for whom he has a profound detestation. I should consider that rather a blot on the scheme. In his previous speech the hon. and gallant Member told us that in Western Australia, which enjoys the benefits of the draft Rules scheme, they found that the principle of alternative voting was so vitiated by the not giving of votes that they found it necessary to introduce a Bill to compel a man to vote 1 and 2 or to lose his vote altogether. That is an absurdity. The hon. and gallant Member sees that difficulty. It would be far better to disfranchise a man altogether if he failed to vote at a certain number of elections than to make him give a vote in a particular election which he did not want to give. It has been suggested that a man who does not exercise the franchise is unworthy of it, and that if he cannot show good cause for not voting in three or four elections you should sweep him away altogether. I am not sure that I should not vote for that myself. It is an entirely ,different proposition to say that a man is to have his second-preference votes, which he has never recorded, given to people for whom he does not wish to vote. There was one reference in the hon. and gallant Member's speech which I did not quite like. He said he had tried the scheme on his patients and had held a sort of mock election. As a soldier and a humanitarian, I protest against that. I do not think that convalescents in a hospital ought to be exposed to the task of understanding the hon. and gallant Member's figures and schemes. That ought to be left to sane men of cool judgment and discretion, who are in perfect health and who could deal with the task in a proper way.
I was very much impressed during the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel) with the way in which it showed that 2150 the arguments in favour of the different schemes of alternative voting destroyed one another. In the last Debate, and when I heard the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire to-night, I thought we had riddled with criticism the draft Rules issued in the White Paper, but when I listened to the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland I thought he was making out an almost equally good case against the alternative scheme of the hon. and gallant Member for Stirlingshire. The right hon. Gentleman told us a story about a famous race-horse whose name was Bayard and whose character was everything that a horse's character ought to be, but that he had only one fault—he was dead. What is the dead horse in this Debate? It is not the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member, but the draft Rules, which were killed by Monday's vote, and they ought now to be buried. On the other hand, the proposition of the hon. and gallant Member is a live proposition, because it is still before the House, and we are going to vote for it, and I hope we shall carry it, not because we think it is perfect, but because we feel it is a great deal better than the scheme we have already riddled with criticism and have killed in the Division Lobby. When we have carried it we can address our minds to the improvement of the Schedules and try to make the scheme a workable proposition. Only this afternoon, in reference to the Amendment which the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) is going to move, namely, to leave out paragraph (b), a very earnest Member of the opposite party said to me " This is the keystone of the arch." I replied, " If you destroy the keystone of the arch by taking away an absolute absurdity—and it is an absurdity—and bring down the whole structure, it does not say much for the stability of my hon. Friend's architecture." We have had the tragedy of the Kilkenny cats enacted here. We have seen the hon. and gallant Member tearing to pieces the draft Rules, and we have seen the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland trying to resuscitate them at the expense of my hon. Friend's proposal. There is nothing in the draft Rules that has not been damaged by criticism; therefore, let us do what we can, out of the wreckage of these various schemes, to build up something which will give us a practical method
§ Major NEWMAN
I was astonished to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland. I shall endeavour to show the House that this particular scheme, be it good or bad, perfect or imperfect, is one designed to benefit the average man of the middle party. Without going into party politics, I claim that the Liberal party are the middle party, and I shall show that this particular scheme would benefit the Liberal party as against the Labour or Conservative parties. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland said it was unfair that a man should have his votes given to another candidate against his will, merely because he had not recorded any preference on his voting paper. If hon. Members take that objection, it can be got over in a very simple way. Instead of multiplying the first preference votes by two, in the case of three candidates, multiply them by one and a half. If you do that, you need not transfer any votes at all. The scheme of Professor Nanson is that of a scientific and mathematical man. This afternoon I had a conversation with a gentleman who about a year ago met Professor Nanson in Australia, riot in connection with Greek or mathematics, but on the question of the alternative vote. Professor Nanson is strongly in favour of proportional representation, as are, of course, all scientific and wise men. He was twitted, and rightly so, with not supporting proportional representation but with apparently giving his support to this scheme of the alternative vote, or, as they call it in America, the preferential or contingent vote. He said perfectly openly that his reason was that he thought the best way to get people round to the transferable vote in multi-member constituencies was to let them try their 'prentice hand on this system, which, however perfect, must be unjust, to teach them how to make their preference and to teach the returning officer how to count their votes, and in a short time they would gladly go on to the single transferable vote in multimember constituencies. There is one great and obvious difference between Professor Nanson's scheme and what we loosely call the alternative vote, or even the second ballot. In the alternative vote as they have it in Australia you say to the man, " I want you to imagine that your candidate is knocked out—either dead or disqualified because he is unable to produce £150 for his nomination—and now 2152 you come to vote for someone else. if you do not like the next man you may give no farther vote."
Professor Nanson's scheme is quite different from that. He wants to get at the average candidate that the average man wants, and therefore he goes on a much more scientific and elaborate, and therefore a fairer plan. He sets up his tables, and gives his two votes, one to his first preference and one transferable vote, and he then gets the average, and if only one candidate has the average he is returned. If there are two men above the average then, as I shall show in my Amendment, he proceeds to set up his tables afresh on a slightly different system, and gets a majority voting for one man or the other. That is the great difference between the bludgeon method; as I call it; of the alternative vote, or the second ballot, and this scheme of Professor Nanson's. After all, the alternative vote, as we understand' it, fails, and is bound to fail, because it does not give the third man a proper run for his money. When the tables are set. up and the votes are transferred the third man may be the first man, but under the alternative scheme that man is put out at once, and his votes are merely used to put some other man in whom those who voted in the first place for the third man did not want at all. The House is inclined to laugh at the hon. and gallant Gentleman for moving the Amendment, and at us for supporting him. But the difficulties for the elector are very few. I have an Amendment down to leave out the hon. and gallant Gentleman's ninth Schedule. I do not think it is necessary. If the House reads what happened in Western Australia in 1907, when the Electoral Bill was produced, embodying the scheme of the alternative vote, they will see that there were none of these Schedules showing people how to vote, and showing the returning officer what to do. Rules were made for voting, and it was left to the returning officer to get his clerks together and instruct them, and when the day of election came along the electors had enough instructions before them to know how to record their votes, and the returning officer to see that the votes were correctly recorded. I cannot help thinking that what was done there ought to be done here. I hate legislation by Order in Council, but in a case of this sort you do not want elaborate Schedules showing exactly how votes are to be recorded. Let 2153 that be done by Order in Council, put it down exactly how the man has to make his cross and his 1, 2, and 3, and then leave it to your expert staff to make the return in an efficient and honest manner. That is all you have to do. I think this scheme of Professor Nanson's is worth a trial, and I shall support it.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir G. Cave)
I think we have got into rather an absurd position. Many of the opponents of the alternative vote, of whom I am one, supported this Nanson scheme not, I think, for love of the scheme at all, but because they disliked the alternative vote. But it is not surprising that I could not join in That particular move. Nor could I support this Amendment on its merits. I do not believe, notwithstanding all that has been said, that the sober common sense of the British people would ever approve this scheme of voting. The only point is what is to be done. It matters little from my point of view whether the Amendment is passed or not. I am not quite sure whether, if the Amendment is lost, any other scheme on the Paper will be in order. If not, we shall have a provision in the Bill relating to a Schedule which does not exist. If, on the other hand, it is held that a later Amendment is in order, we shall have in the Bill that Amendment which I dislike almost as much as the one now before the House. My feeling is one of dislike to the whole thing, both to the alternative vote and to this Amendment. I say " A plague on both your Houses !" I hope the House will put something in the Bill and put it in as quickly as possible. In either case I am afraid we shall not cut a very dignified figure in another place. I feel sure that there the matter will be very seriously, considered, and the other House will put into the Bill something which, whether we approve it or not, will at all events represent a sensible and a workable scheme. The Government will take no part in this Division. We have promised to leave the House free on the matter, and it is an example which will make me rather unwilling to assent to that procedure again. I care very little whether the Amendment is carried or not. In either case I am quite sure the Government must consider the whole thing with a view to giving some guidance in another place.
§ Mr. PETO
On the point of Order which has been raised by the Home Secretary. 2154 Can you give the House any guidance whether, if this Amendment is rejected, any other similar Amendment will be in order, or whether, if this Amendment is rejected, the Bill will necessarily have no Schedule whatever?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
I must confess, not being a mathematician, that I cannot give an opinion, until I have had an explanation, whether any of these other Schedules differ sufficiently from this to enable me to rule them in order. The House decided last week against the inclusion in the Schedule of what is known as the White Paper. Whether any of the other proposals are sufficiently different from the present one I do not know. That is a difficult point.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
That does not rise at all. There are Amendments to this Schedule which do not appear in the White Paper at all.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
As far as I have noticed the Amendments to the present Schedule, if it be read a second time, I do not think they are in the White Paper.
§ Major CHAPPLE
The last occasion on which this was debated Mr. Speaker gave a ruling, and he said it was necessary to insert something in the nature of the proposals of the Eighth and Ninth Schedules. When the Amendment to the Clause was before the House the Amendment distinctly stated that the alternative vote shall be according to the system set up in the Eighth and Ninth Schedules, and that was passed. As the Bill stands, the alternative vote must be according to the Eighth and Ninth Schedules that are now before the House. Mr. Speaker apparently was of that opinion.
§ Mr. SHERWELL
Is it not within the province of the House to deal with this particular Amendment on its merits and then move to recommit?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
We cannot recommit at this stage. That can only be done after the Report stage is finished. I find that according to the Amendment 2155 which was passed by the House the other day the alternative vote was to be given in accordance with the system defined in the proposed Eighth and Ninth Schedules. Therefore any proposal must bear a resemblance to the system proposed by the hon. and gallant Member (Major Chapple), and the broad question before the House is whether it will or will not have some thing in the nature of the scheme proposed by the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Mr. HEMMERDE
Is there any difficulty whatever that differentiates this particular matter from other matters upon which the Government have already expressed their intention of moving to recommit? Many of us would like to know, if we vote against this and it is rejected, what will be the position. Is there anything which differentiates this particular proposal from those upon which the Government have said that they are perfectly willing to recommit? The Home Secretary seemed to suggest that there was some difficulty about this which does not apply to the others.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is open to the House, and within the power of the House, to recommit upon a particular point if it so decides.
§ Sir J. LARMOR
The question before us is, which of the two plans is the least objectionable. I think there is no doubt, if it can be carried out, that something like the scheme in the Schedule under discussion would give a fairer result as regards the opinion of the electorate than the one contained in the White Paper. The Home Secretary considered that though that may be so he is afraid that the electorate would not consider it to be a practical scheme. There we come to the bedrock that they are both bad, and it is a question of which is the better. The right hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel) based his criticisms on the hardship, as he thought, of asking the elector who wishes to vote for A. to give half a vote to B., but he forgot about the hardship of allowing the elector who wishes to vote for A. to give a whole vote for B., not because he likes B. but because he wishes to use it as a weapon for keeping out another candidate. To my mind the small risk that the elector will run under this scheme of giving half a vote to a candidate who is not of his first choice and enabling him to get in, is in the public interest infinitesimal compared with the 2156 great injustice that he will do to a third party in the constituency by being allowed to cast a whole vote for a second candidate, not because he likes that candidate, but because he likes him better than the third. The way this will work will be that an independent candidate, standing against two other candidates who are strongly supported by party organisations, will have no chance at all. He may be respected by the whole constituency; so much so that he will get second preferences of nearly the whole of the constituency, but the pressure of political parties puts him third on the list of first preferences, and he goes out, although there would be no doubt that in many cases he would be the candidate who, would best unite the suffrages of the constituency. But he is not a party man. He is third on the first preferences, but if the system which I have described were swept away he would probably command the support of the whole constituency as a fit and proper representative. It is a question as to which would be the lesser evil of the two schemes, and I am strongly of the opinion that the Schedule under discussion is the better one. It is said that it is very complicated, but the conceivable contingencies under the Schedule in the White Paper are at least as complicated as this. I believe that this Schedule, by a redrafting of paragraph (b), can be made so simple that there can be no possibility of ambiguity in the matter. I have submitted at the Table an Amendment which redrafts that paragraph, and which I understand is considered by high authorities to be perfectly straightforward. If that were put in, I believe that this Schedule would be quite as simple as the other, and certainly more just. The only object of paragraph (b) is that it goes towards minimising the objection of the right hon. Member for Cleveland that alternative votes will not be given at all. If I thought that that was a real danger I agree that there would be something to be said for (b). Personally, I think that the common sense of the electors will not operate on rigid party lines in this matter, but will carry through the thing in a reasonable way, and holding that I should rather like to see it omitted.
§ Mr. PETO
The Home Secretary said just now that he was in the position of disliking the alternative vote and disliking this Schedule before the House, and, indeed, he might have said " A plague on both your Houses!" I am in complete 2157 agreement with the Home Secretary in his position, but I may point out why the House is now in the position in which it finds itself. The Speaker's Conference passed the alternative vote by a majority. It was one of four subjects which were passed only by a majority. It differed essentially from the other three—women's suffrage, the absent voter, and the question of Poor Law relief—in one particular. These questions were thrashed out and, except for a small dissentient minority, there was unanimity, and in all these cases there was no question of a party vote. This question of the alternative vote was carried by a very narrow majority, though rather larger than was anticipated, I think it was by 15 votes to 10. The voting was on plain party lines, and you find the decision of the Speaker's Conference exactly reflected in this House in all the troubles of the last day or two. In explaining why I shall support this Amendment, I desire to make that position quite clear. The hon. Member for Stirling, speaking in this House on the 22nd November, was most emphatic in saying that he regarded the alternative vote of second choice as of equal value to the first. He said that a man who got the second preference vote had a vote just as valuable as the first preference, and that it was now recognised that the second preference votes were of the same value when transferred from one candidate to another, because they were in the first instance given to a candidate who could not secure a majority of electors.
That is the hon. Member's basis, not only for the alternative vote but for his Schedule. The Home Secretary spoke just now of the sober common sense of the
§ British public. I do not believe that the country will ever accept this method of enabling a man who is not the first choice of the constituency to get in and beat the man who is desired by a majority of the constituency, but the hon. Member in this Schedule makes it perfectly clear that the sober common sense of the British public should understand what is the meaning of the alternative vote. It is meant to make sure that in any case where there are two parties whose political differences are not widely apart one or other of their nominees will beat that party and that candidate who secures the majority of the first choice of the constituency. Therefore, it is really a question of making sure, as for example when there are three runners in a race that the first horse will always be pulled and the second or the third will win and that those who back second or third horse will get winning money for the placed horses. The hon. Member makes this suggestion clearly in paragraph (b): It says not only are all the votes to have equal value but he says that the votes that are not recorded, where no second preference votes are recorded, then the returning officer is to consider those votes as if the unfortunate elector had cast votes for somebody whose politics he personally detests. As I want the common sense of the British public to understand the beautiful system of wire pulling in politics, as similar to pulling on the race course, I shall vote for this Amendment.
§ Question put, " That the Schedule be read a second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 135; Noes, 167.2159
|Division No. 124.]||AYES.||[9.41 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham).|
|Allen, Major W. J.||Bull, Sir William James||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Archdale, Lieut. E. M.||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Butcher, John George||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Carew, C.||Goldman, C. S.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Cator, John||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Gretton, John|
|Barnett, Captain R. W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Barnston, Capt. Harry||Cheyne, Sir W. W.||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne),|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Clive, Col. Percy Archer||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Hombre, Angus Valdemar|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Colvin, Col. Richard Beale||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Hanson, Charles Augustin|
|Bird, Alfred||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir R. T.|
|Blair, Reginald||Craig, Colonel James (Down, E.)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Craik, Sir Henry||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Bowden, Major G. R. Harland||Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid.)||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian),|
|Boyton, James||Dixon, C. H.||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Horne, Edgar|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Fell, Arthur||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Hunter, Major Sir Charles Rodk.||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Nield, Herbert||Swift, Rigby|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S.||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. H. (Antrim, Mid.)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Kerry, Lieut.-Col. Earl of||Pease, Rt. Hon. H. Pike (Darlington)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|King, Joseph||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Tickler, T. G.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Peto, Basil Edward||Touche, Sir George Alexander|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Rothschild, Major Lionel de||Weigall, Lieut.-Col. W. E. G. A.|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen)||Weston, John W.|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Whiteley, Herbert J.|
|MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Samuels, Arthur W.||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Macmaster, Donald||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur||Wolmer, Viscount|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Sharman-Crawford, Colonel R. G.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Meux, Adml. Hon. Sir Hedworth||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.|
|Mitchell-Thomson, W.||Spear, Sir John Ward||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Neville, Reginald J. N.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Newman, Major John R. P.||Staveley-Hill, Lieut.-Col. Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —Dr.|
|Newton, Major Harry Kottingham||Stewart, Gershom||Chapple and Sir George Younger.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Pratt, J. W|
|Adamson, William||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Haslam, Lewis||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Alden, Percy||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hewart, Sir Gordon||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Hill, Sir James (Bradford, C.)||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arlon)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Hinds, John||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Barran, Sir R. (Leeds, N.)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)|
|Barton, Sir William||Hogge, James Myles||Roberts, Rt. Hon. George H. (Norwich)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.|
|Black, Sir Arthur W.||John, Edward Thomas||Robinson, Sidney|
|Bliss, Joseph||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Boland, John Pius||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rowlands, James|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Jowett, Frederick William||Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Joyce, Michael||Shaw, Hon. A.|
|Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Keating, Matthew||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Kellaway, Frederick George||Smallwood, Edward|
|Clough, William||Kenyon, Barnet||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Clynes, John R.||Kiley, James Daniel||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Lambert, Rt. Hon.G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Layland-Barratt, Sir F.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Cowan, Sir W. H.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Sutherland, John E.|
|Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Sutton John E.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Thomas, Sir G. (Monmouth, S.)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk,B'ghs)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||McGhee, Richard||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Tillett, B.|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby N.||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Tootill, Robert|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Macpherson, James Ian||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Maden, Sir John Henry||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Edge, Captain William||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Wardle, George, J.|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Watson, John Bertrand (Stockton)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Molloy, Michael||Watt, Henry A.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Wedgwood, Lieut.-Commander Josiah C.|
|Field, William||Morgan, George Hay||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)||Morison, Hector (Hackney, S.)||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Fleming, Sir John||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Needham, Christopher T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worc., N.)|
|Gilbert, J. D.||Nuttall, Harry||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Glanville, H. J.||O'Grady, James||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)||Outhwaite R. L.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Yeo, Alfred Willliam|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Parrott, Sir James Edward|
|Guest, Capt. Hon. Fred. E. (Dorset, E.)||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs., Leek)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES. —Mr.|
|Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Dundas White and Mr. Anderson|
|(Hackett, John||Peel, Major Hon. G. (Spalding)|
§ Mr. H. SAMUEL
Before the next Amendment is taken it will be for the convenience of the House to ask you, Sir, how the matter now stands. As I understand, the Clause in the Bill establishing the alternative vote remains, with the addition that reference is made to the eighth and ninth Schedules, which do not exist. The definition Clause in the Bill remains, defining the alternative vote as the Bill was introduced. Therefore, all that is necessary to bring the Bill into proper order when the Bill is recommitted will be to leave out the words that make reference to the eighth and ninth Schedules, which do not exist, and the Bill will then be in its original form.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The House has given two contradictory decisions. By one they accepted the principle of the Schedule proposed by the hon. Member, and now they have rejected it. I am afraid that I cannot assist the House with regard to the other Schedules which are proposed, the scheme of the hon. Gentleman having already been rejected. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North St. Pancras, who has a scheme which differs from the others, proposes it, it can be discussed, but if he does not I am afraid that I am unable to assist the House, and the Bill will have to go on without the eighth and ninth Schedules being in.