HC Deb 24 May 1922 vol 154 cc1217-21

I beg to move That leave be given to bring in a. Bill to suspend temporarily the spring register of electors prescribed by the Representation of the People Act, 1918. This Bill, if brought in, will be of the shortest, and the arguments in its favour are very simple, so I shall not occupy the time of the House for more than a few minutes. The sole object of the Bill is economy. The economy to be effected is not very great, but it is, at least, an economy to which there can be but very little objection. I wish to place the case, as far as I know it, perfectly frankly before the House, and to state the only arguments which have been mentioned to me against the Bill. There is one which I may dismiss in a moment. It is the argument that, in this time of unemployment, it will, perhaps, slightly tend to increase the unemployment in the printing trade. Surely, however, to keep going an expense of this kind for that purpose would be one of the worst possible forms of State doles. The only other objection to the Bill has been that, in the case of the very few persons who will be affected, they may just fail to get on to the register until six months later than they otherwise would have done. That, however, is very seldom likely to happen, for it is, I believe, only once within the last 30 years that a Parliamentary General Election has taken place otherwise than at a time when it would come upon the autumn register.

I should like to say just one word as to how this question was first raised in the House. I believe it was first raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Torquay (Colonel Burn) in a question which he asked before November, 1920. In November, 1920, I addressed a question to the then Leader of the House, as to whether the Government would bring in legislation to effect this economy, and the right hon. Gentleman's reply was that, in view of the big saving likely to be effected, the Government would be very glad to do it if they were satisfied that there was a sufficient body of opinion in its favour in the House. The remarkable thing is that, within a very short time of that answer being given, I was able to obtain nearly 300 signatures in approval of that proposal from Members of every party and every section without exception, including the Labour party; and I received refusals from less than six people. I am not sure whether there were four or five, but there were less than six Members of the House who refused. Therefore, I venture to hope that on this occasion the House will give leave to bring in this Bill, and that by that means the Government will have such an expression of opinion as will enable them to effect this small economy and to effect it in a way which can bring hardship upon nobody whatever.


I think if anything could be said that was pertinent to these introductions under the Ten Minutes Rule the House, and private Members of the House, have a right to object to these Bills being brought in in this way in the absence of members of the Government. The Leader of the House is not here, and this is a question entirely affecting the electorate by which this House is elected. As a matter of fact, the autumn register is at present in preparation, and this spring register which the hon. Member wants temporarily to suspend is probably the register upon which the next General Election will take place. That is almost certain. I do not know what the hon. Member has in mind. He puts it forward as an economy—the saving of a small sum of money. You would save a great deal more money if you got a register sufficiently up-to-date to get rid of this Government altogether—to get rid of all its extravagances and all its promises. That would be a much more effective way of dealing with the matter than trying in a ten minutes speech to achieve a small economy, which would undoubtedly effect the very thing in employment which the hon. Member suggested, and in the absence of any responsible Minister—I repeat in the absence of any responsible Minister—because if there had been any Minister present who felt the responsibility that ought to attach to him when this was introduced, he should have spoken instead of me. So I say in the absence of any responsible Minister the House ought to reject this Measure on these grounds. It is the duty of this House to the elector ate to see that the register at all times is the most efficient and most complete which can be provided.


On a point of Order. Is it customary when a subject has been considered by a Committee of the House, as this subject has within the last two or three weeks, that an endeavour should be made to anticipate any recommendations which the Committee may submit?


The Standing Order relating to Bills under the Ten Minutes Rule is quite general. I do not think there is any right to stop a Bill on the ground that its substance has been considered by a Committee upstairs.

Question put, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to suspend temporarily the spring register of electors prescribed by the Representation of the People Act, 1918.

The House divided: Ayes, 200; Noes, 112.

Division No. 121.] AYES. [4.34 p.m.
Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas 3. S. Doyle, N. Grattan Lindsay, William Arthur
Armstrong, Henry Bruce Du Pre, Colonel William Baring Lister, Sir R. Ashton
Bagley, Captain E. Ashton Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark) Lloyd, George Butter
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Elveden, Viscount Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)
Barnett, Major Richard W. Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M Lorden, John William
Barnston, Major Harry Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Loseby, Captain c E.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff) Fell, Sir Arthur Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A. Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Flannery, Sir James Fortescue Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Forestier-Walker, L. Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)
Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell Forrest, Walter M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.
Betterton, Henry B. Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot McMicking, Major Gilbert
Bigland, Alfred Fraser, Major Sir Keith Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Fremantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E. Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)
Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester) Ganzonl, Sir John Marks, Sir George Croydon
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E Gardner, Ernest Marriott, John Arthur Ransome
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Gee, Captain Robert Matthews, David
Brassey, H. L. C. Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John Mitchell, Sir William Lane
Breese, Major Charles E. Glyn, Major Ralph Molson, Major John Elsdate
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Goff, Sir R. Park Moreing, Captain Algernon H.
Briggs, Harold Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A. Morrison, Hugh
Brittain, Sir Harry Grant, James Augustus Mount, Sir William Arthur
Brown, Major D. C. Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington) Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)
Bruton, Sir James Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.) Nail, Major Joseph
Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H. Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.) Neal, Arthur
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Gretton, Colonel John Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)
Burdon, Colonel Rowland Gwynne, Rupert S. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay) Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Hailwood, Augustine Nicholson. Reginald (Doncaster)
Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington) Hamilton, Major C. G. C. Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John
Cautley, Henry Strother Harmon, Patrick Joseph Henry Oman. Sir Charles William C.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston) Harris, Sir Henry Percy Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) Hinds, John Pearce, Sir William
Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G. Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)
Clough, Sir Robert Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn,W.) Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington) Percy, Charles (Tynemouth)
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Hopkins, John W. W. Perkins, Walter Frank
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)
Conway, Sir W. Martin Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster) Pilditch, Sir Philip
Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely) Hurd, Percy A. Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles
Cope, Major William Inskip, Thomas Walker H. Preston, Sir W. R.
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L. James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.) Jesson, C. Raeburn, Sir William H.
Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South) Jodrell, Neville Paul Remnant, Sir James
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham) Renwick, Sir George
Curzon, Captain Viscount Kidd, James Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Davidson, J C. C. (Heme! Hempstead) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)
Davies, Thomas (Cirencester) Larrror, Sir Joseph Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales) Rodger, A. K.
Roundell, Colonel R. F. Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham) Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)
Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen) Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill) Windsor, Viscount
Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur Thorpe, Captain John Henry Winterton, Earl
Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock) Tickler, Thomas George Wise, Frederick
Shaw, William T. (Forfar) Townley, Maximilian G. Wolmer, Viscount
Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston) Tryon, Major George Clement Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Stanton, Charles Butt Waddington, R. Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)
Steel, Major S. Strang Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley) Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Stephenson, Lieut. Colonel H. K. Waring, Major Walter Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
Stevens, Marshall Warren, Sir Alfred H. Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)
Stewart, Gershom Wheler, Col. Granville C. H. Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)
Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser White, Col. G. D. (Southport)
Sugden, W. H. Williams, C. (Tavistock) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Sutherland, Sir William Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud Mr. D. Herbert and Colonel
Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford) Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry Assheton Pownall.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Greenwood, William (Stockport) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Griffiths, T, (Monmouth, Pontypool) Purchase, H. G.
Santon, George Gritten, W. G. Howard Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Grundy, T. W. Remer, J. R.
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.) Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth) Rendall, Athelstan
Barton, Sir William (Oldham) Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk) Halls, Walter Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Hayday, Arthur Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)
Bethell, Sir John Henry Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes) Robertson, John
Blades, Sir George Rowland Henderson. Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston) Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hirst, G. H. Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Sexton, James
Broad, Thomas Tucker Hoimes, J. Stanley Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)
Cairns, John Howard, Major S. G. Spoor, B. G.
Cape, Thomas Irving, Dan Sturrock, J. Leng
Casey, T. W. John, William (Rhondda, West) Sutton, John Edward
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin) Johnstone, Joseph Taylor, J.
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Davies, A, (Lancaster, Ciltheroe) Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly) Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M. Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Kenyon, Barnet Thorne. G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.) Kiley, James Daniel Wallace, J.
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick) Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Edge, Captain Sir William Lawson, John James Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedweilty) Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd) Waterson, A. E.
Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South) Lunn, William Watson, Captain John Bertrand
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon) Lyle-Samuel, Alexander Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath) Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian) Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Evans, Ernest Mallalieu, Frederick William White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)
Finney, Samuel Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.) Wignall, James
Foot, Isaac Mills, John Edmund Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Galbraith, Samuel Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross) Wilson, James (Dudley)
Gilbert, James Daniel Myers, Thomas Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Gillis, William Naylor, Thomas Ellis Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) O'Connor, Thomas P Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne) Parker, James
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) TELLERS FOR THE NOES,—
Mr. Hogge and Mr. Kennedy.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Dennis Herbert, Sir William Bull, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Nall, and Colonel Burn.