HC Deb 12 November 1928 vol 222 cc502-4
86. Mr. NAYLOR

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether general instructions have been given to the printers of the register of electors which comes into force on 1st May, 1929, that they are to give no indication as to whether women voters should be addressed as Mrs. or Miss; whether he is aware that there are cases where the registration officers have printed such indications, and that in the case of the Borough of St. Marylebone there are printed, in addition, titles in front of and letters after the names of many of the electors, indicating their quality or designation; and will he say whether he is prepared either to extend these privileges to all Parliamentary divisions or to prohibit them in every case?

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

There appears to be some misunderstanding. The form of the Register is prescribed by Order in Council, and it is the duty of the registration officers to conform to it in preparing their lists. It is the case that a very few registration officers, six out of nearly 200, have been in the habit of adding descriptions of one kind or another not required for voting purposes, such as Mrs., Miss, Dr., Reverend, and so on, but this was done without authority and has entailed increased expenditure. I am afraid I cannot sanction an extension of the practice.


Does the Home Secretary propose to take any steps to prevent this being repeated, in order that the practice may be uniform throughout the country?


I thought of doing that, but, having regard to a question put to me last week I should rather like to keep these six—they are not very important—and then make an inquiry after the election as to whether there has been real benefit or not from the proposal.


Has the right hon. Gentleman given consideration to the effect of the obvious criticism that this exception is made in a well-to-do district as against other districts, and will he re- consider it? Will he also accept the suggestion of his hon. Friend behind him, which will dispose of the question of expense, and indicate by a letter whether they are married or not.


I do not think the hon. Gentleman is right in saying they are rich districts, but I will go further into it if he would like me to do so.


Will the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration to the very helpful suggestion of the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. G. Peto) for differentiating between married and single? He made the suggestion last week.


I will.