HC Deb 18 April 1928 vol 216 cc205-332

Order for Committee read.

The following Notices of Motion appeared upon the Order Paper:— That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to insert provisions dealing with the maximum scale of election expenses."—[Captain Bourne.] As an Amendment to Captain Bourne's proposed Instruction:—In line 3, at the end, to add the words: but so that in the case of Parliamentary elections the maximum scale shall not exceed fivepence per registered elector for county constituencies and threepence halfpenny per registered elector for borough constituencies."—[Sir Henry Cautley.] That is be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to insert provisions dealing with the enfranchisement of incorporated companies."—[Mr. Tinne.] That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power insert provisions relating to the maximum scale of election expenses."—[Mr. Arthur Henderson.]


It may be for the convenience of the House if, at the outset, I deal with the various Notices appearing on the Order Paper. The first Instruction which is in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) I propose to call. It is a matter of some doubt whether the Committee would be able to entertain this question without an Instruction, and I consider it is a question which is cognate to the Bill. I shall not be able to call the Amendment to that Instruction standing in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) because that Amendment proposes to put a mandate on a Committee of the Whole House which is a proposal we could never entertain.


Will it be convenient, Sir, if I make an observation on that point now or at a later stage?




The observation which I have to make is that I considered this matter before I put the Amendment down, and I would like to submit to you, before you finally decide the point, that there is really no mandate involved in this Amendment. The Amendment only seeks to put a limitation at one end, and leaves the matter open at the other end. The Committee cannot go beyond a certain figure, but apart from that they can fix any figure which they choose. Therefore, I submit, with some confidence, that the Amendment does not contradict the principle which you have laid down of not placing a mandate on the Committee. It leaves them a very wide discretion. Though it fetters their discretion at one end, it leaves them free at the other end and does not, I suggest, conflict with the principle which you have stated.


I think that half a mandate is as bad as a whole mandate from the point of view of our practices. With regard to the next Instruction which is in the name of the hon. Member for the Wavertree Division (Mr. Tinne) I do not see my way to call it, because I think that the matter with which it deals is not cognate to the Bill. I have received a manuscript proposal handed in by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) in two forms. In the first form it is suggested as an Amendment to the first Instruction, namely, that in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne). I cannot accept that, because it is in the nature of a new Instruction. Then it is submitted in a second form as a new Instruction, but that is out of order, for lack of notice.

Captain BOURNE

I beg to move, That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to insert provisions dealing with the maximum scale of election expenses. I make no apology to the House for moving this Instruction. The question of election expenses is one which appeals to all Members of this House, in what-ever part they may sit, and I feel that on this occasion we ought to have an opportunity of stating our views on that subject and of considering any points relating to it which may be raised in the course of the Debate. Before I state the reasons why I ask the House to assent to this Instruction may I be permitted to explain what its effect will be if carried? You, Mr. Speaker, have mentioned that an Instruction is probably necessary, and I would only like to say that this Instruction does not commit the Committee to anything, but merely empowers them to consider, on their merits, the various proposals which hon. Members will find on the Order Paper. They will not be bound, if this Instruction be carried, to accept any one of these proposals. It will be open to the Committee to make any Amendments they please, to adopt new proposals altogether, or to reject all of these proposals. The only object of this Instruction is to insure that this very important matter should be discussed on this occasion, and I venture to think that there are many practical reasons why, having increased the electorate by no less than 5,000,000 people, we should be entitled to consider what effect that is going to have on Parliamentary candidatures in the future.

The present scale of election expenses was, I believe, arrived at by the Committee which sat under the Chairmanship of your predecessor, Lord Ullswater. The scale was fixed after careful consideration of the size of the constituencies created under the 1918 Act, and due allowance was made for any increase which those constituencies might be expected to undergo owing to increases of population. In this Bill, we are at one fell swoop adding 25 per cent. to the electorate, and that cannot be regarded, I venture to submit, as a normal growth. It is an abnormal growth. We are doing what Parliament has done before in the history of the nation; we are increasing the electorate very largely at one moment, and I think it should be open to the Committee to consider whether a maximum fixed with a view to an electorate of one size ought not to be reconsidered when that electorate is very largely augmented.

The Committee may think that no case is made out by those who wish to alter the maximum, in which case it need not do anything or insert any provision in the Bill in this connection, or, it may, on the contrary, think that a case is made out for revision; but I submit to the House that the Committee should have the chance of hearing all the arguments both for and against these pro- posals. It would be out of order if I were to attempt to deal now with any of these proposals on their merits, but I think I may say that all of the proposals which are at present on the Order Paper have this feature in common, that they all propose some form of reduction, and I submit that there are, in all parts of the House, a good many hon. Members who feel that the election expenses at present constitute a heavy burden and who wish to discuss the question.

Another reason why I think the House should pass the Instruction and give the Committee power to deal with this matter is that, in all probability, no Parliament will have the opportunity of discussing election laws for many years to come. With the sole exception of the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883, which arose owing to a certain election petition in my own constituency, Parliament has always considered electoral questions conjointly with an increase of the electorate, and the reason for that is very obvious. Questions dealing with registration, election expenses, the machinery of elections, and election laws, although they are, without doubt, of very great interest to us as Members of Parliament and to those who hope one day to enter this House, because they are things that vitally affect our interests, are not so vitally interesting to others. The public care little or nothing about them. They occupy of necessity a good deal of Parliamentary time, because they are questions which are of such interest to Members of this House, but the jam which has hitherto persuaded Governments to swallow the powder of providing the necessary Parliamentary time has been the popular demand for an alteration of the franchise. When this Bill gets on the Statute Book, there will be very little jam left in the larder to persuade any future Government to give up Parliamentary time to discussing these rather dull, if important, subjects, and I feel that this Bill is perhaps the last occasion for many years to come on which this question can be raised. On that ground also, I would urge the House to accept the Instruction and give the Committee power to discuss it, without necessarily binding the Committee to accept any of the proposals that may be put before it.

The last, but not the least, ground is that of the public interest. I submit that election expenses are a very great deterrent to many who would like to enter public life in this country, and who would do valuable work if they could. If we look at the past, before 1911 we find that the majority of Parliaments lasted some five years. I have not worked out the exact figures. Some ran longer and a few much shorter, but five years was not an unreasonable expectation for the life of Parliament. I think he would be a very brave man who would prophesy that, when this Parliament comes to an end, any of its immediate successors are likely to run for that period or anything like it, and when people have to face the prospect of very heavy election expenses, not at intervals of live years, but perhaps at intervals of one year or even less, the prospects are only too gloomy for any man who has not very considerable private means or who is not financed from some outside source. It is not in the public interest that entry into public life should be restricted either to those who are fortunate in this world's goods or to those who happen to be supported by some association or federation, which pushes them into Parliament for its own ends. I cannot think that either of those two things is for the good of the country, and it is because I feel that The Committee ought to have an opportunity of discussing these matters, of weighing the different proposals, and of considering whether election expenses should remain as they are or be changed, that I have put down this Instruction. I hope that, as this is a matter which merely concerns Members of the House and is in no sense a party question, if a Division should be taken on this Instruction, it will be left to a free vote of the House.

Captain FRASER

I beg to second the Motion.

I believe myself that a majority of the Members of this House will desire that the cost of elections should not increase with the increase in the electorate, but, if the majority do not desire that, I think at least they will desire that the subject should be discussed. The many conversations which have taken place, and the new Clauses which have already appeared on the Paper, indicate that Members of all parties are interested in the subject. I probably should be out of order if I were to dis- cuss the details of those new Clauses, but I hope I may be in order if I show what would be the disadvantages of refusing this Instruction and of compelling the provisions which are now in the Bill to become law.

For the purpose of illustrating what are the provisions in the Bill, may I call the attention of the House to two average constituencies? For the purpose of finding out what is an average constituency, I have added together the total electorate in all the boroughs in the country and the total electorate in all the counties in the country. In the boroughs, I find that, when that total is divided by the number of the boroughs, an electorate of 36,640 is found to he the average number. In seeking for an average borough constituency, I have found that the great division of Plymouth is one which comes within a dozen of that number, and if the conditions in that constituency are examined as affected by the Bill this is what appears. The present electorate is 36,626, or very few under the average, and the cost at the present rate is £763. The increase under the Bill, at the rate of 25 per cent., will bring the electorate up to 45,782 and the cost to £954. In the counties, the average constituency, I find, contains 35,148 electors, and there is, curiously enough, a constituency which has exactly that number, namely, the Pontefract division. In that constituency, this will be the result of the Bill. The present cost on that electorate of £1,025 will be increased, when the electorate goes up to 43,935, to a sum of £1,281. There is an increase of nearly £200 in the average borough, and an increase of over £200 in the average county.

Perhaps I may be permitted to mention, in passing, that any observation that my hon. Friends who happen to represent those constituencies may make will, I hope, not weigh with the House, particularly because their constituencies are chosen, not in relation to themselves, but because they happen to fall upon the average figures. The disadvantage of leaving the matter as it is, and refusing this Instruction, appears to me to be that you will limit the field from which candidates can be chosen. You will either have to choose candidates who can afford this increased amount, or you will have to increase the number of candidates who require assistance. I am of the opinion that it is in the national interest not to increase the number of those to whom £100 or £200 makes no difference, and not to increase those who must owe some allegiance to some sort of outside organisation. If it were possible to secure a Parliament in which every Member is independent, or dependent at least only upon his constituency, and not upon some other organisation, you would have your ideal. I do not pretend that that ideal is attainable, but I do submit that the extent to which you increase the cost of a Parliamentary life, you decrease the opportunity of choosing the best candidates from the widest field.

I turn to another aspect of this matter. It may be stated by those who will seek to refuse this Instruction, that the present figures and the figures proposed under the Bill are the minimum which is necessary, not on any party grounds, but on national grounds, for the information of the electors. That the electors should be well informed is very important, and it may be argued that, this amount, and no smaller amount, is necessary to secure that this enormous electorate is fully informed. May I point to one or two facts in relation to this subject of the necessary minimum which is required, or is supposed to be required, for informing the electorate. In the last three elections of 1922, 1923 and 1924, there was a considerable and progressive increase in the size of the electorate, but there was a steady and progressive decrease in the amount of money spent by members. It must, therefore, appear that they did not find that the money was necessary, or it may be argued that three elections in so short a time deprived them of necessary money; but my hon. Friends, at least, cannot suggest that the electorate was ill-informed, having regard to the result of the last election. It may be said that to decrease the power of the candidate to put his views before the electorate is to increase the power of the Press to sway elections. The Government have wisely taken a step which will, to some extent, alter the balance between the newspaper Press and the politicians, for it has become possible, if parties will take advantage of it, for controversy to be broadcast. There is, and can be, no excuse for the electorate being ill-informed if proper advantage of modern inventions be taken, for not only has wireless come to enable the human voice to speak to the millions, but loud speakers have come to make it possible to speak to many more thousands with one voice in one constituency than was previously possible.

I would most sincerely plead with the members of my own party to be indulgent in regard to a matter which some, at any rate, are a little unable to understand. They may say, and some have said to me, "Why raise this matter? If things are left alone, an advantage will accrue to us which we can ill afford to lose." I hope and believe that those who take that view are a small minority of this House. I cannot feel that, either from the national point of view, or from the party point of view, the best interest is served by perpetuating an advantage of that sort. A temporary advantage which some individuals may have in some parts, is as nothing by comparison with the ultimate advantage to the party, if it gets the right men to come in and serve it; and I would plead with hon. Members on my side of the House to believe that to place a gag upon free and full discussion of a matter which, it has been shown, Members of all parties desire to discuss, will be to suggest, and to suggest improperly, that we are anxious to keep the rules of the game in such a state as will give us an undue advantage against the other side. I do not believe that, ultimately, that will be to the advantage of our party. I believe that the rules of the game should be discussed without party views prevailing, and that, however hot the controversy may be in the game itself, there should be sought some measure of agreement in regard to the rules which govern it.

My last remark is to ask the House to realise that to give this Instruction is to commit themselves merely to a free discussion of every possible method whereby the present considerable increase may be avoided. It commits them to nothing more. Unless and until the deed proves that I am wrong, I do not believe that such a free discussion will be refused, and the gag put on in a matter which is of such very great importance.

4.0 p.m.


I was rather surprised to gather, from observations made by both Mover and Seconder of this Instruction, that there was objection to it from certain quarters of the House. It is an Instruction which I should have imagined would have passed through the House with unanimous support. I do not know what the attitude of the Government is likely to be upon this question, but I would like to remind the Home Secretary of that part of the pledge of the Prime Minister which was to the effect that he was anxious that a Measure of this sort should not be regarded as an ordinary party controversial question, but should be carried through the House as far as possible by general agreement. Therefore, if the Home Secretary is anxious to conform to the terms of that pledge, I think he will, on behalf of the Government, give support to this Instruction. I should not, I suppose, be in order in entering into detailed arguments in support of this Instruction, but I should like to be permitted to say this. There was a very important point put by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), namely, that it is not likely that in the immediate future the question of electoral reform will be raised again in this House, and, therefore, this provides the only opportunity which we are likely to have for some time of dealing with this important matter of election expenses. It might be urged that it is outside the general purpose of this Bill. I do not think that is so at all, because an increase in the electorate does involve this question of election expenses, and, seeing that the election expenses are based upon the number of the electorate, there must be, when an increase takes place, an opportunity to spend a larger amount of money than is possible in present circumstances, and I do not think it could be argued that a comparatively slight reduction in the figure per head allowable for expenses would lessen the opportunities which the candidate has of putting his views fully before the electors.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman who seconded this Instruction has evidently been making some very close investigations into the average size of the electorate and the cost of election expenses returned by candidates, and this calculation shows that many of the candidates do not spend or, at any rate, do not return the full expenditure, which may not always be the same thing. At any rate, they do not return the maximum expenditure, and, speaking from my own knowledge, I would say that many Members of the party with which I am associated do not spend anything approaching this sum. I have fought eight or nine contested Parliamentary elections, and I doubt whether in a single case—and every penny expended has always been returned—I have spent half of the permissible legal amount. But the point at issue in this Instruction is that this would give to the Committee an opportunity of discussing this question, and I cannot believe that any objection can be urged by the Home Secretary against permitting the Committee to have that opportunity. If the Government have some objection to lowering the amount per head of the electors, then that can be stated in Committee.

I do not know whether I am entitled to appeal to hon. Members opposite, but may I ask them to remember what the hon. and gallant Member who seconded this Instruction said, namely. that if there be opposition to the proposal to reduce the amount permissible under the law, the natural construction that will he placed on that opposition will be that wealthy people are anxious to limit the opportunities and to lessen the chances of poorer candidates. That, I think, was a very strong point made by the hon. and gallant Member, and when hon. Members opposite vote upon this Instruction, I trust that they will bear that in mind. I do hope, therefore—and I speak for all my friends—that the Home Secretary will not, on behalf of the Government, oppose this Instruction. Let the Instruction be carried, and then we can debate it on its merits in Committee.


Like the right hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat, I was a little surprised to hear the suggestion made by those who have brought this Instruction before the House that there was likely to be any hesitation on the Government side in accepting it. I still think it cannot be so. The right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) founded his expression of astonishment on the declaration of the Prime Minister that he hoped to have some conference arranged between the different parties on the subject, but may I point out that there is a second and more recent reason for believing that the Government cannot possibly be intending to oppose this Instruction. I have been away from the country till recently, and, therefore, perhaps, have read the Parliamentary Debates with more attention than those who have been here. On Thursday, 29th March, the Prime Minister wound up the Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill, and I see that he referred to this Instruction then standing on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), and he said that the Government would be pleased if that Instruction could be considered by the COMM ittee."—[OFFCIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1928; col. 1472, Vol. 215.] It cannot be considered by the Committee unless at this stage, with the approval of the Government, the Instruction be passed. I would, therefore, draw attention to the fact that the Prime Minister has always intended this Instruction to be carried. I think the Home Secretary will see that my reference is right, and, no doubt, he has that passage fully in mind, particularly as he has based his defence of the Measure itself, in the presence of some criticism on his own side, on his determination at all times and in all places to see that whatever the Prime Minister has said is literally fulfilled. While the necessary inquiries are being made as to whether that is correctly reported, may I point out that there is one other large consideration which, if this Instruction be passed, may be well worthy of consideration by the Committee.

I will not repeat the calculations made by the hon. and gallant Member for North St. Pancras (Captain Fraser)—calculations which were presented to the House, if he will allow me to say so, with wonderful clearness and accuracy, and which show that the physical disability from which he suffers does not in the least degree disqualify his full competence to play his part amongst this Assembly. But without repeating the arithmetical argument, may I point out this further consideration? It perhaps, a question whether one ought to determine the amount of legitimate expenditure by multiplying a certain number of pence by the number of registered voters, but, at any rate, if you are considering whether there is a justification for further maximum expenditure because you are adding more women to the list of voters, it is material to ask oneself what is the nature of the additional expenditure supposed thereby to be warranted. The area of the constituency is to remain the same. I should think that the number of the committee rooms will not be increased. I do not suppose anyone is going to have two agents instead of one. I can conceive that there will be another clerk or two, but the number must substantially remain the same. Meetings I should have thought were not going to be multiplied because of this addition to the electorate. The difference is going to be, that instead of a number of the younger women being there and taking whatever interest they do take in the proceedings, without being able to influence the ultimate result, they will now be able to influence the ultimate result, and I should have thought that, as regards the greater part of the expenditure, it will not be affected by the circumstance that you add this new set of people to the register.

There is a second head of expenditure, of course, which will be affected, but it is, in point of money, a much smaller head of expenditure. It is the expenditure which is classified, I think, in the statutory term as "printing, stationery, postage and miscellaneous." No doubt if you increase the number of constituents, you will need more copies of your election address, and postage and stationery will become larger items. I am not wishing to argue the point. I am only pointing out that these, after all, are very small matters as compared with the main heads of expenditure, and, consequently, if the House thinks it right to give this Instruction to the Committee, the Committee may find that there are very strong reasons why, though the electorate should be enlarged the authorised expenditure should not be increased. I do not desire at all to argue the matter further, but to say, on behalf of myself and my friends, that we warmly support the Instruction.


I cannot think that there can be anything in the suggestion that the Minister does not mean to support this Instruction, and I was rather suprised that the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) did not read a little more of the Prime Minister's statement, because, referring to the Instruction of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), he said: that the Government would be pleased if that Instruction could be considered by the Committee. The right hon. and learned Gentleman stopped there. The Prime Minister, however, went on to say: and I am perfectly prepared to consider impartially this matter in consultation with the whole House, because we think this is a point on which all Members should be heard, especially on the question of expenses."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1928; col. 1472, Vol. 215.] On that, I think, the Minister must agree that he really must support what, I venture to think, is the general feeling of the House on this Instruction. As one who has gone through 10 contested elections, I think I can speak with some little authority on this particular matter, and I say that a great part of the expenditure now allowed, as far, at any rate, as county elections are concerned, is really extravagance and waste. We do ask that, once and for all, seeing that the franchise is to be put on an absolutely democratic basis, we should put the whole matter as regards expenditure on an equally democratic basis. The average increase in each constituency will be something about 25 per cent. Roughly, the average number of electors in a constituency is 45,000, and the average increase will be 9,000. Taking the county division of Sevenoaks, because we are adding these 9,000 women to each electorate, there will be an average, if the law stands as it is, of £262 10s. added to the expenses of every candidate. Is there any possible reason for allowing that because the electorate has been increased? Whenever in the past the franchise has been altered substantially, the question of election expenses has been gone into. In 1918, when the last addition was made to the electorate, the ex- penses were reduced. The expenses of the returning officer were taken off the candidate and put on to the State, and the 7d. and the 5d. were fixed at that time. This, surely, is the proper time to have a revision.

I regret that the Rules of Order have prevented consideration of my Amendment which would have left the extreme limit, beyond which a candidate could not go to the decision of a vote of this House, when every member could have exercised his vote, which, I venture to think, was what was in contemplation by the Prime Minister, according to his words which I have just read. In the circumstances I think it would be better to let the whole matter be referred to the Committee; and I would make only this one other observation to show how a great part of the expenses allowed at the present time are wasted. What will be the good of all these posters that we publish when we are going to have some 28,000,000 persons taking part in the election? What good does the money wasted on posters do? The last figure I wish to give to the House will show the effect of the addition of all these thousands of sevenpences in the case of the Romford Division, a county division. At present it contains 72,000 electors, and it will contain 90,000 electors, and the expenses at 7d. per head of the electors will be £2,625, which is absolutely prohibitive for a poor man.

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William-Joynson-Hicks)

The point with regard to this Instruction is a very small one, and one which, I think, can easily be dealt with by the House. I do not propose-to follow my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North St. Pancras (Captain Fraser), or my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) into detailed figures. The only question which is before us now is whether the House should be allowed when in Committee to debate this question. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has quoted, I need hardly say with his usual accuracy—and we are glad that he comes back to give his accurate talents to the service of the House—the statement made by the Prime Minister in his Second Reading speech on this Bill. It is quite clear that the Prime Minister did say in that speech that the matter was one which should be discussed in consultation with the whole House; but there was an earlier pledge of the Prime Minister's than that. As long ago as April, 1927, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Sir R. Sanders) asked a supplementary question in the House, inquiring whether in framing the Bill the Prime Minister would take into consideration the question of redrafting the scale of election expenses. The Prime Minister replied that it was very early to enter upon the consideration of those points, but added: I think that is a perfectly fair question, and it is one which I should certainly desire should be discussed." — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th April, 1927; col. 359, Vol. 205.] I need hardly say that the Prime Minister and His Majesty's Government do desire that this matter should be discussed, and we do not intend to ask the House to vote against this Instruction. That being so, I hope the House will accept the Instruction, in order that the Bill, which is so very largely a generally accepted Measure, may be proceeded with. The discussion on this subject will then take place in Committee, and it will be for those who desire a reduction to make out their case. Upon that, of course, the Government will have the right to express their views and to state such facts as they desire put forward for the consideration of the Committee. I do not propose to do that at the moment, because it would be out of order, and I therefore merely say, in accordance with the pledges which have been made by the Prime Minister, and, I think, in accordance with the general view of the House, that I am willing that the House should now pass the Instruction, so that we may get on with the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Ordered, That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to insert provisions dealing with the maximum scale of election expenses.

Bill considered in Committee.

[Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]


I think it will be for the general convenience that I should say something now as to the general limits of order in the discussion of this Measure, and, as the matter is highly technical, I have, for the sake of greater accuracy, put my Ruling in writing. The Bill has a very restricted Title. It is not a. Bill "to assimilate and amend" but merely "to assimilate." Now "assimilation" can be brought about either by raising the lesser to the greater, by reducing the greater to the lesser, or by making them meet at some intermediate point. Therefore, it would be in order to move that no man should vote till he is 30 or that all men and women should vote at 25, but it would not be in order to move that all men and women should vote at 20 or that none should vote till 31. Similarly, it would not be in order to move to deprive women of any qualification they now have, or to give men and women some entirely new qualification of which there is no example in the present law. Thus, it would be in order to move that men shall not vote in respect of both a business and a residential qualification, because that would be to assimilate their position to that of women; but it would not be in order to deprive men and women of their existing right to vote in respect of a residential and university qualification, as that has nothing to do with assimilation. Equally it would not be in order to seek to give new qualifications, as, for example, in respect of having a family or having performed war service. Lastly, of course, except so far as covered by Instruction, it would not be in order to amend the general electoral law. With regard to the Amendments on the Paper, the first three deal with the same matter, and I propose to select that standing in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for North Lanarkshire (Sir A. Sprot).


On a point of Order. Does the very lucid document you have just read out mean to us who are not lawyers that plural voting can remain part of the Bill and that we shall have no right to attempt to alter it in this Bill?


No. I think I made that clear. As to residential and business qualifications, an amendment will be in order, but it will not be in order as regards the university qualification.


That is one of the anomalies of the present system.

  1. CLAUSE 1.—(Assimilation, of parliamentary franchise of men and women.) 27,465 words, 2 divisions
  2. cc286-7
  3. CLAUSE 2.—(Assimilation of local government franchise of men and women.) 191 words
  4. c287
  5. CLAUSE 4.—(Amendment of Section 8 of Principal Act.) 46 words
  6. cc287-302
  7. CLAUSE 5.—(Special provisions with respect to register of electors to be made in 1929.) 6,227 words, 1 division
  8. c302
  9. CLAUSE 6.—(Local government franchise in Scotland.) 27 words
  10. cc302-3
  11. CLAUSE 7.—(Short title, construction and application.) 114 words
  12. cc303-32
  13. NEW CLAUSE.—(Maximum, scale of election expenses.) 11,450 words