HC Deb 22 April 1931 vol 251 cc985-1114

The first Amendment that I call is the one standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Yeovil (Major G. Davies)—in page 3, line 38, to leave out from the word "vehicle" to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert instead thereof the words: other than a vehicle bona fide used for trade or professional purposes in any constituency on the day of the poll.


On a point of Order. Before my hon. and gallant Friend moves his Amendment, do I understand that it is your intention, Sir Robert, to allow a general Debate upon it and a good deal of latitude in its discussion, and that, when this Amendment is disposed of, we shall proceed with the more specific Amendments?


If the right hon. Gentleman means that hon. Members will not bring forward discussion on the other Amendments, I agree.


I am afraid I did not mean that. I meant that there would be no unduly long discussion on the other Amendments. I dare say you will see that this Amendment raises a great many points connected with the Bill, and I think it would be better and for the convenience of the Committee to have a general discussion now, and the discussion on the subsequent Amendments could be much shorter. We are under a time table anyhow.


On that understanding, that there will not be a long discussion of the subsequent Amendments, I quite agree.


I beg to move, in page 3, line 38, to leave out from the word "vehicle," to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert instead thereof the words: other than a vehicle bona fide used for trade or professional purposes in any constituency on the day of the poll. This Amendment raises the whole question of Sub-section (1), which I venture to describe as the most ludicrous provision in a ludicrous Bill. It is impossible not to overlap to some extent some of the later Amendments, and for that reason the decision to take a general discussion will facilitate our Debate. The object of this Sub-section is a very narrow party one. Hon. Members opposite feel satisfied that by passing this provision dealing with the use of motor cars, they will damage the party represented on these benches more than anyone else, and, in order to put that seriously into operation, they have endeavoured to include it in an Act of Parliament which, it is supposed, will be workable. The limitation appears to be applied to a question of intent. It affects the owner or the driver of a motor car, and it is a perfectly impossible provision to carry into operation.

There can be only two ways in which such an absurd suggestion can really be carried out. One is to prescribe a definite geographical area round each polling station, past the boundary of which no motor car of any kind may go; or, as my Amendment suggests, have a regulation whereby on polling day in all constituencies the use of all motor cars is absolutely prohibited unless they are bona fide being used for trade or business purposes. I make that exception for two obvious reasons. One is that not even the wild fury of anti-Conservatism on the benches opposite would suggest an interference with the ordinary carrying on of trade and industry with motor vehicles; and, secondly, there is the security that usually the licences of such cars do not permit the carrying of passengers other than one beside the driver.

As we shall see when we reach the various Amendments which have been put down, it is incredible that His Majesty's Government should bring forward a suggestion of this sort and think that they can make it operative. It is hardly the Amendment on which to point out some of the crassnesses and stupidities of the Sub-section, such for instance as that it will affect only transportation in one direction, that is, to and not from; and that it talks about the poll without specifying what that may mean. When such things are pointed out, hon. Members opposite will realise what a wide opportunity for evasion or for extraordinary and foolish attempts at bureaucratic interference this Sub-section opens up. Who is to know or to take on himself the responsibility of knowing the intentions of the people he may be carrying in his car? On every day of the week throughout the country people get lifts from one place to another, and it is not incredible that a driver of a car may take a person closer to where he wants to go than if he picked him up from his own home.

Hon. Members opposite live in an environment which does not let them realise the difficulties in the countryside as compared with the populated towns, and I want to commend this Amendment because of the effect of the Sub-section in the country districts—not that the Amendment has my whole-hearted support, but it is a way of making workable what is an unworkable provision. There are very often long distances between the scattered cottages and hamlets in the countryside and the polling stations. The question of flood and so forth assumes serious proportions in regard to the possibility of electors getting to the poll. My hon. Friend opposite, the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly), will bear me out that on a historic occasion, I, taking time by the forelock, and realising that the floods were going to ascend, got to the poll early in the day all those whom I thought would vote Conservative, whereas he left the bringing up of his supporters to the end of the day when the floods were up. This illustrates the practical difficulties in the country districts, and in seeking to wreak vengeance on the Conservative party, as they are doing by this Sub-section, the Government will inflict great hardships on large numbers of people.

It will be impossible to carry it out fairly unless one of the two suggestions to which I have alluded is adopted. One of those is embodied in the Amendment. If you really and genuinely want to put a provision of this sort on the Statute Book, you cannot enforce it unless you say that no motor cars of any kind can be used anywhere at any time on polling day throughout the countryside except bona fide business and commercial vehicles. Otherwise, there will be innumerable ways of getting round the provision which is so hopefully brought forward by the Government. I am satisfied that, as the Debate goes on to-day, it will be fully borne out that this is the most ludicrous provision in a ludicrous Bill.


This is the first time that I have heard, although I have often said it, that the party opposite has such a close connection with the Flood.


We survived it; you did not.


I want to ask whether this Amendment is in order. This Sub-section, I take it, deals with the use of vehicles for the purposes of an election, but the Amendment does not refer to voting, voters, or anything in connection with an election. The hon. Member is asking that on the day of an election no motor cars of any kind may be used for any purpose in any part of the country where the election is proceeding, and that only trade vehicles may engage upon their business that day. Is it intended that we shall have power to lay down that people who have no concern or connection with an election shall be compelled to lock up their vehicles on election day? That means that a doctor who is called out to a patient—




Oh, no; I see that professional purposes are included. Well, other people then. Is it intended that we should lay down the purposes for which vehicles can be used other than for election purposes? The hon. and gallant Member spoke of the Clause as being stupid, and perhaps he may be able to prove it, but it is not half so stupid as his Amendment.

Captain BOURNE

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) has put his finger on the weakness of the Government's proposal. I agree with him that if this Amendment were accepted the effect would be that no one could use a car on polling day except those using cars for trade or professional purposes, and that would be a very undesirable thing, but I fail to see how the proposals of the Government can operate unless some such fantastic provision is put into the law. The whole point of the Clause is that no one shall be allowed to drive a car up to a polling station except to take himself or some member of his family resident with him to the poll. In a big town, who is to know whether a person accompanying the driver of a car is or is not a member of his family or resident with him unless each party employed personation agents, a practice which, I am happy to say, has died out in most of the districts in the South of England? It was found that they were not needed. With personation agents it might be possible to ascertain whether a person emerging from a polling station was a member of the family of the owner of the car, and even to ascertain whether he actually resided with him, but in the very large constituencies such as we have to-day—even in my own constituency, which is a small one, there are some 40,000 voters—I very much doubt whether there is any person who knows by sight one-half of the people entitled to record their votes at any particular polling station.

It seems to me that the law will be unworkable, and in any case there will be many ways of getting round it. If a policeman sees a car containing more than one person going in the direction of a polling booth, is he to stop it and inquire whether the second person is going to the poll or not? Then, again, what is meant by "going to the poll"? The car might be stopped a couple of hundred yards away, and those who had been driving in it might finish the journey on foot. Would such a proceeding be within the terms of this Clause or not? I do not know. Perhaps the learned Solicitor-General will explain it to us. Then, again, how is a person who takes another person for a drive on polling day to know whether the other person, if he gets near to a polling station, intends to go to vote?

The Government are enacting a law which will be absolutely unworkable, and are doing so largely because of the belief among hon. Members opposite that motor cars are a necessary assistance to a candidate. Just before the last General Election there were one or two by-elections in which the Socialist candidates, who were returned, had the assistance of a large number of motor cars, owing to the slight disagreement which existed at that time between the bookmakers and my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). I did not observe that on that occasion there was any unwillingness on the part of the Members of the party opposite to avail themselves of the help of the large number of motor cars which came to them so fortuitously and unexpectedly. When the General Election took place later, the divergence of opinion between the bookmaking fraternity and my right hon. Friend had passed away, and so many cars were not forthcoming for the Socialist candidates in the constituencies to which I have referred; but I fancy that if anybody takes the trouble to compare the returns in those constituencies he will discover that, in spite of the great number of cars available for the Socialist candidates in the by-elections, and perhaps the lesser number available at the General Election, the result of the elections was unchanged.

Hon. Members opposite exaggerate the value of motor cars in elections. Their chief use is to bring up the sick, the infirm and the aged, and those who reside at long distances from the polling stations. In the country, where the distance to a polling station is often too great to be walked easily, some people may feel that there is a moral responsibility to see that people are got to the poll. [Interruption.] An hon. Member disagrees with me, but I assure him that lots of people make it a condition that all their employés and their wives shall have an opportunity of being taken to the poll. But I do not believe that the assistance of motor cars is really of so much advantage to the party which has it as is commonly believed. However that may be, I do not think this Clause can possibly be worked unless we make the use of motor cars on polling day absolutely impossible to everybody.

The ingenious type of person who likes to get round the law will find it just as easy to drive a coach-and-four through this Clause as people found it easy to send money to the Irish sweepstake in spite of the ban of the Home Secretary. He announced that it was illegal, he employed the forces of the Criminal Investigation Department and the Post Office to try to stop money being forwarded to Ireland, but none the less some £1,000,000 left these shores; and I am sure that when he tries to put this Clause into force he will find his efforts futile. It will throw on those who, as it is, get too much work on polling day, the police forces of the country, a heavy and impossible task; it will result in the prosecution of people who are probably innocent of having wittingly committed any offence, but who, in a moment of charity, have given one of their neighbours or friends a ride to the polling booth; and at the same time it will do nothing to stop those who really wish to evade the law.


In moving this Amendment the hon. and gallant Member for Yeovil (Major Davies) has adopted the proper method with a Clause of this kind, the method of reductio ad absurdum. There is no way of killing this Clause except by ridicule.


Get the Liberals to vote against it!


The Clause brings the Government into contempt. Is the Home Secretary going to stand at that Box and say, seriously, that in a future General Election nobody shall be permitted to take anyone to the poll in his motor car except a member of his own family? The Solicitor-General is sitting there, and I ask him why there is no definition of "family" in the interpretation Clause? It will be a new thing in British law if the word "family," which has hitherto had a very general connotation, a somewhat elastic connotation, is to be put within the terms of a definition Clause.


All people of the same name.


Then the Smith's will have a very good time. The Clynes's will have a very unfortunate time. My family could all be taken in a Baby Austin! What is the object of this Clause? The vote is not a privilege, it is a right, and, if you give the vote to people, you should give them an opportunity to exercise it. The problem you should face is not that of bringing the people to the poll but of bringing the poll to the people. If you cannot, under the present system, allow people to record their votes without very great inconvenience, the Amendment that you ought to be proposing to the present law is one which would secure that there was a polling booth within reasonable distance of every elector. This Bill does not increase the number of polling booths, but it virtually prevents the use of motor cars altogether.

We are told that the use of motor cars puts a premium upon wealth. What does this Clause put a premium on? It stops the poor man who is not within reach of a polling booth from getting there. Why should it be left to a Socialist Government to take away from the aged and infirm the right to record their votes. Why do you not devote yourselves to providing them with the proper means of getting to a polling station, if you suffer from the delusion that a motor car is an index of wealth? Of course, it is nothing of the kind. It is not my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment who is "living in the time of the Flood," but hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have not yet awakened to the fact that not only they themselves but many working persons have motor cars or motor-bicycles.

You do not want to penalise people because they have or have not motorcars, but that is exactly what you do in this Clause. You penalise the man who has a motor car, by making it impossible for him to use it without great circumspection as to whom he may be taking. You treat him as a kind of Rouse. He has to be frightened of the person whom he picks up—or rather the person who is picked up has to be frightened of him. The man cannot take his own housekeeper or his own chauffeur to vote, and under the Amendment he cannot even take himself. The candidate cannot even use a motor car, if this Amendment be carried. The great British House of Commons is reduced to legislating about impossibilities. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, out of regard for good Government and because the House of Commons should only endeavour to legislate about possibilities, that he should withdraw this Clause and try to do something in a more practical manner for the aged and infirm.

I have put down an Amendment about travelling polling booths for the sick and I am glad to have the right hon. Gentleman's acceptance of the principle, because I hope it is an indication that, if the Amendment is called, he will accept it. That is what you ought to do. Under one of Mr. Disraeli's Bills, voting by post was proposed—and indeed, you have now the system of the absent voter. Therefore I repeat to the right hon. Gentleman that he should make it unnecessary to restrict the taking of people to the poll by taking the poll to the people.


It is very undesirable for this proposal to be discussed in the narrow partisan spirit that I see the Debate is taking. I said "narrow partisan spirit" advisedly, because this is a matter that ought to have the interest of all parties. We ought all to agree. I have seen in the Press that hon. Gentlemen opposite say it is a duty devolving upon the good citizen to register his or her vote at every election. If we accept that, surely it is the duty of those who are responsible for enabling the citizen to register their votes, to provide due and adequate means for them so to do. I have the privilege and the honour to represent a constituency where the principles embodied in this Bill are now in operation, and have been in operation for a number of years. My hon. Friend the Member for St. George's (Mr. Duff Cooper), whom I am glad to see back in the House, and I have fought two perfectly honourable and straightforward fights, and by common agreement between all parties, motor cars were not used for conveying electors to the poll, except that a man might take his own wife or members of his own family. That was an arrangment which has been perfectly honourably carried out for the last four General Elections, and which I am quite sure will be carried out so long as the law remains as it is.


What kind of constituency?


I will deal with the constituency in a moment. If an arrangement of that sort is possible in one constituency, where there is an honourable standard, ought it not to be possible in every other constituency? Hon. Members on this side are always willing to observe an honourable arrangement of that kind, and if hon. Members on the other side say that their standard of honour will not allow them to rise to that height, I will make them a present of their confession. The question arises: should any impediment be put in the way, either by reason of distance or anything else, of the citizen discharging his duty to vote at the polling station? What happened in my constituency was that as soon as that agreement was made between the parties, the parties did something else. They provided facilities for the electors to vote at a polling station contiguous to their home, and now no elector in Oldham is required to walk more than 300 or 400 yards to the polling station.

4.0 p.m.

The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) says: Why not alter the law? He said that the Home Secretary, instead of dealing with the question of motor cars, ought to deal with the question of polling stations. I would invite the Committee to remember that, under the present law, those responsible for conducting elections, the returning officer of each constituency, have power to have as many polling stations as are necessary for the needs and convenience of the constituents. There are no limits to the number of polling stations that may be provided in any one constituency. Since that is so, our reason for supporting a proposal of that kind is that neither wealth nor poverty ought to enter into the question. I never voted Tory in my life, but I have been to the polling station in a Tory motor car, and I find that very often in other places people do the same thing. But I do not believe that that is a sound principle, and the principle we are trying to establish by this proposal is that the means of recording a citizen's vote shall be accorded to a citizen at a place contiguous to his home, where it will not be necessary to use motor cars. If the Committee look at the question from the point of view of bringing the polling station near to the voter's home, instead of compelling many voters to rely on some public or private means of transportation, and not look at the question from the rather narrow partisan point of view which I see manifesting itself in the Debate, I am sure that the Committee will come to the conclusion that the provisions in this Bill are to the benefit of the electors, and finally will be to the benefit of the political life of the country.


I have three points to put arising out of the remarks by the last speaker. He wishes to have polling booths placed conveniently for every voter. I know many places in Scotland where lonely farms are three, four or five miles from the nearest polling station. According to the theory of the hon. Gentleman, the whole population of some regions of counties such as Caithness, Ross or Sutherland would be absorbed by acting as presiding agents, poll-clerks, etc., in the polling stations, and there would be nobody left to vote, because the number of remote places where the voting would have to take place would be so enormous that there would be no surplus citizens left to vote. The hon. Member's argument seems to be entirely related to urban dwellers, who know nothing of the remoteness of one place from another in Scotland, and even in some country districts of England and Wales. The whole thing is perfectly preposterous; save in towns, one cannot hope that every voter should have a polling booth within 400 yards of the place where he dwells. It simply could not be done. It would mean 150,000 polling booths in Scotland alone.

The second point is this: It has already been, to a certain extent, made by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha). The point is, what is the vehicle that is to be prohibited? I cannot see how it can be legally possible to prevent a person who is in the habit of driving about on business in a district, such as a tradesman, or a doctor, from taking voters about and dropping them at some place in the district which may or may not be convenient to the Post Office or the draper's or, incidentally, to the polling booth. It is impossible to go into the question of stopping the village carrier, and asking him, as to half a dozen people inside his cart, "How many of them are going to the bank; how many to the Post Office and how many surreptitiously, in a horrible criminal way, are going to vote?" It is a preposterous idea.

The last point I wish to make arises from a second remark made by the hon. Member for Devonport. I never saw such a loosely drafted Bill. What does a "family" mean? In old Roman times it meant the whole household, slaves and everybody. The "family" nowadays is possibly a narrower thing. The word used to be applied to the whole of the staff officers attached to a general in the army of Wellington, but nowadays that use of the word is obsolescent. But what constitutes a family in the sense of to-day's Bill? There is a supplementary definition like a Table of Affinities, or something of that kind, which is required to be added. For example, I take a case where a gentleman has his house looked after by an elderly person—his daughter-in-law's stepmother. He is a member of the family group, but is she? Here is another case. Two partners, say, doctors, live together. The elder one, the senior partner, owns a motor car. Though they live together and interchange their duties, the owner of the car is not allowed to lend it to his junior partner, because he is not a member of the family. He would have been in the 18th century sense of the word, but not now. Again, take the case of a person having on his premises as his helper and assistant his deceased wife's brother. That person is no longer a member of his family, he having married again. He who was once his brother-in-law cannot have the use of the motor car, because he is no longer a member of the family.

The whole of this Clause as to the "family" is vitiated by the absence of accurate definition. You cannot see who will, or who will not, be included, and the only way out is to follow the very reasonable Amendment which is down in the name of my hon. Friends to insert the words "or any person ordinarily" resident in the house. That will cover every member of the family group, and settle the matter, but to leave the word "family" in, without stating precisely who are the members of anyone's family is ridiculous, and I do not envy the person who has to draw up the Schedule defining the exact meaning of the phrase.


I am sure we have all listened with considerable interest and amusement to the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman), and there are only two things I have to say with regard to it. The first is that the difficulties as to the use of the word "family" in the cases to which he referred would really never arise, for the simple reason that a man who is looked after by his daughter-in-law's stepmother would cease to take interest in any election whatever. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I am sorry that it should be necessary to get the proverbial corkscrew in order to drive home the point I am making. Sydney Smith seldom used a mixed metaphor like that.

The second point with regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford University is this: While he was pointing out the difficulties inherent in the scheme suggested by my hon. Friend, it occurred to me that, at any rate, it was a most useful suggestion for the solution of unemployment. If we got all the voters engaged as election agents, I consider we should have made a considerable advance towards the solution of unemployment. There was a time when I was in favour of Clause 6, but I am not quite certain that I am now in favour of it, if I may say so jocularly, because of my constituency, which is one of the biggest numerically in the whole country, though certainly not nearly so dense as constituencies which elect hon. Members opposite. My constituency numbers about 62,000, and it may interest the Committee to know that we very rarely have any difficulty with the question of motor cars, because we have trained our people so thoroughly that, as these motor cars are free on election day, there is no necessity for them to make any fine discrimination. We have taught them, in fact, to use the other motor cars generously. We ourselves at the last election had for that vast electorate four cars; our opponents each had about 200 cars, and I can assure the Committee that our people did thoroughly well with the use of the other cars. We have trained them to it, on the principle that we ought to exploit the exploiters, and they have responded admirably.

There is one other point—a, serious one—which was adumbrated by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha). I think the idea which he put forward with regard to travelling polling booths, particularly in country areas, would obviate the use of motor cars.


If the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) had gone any further in regard to that question, I should have called him to order. The Amendment on travelling booths may not be called.


The party to which I belong has been at a serious disadvantage, particularly in country areas, on account of the use of cars, and I hope that the Clause will go through.


The two speeches we have just heard from the Government side of the Committee show the attitude adopted by the Socialist party in this matter. Both the hon. Members who spoke really spoke from a borough point of view. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. J. Wilson) said, "Why cannot you have a great many more polling stations?" and mentioned that in his constituency people never had to walk more than about 400 yards to record their votes. I understand that the constituency of Oldham is about one mile square. I believe that in boroughs a great many motor cars are not required by any party, but my own Division happens to be very large, and in it I have a town of 35,000 inhabitants, besides a very large area of country. I do not want motor cars in the town. The electors there are perfectly capable of walking to the polling station, but in the country districts many people are miles from a polling station, and it is quite impracticable to have polling stations everywhere so that the people can vote, because however many polling stations you might have, there would still be hundreds of people who would be more than two or three miles from a polling station. My Division in Somerset is an average country division, but there are divisions in Scotland, Yorkshire and elsewhere where, perhaps, there are many hundreds of square miles with the population very much scattered, and where any suggestion of that kind would be quite impracticable.

This question really cannot be approached from a town point of view as against the country point of view. After all, what is the object of elections? It has always seemed to me that the object of elections, in this country at all events, is to get as many people to the poll as you possibly can, and, if you can get to the poll 85 or 90 per cent. of those on the register, you poll very nearly everyone who can vote. Surely, it is our desire, in all quarters of the House, to get as many people to vote as possible, and if in a big Division practically 100 per cent. of the voters go to the poll—because, if you poll actually in figures 85 or 90 per cent., you poll practically everyone there is, allowing for people who have died since the register was introduced and people who have removed—it is to the advantage of all parties. It has been said by various hon. Members opposite that their supporters travel in other parties' cars. I have no doubt that they do. I have no doubt that in Somerset my cars have carried a great many of my opponents to the poll. While I would not knowingly take a lot of people to the poll who would vote against me, nor would anyone else, nevertheless I have no doubt that my cars have carried a large number of people who have voted against me.

I remember listening to the Debate on Monday night, when it was wound up by the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle). I listened very carefully to some part of his remarks, because, strange to say, I think they have some bearing on this Debate to-day. It was not very easy to hear him, on account of the hubbub, but I did pick out one or two or his sentences, which were very illuminating. He said—I hope I am not misquoting him; I do not think I am—that a question such as that of the opening or closing of cinemas should be decided, as most other things were decided, by the great bulk of the population concerned, and he said that much of the opposition to that Bill came from our villages, but that they should not really be considered—that the only people who should be considered were the people who lived in the great towns. That was a rather remarkable observation from a Member of the Front Bench on the Government side, but it does show the mentality of hon. Members opposite. They merely think in terms of the great towns. They live so much in the great towns that some of them have begun to think that the people of the countryside have not any rights at all. I am quite sure that, if this Clause goes through, and people in the countryside find that, by order of the Socialist party, they are unable to go in motor cars to the poll, and must either refrain from using their votes on account of the distance or must walk, as hon. Members opposite like to think they made London walk a few years ago, the passage of this Clause will not redound to the advantage of the party opposite.

Various arguments have been put forward to show how ludicrous this Clause is. I do not propose to go into them, because I daresay a good many more Members on this side of the House will raise that point, but we put forward this Amendment in order to show how ludicrous we think the Clause. It will be quite impossible to work it. I do not think that the Home Secretary himself believes that he can work the Clause as it is drafted at this moment, and this House should not pass Clauses for party purposes which it knows will not work in practice. After the "basting," if I may use that term, that the Clause has received up to the present from hon. Members on the Liberal benches and from hon. Members here, it is about time we had some reply from one of the two Ministers who are in charge of this Bill, because I think that sufficient has already been said to show that the Clause is ridiculous, that it cannot be worked, and that it is brought in mainly for partisan purposes.


I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to withdraw this Clause, for it is a very retrograde Clause when you come to examine it. The cars referred to in Subsection (1) are defined in Sub-section (4), and then you have a very serious addition to the Clause in Sub-section (2), which provides that cars can be registered with the returning officer, and the whole of the Clause has to be read together in order to see what its effect is going to be. The problem in the urban areas is not serious. It has just been said that anyone in an urban area can readily walk to the poll. But when you come to rural areas, the problem is a totally different one. I have in my own division people living five, six, and indeed seven miles away from the polling booth—[Interruption]—and my right hon. Friend says that he has some who live 20 miles away. To walk seven miles, even on a fine sunny day, requires a considerable sacrifice on the part of an elector, and demands, in some cases, great physical effort. I have cases where old people of 65 and 70 walk the whole seven miles to the polling booth and back again. That is a totally different problem from the problem referred to by the hon. Member opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: "Get more polling stations."] It may be said that you can get more polling stations, but you have to consult the county council about that. The county council determines the number of polling stations, and one of the relevant questions with regard to that is the question of expense, on the ground of which the suggestion is always turned down.

I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the people who will be affected by this Clause are not the rich people who own motor cars, but poor people who do not own motor cars, and many of whom will be virtually precluded from getting any facilities to attend at the polling booth at all. The only answer that the right hon. Gentleman can give is that there is provision in Sub-section (2) for the registration of cars. With regard to that, let me ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he realises what he is doing when he is giving power to the returning officer to determine whether a car shall be registered, and for whose benefit it shall be registered. The returning officer only has to consult the election agents of the candidates concerned, and the returning officer himself is not free from political bias. [Interruption.] I can give instances both ways, or in three ways if hon. Members like, because there are three parties. The returning officer has political views, like everyone else, and he is to be given this power under Sub-section (2). Anyone who knows anything at all about it knows exactly what will happen, whatever the designs of the right hon. Gentleman may have been. The Clause as it stands in the Bill is a very retrograde Clause. Hon. Gentlemen opposite argue that it does not matter who uses the cars; they say they carry voters to the poll irrespective of the way in which they are going to record their votes—


Not knowingly.


I thought it was said that they did not mind carrying their opponents to the poll.


I said so jocularly.


It is becoming rather the fashion with hon. Members opposite to make statements jocularly, and we want to know exactly when they are made seriously and when they are made jocularly. Actually, in these rural areas, it does not matter. I join with what was said by the Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine). I do not mind how many cars my opponent uses. I know that a large number of my opponent's cars have carried my voters, while, on the other hand, I know that a large number of my opponent's voters have been carried in my cars in the same way. That really does not matter. What really matters is that there should be facilities in the rural areas, and, although I might be out of order if I referred to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), the solution in the rural areas lies in the movable booth. I cannot understand why our election system to-day cannot be modified to fit into the modern conditions of transport. This Clause, however, from start to finish, is a retrograde Clause. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see fit to withdraw it, or, if he does not, that the Committee will reject it.


I have been expecting that some Member on the Front Bench opposite would have answered the case, which appears to be quite overwhelming, against this Clause. Instance after instance has been given to show, beyond fear of contradiction, that the Clause is totally unworkable, and I should have thought that by this time we might have had some answer. So far, the only answer we have had from the back benches opposite has been rather of a jocular nature. I think we might have had some serious answer from the Front Bench to show that this Clause is workable. One of the criticisms constantly made against this House and against politicians is that we pass Acts of Parliament which are unintelligible to the world outside, and that we enact things which, when people try to put them into operation, are found to be totally unworkable. This Clause is one of the worst instances of that fault that I have ever seen. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Yeovil (Major G. Davies) has moved the only Amendment that is at all applicable to it in its present form, and, unless some Amendment of this kind be carried, the confusion that will arise afterwards will be incredible.

Under the provisions of this Clause, unless the Amendment be carried, no one will know whether they are transgressing the law or not. Everyone who is engaged in an election, whether he be the candidate, the agent, or an ordinary voter, will have to go to his solicitor and will have to take counsel's opinion as to whether he can take out his car at all on election day, and as to whom he can take in it. When the Solicitor-General comes to speak, let him explain to the Committee certain provisions which appear at present to be almost unintelligible. One would have thought that, in dealing with a question of this kind, the Government would have stated clearly what the candidate and what the owner of a car can and cannot do at an election, but nothing of that kind is done in this Clause, and the limit is reached—I will not deal with it now, because it is referred to in a later Amendment—in Subsection (4), which appears to be totally unintelligible to almost everyone who reads it. As I have said, the candidates and the ordinary elector will be totally ignorant as to what he can and as to what he cannot do with his car on election day, and the only logical way to deal with the matter is to exclude the use of motors altogether—


Or stop legal drafting.


And particularly the drafting of the Law Officers of the party opposite. Let me point out to the right hon. Gentleman the kind of uncertainties in which the poor candidate at an election will find himself, and let me remind the right hon. Gentleman, first of all, that there is no safeguard for the unfortunate man or woman who unintentionally transgresses the provision of this Clause, because, unlike every other Bill of this kind, the present Bill contains no provision to excuse a man who makes a mistake without knowing about it. We shall come to that question later on. There is no provision in the Clause to say that a man who does not knowingly transgress the Clause will not be liable to the penalty.

Then, again, as my hon. Friends behind me have pointed out, there is no definition of what is meant by the poll, or of what is meant by a man's family. What exactly is meant by the poll? Can a man drive a voter within 10 yards of a polling station? One can go on asking questions of that kind almost ad infinitum. A case of that kind shows how vague the position is left by the Government's proposal and what an impossible position the candidate and the voters will find themselves in. Hon. Members behind me have also asked what is meant by the word "family." My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) was right in saying that we shall want a new table of affinity to show who may and who may not be carried in a man's car. The Home Secretary will have to flood constituencies with some new kind of police to watch over cars and their occupants at election time. He will have to have a new kind of Ogpu to make them produce their marriage lines. "Are you the man's wife?" If you say you are, "What is your evidence?" "Are you the man's children? If so, produce your birth certificates."

To have to mention these things shows to what an extent the Committee is wasting its time in dealing with a provision which is totally foolish and unworkable from start to finish. It is another in stance of the fact that, of all the reactionary Governments we have ever had, the Government of the party opposite is the most reactionary. Not for the first time in this Parliament they are living, not a few years ago but generations ago. They are dealing with this question as if they were living in the 18th century, when you had small constituencies in which you knew by sight every voter, in which not only every voter voted, but very often more besides, in which there was no need to encourage them to go to the poll because they went for reasons which are not applicable to present elections, and in which there were no motors at all. At this time in the 20th century we are asked to go back to conditions of that kind when we have these huge constituencies, some with 100,000 voters, others, in the country, with great distances, particularly in Scotland and Wales, in which it is almost impossible for the voter to vote unless he has a motor conveyance of some kind. I should have thought the Home Secretary, if he was really devoting himself seriously to the question of Parliamentary reform, would have been making proposals which would ensure it being not more difficult but more easy for voters to record their votes. I should have thought, so far from discouraging the use of motors, he would have been encouraging it. The more motors in a constituency, the more voters would go to the poll. One of the great disadvantages of electioneering at present is the difficulty of getting voters to the poll, a difficulty which is becoming worse and worse as the number of voters becomes greater.

The right hon. Gentleman may say that by a later provision in the Clause allowance is made for a certain number of cars, which will be placed at the disposal of the returning officer and presumably will be used in the transport of the disabled and the infirm and people who could not otherwise vote. That provision is totally useless. First of all, no one is likely to lend his car under conditions of that kind. Secondly, it would place the returning officer in an impossible position. Last December we had a Debate on a private Member's Resolution on the question of the use of motors at elections and the Under-Secretary, as far as I could understand his speech, turned down the idea of the returning officer being given duties of this kind. Let me quote his words: Reference has been made to the responsibility for prescribing the conditions being laid upon the shoulders of the returning officer. As the law stands at the present moment, all the powers in relation to Parliamentary elections and to elections in general are well defined, and it may well he that it would be difficult to make arrangements for placing those responsibilities upon the returning officers. I see difficulties in that direction because the great thing in elections is to secure uniformity of adminstration and, if we were to place the responsibility upon our returning officers, the result might be that we should get all kinds of discrimination and different decisions. Consequently, we shall have seriously to consider how far we should put such a responsibility upon those officers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1930; cols. 454–5, Vol. 246.] That certainly shows that as recently as last December the expert opinion of the Home Office was against the experiment being made and these duties being put upon the returning officer. It is a completely antiquated and futile proposal. It will not work and, if it did work, it would make it more difficult for voters to vote and not easier, as we should make it for them. There is no country in the world in which such a proposal has been tried except the two States in the United States of Nebraska and Minnesota. Why should we, without any case being made for the change, imitate examples of this kind? Why should we not rather follow the example that has been set in some of the newer constitutions, in which every encouragement is given to the voters to vote and in which full use is made of the modern developments of machinery, mechanisation and all the rest to make the possibility of their voting easier. From start to finish during the Debate objection after objection has been urged against the proposal. No defence has been made of it, and I ask the Home Secretary, in view of the overwhelming case that has been made from the Liberal benches as well as from ours, to take the only course open to him, to save the Committee further discussion, to withdraw the Clause altogether, and to admit that the proposal is entirely unworkable.

The SOLICITOR - GENERAL (Sir Stafford Cripps)

I think this Clause merits rather more consideration than has been given to it by some speakers opposite. The important case against it was made by the Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine), who put forward a serious argument with which I should like to deal. No one will deny that considerable value is attached to motor cars at elections. One only has to examine the appeals to owners of cars for their use, and the expensive and elaborate machinery that is organised at every election for the purpose of allotting motor cars to various districts and getting the loan of them from members of the public who are fortunate enough to own them. It is certainly my experience that at elections a great deal can be done by the use of motor cars, and election agents certainly attach very great importance to them. If one gets to that point of agreement, I think it will also be agreed that it is not desirable, if you desire to get the fair vote of a constituency, that one party or another should be advantaged by the fortuitous accident of having more cars at its disposal and, therefore, being able to poll a greater number of electors. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or trade union organisation."] It does not matter from what source the cars come. I am dealing with one party having more cars at its disposal than another.

If one also goes so far as to agree to that proposition, there clearly is a case made out for some method—it may not be the precise method laid down in this Clause—of arriving at a fairer use of cars. As I understand hon. Members opposite, they agree that it is desirable that as many voters as possible should get to the poll, and that in their experience electors are honest in their dealings as a whole on polling day. If that be so, surely there is a strong case for having as many cars available for the general body of voters as possible, and some satisfactory means has to be devised by which that can be achieved. The means sug- gested in this Clause seem to the Government to be those that are most likely to work. [Interruption.] I am delighted to hear the cheers and laughter because having, I think, agreed with me so far that something is desirable, we shall, no doubt, have in due course the method which hon. Members opposite suggest as being the proper way of fairly arranging the distribution of cars. [An HON. MEMBER: "That the Clause be left out."] If the Clause be left out, that would, of course, be an assumption by the Committee that here is a matter which should be remedied and which the Committee is incapable of dealing with.

The method we propose is that only those cars should be used for taking voters to the poll which are registered with the returning officer. He will not have the task of registering them. They will be registered by the owner with the returning officer, and, assuming that the owners desire, as has been so generally expressed opposite, that as many people as possible should get to the poll, a large number of cars will be offered. [Interruption.] I again remark the laughter, which seems to add considerable point to the argument that Tory cars are largely used for carrying Tory electors and will not be made available for other electors. That is the view which is generally taken on this side of the House, and that is the view that leads us to believe that a very considerable advantage at present is gained by that party. I think hon. Members opposite realise perfectly well that the use of large numbers, running into hundreds, of cars at their elections, especially in country districts, is a matter of very great importance to them. The cars will, in accordance with the directions of the Secretary of State, be allotted by the returning officer to work in various districts and will have to carry voters of whatever complexion, irrespective of their party allegiance. [Interruption.] They will presumably not be allowed by the Regulations of the Secretary of State except on condition that they are free for use by any elector and have been registered for that purpose with the returning officer.


Is it really proposed that the Home Secretary shall make Regulations saying these registered cars are free for use by any voter when that provision is not to be put into the Bill?


The provision which is in the Bill says that they shall be allotted by the returning officer for use in such manner as he, after consultation with the election agents of all the candidates, thinks desirable … with a view to facilitating the conveyance of voters irrespective of party. I think the clear implication is that, unless some peculiar circumstances arise, in agreement with all the election agents there will be indiscriminate use made of them for the benefit of all the various candidates.


Who are going to use them? Will electors stand in the street and call them like calling a taxicab, and say, "Drive me to the polling booth"?


I should imagine not. If, personally, as a returning officer, I were asked to organise the vehicles, although I am a child at organisation of any sort or kind, I should have them attached to the various polling districts, and I should have some arrangement by which the representatives of the parties there could call upon them to fetch people who were ill, decrepit, or lived a long way off, and for other purposes of that sort.


Is it true that the person owning a car can register the car, but that the area in which the car can serve and the conditions, will be determined absolutely by the returning officer? Is not that so? It will be subject then, of course, to any possible bias which the returning officer may have.


I must strongly dissent from any suggestion that returning officers would act with bias in any matter of this sort. The hon. Member may have had that unfortunate experience of a returning officer, but I am bound to say that, as far as general experience goes, I understand that returning officers, in matters of this sort, act entirely without bias. Furthermore, there will be protection—if protection were needed at all—by the fact that he can only act after consultation with all the election agents, so that they must be aware of the use he is making of the cars. That would, if it were necessary—I suggest that it is not necessary at all—prevent any possibility of his acting in the interests of one against others, because it would be a matter known to all parties.


Is not the Home Secretary the fons et origo of all those regulations? Will he also act with political bias, or will he have to resign from the Socialist party for the purpose of organising elections?


That question does not call for an answer. [Interruption.] I will pass to one or two criticisms of the words which are used in this Clause. The first one was a criticism as regards the words "to the poll." These words have successfully served since 1883 to define the question of illegal carriage in regard to hackney carriages and there has never, as far as I can ascertain, been any difficulty. It is clear that in such a case as this the court would look at the substance of the matter. It would be a question of proving before the court that there had been an illegal hiring. If it were proved that the object was substantially to take a man to the poll the person would be held to have committed an offence within the meaning of the Act, but, on the other hand, if it were a mere casual lift for a few yards and the man did not know whether the person was going to the poll or not, then the court would refuse to convict. You have to look at the substance of the Clause to find out whether there has been any offence under it. As regards the question of family, I admit that the word "family" is difficult to define. I think that my right hon. Friend would be prepared to substitute for that word the word "household" or some such word as that, as it is more easily understood and more easily defined.

A further question was raised as to whether it would be possible for any person owning a car to know whether he might or might not use it, and whether it would be necessary for him to take the advice of his solicitor or counsel? I would point out that it would be a perfectly simple matter for anybody to know. First of all, he would know that he could use it for himself, or his household, or his family, as the case might be, and, secondly, he would know that unless it was registered with the returning officer he could not use it otherwise for taking voters to the poll at all. If he did not register it with the returning officer, he would know he could not use it. The question of picking up people on the road and giving them a lift is a matter which arises very often in cases where cars are hired. People hire cars, as they constantly do, and as a candidate does for his own personal use, and an owner has to exercise the same discretion as regards picking up people on election days. I do not think that there will be any substantial difficulty, although in one or two cases there might be some slight difficulty for a particular person. [Laughter.] If hon. Members opposite are amused at the prospect of there being a slight difficulty for one or two persons, I think that they will find great difficulty in arriving at any method of regulating the use of cars. [Laughter.]

Again, I am delighted to hear that laughter because I feel that the real position of hon. Members opposite is one which has not yet been disclosed. The real position is that they desire to preserve their position of superiority in the use of cars at elections. It is not this particular method which they are opposing on this occasion, but it is any method which will enable fair and equal treatment to be meted out to the different followers of different parties. If that is the attitude which they take up over this Clause, it is clear that it would be no good considering any other method by which a fair distribution of cars might be arrived at. Certainly, my right hon. Friend in those circumstances would go forward with this Clause in its present form, which we believe to be a perfectly workable form, but if, on the other hand, there is some suggestion that there might be a more workable means of arriving at this fair treatment, that is a matter which we should be quite prepared to consider.


Would the hon. and learned Gentleman mind saying what is the qualification?


The practice of asking questions in Committtee appears to be too frequent.


We are all glad to see the hon. and learned Gentleman back in his place, and, indeed, he will need all his health and vigour to defend the Clause which we are discussing at this moment. The hon. and learned Gentleman in his closing passages appeared a little to depart from the suavity and moderation with which he had appeared to discuss the provisions of the Clause in the earlier part of his speech. He appeared to have been stung, I am afraid, by the criticisms which have been made about the practicability of this Clause into asserting that everybody on this side of the House is only anxious to preserve an unjust privilege for the party to which we belong. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is correct."] I can understand that hon. Members opposite are of that opinion, but do not let any hon. Member opposite be under any misapprehension as to the opinions which they hold about other people. They are generally uncharitable. We will leave it at that. It is right that we should remember that this Clause was introduced to the House by the Home Secretary deliberately as a Clause designed in the interests of the party opposite. One of the hon. Members opposite complained about the narrow and partisan spirit in which the Clause is being discussed. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary spoke of the handicaps and limitations under which often we have fought,"— we, of course being the Socialist party, and he proceeded to say that it is still a problem which we must face with a view to overcoming the injustice of which we"— again the great Socialist party— rightly complain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1931; col. 1478, Vol. 247.] It is a rather astonishing feature in this Debate that this Clause has by the confession of the Home Secretary deliberately been intended to give the Socialist party a greater advantage at the polls than it enjoys at the present time. Everybody is aware of the fact that both parties undoubtedly have advantages in one direction or another. Does anybody pretend that the Socialist party have no advantages at the poll over the other two parties by reason of the great trade union organisations? Somehow or other, they are directed, or compelled, to lend their allegiance to the Socialist party. For instance, does anybody suppose that the law as to election expenses, if interpreted strictly accord- ing to the spirit and the letter of the law, would allow the clerical assistance afforded by trade unions to be employed, as it is in elections, by the Socialist party? Suppose that the Conservative party when in power were to speak, in the words of the Home Secretary, of the injustices of which we, the Conservative party, have a right to complain, and were to make more severe and more watertight the legislation affecting the use of clerical labour at general elections. If we were to select that one privilege, that one instance, that one advantage attaching to the Socialist party in connection with the elections, we should justly deserve the condemnation of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. If you are going to make the law of elections—


On a point of Order. Arising out of the statements which are now being made, shall we be entitled to refer to the privileges which the Tory party have over the Labour party, in view of the fact that the hon. and learned Gentleman is introducing a question about clerical labour which has nothing to do with this Clause?


Because the hon. and learned Gentleman is giving examples of what he thinks are injustices on the other side, it is no reason why we should not keep within the limits of fair discussion.

5.0 p.m.


I am a little surprised, and, yet, perhaps I am not very much surprised, that the hon. Gentleman should seek to prevent me from mentioning this matter. The point, which I am quite sure is apparent to the learned Solicitor-General, if not to hon. Gentlemen opposite, is that, if we are seriously to consider what reforms are necessary in the light of corrupt practices in order to prevent any political party having an undue advantage, then let us do it in a balanced and a reasonable way. Do not let us have the selection of one particular incident or advantage which hon. Members think the Conservative party have, and in that partisan spirit introduce a proposal intended to cripple our side without doing anything to diminish the advantages which their side enjoy. But the hon. and learned Gentleman has avoided, except for a few perfunctory observations, the criticisms which have been made and has chosen—I am bound to say contrary to the Ruling which you, Sir, gave in reference to Sub-section (2) of this Clause—to shelter himself behind the provisions of Sub-section (2) as to the registration of motor cars with the returning officer. I will only make this comment. I venture to think that the Solicitor-General's statement that the Home Secretary is going to make regulations of the nature which he adumbrated shows a monstrous and dangerous intention on the part of the Government to refrain from putting into the Act of Parliament that which this House should consider and criticise and leave to the Home Secretary power to manipulate elections as he chooses. Let us consider what the Home Secretary said. He actually said that, although Clause 2 is silent as to the use which is to be made of the motor cars to be registered with the returning officer, the intention of the Home Secretary is to say that they are to be available for the use of any elector who chooses to use them. That may be a good or a bad proposal; it may be one which is necessary to make the rather ridiculous provisions of Clause 2 workable at all. But that it should be left to the Home Secretary to propose those regulations rather than to this House to approve them, seems to me to be an abrogation of the duties which the Government have in connection with those proposals. The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General are not giving the House the benefit of their great abilities and experience, if they do not realise that the difficulties are overwhelming of making this Clause work.

The Solicitor-General gave us an answer which I am afraid is now becoming familiar in connection with the exposition of Government Measures. When hon. Members on this side ask what a particular phrase or word means, they tell us that the time will come when the Courts will decide what it means. That was the explanation which the Attorney-General was fond of giving on the Trade Disputes Bill. It is perhaps characteristic of the Government and of the two hon. and learned Members opposite who are responsible for the drafting of this provision, that they are not able to tell us what the Clause means and that the Courts, if it comes before them, will be able to tell us. I doubt it. The Solicitor- General tells us that the words "to the poll" are consecrated by having been used in the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883 and that no difficulty has been found ever since that time. But the hon. and learned Gentleman did not explain that the place in which the words were used was Section 14, which says: A person shall not lend or employ for the purposes of conveying electors to or from the poll any person"— That is a clean-cut provision dealing with the concrete case of letting or lending or hiring for an express purpose. If a man lends a vehicle and does not claim that it is for the purpose of taking a voter to the poll he is not guilty. He would not be committing an offence against the Act. But when you have a provision that no person shall use a vehicle for the purpose of going to the poll, then it is a different question altogether, because a person who is hiring a vehicle wants to know of the person who is using it whether it is going to the poll within the meaning of the Act or not. If, in the case under the Corrupt Practices Act, a man is told that his vehicle is wanted for the purpose of taking people to the poll, that is enough for him, and he does not need to ask any other question. If he is not told that, he need not ask any other question. Therefore, in the context of this Bill the words "to the poll" leaves everybody in a state of uncertainty, until it is removed when the hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite care to take an unfortunate voter before the magistrate or the judge by way of prosecution.

I should like to ask whether it will be an offence for a voter to be driven some five or six miles to an adjoining village, where perhaps he may be dropped at a place several hundred yards from the poll. Will it be taking him to the poll if a vehicle goes to a town 50 or 75 miles distant and brings him within convenient distance of a county town in a country district? If a vehicle is sent to a county or town some hundreds of miles away to bring a voter a 100 miles nearer to his polling place irrespective of the fact that he may be left at the end of his journey some distance from the poll, is that bringing him to the poll?


I should have no doubt, and I do not think that my hon. and learned Friend would have the slightest doubt, that if a case came before the court where a vehicle was sent to fetch a voter 100 miles and brought him 96 miles of the way that would be bringing him to the poll.


Suppose that the vehicle was not sent to fetch him, but it happened to be a vehicle which belonged to a neighbour who was going in that direction, would that be taking him to the poll or not?


It would depend entirely upon whether the vehicle was being used for the primary purpose of conveying him to the poll, or whether it was merely a casual lift.


Then I am to understand that if I am 100 miles or 10 miles away from my polling place at the next election and I see a neighbour who is going in the direction in which I am walking to the poll, I must make up my mind whether if he takes me into his car I shall be accepting a casual lift or pursuing a primary purpose. What about the country folk who have not the training in these niceties of the law? Is a lady who is walking from the village with great patriotism and public spirit, at the expenditure of perhaps strength and time and money, to consider whether she may accept a casual lift or whether she has a primary purpose? Does the hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that the country folk will be able to dissolve these legal niceties? The hon. Gentleman insults the intelligence of the House.

The hon. and learned Gentleman was asked the meaning of the word "family," and he said light-heartedly that the Home Secretary was prepared to accept the word "household." I do not see any Amendment on the Paper in the name of the Home Secretary. After all, those Amendments have been on the Paper for several weeks. Does the Home Secretary or do the Law Officers suggest "household" as a better word than "family"? Is a man who lives upon premises which structurally are the same premises a member of your household? Is a gardener a member of your household? Is an employé of any sort a member of the household? That merely indicates the inability of the Government to choose words capable of precise or clear meaning. Let me take the word "residence." Nobody knows better than the Law Officers that that word used in the Income Tax Acts has led to intense difficulties in administration. It has been held that the taxpayer is residing in a place which he only visits once a year in order to carry out the duties of directorship which he holds. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will tell us what length of time makes residence. Is it a length of time that enables a couple to be married at Gretna Green or is it a longer residence? The hon. and learned Gentleman has so much courtesy and ability that I am not asking these questions from any idle motive. I am asking for definite and clear explanations which not only lawyers can accept, but which the ordinary man may understand and read when he runs.

The Corrupt Practices Act, to which reference has been made, is very explicit in pointing out that, although there is a law against hiring a vehicle to take persons to the poll, any one person may hire a vehicle or any number of persons may join together and hire a vehicle to take the party themselves to the poll. Under this Clause only the owner is allowed to use the vehicle, you cannot hire a vehicle of any kind. I know that the hon. and learned Member will say that the provisions regarding hackney carriages and stage carriages in the Corrupt Practices Act cover vehicles; but what about the country districts? You do not find hackney carriages and stage carriages in little villages and farming centres. Is it really to be said that a group of people in a little village in the Cheviots may not club together and hire a vehicle, which is not a stage carriage or hackney carriage, to take them to the poll 10 miles away to the town where they must vote? My first two elections were in Berwick, and the shepherds on the Cheviots used to vote at one election and ask who won the last. Is it really to be said that they may not join together and hire a vehicle which belongs to a friendly farmer because the Labour party have thought it necessary to redress the inequalities which afflict them at the poll? The Corrupt Practices Act preserves this privilege; this Government is depriving the people of the privilege.

Look at the Clause how you like, the Government cannot get away from the fact that they are going to make it more difficult for people in scattered districts to vote; they are going to make it more difficult for the old people and the infirm people to vote and they are going to make every elector who desires a casual lift to consider whether or not, he is committing a criminal offence when all his energies should be directed to getting to the poll. The provisions of the Clause clearly show that the Home Secretary never uttered a truer word than when he said that this Clause was devised solely in the interests of the Socialist party.


The Committee has been asked to address itself to a Clause which undoubtedly raises a great many points of real difficulty. At the same time, it is a Clause which addresses itself to a real problem. The hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) has made, as he always does, a forceful speech, but I suggest that he has not replied to the three main propositions which were laid down by the Solicitor-General as the basis of any discussion of this subject. Those propositions were, first, that motor cars do play an important part in Parliamentary elections—that will be universally agreed—secondly, that they may play a very useful part in helping to bring voters to the poll who cannot otherwise be brought to the poll—that will be also agreed—thirdly, and on this there may not be general agreement, that the law relating to motor cars ought to be such as not to give an advantage to wealth or to a party which consists largely of the wealthier classes as against other parties. The third proposition is, in my view, quite sound.

The hon. and learned Member for Fareham has said that the Clause will in effect be to the disadvantage of his party and to the advantage of the Government party or possibly of the Liberal party—[Interruption.] Is that a reason for saying that the Clause is wrong? The whole of our election law with regard to corrupt practices is designedly intended to prevent the use of wealth in influencing Parliamentary elections, and when the Corrupt Practices Act was originally introduced any opponents of that Act might have said that they objected to it because the advantages given to wealth to promote corruption of various kinds, and give bribes and privileges, were taken away, to the disadvantage of their political cause. That might have been true, but it was no argument against the Corrupt Practices Act, which was right in itself. Similarly, it is right that our political constitution should be such that it does not give any privilege to any particular class. If any privileges are now being given to the Labour party or to the Liberal party, let hon. Members propose an alteration of the law, and, if they can show a good case, the Committee would accept it. Two minor points have been raised on the Clause and one or two major points. The two minor points are questions of legal interpretation, almost of drafting. The hon. and learned Member for Fareham has said that the drafting is unsatisfactory, because no one can tell whether a particular car on a particular occasion is being used for conveying voters to the poll or not, and to that the Solicitor-General has replied that the same term: The conveyance of voters to or from the poll, has been enshrined in our law for half a century in connection with the hiring of vehicles and that no difficulty has arisen. The hon. and learned Member for Fareham says that this is no reply, because the hiring of a vehicle is one case and the use of a vehicle is another case. I submit that that is no answer to the Solicitor-General. All the conundrums which the hon. and learned Member for Fareham has put to the Committee might arise if a car or hackney carriage was hired. No one would overtly go to the owner of a hackney carriage and say: "I am proposing to hire your carriage to take people to and from the poll." He would probably say: "I propose to hire your carriage to take some of my friends"—not to the poll, but to a different part of the town in which the poll happens to take place—"to the cinema this afternoon," but everybody would know that the vehicle was really hired for the purpose of taking them into the polling centre in order to vote.


The person employing the vehicle would, of course, know what he was going to do. His intention is not to go to the cinema but to take voters to the poll. But as far as the person who lends out or hires a vehicle, he only commits an offence when he knows what is being done.


But somebody is liable— [Interruption.] Hon. Members above the Gangway are constantly indulging in jeering laughter. It was a continuous accompaniment to the speech of the Solicitor-General, who could hardly utter a sentence without being met with jeers and laughter from hon Members above the Gangway. The interruptions of hon. Members whenever they disagree with what is being said are becoming intolerable. The point made by the hon. and learned Member for Fareham was that some persons may escape and that other persons would be liable, but, if a case is brought, the court would have to determine whether an attempt was being made to evade the clear intention of the law by persons being deposited at a spot away from the polling booth. No one can suggest that the present law in regard to hackney carriages can be voided by a person being given a lift towards the poll and not to the poll itself. Precisely the same interpretation which applies now under a Statute 50 years old, and which includes the words: The conveyance of voters to or from the poll, will apply to this Clause as apply now to the use of hackney carriages, and no legal subtleties can evade that conclusion. It is not a question of the purpose for which it may be stated that the vehicle is to be used; it is a question of geographical propinquity, the real purpose of the journey, the real use of the vehicle on the particular occasion, and that must be interpreted by the court on the merits of the case. The other point is with regard to the family. Certainly the Bill here, I think, needs amendment, and the Government, I understand, are prepared to accept an Amendment to include in this use of the motor the use by any person "ordinarily residing" as well as any person who belongs to the household of the owner of the car. These are only minor points, and really do not affect the Clause as a whole.

There are two much more important points. If the Clause is passed in its present form, is it probable that a sufficient number of cars will be forthcoming in order to fulfil the purpose which the Government agree ought to be fulfilled at elections by the use of motors? People now have an inducement to lend their cars, and do so, sometimes at some inconvenience and at some expense, because they know that they will be used to assist the political cause to which they are strongly attached, but if that is no longer to be so, if they are to be used as freely for opponents as for their own supporters, will people lend their cars at all? That seems to me to be one of the main points which the Committee must consider. Some of my hon. Friends who represent rural constituencies feel strongly that their constituents may be prevented altogether from coming to the poll if the Clause is passed precisely in its present form and that, of course, applies to all hon. Members representing rural constituencies.

One of the great dangers of democracy is apathy and abstinence, and it is an unhappy feature of elections recently that nearly 50 per cent. of the voters have abstained from going to the poll—[Interruption]—and candidates of the Conservative party at recent by-elections only secured 26 per cent. of the total electorate. [interruption.] That is significant, and the Committee should note that by making our election law too restricted, we may not give a sufficient inducement to enable people to be brought to the poll. If we found that only one-half of the electorate voted it would be a serious reflection on our democratic system. Do the Government consider that if the Clause is passed as at present drafted there will be a sufficient number of cars available for the purpose which they think is necessary

My second point is one that has been already raised by a speaker from the Conservative benches. It is not clear from the Bill who is actually to use the cars on the polling day in any particular district. The Bill simply provides that the returning officer, from the pool of cars at his disposal, is to allocate them, after consultation with the different agents to the different districts of the constituency. That having been done, what is to happen? At the present time cars are used under the guidance of the workers attached to the different parties. They go to the various houses and take away the people, invalids and others, of the different parties. What machinery is suggested as a substitution for that? Under the Clause the conveyance is to be used irrespective of parties. What is to happen when the car arrives in the district. It cannot be used, and sent about from one street to another or from one house to another, by the presiding officer. There is no official machinery that can employ the cars. We need some explanation as to how the Government expect that the Clause will work in practice. Towards the end of his speech the Solicitor-General stated that the Government. were prepared to consider Amendments, if Amendments could be suggested to make the Clause more workable. It would not be in order now to discuss future Amendments, many of which are already on the Paper; but I hope that the Solicitor-General and the Home Secretary will not be deterred from considering on their merits a number of Amendments which the House may well accept.


I do not intend to follow the legal pleasantries to which we have been privileged to listen from the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip), but I would like to assure those hon. Members opposite who think that, we are simply supporting this Clause because the Labour party represents only urban areas, that the few of us who have been able to win elections in country districts, in spite of the hundreds of motor cars, do sincerely support the Clause, provided one or two of the points mentioned by the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) are included as Amendments. I would assure the Committee that the three definite charges made by the hon. and learned Member for Fareham in regard to Members on the Labour side of the Committee were a little uncalled for, and, certainly so far as I am concerned I say definitely are absolutely untrue. If I correctly remember what the hon. and learned Member said, he suggested that Members on this side secured an unfair advantage because they were here by reason of having access to trade union funds.


No. Let me explain. I am sure the hon. Gentleman wishes to understand. What I said was that there was good reason for thinking that the clerical assistance afforded by trade union officials and clerks was available to hon. Members opposite without really being included in their election expenses, as it ought to be.


Of course I accept the hon. and learned Gentleman's correction, but, if I may say so with great respect, that was his second point. His first reference was certainly to trade union funds, if I recollect aright. His second point was regarding the privileges associated with election expenses which could be secured through trade union assistance. I may have incorrectly understood him, but the obvious meaning that came to my mind was that the Labour party's position was rendered somewhat unfair because this trade union machinery assisted in election work. Is any one going to suggest that a very wealthy candidate, fighting a man like myself with no means, has not got a very strong advantage, from the standpoint of sportsmanship in the ordinary sense of the word? I do not think we do well to bandy these charges across the Floor in regard to either side. I was a little amazed that the hon. and learned Gentleman should descend to that level. Now that I am following him we must both plead guilty.

So far as I am concerned, I content myself with saying that in my division we are in the position that neither by trade union assistance nor by wealthy support were we able to win our seat, but by the humble assistance of the electors themselves, many of whom, I am glad to say, were enabled to vote by the kindly courtesy of friends on the other side. I am not at all sure that I do not see opposite an hon. Baronet friend of mine who, perhaps unwittingly, helped to strengthen my majority somewhat. There was a rhyme—it is common all over the country— Whether you walk or whether you ride, Be sure you vote Labour when you get inside. People understand that, perhaps, better than some of the legal definitions associated with the abstruse and wonderfully intelligent funniosities that we have had put up against this Clause. But I want to suggest, as representative of a constituency which is the largest in area in East Anglia, which covers 168 parishes and has only 66 polling places, that the question of some elasticity regarding the number of cars under the control of a returning officer, should be sympathetically considered, because there are these many villages and the ordinary citizen in the village is just as important as the citizen in the city. I do not accept for one moment the suggestion from the other side that they possess a monopoly of interests in the welfare of the countryside.

I believe the Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine) said that we on this side were acting as thought the countryman was intended to have no rights at all. I do not think that the progressive forces in this House have any apology to make in the matter of giving rights to the people of the countryside. Possibly those rights were too long withheld by other people when they had the power to remedy matters. But they were just as anxious then as now to retain privileges which the ordinary and average man does not possess when it comes to fighting an election on square terms in the countryside. I put it to hon. Members opposite that in this business there is a quality of sportsmanship to which they might do well to rise. Is it to be always the case that 200 cars are to be on the one side against about five on the other Do they consider it quite fair fighting in the realm of a good sporting engagement? With the best of good feeling, I hold that the control by an outside and impartial authority of this means of securing votes would be a more sporting way of getting people to the poll and would be facing the question in a sporting rather than a party spirit.

I am sure that hon. Members will agree, on reflection, that this Clause does not impose any hardship on any political party from the standpoint of equality of opportunity. I associate myself with the fear expressed by the right hon. Member for Darwen in reference to the growing disinclination of people to go to the poll. That is a very serious matter in a Parliamentary and national sense, from the standpoint of citizenship, and I hope that the Home Secretary will sympathetically consider some measure of elasticity which will not only control impartially the cars available. I have heard of returning officers for a county being responsible for refusing polling places. I also have heard a whisper that the real trouble is that the higher authority will not allow the county officials sufficient money to provide adequate polling places. I do not know whether that is correct. I mention the matter in good faith, because when a Member has only 66 polling places for 168 villages, it becomes a question of bringing legitimate pressure to bear in order to get a square deal, so that citizens in the country may have the same chance as is enjoyed by those living in the towns.


I do not intend to follow the last speaker, because a large part of his argument was built up on an entire misapprehension of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip). I would like, however, to give him one warning. He talked a great deal about the sporting spirit, as if a General Election was a boat race or a horse race. I would remind him that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) ventured to say, on the Second Reading of the Bill, that the country regarded a General Election in a sort of Derby spirit, and he was roundly taken to task by the Minister of Health, who said that it was not at all in that kind of spirit, but rather in prayer and fasting, that the electors of the country approached their task.

The hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. McShane), who addressed the Committee earlier, very wisely took the precaution to tell the Committee, before he made a joke, that he was going to speak jocularly. I wondered whether the Solicitor-General in bringing forward this Clause had omitted to take that precaution, and whether this really was not in the long run nothing but a bad joke. I was astounded and horrified to find from the speech of the Solicitor-General that he was evidently taking the Clause seriously. Whatever you may say about the rest of the Bill—that it is wrong in principle, that the motives are directed to unworthy partisanship—at least it works, but this Clause is partisan, is wrong in principle and is absolutely impracticable. One consolation at least we shall have if this Clause is passed, and that is that in years to come, if we happen to feel disappointed with the Government of the day, if we think that they are bad, and if we sigh for "the good old days," we shall look up this Clause and look at the work of this Government, and find relief by comparison.

As to the principle of the Clause, the hon. and learned Gentleman argued upon these lines: He said that by general assent there was considerable value in having a large number of cars; that there was an advantage to the political party which had the largest number of cars; that that advantage ought to disappear and that equality ought to be maintained. Where the hon. and learned Gentleman failed was in not analysing further the peculiar quality of that equality. If his argument had been based on the assumption that the possession of a large number of cars induced people who, otherwise, would not have voted Conservative or Liberal to do so—that in fact it was in the nature of a bribe—I could have seen some basis for his argument. But I can hardly believe that he seriously means to make such a suggestion. Does he think that a ride in a Tory car would convert a Socialist, a man who has been able to pass the innumerable tests now required for membership of the Socialist party? Does he think that the man who can recite this creed: "I believe in the 65 points in 'Labour and the Nation' when we are in Opposition, and the policy of the Socialist Government when we are in office; I believe in the simple nobility of our leaders and the callous brutality of our opponents; I abhor the Tory party, the Independent Labour party, the Communist party, the New party, and the wrong part of the Liberal party; I acknowledge the sanctity of the political levy and the sincerity of the Prime Minister," will add to it: "as long as I walk, but give me a chance to ride in a Tory car, and I will vote for the capitalist, the landlord, and the vested interests"? It would be sad indeed to think that the gulf between the friends of the poor on the other side of the Committee, and their exploiters on this side, is so narrow that it can be bridged by a "baby Austin."

In these days of the secret ballot, when motor car rides are not the novelty that they were 20 or 30 years ago, no one is induced to change his political complexion by the chance of riding in a car. This Clause, if successful, will not result in more people voting Socialist. It will only result in less people voting Conservative. I take my stand, not on the difference between town and country, not on the wording of the Clause or the difficulties of carrying it out, but on the objection in principle to the House of Commons at this time introducing any Measure which will have the effect and is intended to have the effect of reducing the number of people who go to the poll. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), on other Clauses of this Bill, has pointed out the dangers which this country may suffer from having a minority Government in power. I am much more frightened at the prospect of the next election resulting, not in a minority Government, but in a minority Parliament—that it will not be a case of a Government being placed in power by less than half the votes of the country, but of the whole House of Commons being chosen by less than half of the electorate.

A Measure of this kind does not change people's politics. Conservatives who, through laziness, or physical inability, or the lack of time or opportunity, do not go to vote when they cannot have the use of cars, are not prevented from being Conservatives. They do not change their political opinions. They have only failed to undertake their share of the responsibility in choosing the Government of this country, and having failed to, or having been prevented from undertaking their share of the responsibility, they in their turn are apt to forget their share of the obligation which is placed upon them. I should have no objection to any proposal intended to reduce any inequality which may now exist, because of one party having more cars than another, if that proposal were based upon an effort not to level down the superior amenities of the lucky party of to-day, but to increase the inferior amenities of the party which is to-day in an inferior position. Proposals such as have been made to make voting easier—to increase the number of polling booths, or to have a travelling polling booth—which I am not allowed to discuss at present, measures which would reduce the advantage given by the possession of motor cars, would, I am sure, receive the consideration and support of hon. Members on this side.

The Solicitor-General may argue that under Sub-section (2) of this Clause he has provided a measure of that kind, and has made it possible for the amenities in the way of motor cars, now enjoyed by a constituency, to be continued in the future and to he shared equally between the contesting parties. But I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen put his finger on the spot when he asked the Solicitor-General if he really believed that under this Subsection, as drafted, it would be possible to get a pool of motor cars registered with the returning officer which would afford the same facilities for transporting people to the poll as those enjoyed to-day. I do not believe for a moment that the ordinary man, the frankly partisan politician, who wants his side to win and is prepared to drive his car all day up and down country lanes or in the rougher parts of towns, meeting perhaps with a good deal of opposition and insult from friends of hon. Members opposite—I do not believe that such a man is going to undertake all those duties and make all that sacrifice for the sake of an impersonal motor car pool at the request of a high sheriff or some other official.

During the sittings of the Ullswater Committee, we discussed the question of electoral expenses and some of the delegates were much struck by the fact that the expenditure of Socialist candidates was lower than that of candidates of the other parties, largely because they paid less for clerical work, and messengers and things of that kind. It was explained to the Committee by the Socialist delegate that his party were fortunate in being able to call upon a large number of enthusiastic volunteers, who were able to give one day's work or several days' work without pay, for the sake of helping Socialist candidates. Would those enthusiastic volunteers who give their services freely to-day, be prepared to give those services in the same spirit, if a pool of clerical workers were formed to help candidates, irrespective of party? The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that the pool which he proposes is doomed to failure. He knows that it will not provide the amenities in the matter of motor cars which are enjoyed by people in the country districts to-day. He knows that that failure will depend not on any party bias but on the ordinary tendencies of human nature. A man who is prepared to labour and to sacrifice himself for a definite cause which he has at heart, in the heat and excitement of a Parliamentary election, in which he feels he is taking a part, will not be prepared to act under the direction of a stranger at the beck and call of everybody, and to feel in the end that he has had no personal share in the contest. For that reason it appears to me that Sub-section (2) is no answer to our complaint about Sub-section (1). This is a Measure designed by a House of Commons, which is, to-day, failing to interest the public, and it is designed by them to make it more difficult than it is to-day for those few who remain interested, to show their interest at the General Election.


I wish to join with those representatives of rural constituencies who have raised their voices against this proposal. Particularly I wish to echo the remarks made by the last speaker and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) in asking the Solicitor-General to give us some explanation of what he proposes to do in order to ensure a sufficient supply of motor cars at elections. At the present time people are willing to allow their ears to be used in support of the candidate who happens to be sporting their own political colour, but I fear that unless cars are actually commandeered by the returning officer, he will have a very small pool at his disposal. If he is going to commandeer cars he will have to pay for them, and the cost of elections will be very much increased. At the present time, as I have said, a man is prepared to lend his car on behalf of his own candidate and does not mind what the expense may be. I wonder how many people will be prepared to lend cars to this pool and to run the risk, perhaps, of having several burst tyres and of having to pay for them afterwards?

What I particularly object to in this Bill is that although it is proposed, practically, to do away with motor cars in elections altogether—because that is what the effect of the Measure will be—yet nothing is proposed in the place of the present system. In my own constituency there are several places where there are schools but no polling places. There are 22 villages in that position; in the neighbouring constituency of Louth, for instance, there are 27 school villages which poll elsewhere, and in the county of Cambridge there are 29 school villages which poll elsewhere. If the number of polling stations is increased it will add considerably to the cost of elections, and it is pretty obvious to me that, even if the number of polling stations is increased, a certain number of motor cars will still be required to take people to the polling stations, especially in widely scattered areas. If the Government consider this part of the Measure worth while, they should endeavour conscientiously to provide some substitute for the present use of motor cars. As their proposal stands, they are going to abolish the advantage which we enjoy at present under the old system and put nothing in its place.

The present system on the whole works fairly well, and has worked fairly well for a good many years. It worked in the old days when horses were used, and it works very well to-day. A young relative of mine drove a large car for me at the election. She brought a certain number of voters from a distant brickfield to a polling station. They were all wearing the red buttonholes which one so often sees sported by hon. Members opposite. When they reached the polling station she said in a friendly way that she would wait for them and take them back, but they were quite fair. They said that they were not going to vote for the colour which she represented and that they would walk the six miles back and leave her to carry some of her own people. That is a fair example of the "give and take" which goes on at elections.

6.0 p.m.

I, for one, shall not find myself in the Division Lobby in favour of this Clause. I feel that when men and women in my constituency have spent a long day in singling beet, or lifting potatoes, or cutting flowers, they should not have to tramp three or four, or perhaps six, miles to a polling station in order to vote. I remember a picture which one used to see very often in the old days of men and women praying in the fields, while the church bell was ringing. I can well imagine the church bell ringing in the evening, and these labourers turning their thoughts to the recording angel and hoping that their own political faith would be upheld at the election. But the returning officer will find that their votes will not be recorded. Therefore, I feel that this will be disfranchising a section of the very poorest and humblest men and women in this country, and I shall not support this Clause, although I hope that members of the Government will not accuse me of being bribed in this matter. I will not be bribed either by one side or by the other, or by the threat that this Bill will be dropped and that other inducements which may be offered to me will also disappear. I hope that this Clause will either be so altered by the Government that it will be unrecognisable, or that it will be withdrawn.


The last speaker said that people who had worked hard all day in the factories and fields would have to walk to the poll if this Clause were passed. I am quite sure the hon. Member would well know that that is the position of thousands of Labour voters in this country when they are in a constituency where the Labour candidate is not sufficiently wealthy to run a fleet of cars to take them to the polling booth after their day's work is done. We all appreciate the great need of motor cars and the great use to which they are put at the present time. They are most serviceable, but when the motor car is used almost to the exclusive advantage of people who are financially well placed, obviously the position which allows that to operate cannot be permitted to last a day longer than is absolutely necessary, if we are to balance and make fair between one party and another the right of voters to go to the poll.

We have been criticised by the hon. and learned Member opposite for the advantages which the Labour party have over the Tory party, but what would be the burden of his song if in his constituency his opponent could bring up hundreds of voters in motor cars and the right hon. and learned Member could only run two or three? He would do precisely the same thing, when the opportunity arose, as he did when he introduced or took part in the introduction of the Bill of 1927 to curtail the activities of the civil servants and the political funds of the Labour party. He would take the earliest opportunity, and I am very glad the Government are taking this opportunity to adjust the balance of advantages between the rich candidate and the poor candidate. The hon. Member who spoke last said that this Clause, if carried, would mean that there would be fewer people going to the poll. It is rather an audacious proposal to put forward if he is asking that this Clause should be dropped so that more Tories or Liberals might be drawn to the poll to defeat us. Of course, the people who possess a great number of motor cars would have a decided advantage.

May I recall to hon. Members, many of whom took part in the 1924 election, that that election took place in a deluge of rain from morning to night? The candidates who had 100 or 150 motor cars at their disposal had a decided advantage in that election, which resulted in the return of the Tory party. I do not say that that was the determining factor, but in my constituency, which is a county division motor cars in 1924 played a very important part in bringing my opponent's voters to the poll. There are many technical defects, admirably put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip), in this Clause, but there is no defect that I can see which is so great as the present system, which permits the use of motor cars by the hundred for the rich man and practically no motor cars for the poor man; and, so far as I can see, the only means of adjusting that disparity is contained in this particular Clause, under which motor cars can be at the disposal of the returning officer.

I hope my hon. and learned Friend will attend to this matter. I think there will be a great tendency, if the Clause is passed as it now stands, for it to be a virtual prohibition of motor cars coming forward. We want to be quite frank about this matter. The man who has a motor car to lend is not likely to lend it with the same zest for general use at an election as he would be to lend it for his own political party. I think that is perfectly true, but the point which we have to consider is this: Grave as that defect is, it is infinitely more unfair to leave the law as it now stands, and for that reason we have had propositions put forward to-day which seem perfectly sound, such as a travelling polling booth to deal with the outlying and scattered areas.


Earlier in the afternoon I ruled that matter out of order on this Amendment.


I did not hear it ruled out, although I heard it discussed, but will not refer to that, because while I recognise that there are grave defects in this Clause and that propositions have been put forward this afternoon which no doubt would be admirable in themselves, there can be no defect which would be so grave as to allow the law to stand unamended; and for that reason I shall support the Clause.


I have listened with considerable interest to the speeches made during the Debate to-day, and I think I can say without fear of contradiction that, with the exception of that of the Solicitor-General, there has not been a single speech delivered by any Member of this Committee which could be described as being in whole-hearted support of the Clause as it stands, and even the Solicitor-General's speech was so full of the expression "I should imagine," that one is tempted to wonder whether his enthusiastic support of the Clause was not due in part to an imperfect apprehension of what would happen if it came into operation.

If we have not heard as much as would probably be of interest to us all in support of the Clause, this is not the first time in this Session that the problem of the use of motor cars at election time has been discussed in this House. It was discussed on the 10th December last, on a Motion by the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Toole), and it was discussed, of course, to some extent in the Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill. I had the curiosity yesterday to read through the speeches on both those occasions, and I could not help being struck by a certain confusion of thought that was apparent in the minds of those who supported this Clause the most warmly. I will not quote from obscure back-bench Members of the party opposite to illustrate what I mean, but I will quote from the speech of one of their principal Ministers. The Minister of Health, on the Second Reading of this Bill, speaking of the advantage of having motor cars at one's disposal during an election, said: While the law describes very definite limits as to what candidates may do—as to the number of paid officials and so on—there is unlimited power to use motor cars, and that inevitably means that the richest candidate has an unfair pull over his opponents."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1931; col. 1584, Vol. 247.] A similar suggestion has been put forward by other hon. Members even to-day. That is obviously due to a confusion of thought. It is not a question of the richest candidate; it is not a question of wealth at all; It is a question of his supporters. The candidate does not own the cars; he does not hire them. Take my own case in Colchester, where I hear that I have just got a new prospective Labour opponent, the third that I have had in the last three years. He has the reputation of being a man of means, and for aught that I know to the contrary, I am a poorer man than he is. It does not follow that he will get more motor cars for his use and support at the next election than I shall get. It is not a matter of the private means of the candidate. So far as wealth is concerned, it is a question of the means of his supporters, and that is a very different thing.

Let us just consider this interesting question of which party motorists as a body should support. We have had a number of statements to the effect that being able to depend upon a considerable fleet of cars during an election is of great assistance to a candidate. That seems to be generally accepted, at any rate by hon. Members opposite. Some have even gone further and suggested that it is of help not merely in getting voters to the poll. One hon. Member—I think it was the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lang)—speaking in the Debate last December, laid great stress on the psychological effect of seeing motor cars going about the streets, bearing a man's photograph, and posters urging people to vote for him.

However that may be, there seems to be a very firm conviction on the part of supporters of the Government that it is a very great advantage to have the use of a large number of motor cars on an election day. Further than that, they seem to be convinced that it is an advantage which the Conservative party gets and which their party does not get. In order not to put it too high, I will put it in this way. The overwhelming preponderance of this benefit for motorcars is enjoyed by the Conservative party as opposed to the Labour party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Some hon. Members are willing at once to subscribe to that argument. Let us see where that takes us. The Minister of Transport, in answer to a question in the House in July, 1929, stated that the number of cars which were then licensed, not including cars licensed for hire, was 918,000. I have not a later figure than that, but the Committee will agree that if I say that the number must now be in the neighbourhood of 1,000,000, I shall not be overstating the facts. These cars are not all rich men's cars. There are those who own Rolls Royce cars and luxury vehicles of that type, but they are in a small minority. The great output of cars in this country is of the small type which is in a large majority.

Therefore, the argument which hon. Gentlemen opposite use that the overwhelming body of motorists in this country support the Conservative party rather than the Labour party amounts to this, that if a man has enough to spend, say, £200 or £300, to buy a motorcar, or if he has sufficient credit and a sufficient weekly income to buy such a car on the instalment plan, the probability is that he is of a Conservative way of thought rather than a supporter of the Socialist party. In other words, the probability is that not merely the wealthy, but the man of small means, support the Conservative party rather than the Socialist party. I do not say for a moment that hon. Gentlemen are wrong in that belief, but it is an interesting, if somewhat unconscious admission of it, particularly having regard to the fact that the President of the Board of Trade stated recently that in his opinion a sense of a definite stake in the country was necessary for social progress. To use his own words— that sense of a definite stake in the country without which all social progress is impossible. By their arguments this afternoon, hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to suggest that when people have a stake in the country, there is, at any rate, a strong probability that they will be opposed to the doctrines of the Socialist party. I had intended to say something of the practicability of this Clause, but I will not weary the Committee by repeating arguments which have already been used by other hon. Members. I will content myself with saying this: The Clause has been described by many Members of many shades of opinion, but the best description of it was given by a Labour Member on the Second Reading when the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Raynes) said: Clause 6 dealing with the restriction of the use of vehicles is, in my opinion, in its present form nothing less than ridiculous."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1931; col. 1701, Vol. 247.] I do not think that a more apt description has been given by any Member of any party since. Suppose the Clause be passed, the only concrete effect of it can be to reduce the number of people who go to the poll. When the Home Secretary was making his speech in introducing the Bill on Second Reading, he told us that the Government had intended to include proposals for facilitating the recording of votes by electors who change their residences, but for reasons, into which he did not think it well to go, the Government had decided not to include this. Instead, apparently, they have included a Clause to make it as difficult as possible for such voters to record their vote. There is, of course, no class of voter who is more dependent on a motor car to get to the poll than the out-voter. The broad effect of this Clause must be practically to disfranchise the out-voter, except in those limited cases where he has only moved to some place adjacent to his original residence.

It is no abuse of language to describe this Bill, so far as this Clause is concerned, as primarily a disfranchisement Bill. I do not think that even the Solicitor-General seriously hopes that under this provision he will get a large fleet of motor cars anything comparable with the number of cars which are at present voluntarily put at the disposal of candidates by their owners. Therefore, the Clause, in effect, must mean, in so far as people cannot get to the poll by reason of distance, health or age, that a large number of voters will be disfranchised. I hope that on further reflection hon. Members who normally support the Government will not agree to the proposal, and that the Committee as a whole will reject it.


The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. O. Lewis) has argued that the use of motor cars does not give an undue advantage to one party. If that be so the extraordinary thing is that the party opposite should be reluctant to comply with the provisions of this Bill to supply motor cars for the general use of the voters at an election. One hon. Member has pathetically put the point that he is afraid that in future parliaments it will not be a question of minority Governments, but, owing to the withdrawal of motor cars from the decorative influence which they have upon elections, we shall have minority parliaments. If he really thinks that, and with such sorrow looks forward to that possibility, may I suggest that the party opposite, with the noble constitutional fervour which we always expect from them, will feel that whether this Bill passes or not, they will save this part of the constitution of the country by pouring in even more liberally than they have in the past, their limousines, Austin Sevens, and the other cars with which they have won elections in the past. They have said that if this Bill pass, the trouble will be that the returning officer will have no cars, except the few second-hand cars which Labour candidates are able to put in, and it is clear from that that the party opposite have used motor cars for a party purpose; they have not used them for any real, broad, general purpose for the constitutional benefit of the country.

I will mention one or two of the advantages which are possessed by a party which has motor cars. What are frequently called, in some parts of the House, the humbler classes, are so unaccustomed to getting any attention from people in the motor class, that they are rather overawed if they travel by motor car, and, feeling that a benefit has been conferred upon them, even though no word has been passed by the owner of the car, their conscience makes them vote in favour of the man whose name is placarded outside the car. Only people in a comfortable state of life are able to receive with largeness of mind and frankness of gesture a gift, especially a gift from a stranger, but humbler people who receive a gift are suspicious of it, and feel that something is wanted in return for it. The other party know that perfectly well, because they have shown to-day that they are not prepared to use their motor cars merely for the general use of the voters. They will only use them if it gives them an electoral pull.

Under recent legislation the amount of expenditure that can be indulged in at an election is limited to so much a voter. Anyone accustomed to the procedure of elections knows that the greater part of the expenditure is on advertising. Far and away the largest part, if you have a wise agent who does not take too much as his own salary, is spent in advertising. The party opposite, when they compare notes after an election, find in 99 cases out of 100, that while they have spent right up to the limit, the Labour party, in order to win their numerous successes, have spent very much less, and very much below what they might have spent. The greater part of what is spent is wisely spent on advertising. Motor cars, however, give the party opposite free of cost, except for the small cost of printing, a much wider field of advertising than they can get in the other legitimate way.

If a candidate can be clever enough and is popular enough to get about 500 cars, it is practically tantamount to having 500 sandwich-men all over the constituency. It is even better than having sandwich-men, because a car can be covered with more placards than a man can display, seeing that the car contains the man and the whole is generally greater than the part. Cars, therefore, give them a very wide area of advertisement, and it enables them, to some extent, to circumvent the limits of expenditure which have been imposed.[Interruption.] Yes, and the Union Jack is also displayed. They appropriate the Union Jack to themselves. They not only appropriate the cars, but appropriate the national emblem, as though they were monopolistic possessors of it. They use it to convey the impression that they are the only party who stand for the Red, White and Blue, and that other parties are opposed to it. It is an old dodge, and I am not blaming them for it, but it is time they were deprived of this extra, and legal, opportunity of throwing about a constituency these persuasions to voters.

A good deal was said by an hon. and learned Gentleman opposite about the wording of the Clause. He asked what was meant by "conveyed to the poll." He was very much troubled lest the Clause should be made to apply to people who were carried to within a mile of the poll; and said that if the owner of a car did convey a person to within a certain distance of the poll, how were we to be sure that he was not acting in a genuine way and not attempting to circumvent the law by using the car to take a man to the poll? He asked, further, whether, in such circumstances, it could be said that he had conveyed the man "to the poll"? If there is any doubt on such a matter, a very little investigation will prove the motive of the owner of the car. First of all, we have to ask whether the person riding in the car is in the habit of visiting the owner's residence. Have they ever exchanged visiting cards? If, as will prove to be the case in most instances, they are unknown to each other, it is a pretty good inference that the owner of the car has simply picked up the person in order to convey him to the poll, even if he does not actually convey him to the poll. A point of that kind is easily dealt with.

Then, again, is the person who rides in the car in the same rank of society as the owner; does he belong to the same profession? If the owner of the car is the head of a big county family, and the person riding in it, and who is conveyed to somewhere in the neighbourhood of the poll, is a bricklayer, the inference is that he is in the car to be conveyed to the poll. Let me say that bricklayers very often know the motive with which they are asked to ride in the limousines and Rolls-Royces of other people. There is the celebrated instance related in this House—I am not sure whether it was in the House itself or in the Smoking Room—by the late Mr. Labouchere. A bricklayer was once conveyed to the poll in one of these carriages during the spacious Victorian period. He sat there in full glory, with a man in livery driving him; and when they arrived at the poll he still sat there. The flunkey called out to him, "Here you are," but still he sat there, Presently the flunkey said, "Aren't you going in there to vote?" "Oh," said the bricklayer, "I am waiting until you get down, and open the door to allow me to vote." [Laughter.] That shows that people who ride in these cars do very often understand the position, and do rise to the occasion. Strictly speaking, no one should laugh at that incident. If you ride in a duke's car you should consider yourself a duke for the time being; but what often happens, unfortunately, with that inferiority complex with which the people of this country are afflicted, is that when they find themselves in unaccustomed surroundings it rather compels them to follow the lead of those who have put them in those uncomfortable circumstances.

Coming to another point, we all know other cases in which proximity to a place carries with it the same penalties and obligations as actually being at the place. To say that people are not to be conveyed by car to the neighbourhood of the poll is a reasonable thing in the light of other legislation. There is a law which punishes a man who is found merely loitering in the neighbourhood of a place where he might commit a burglary. He is merely there, he has not actually committed the burglary, any more than the owner of a car may have driven a voter right up to the poll, but it may be shown that he has the motive to commit the burglary, just as it may be shown that the other had the motive to take the man to the poll. It is perfectly clear that there is no legal difficulty. It is all a question of intention. If there was an intention to take the voters to the poll, then I suggest that the case would come within the purview of the Bill.

I feel that the extent to which the use of cars to take voters to the poll has practically amounted to bribery has not yet been recognised. An incident happened to me some time ago, and had I liked to take action I could have compelled the people to disclose their hand in the matter. On one occasion a poll was in progress in the place where I live, and where I am rather well-known—[Interruption.]—Yes, to the police included. I arrived at the railway station in time to go to the poll, and as I was walking away a car drove up and the driver asked, "Can we give you a lift to the polling station?" Standing near was a political agent who knew me, and he came along and said, "Don't take him." I heard him say it. Why was the man not to take me? Because the agent knew that I should not vote for his candidate. That sort of thing often goes on. I have known cases in which people have been asked for whom they were going to vote before they got into the car. To my mind, that is nothing but a breach of the Corrupt Practices Act. After all, a ride in a car is money's worth, as we all discover if we hire one, and if you offer a man a ride in a car on certain conditions as to what he will do in the polling booth, obviously, it is a case of bribery. I suggest that opportunities for that kind of thing should be done away with, and that voting should be as free as possible.

Then there are the cases of the distant voter, the maimed voter, the infirm voter, and the old voter. All have to be provided for. It is clear that the class who are the largest owners of motor cars, and the class who could meet that need, will, if this Bill passes, leave those people unprovided for. We have been told so in this House. It has been held out, as a reason why we should not vote for this Clause that if we do so those cars will be withdrawn. That is a reflection upon the motives of the owners of those cars. The right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) said one of the weaknesses of the Clause is that it does not say what is to be done with the cars which are offered to the returning officers. I say let the returning officers allocate them to a list of infirm or old people, or people living in distant villages according to the names and addresses supplied to him. That will be the test, and we shall see whether those owners of cars to whom I have referred feel penitent on the matter. It will be an opportunity for them to show the genuineness of their feelings. We shall know whether the tears they have shed over the inability of the aged and the infirm and the others to get to the poll are real tears or crocodile tears.

There are cases in country districts where people have to walk a considerable distance to the poll. That difficulty could be met by providing a larger number of polling places. All the county councils ought to be told that we must have a polling place in every village. I was surprised to hear during this Debate—and I suppose it is a genuine statement—that some people may have to walk 10 or 15 miles to the poll. It is a great strain upon the patriotism of people to ask them to do that. It is a great strain even upon members of the Labour party, and we all know that they are very much more zealous and loyal to their party than are the supporters of other parties. The way to meet that difficulty is not to rely upon motor cars provided chiefly by one party, but to say to the proper authorities that every village must have its polling place.

It is not correct to say that elections are conducted in the free air of men or women having absolutely free choice to vote for which candidate they please. There are too many undue influences affecting and deflecting their votes, and too often their opinions. I think that the freer you make elections and the less you make wealth an element of success necessary for winning elections, the better it will be for the future of this House as a part of our great Constitution, and the more likely it is that the people will feel the full responsibility of their actions in voting. When you are led to feel, as you are, that hon. Members on the other side act in the belief that the mere carrying about in a town of placards on motor cars, and the mere setting up of the idea that the place is en fôte by reason of these motor cars and by the presence of people in humble streets whom you never see at any other time, make it a great occasion, a sort of air of a fair is given to an election which disparages serious thought. I hope to get rid of those influences and to rest more directly and exclusively upon the deliberate judgment of the people, thus setting them free to respond to such knowledge as they can become possessed of, and to yield themselves to such legitimate moral and intellectual influences as can be brought to bear upon them. The nearer we can get to that condition, the closer we are to securing the Constitution of this country, and to establishing, on an ever firmer basis, the lasting influence and power of this House.


I will address myself to one factor only, and that is the real divergence that has appeared between us during this short Debate. The Solicitor-General, in a moment of asperity during his speech—and although there was a note of asperity I do not suggest that the speech did not "go with a roar" from start to finish—accused the party to which I belong of having only one interest in this matter, to preserve a privilege which we now hold. He added that the only way we could say that that was not, so, was to join with the Government in finding an alternative method. The answer that we give is that, first of all, we do not consider that this is a privilege that amounts in fact to anything. Hon. Members who say that they have lost elections owing to motor cars, suffer, I am afraid, from a severe lack of modesty, and do not take sufficient account of the occasional common sense of electors. No system has been devised which will get as many people to the poll as the existing system, and the desire of all is to get the maximum number of people to the poll. We like the present system, because we think it does that. If the Government can produce a system which will alter the present one and get more people to the poll, we will support them. We suggest that the whole of this Clause would, in fact, disfranchise not only all the sick but anyone who lives a considerable distance from a polling station. It is unnecessary to say, as did the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Muggeridge) in an airy tone, "Have more polling booths." There are isolated houses five miles from any village in some parts of the country; are you going to have a separate polling booth for each house? It is absolutely impossible. Attempts made again and again to get more polling booths for places of this kind have been discarded on account of expense. You will always get outlying hamlets which are too small to be coped with. Even if you extend the number of polling booths, you will still have innumerable houses whose occupants would want conveyance to the poll. It is true that this will mean that fewer Conservatives will go to the poll, as one hon. Member said, but that is what hon. Members on the other side want. They want to equalise things. Of course, if you think your opponents are going to get more votes than you, and you believe in equality, if you can stop them going to the poll that is a very good way of getting equality. I really do not think hon. Members opposite want to disfranchise any of the voters. I wish a method could be devised which would give every person a perfectly equal chance of recording the vote. If the Home Secretary can devise such a method, he could be assured of the support of all parties, but until he can, all hon. Members who wish to see large polls at elections and the maximum number recording their vote, will go into the Lobby and oppose a Clause such as this, which will disfranchise a large portion of the population.


I think I can fairly claim that there has been no new argument advanced in the recent speeches, since my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General replied at an earlier stage of this discussion. I rise for a few moments to indicate what we have in our minds, rather than to endeavour to controvert statements which have been made in the course of the last hour or so, as I am certain that the Committee would like to proceed to a Division on this Amendment. I do not for a moment wish to discuss what has been the purpose of the Government in submitting this Clause, and I will not claim that it is the last word in perfect draftsmanship or that it is incapable of amendment. Indeed, all who have had a little experience of this House know quite well that, in the Committee stage, no matter what be the subject or who have been the draftsmen, defects are revealed. Hon. Members have been imagining possible circumstances, instead of confronting the questions which can really arise in fact and in substance, and one world imagine that an election was not an election but a comic opera. We have endeavoured to equalise the race between the poor voter and the rich, and to diminish the force of the weapon of wealth which owners of many now have against poor candidates in Parliamentary elections.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us, how does a rich candidate use his money for the purpose of conveying electors by motor car?


The hon. Member is not so innocent as to need an explanation. The hon. Member knows that a candidate, having a wide circle of rich friends individually possessing motor cars—


Some rich men have not any friends at all?


We have been afforded instances of a candidate having as many as 200 or 300 motor cars, particularly in a by-election fight, while the poorer candidate, having no such circle of friends, had not that advantage. We have tried to lessen this power of the wealthy candidate, and to take away the only remaining instrument of wealth which the richer candidates have in Parliamentary contests. We are disposed to accept an amplification of our language in order that complete satisfaction should be given under that head.

With the permission of the Chair, I would like to indicate that if a much better plan than the one expressed in the Clause before the Committee, which would meet the need of equity between the candidates in the matter of motor cars, can be agreed on, the Government will be disposed to accept, it. Some such plan, or the germ of it, is given in an Amendment, near the end of the second page of Amendments, standing in the name of an bon. Gentleman opposite. We are disposed to accept the idea of the principle expressed in that Amendment, which proposes to regulate the number of motor cars according to the number of the electorate in a division. I agree that some difficulty arises. It will be advisable to endeavour to provide for the exceptional circumstances of widely scattered areas of the great agricultural constituencies. We will agree to words which will provide that the number of motor cars be fixed in relation to the area. I think that some such Clause would go far to establish a state of equality of opportunity among the different candidates, regardless of their social or financial position. It would not be possible just now to say that we accept this Amendment entirely, but only that we are disposed to accept, its idea and its principle, and to endeavour before the Report stage to insert words that will attain that end. I am indebted to the Chairman for permission to make this announcement. I do not want to argue it further, but perhaps in the course of the discussion some indication will reach us from the other side, as to how they view the suggestion, which is made with a genuine desire on our part to equalise the conditions between the poor and the rich candidates.


I am bound to confess I am astonished at the speech to which we have just listened. No one on the Front Bench is better able to argue a case with efficiency and with complete confidence than the right hon. Gentleman. In this most important Debate this afternoon, one of the most interesting short Debates which I recollect to have heard in the course of the present Parliament, there have been very interesting speeches from all sides. All sorts of important new points have been put forward which had not emerged before. There have been very important points put from below the Gangway, and a series of important points by my hon. and learned Friend who sits on the Bench beside me. Yet when the right hon. Gentleman gets up to reply to those points, he makes use of the remarkable phrase that he is not going "to endeavour to controvert statements which have been made," because he understands that the Committee is now wanting to go to a Division. It is certainly important that the Committee should give its decision on this matter, which is of a fundamental character. It is equally important that the Government should explain to the Committee on what they are asking the Committee to vote before it gives its decision.

7.0 p.m.

I was expecting to hear from the right hon. Gentleman some answer to the points which have been put by my hon. and learned Friend, and by Members below the Gangway, and also by Members on the other side, but apparently we are not to have it. In regard to what the right hon. Gentleman said in the concluding words of his speech, I confess that the promises, if promises they can be called, are of such a vague and conditional character that I do not think they are of very much value. Two other points arise. In the first place, it is exceedingly difficult to amend a Bill properly on Report when the discussion is taking Place under the guillotine. In the second place, the Amendments of my hon. Friends on this side of the House have been on the Paper for no less than five weeks and yet were not referred to in the opening speech from the Government Bench. The Solicitor-General was exceedingly coy in coming forward, and it was not till the second speech from the Government Bench that we were told in a very few, almost cursory, sentences by the right hon. Gentleman that he was prepared to agree under certain conditions to make important Amendments in this Clause.

I feel bound to make one or two observations on the general tenor of the Debate. It is quite clear from the discussion this afternoon, what most of us who have studied political conditions knew was the case, that the party opposite is predominantly a town party, and looks at these matters through smoke-dimmed and fog-dimmed eyes. One of the peculiarities of the House now seems to be that Members make a speech and immediately dash out. We shall eventually, I suppose, reach a time when there is no one left in the House except the Member who is speaking and those who are endeavouring to catch your eye, Mr. Dunnico. That has been a feature of most of the Debates this year. We have had one or two speeches this afternoon from Members who are not now present. The two I have in mind were clearly thoroughly unacquainted with the conditions in, for example, a constituency like my own.

Reference has been made to Yorkshire, Scotland and the Welsh hills, but it is not only in those more remote parts, geographically speaking, that these things occur. I can assure the Committee that on the Sussex Downs there are areas where the voter has to go many miles to the poll, and where it would be impracticable to increase the number of polling places. For one reason there would be no houses in which to put them, and even if movable polling places were provided it would be very difficult to know where to station them. You would not get people to vote in the teeth of a sou wester on the Downs. They would want to vote in the ordinary polling places to which they have been accustomed to go, and the only way in which you can get them to go is by conveying them in some vehicle.

I do not know what the experience is in the constituencies of my hon. Friends, but I should imagine it would be very much the same as in my own. In such country constituencies it is a well known thing that the motor cars of any party are ready to give a lift to anyone who wants to go to the poll. I have always had an enormous majority; at the last election it was 16,000. I have no doubt that a small minority of people who were so misguided as to vote for the party opposite rode to the poll in a motor car which bore my colours and my inspiring photograph. In the country constituencies you do not ask people in advance how they want to vote. You simply ask them to go to the poll. But the result of this Clause, if passed, would be that in these remote parts they would not go to the poll at all. Any Member of this House, no matter where he sits or what are his views, ought to feel his responsibility and some sense of shame at the lack of interest which the public takes in him and his, in this House, its policies, parties and leaders, in so far as they go in smaller proportions to the poll at elections nowadays than previously.

It seems to me astonishing that any Government at such a time should come down to the House with a proposal that would make the proportion still smaller. I venture to say that if this point was put to an intelligent observer in any foreign country—that the British politicians, owing to the lack of political leaders or policies or the bad procedure of this House, were unable to get people to go to the poll, and yet the same British politicians were going to make it harder for people to get to the poll—he would say it is a typical example of the foolish, fatuous manner in which Great Britain has been behaving since the War. It is an astonishing proposal. I should have thought that everybody in this House would have done everything he could to induce more electors to go to the poll, and would have made it more easy instead of more difficult for them to do so. I go further, and say that this Clause is an attempt to monkey with the Constitution. Every elector has a right to be conveyed to the poll providing that he does not pay for being taken. I think you are getting perilously near taking away a constitutional right of the people.

It is perfectly clear from some of the speeches of Members opposite that this Clause is actuated by envy, hatred and malice—envy of those who possess motor cars, hatred of those whose views are different from those of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and malice in so far as they think they will prevent their political opponents from voting. That is the true object of the Clause. The spirit that has been displayed in the Debate is the spirit of a man who says: "He is better off than I and has better clothes than I; let us heave half a brick at him." The right hon. Gentleman said motor cars were instruments of wealth. That is a very strange definition of the almost universal motor. It is as if to say that the workman in America who owns a baby Austin has an instrument of wealth. The real motive of the right hon. Gentleman is that of taking away something from those to whom he is in political opposition. This proposal is an atavistic proposal, and shows the mentality of man's most primitive ancestors. It is at all costs to prevent people riding in that horrible modern invention, that instrument of wealth, the motor car. Let them walk. If they cannot walk, let them go back to the trees. That is the modern policy of this great progressive party, which we are told is the new party. Is it any wonder that at the present moment the hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley) is doing what from his point of view he is perfectly entitled to do, that is to break up the most reactionary party that ever sat on the benches opposite.


The right comment to make on the speech to which we have just listened is that, if there has been one bad-tempered speech in this Debate, it is the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I want to assure the right hon. Gentleman, and very sincerely to assure the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley), that in many parts of the House there are Members who are equally alarmed at the indifference of the electors to the proceedings of this House. I suggest that the solution of that problem is not the provision of motor cars during an election, but the pursuance of a policy in this House between elections which will deal with the problems of the country. I will not go further in comment upon that, except to say that there are Members on all sides of the House who realise the danger in that situation.

The real issue we are discussing this afternoon is not whether motor cars should be used in elections, but whether they should be used predominantly under the control of one party. I imagine that all of us on this side of the House are in favour of the use of motor cars for sick, disabled and infirm people, for those who reside at a long distance from polling stations, and those who for other reasons are not able easily to walk to the polling station. But if motor cars are to be used for that purpose the control of them should be under the returning officer as a representative of the community generally, and should not be under the control of one political party. The real reason why there has been some ferocity shown—it may be on one side or the other—is because on one side there is a determination to retain a privilege and on the other a determination that that privilege shall be ended. That is the real issue of this discussion, despite all the very courteous cleverness of the hon. Member for Westmorland, and despite the more ferocious argument of the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). But when I have said that, I want to support the plea which has been made from nearly all quarters of the House for some reconsideration of the present form of this Clause, and I hope that the Government, in that reconsideration, will try to accept the principle that, if motor cars are to be used during elections, they shall not be under the control of the returning officer merely in the sense which is now described in this Sub-section, but that they shall be entirely under his control, and shall be utilised, irrespective of party, for those who are sick, disabled, infirm, or at long distances, so that we may have real democracy in the distributive use of motor cars during elections.


The last speech shows very clearly that the whole aim and object of some people's minds is obsessed with the idea that in some extraordinary way there are some people who have privileges and others who have none. I will not follow the words of the hon. Gentleman, because I am directly interested in the Amendment. I was surprised at the extraordinary and amazing speech of the Home Secretary. If there is any meaning in that speech, or any intention behind its words, it must be evident to people who heard it that the right hon. Gentleman is going greatly to reorganise the Clause, and I see no real meaning in it, if he intends to reorganise the Clause, except that he should withdraw the Clause at once. I cannot see, when he admits that there is very great confusion of words in the Clause, and that practically its whole basis will have to be changed, how he can do that unless he takes it back and reorganises it from the beginning. If he is humbugging with the House, in the same kind of way as the Prime Minister does from time to time, he obviously will go on with the discussion of the Clause, but, if he meant what he said, he is bound in common honesty to have the Clause withdrawn at once.

The most interesting speech, to my mind, during the afternoon, was that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). It was a speech that would have torn our hearts if only it had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), but, as it was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen, we merely wondered what he was meaning. First of all, he told the House that motor cars were used in elections in such a way as to he in reality a method of bribing the electors. Then, after having given the Government side completely, he turned round and gave to the House the other side of the case. [Interruption.] If a good deal of the case is black and a good deal of it is white, surely we might be told by hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench below the Gangway how far they are going. We have heard nothing from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon. Boroughs, who is generally sympathetic as far as the widely scattered agricultural communities are concerned, and than whom no one would know better how extremely difficult it would be in many cases, and particularly as far as the older people are concerned, without a real method of getting them to the poll by motor car.

I understand that the real object of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen was to interpret the speech of the Solicitor-General, and I do not think that that speech was intelligible, if I may say so, until we had this interpretation. I wonder what he meant by one phrase that he used. He said that cars could not be used at all unless they were registered. He did not say so, but I presume he meant used for election purposes. Surely, a candidate would have the right to use a car; surely ordinary people going about their ordinary business would have the right to use cars; and yet, according to the Solicitor-General's own words, they would have absolutely no right to use a car at all on that day. [Interruption.] No doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite would be delighted if I joined their ranks, but I hope I have still sufficient intelligence to abstain from that foolishness, if I may say so.

The Solicitor-General also made another curious statement. He was giving the opinion of a Law Officer of the Crown on a most complicated matter, and, referring to the returning officer and the position taken up by the returning officer, he made the momentous announcement that he was not the person who registered the car, but that the person who registered the car was the person who went to the returning officer. When we are dealing with a matter of this kind, the House might expect that a Law Officer, however green and young he may be in experience of this House, would give serious consideration to a Clause of this kind, because we realise that the Clause as it stands now, with the words which the Law Officers have put into it, would deprive millions of people of this country of an easy method of registering their votes, and that it would deprive hundreds of thousands of people in the rural areas of this country of, possibly, their only means of registering their votes; and that is being done simply because a section of the community, who have extraordinary means of compelling people to vote, and have used those means absolutely ruthlessly in many cases, have found some small flaw in the election law which they think registers against them, and they are so afraid of putting their policy before the country that they will use every means in their power to deprive their opponents of what they think—wrongly, as I consider—is an advantage.

This Clause, and particularly the first portion of it, is perfectly unworkable. When a Government puts up three front-bench sneakers to explain a part of a Clause, and when those speakers never keep to the words of the Clause and never deal with the very sensible Amendment on the Paper, I think that that is ample reason why the House of Commons should accept the Amendment and reorganise the whole of this Clause; and I hope that even yet the Government may see their way to do the only decent and honest thing, and that is to withdraw the Clause.


It is sometimes said that the outsider sees most of the game, and in this matter I may claim to be an outsider. For one thing, I represent a constituency which, thank Heaven, never makes any use of motor cars in elections, a fact which ought to commend it to the party opposite. I have been impressed by two things to-day—firstly, by the overwhelming strength of the case for the principle of this Clause, and, secondly, by the overwhelming case against the particular method employed in the Clause for carrying that principle into effect. As to the principle, I have listened to Member after Member striving to prove that the advantage given to the Conservative party, or any party which represents the wealthier portion of the community, by their superior power in regard to motor cars, is not an unjust advantage. That seems to me to be an unutterably weak case. Of course, the predominant use of motor cars by one party, which it is not within the power of another party to command, is an unjust use of them. It cannot be compared, as one hon. Member tried to compare it, with the fact that the Labour party might find it more difficult to command clerical assistance. Any party, if it had more voluntary workers who were willing to give voluntary service, would have a right to make use of that service; but an advantage which cannot be obtained by another party because of its inferiority in wealth cannot be described as a fair advantage.

One hon. Member spoke of this Clause, especially in the rural districts, disfranchising the poorest and most physically helpless members of the community. Is he only unwilling that the poorest and most physically helpless members of the community should be disfranchised if they happen to belong to the Conservative party? Is there no hardship if the poor and physically weak belong to another party? I suggest that really there can be no heart in the opposition to the principle that underlies this Clause. No one who has gone through a contested election can really feel happy if they feel that their election has been gained by the use of more motor cars than their fellows could command. There is something particularly offensive in all displays of wealth, but, if there is one kind of wealth that is particularly offensive, it is that which is embodied in the use of a motor car. I think we all hate motor cars; there is something insolent about them.

As to how this principle can be carried out, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) pointed out flaws in this particular Clause which cannot be denied. In the first place, if motor cars all have to be pooled and used in common at the direction of the returning officer, does anyone believe that private owners of motor cars are going to lend their cars at all under such conditions? And, even if they did, who is going to distribute the cars? The whole value of a car at such a time is to be able to have it in the right spot at the right moment. It seems to me that the only way of meeting these difficulties is one which was alluded to in extremely vague terms by the Home Secretary. He gave us a very imperfect idea of what he really meant. The principle that he suggested is the only right principle, and that is that in every election there should be a maximum set to the number of cars to be used for each candidate. The number can be fixed by the returning officer, possibly after consultation with all the candidates. Then you would have complete equality, and yet each candidate would be controlling his own set of cars, though one might show superior skill in their manipulation. The fact that a Particular candidate can control his own car would make a sufficient motive for his friends to lend him cars, because each candidate would have confidence in his own capacity and that of his election agent to make a better use of his cars than his opponent.

If that is found impracticable, there is one other proposal which I hope will be considered. Could it not be made a rule that every car used in elections should bear a placard stating that riding in it shall not constitute any obligation to vote for any particular candidate? Several speakers have mentioned that many voters ride in cars belonging to opposition candidates, but nearly every voter who does that does it against his conscience. There is a feeling that it is a dishonourable thing to do. Either it should be allowed or it should not, and it would secure a certain amount of free use of motor cars by all parties if such a placard was placed on every car. I hope the Government are going to consider before the Report stage some way of carrying out the excellent principle that underlies the Clause.


The Debate has been characterised by a certain amount of loose thinking. Here is a Clause which is admittedly vindictive and pusillanimous, and vindictive and pusillanimous Clauses have a knack of looking silly when they are subjected to Debate. That is the fate that has befallen this Clause when subjected to the close analysis of the late Attorney-General and others and to criticisms to which no answer has been attempted from the Front Bench. Stripped of all the class prejudice and ornament that we have heard from the other side, their argument really amounts to this: "We have a policy upon which we cannot hope to captivate any of those people who are divided from extreme poverty by the narrow margin of a baby Austin secondhand car, and, knowing that we cannot achieve the support of anyone who has the smallest amount of property, our method is to deprive those people, not only of the vote, but of the power to use their influence in order to win elections." Added to that, they say at one and the same time: "But we will retain all the powerful machinery that we possess through the trade unions, whereby we can outlaw, we can harass, we can make difficult the lot of anyone—I apprehend your early movement, Sir, and I will not pursue that line of discussion.

It seems to me that there is one really vital principle, which was insinuated for a moment by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), which is the real reason that moves us strenuously to oppose this portion of the Clause. If there is one compelling duty upon citizens at present it is the duty to vote. If there is one duty above all others that those who believe in our Parliamentary institutions can carry out, it is to induce people to vote upon the great issues that arise at a General Election. Does anyone believe for a moment that under this shoddy, ramshackle second part of the Clause people are going to lend their motor cars to be put into some pool where they would be used ad lib by any of the other parties? It is obvious to anyone who knows the difficulties that exist that, even with the fire and enthusiasm of supporting a party in getting cars for the use of the party, they will not be brought forward if they are to be used by the Liberal or the Socialist party or by any party at the whim of the returning officer.

The Bill throws an almost impossible burden upon the returning officer. I am certain that the returning officer would not suffer from political bias, as has been suggested, except perhaps in one case out of 100,000. But think of the impossible burden that you are putting upon him. At the moment when the choice of the area into which he is going to send motor cars may decide the issue of the election, you are casting upon him the burden of saying: "I am to decide where I am going to send cars at this moment," and the bias might operate quite unconsciously in the opposite way. A man of nice principles might easily send cars into a district which was remote from his political bias rather than be suspected of lending his bias towards the party that he favoured. One is surprised to find this Clause emerging from a party which prides itself on being the party of progress, which seems to have forgotten that to-day the motor car is the democratic instrument of everyone, and which, instead of bringing in pin-pricking Measures of this kind, ought to devote its attention to seeing that more people have motor cars.


Might I ask the Solicitor-General if he would implement the remark of the Home Secretary and explain in what way he proposes on Report to alter the Clause, whether he considers that motor cars under this new arrangement will be at the disposal of the electorate and not al the disposal of the returning officer, and whether it will only mean that there will be a more equal distribution of cars at elections.

The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Dunnico)

I think I ought to make it clear that, though the question may be put and an answer may be given, no discussion can take place upon the answer at this stage.


I cannot say anything further than that my right hon. Friend is prepared to accept the principle of the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne)—in page 4, line 9, to leave out from the word "registered," to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert instead thereof the words: may, notwithstanding anything contained in this section, be used for the conveyance of electors to the poll on behalf of such candidate. Provided that the returning officer shall not permit the registration in respect of any one candidate of a greater number of vehicles than one vehicle for every complete two hundred electors in a county or for every complete five hundred electors in a borough, and if in either case there is a number of electors over and above any complete two hundred or five hundred electors, respectively, then one vehicle for every such number. We do not bind ourselves to the numbers specified in that Amendment, but to the principle that the number of cars available shall be determined firstly by means of the number of electors, and secondly-by means of the area over which the cars will operate.


The Solicitor-General has not answered the question who will control these cars. Will the returning officer allocate them and direct where they shall go, or will it be the candidates or the party agents? That is a question that vitally matters.


I can only say that, if the right hon. Gentleman looks at the place where the Amendment comes in, he will see that the registration will be limited to the number of vehicles—some number which will be arranged. That is what I understood my right hon. Friend to say.


It is impossible to debate the question now, particularly when we have not the actual words that the Government are prepared to accept, but, as far as I can judge, the Solicitor-General's answer really amounts to nothing at all.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'to,' in line 40, stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided Ayes, 253; Noes, 160.

Division No. 219.] AYES. [7.41 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mort, D. L.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Muff, G.
Alpass, J. H. Harbord, A. Muggeridge, H. T.
Ammon, Charles George Hardie, George D. Murnin, Hugh
Angell, Sir Norman Harris, Percy A. Nathan, Major H. L.
Arnott, John Hastings, Dr. Somerville Naylor, T. E.
Attlee, Clement Richard Hayday, Arthur Noel Baker, P. J.
Ayles, Walter Hayes, John Henry Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Barnes, Alfred John Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Barr, James Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Palin, John Henry
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Herriotts, J. Paling, Wilfrid
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hicks, Ernest George Palmer, E. T.
Benson, G. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Perry, S. F.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hoffman, P. C. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Birkett, W. Norman Hollins, A. Phillips, Dr. Marion
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Hopkin, Daniel Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Bowen, J. W. Horrabin, J. F. Pole, Major D. G.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Potts, John S.
Broad, Francis Alfred Isaacs, George Price, M. P.
Brockway, A. Fenner Jenkins, Sir William Pybus, Percy John
Bromfield, William John, William (Rhondda, West) Quibell, D. J. K.
Bromley, J. Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Brooke, W. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Rathbone, Eleanor
Brothers, M. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Raynes, W. R.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Richards, R.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Buchanan, G. Kelly, W. T. Romeril, H. G.
Burgess, F. G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Kinley, J. Rowson, Guy
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Knight, Holford Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Cameron, A. G. Lang, Gordon Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cape, Thomas Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Carter, W (St. Pancras, S.W.) Lathan, G. Sanders, W. S.
Chater, Daniel Law, Albert (Bolton) Sandham, E.
Church, Major A. G. Law, A. (Rossendale) Sawyer, G. F.
Clarke, J. S. Lawrence, Susan Scrymgeour, E.
Cluse, W. S. Lawson, John James Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Sherwood, G. H.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Leach, W. Shield, George William
Cove, William G. Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Shillaker, J. F.
Daggar, George Lees, J. Shinwell, E.
Dallas, George Lewis, T. (Southampton) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Dalton, Hugh Lindley, Fred W. Simmons, C. J.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lloyd, C. Ellis Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Logan, David Gilbert Sinkinson, George
Denman, Hon. R. D. Longbottom, A. W. Sitch, Charles H.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Longden, F. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Duncan, Charles Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Ede, James Chuter Lunn, William Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Edmunds, J. E. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Foot, Isaac MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Sorensen, R.
Freeman, Peter McElwee, A. Stamford, Thomas W.
Gardner, B, W. (West Ham, Upton) McEntee, V. L. Stephen, Campbell
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) McKinlay, A. Strauss, G. R.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) MacLaren, Andrew Sullivan, J.
Gibbins, Joseph Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Sutton, J. E.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Gill, T. H. MacNeill-Weir, L. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Gillett, George M. McShane, John James Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Glassey, A. E. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Tillett, Ben
Gossling, A. G. March, S. Tinker, John Joseph
Gould, F. Marcus, M. Toole, Joseph
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Marley, J. Tout, W. J.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Marshall, Fred Townend, A. E.
Granville, E. Mathers, George Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Matters, L. W. Vaughan, David
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Maxton, James Viant, S. P.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Middleton, G. Walkden, A. G.
Groves, Thomas E. Mills, J. E. Walker, J.
Grundy, Thomas W. Milner, Major J. Wallace, H. W.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Watkins, F. C.
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood) Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda) Wilkinson, Ellen C. Wise, E. F.
Wellock, Wilfred Williams, David (Swansea, East) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Welsh, James (Paisley) Williams, Dr J. H. (Llanelly)
Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
West, F. R. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Westwood, Joseph Wilson, J. (Oldham) Mr. Charleton and Mr. Thurtle.
White, H. G. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Duckworth, G. A. V. Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Dugdale, Capt. T. L. O'Connor, T. J.
Albery, Irving James Edmondson, Major A. J. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Elliot, Major Walter E. O'Neill, Sir H.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. England, Colonel A. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Aske, Sir Robert Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.) Peake, Captain Osbert
Atholl, Duchess of Everard, W. Lindsay Penny, Sir George
Atkinson, C. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Fielden, E. B. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Ford, Sir P. J. Ramsbetham, H.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Beaumont, M. W. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Remer, John R.
Berry, Sir George Galbraith, J. F. W. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Betterton, sir Henry B. Ganzoni, Sir John Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Bird, Ernest Roy Grace, John Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Ross, Ronald D.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Gunston, Captain D. W. Rothschild. J. de
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Boyce, Leslie Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bracken, B. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Brass, Captain Sir William Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Briscoe, Richard George Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Buchan, John Hore-Belisha, Leslie Skelton, A. N.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Butler, R. A. Hurd, Percy A. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Inskip, Sir Thomas Smithers, Waldron
Campbell, E. T. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Somerset, Thomas
Carver, Major W. H. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Castle Stewart, Earl of Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Knox, Sir Alfred Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Thomson, Sir F.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm.,W.) Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Train, J.
Chapman, Sir S. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Christie, J. A. Llewellin, Major J. J. Turton, Robert Hugh
Cobb, Sir Cyril Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Colfox, Major William Philip Locker-Lampson. Com. O. (Handsw'th) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Colman, N. C. D. Long, Major Hon. Eric Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Conway, Sir W. Martin McConnell, Sir Joseph Wayland, Sir William A.
Cooper, A. Duff Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Wells, Sydney R.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Cowan, D. M. Margesson, Captain H. D. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Marjoribanks, Edward Windsor-Clive. Lieut.-Colonel George
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Meller, R. J. Withers, Sir John James
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Womersley, W. J.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Davies, Maj, Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Dawson, Sir Philip Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Captain Wallace and Sir Victor
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Muirhead, A. J. Warrender.
Dixey, A. C. Nelson, Sir Frank

I beg to move, in page 3, line 41, after the word "owner," to insert the words "or driver."

The meaning of the Amendment is perfectly plain, and as for the reason for supporting it, perhaps the Committee will allow me to give what may become a personal experience. I happen to live in the constituency which I represent, and I have a vote in that constituency. Unfortunately, however, in this mechanised scheme of things, I am one who has never shown any mechanical inclination. At an early age, in an attempt to drive a motor car, it was borne in upon me that my inability to concentrate on the road ahead made it impossible for me to become a successful driver. Therefore, the circumstances are that to-day for me to drive a motor car affords no pleasure for myself and very little profit to the ordinary wayfarer. When I start out—and soon I hope—on the polling day of the next general elec- tion to do a tour of the polling districts in my constituency in my car driven by a chauffeur I shall stop at the polling booth in my own village for the purpose of recording my vote. I shall, observing the letter of the Clause which the Solicitor-General has presented to the House, give my chauffeur, who is also a voter in the constituency the strictest instructions that under no circumstances is he to record his vote. But suppose that he disregards my instructions. Suppose that he even defeats any physical attempt I may make to restrain him from entering the polling booth and that, despite all my efforts, he enters the polling booth and records his vote. The result of that will be that I shall be unseated. I shall have used my car for the purpose of bringing to the poll a man who is not a member of my family and, as a consequence, I shall be unseated.

The hon. and learned Gentleman tells me that he is not quite certain. Of course, I shall be liable to prosecution under the Act, but it is possible that, if I go before the court and I am well defended by a barrister of repute at a considerable fee, recommended no doubt by the Solicitor-General, the court may take a lenient view of the facts of the case. When you are instituting a new penal offence and new Acts of Parliament it is as well that those who commit the offences should know beforehand whether they are going to be liable to a penalty or not. It should not be left for them to go before a court of law to find out whether in fact they have infringed the statute or not. I cannot believe that it is the intention of the Government, absurd as is the Bill and ridiculous as is this particular Clause, to carry the matter to the limit of absurdity which I have instanced to-night.

Take the case of the invalid lady owning a car and having to be driven by a chauffeur. Her chauffeur may have been with her for years, and therefore may be a voter in the locality. If the man drives her to the poll she has committed an offence, but, if the day before the election she dismisses that man and takes a temporary chauffeur who does not reside in the constituency and is therefore not a voter, she is keeping within the letter of the law. I cannot imagine that right hon. Gentlemen opposite, much as they have strained my credulity in the past, can really intend that anomalies of this kind should continue, and therefore I hope that the Solicitor-General will accept the Amendment.


The harrowing story which has been given from the opposite benches having touched the heart of the Government, they are prepared to accept an Amendment but not one precisely in the present words. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member and the next Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto)—in page 3, line 42, after the word "family," to insert the words "or any person ordinarily"—we are prepared to insert the following words at the end of Sub-section (1): or any person being the owner of the vehicle or persons permanently or temporarily resident with him or a driver in Ins regular employment. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will accept these words as covering the two Amendments, we shall be prepared to make such an Amendment. The words "permanently or temporarily resident with him" are to get over the difficulty of definition, and I think it would clearly mean anybody who on that day was living in his house. If we undertake to put these words in on the Report stage, I hope that it will satisfy hon. Members opposite.

8.0 p.m.


As far as I can follow the words of the Solicitor-General, he referred to the Amendment which stands in my name and pointed out that the words "permanently or temporarily" might well be taken as a substitute for the word "ordinarily." I would point out, however, that the word "ordinarily" is wider in its application, and it would cover a person who was usually resident with him but who did not happen to he resident at the time in the sense that he happened to be resident in the neighbourhood and not in the actual household. With regard to drivers, the Solicitor-General's words would not cover the case where the owner of the car found that on the polling day his regular permanent driver, owing to stress of the election, having driven him constantly, almost day and night, for a fortnight, had broken down in health. He would have to make his tour as usual and register his vote. I am in exactly the same position as my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Stanley). I am also a voter in my own constituency. This sort of thing might happen to me in the next election, and I should not dare to engage a driver for the day to drive my car. If I did so, he would not be able to get down and record his vote because he would not be the driver permanently engaged in my employ. I still think that the words of the Amendment on the Paper are wider and cover the case better than the superior words that the Solicitor-General has suggested. I admit that the point of my Amendment is a small one, but I think it is foolish to try and say that only a driver permanently in the employ of a person shall be allowed to drive. Why should not a person he conveyed to the poll by anyone who ordinarily drives the car, and what is the objection to that person getting down and voting? We do not want to carry this inquisition, this effort to get some niggling party advantage for hon. Members opposite any further.


The Amendment of the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) shows how ridiculous this whole Clause is, because several suggestions occur to one. Suppose, for instance, that the hon. Member put down his chauffeur 100 yards from the polling booth, and he then walked. The only way of preventing the hon. Member from being unfrocked or unseated would be for the chauffeur to marry into the family in order that he might come under the provisions of Clause 1. I heard of a case the other day of a girl marrying her chauffeur, but it is surely too much to ask our female relations that in order to save ourselves they shall be asked to marry the chauffeur. It really shows the absurdity of the whole business. However, I congratulate the learned Solicitor-General on trying to square the hon. Member.


The learned Solicitor-General has annealed to me to withdraw my Amendment in view of what he has said, and I realise that he has genuinely tried to meet the point I have put. But I am not quite certain that the words he proposes do, in fact, cover the case. The case which has been suggested might easily occur. Your chauffeur might go sick, and a day or two before the election you might have to employ a man who is not in your regular employment, and who, therefore, would come outside the scope of the Amendment of the Solicitor-General. I think, however, there is a more likely case that might happen. I understand that, as the law stands at present, a candidate can hire a car for the purpose of going round the polling booths. In those circumstances, it is very likely that the man who drives a car which the candidate hires for the day is a voter. He obviously is not in the regular employment of the candidate; and, if he chooses to get out and vote at the polling booth [...]ot which he is entitled to vote, it would appear that under the Clause the candidate, if he became the Member, would be unseated. I realise that the Solicitor-General intends to meet my point, but I do not think the actual words that he has read out will do so. But I am content to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment at the moment, it being perfectly understood that on Report stage I shall be at liberty to criticise the Amendment of the Solicitor-General if I feel that it does not cover the point that I have raised.


On a point of Order. I understand that the substitute words suggested by the Solicitor-General cover only the question of the owner, but there is also the question of the family. Do I understand that that point will be considered now or on a later Amendment, because it is of some importance?


That is hardly a point of Order, but I must say that I am placed in a very difficult position. We have really been discussing the words of an Amendment which is to be moved, not in Committee, but on Report.




I do not quite know what to permit or not to permit in those circumstances, but I understand that the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) wishes to withdraw his Amendment.


On a point of Order. What happens to the next Amendment which deals with the point of the family?


If this Amendment be withdrawn, I shall call upon the hon. Member to move that Amendment. It rests with him whether he wishes to move it.


And the question of the family can then be debated?




Is there any reason why we should not have this comparatively simple Amendment put into the Bill now? It can be done if you, Mr. Dunnico, will accept a manuscript Amendment from the Government.


I am quite willing to accept the Amendment now, but I ought to have it in front of me.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 42, to leave out from the word "or" to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert instead thereof the words a person permanently or temporarily resident with him, or a driver in his regular employment.


If the hon. Gentleman will hand me his copy of the Amendment, I will put the questions to the Committee.


It has been said that, the legislation of the Government reaches its highest point when it is funny without being vulgar. In this Committee it has been reached by the learned Solicitor-General in the Amendment that he has recently put forward. I take it that it is an Amendment for the purpose of promoting house parties in the mansions of the great on the eve of the poll. As a move towards "a brighter England" it might well be commended, but as a contribution towards the serious business of this Committee, it can only be treated with the utmost contempt. The learned Solicitor-General seems to have left the House, for what reason I do not know, unless he is so staggered by the contribution he proposes to make to the statutes of the country that he has gone to fortify himself with a drink before coming back to discuss the matter. The astonishing definition which he gave of a person "temporarily resident with him," amazes me. He said that anybody who has stayed with him for the night would thereby become eligible to be driven. One can conceive that the humble cottages of the poor will doubtless become greatly crowded. The words of this Amendment will do much to fill the humbler mansions with persons whom the owner desires to be driven to the poll the next morning, and according to the definition of the Solicitor-General, they have slept there all night, or part of the night, or called there the night before, they can be driven to the poll in the owner's car in safety. But will the learned Attorney-General tell us if the courts will maintain that definition of residence? This is a new definition of residence which it is now proposed shall be spatchcocked into the law of the land? Will a night's lodging enable a person to be qualified? [HON. MEMBERS: "The Census."] The census does not raise the grave question of gerrymandering the electorate of this country, which is the purpose for which this legislation is being proposed. This is a manuscript Amendment, and it was said by Lord Randolph Churchill on a famous occasion: We have come to a pretty pass in the House of Commons when Amendments are handed about on dirty bits of paper. The Chair is in the difficulty of being called on to decide on an Amendment which the Government propose to move into the law of the land after five weeks' incubation. I do not blame them, but I would point out that, with the command of the machinery available, the Government might at least have provided three additional copies—ane for both sections of the Opposition, which makes two; one for you, Mr. Dunnico, which makes three; and one for the Members of the Government, in case they have forgotten the words, which makes four. Is it impossible for the Government to supply four copies of an Amendment, of this importance to the House of Commons in considering the question of the new electorate and the conditions under which that electorate is to go to the poll?

Surely, we must make it quite clear that we are in no way bound to accept the principle of the Amendment and that we are in no way limited from criticising the principle of the Amendment when we finally see it in print in the Bill on Report. At present we are bound to do our best to try and elucidate from the Government the meaning of this manuscript Amendment which has now been taken away from us for the purposes of being read by you, Mr. Dunnico. The Amendment is on a piece of paper, torn off "roneo-ed" script, and the words previous to it have been carefully obliterated. No doubt they contained other gems of wisdom which the Government did not wish incorporated in the law of the land. [Interruption.] I can well imagine that there is uneasiness on the part of some hon. Members opposite. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite are gradually realising into what a quagmire of nonsense the Government are getting. The Socialist party when hit always squeals, and this evening is no exception to that rule. When anybody is making a speech against them, they do their best to howl him down. We get that in our constituencies, and this attempt is merely one step further in that process.

The fact remains that, after five weeks, the Government have been totally unable to supply more than one copy of this Amendment. The Deputy-Chairman himself has had to beg for the only copy to be handed to him in order that he may read it to the Committee, and hon. Members have to come to a decision on this important point without having a copy and the words of the Amendment before them and my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) and other hon. Members are actually asked to withdraw their Amendments in view of this ridiculously sketchy proposal which the Government have brought forward. No wonder hon. Members opposite howl because a more lamentable exhibition has rarely been seen in the House of Commons.


The hon. and gallant Member will not expect me to say more about the speech he has just delivered than that I have been highly entertained by it. I rise for the purpose of asking the Leaders of the Opposition to make their choice. The speech of the hon. and gallant Member is illustrative of how impossible it is for the Government to satisfy hon. Members opposite even when they are doing what they themselves suggest and propose. The Amendment is an agreed Amendment, in its terms and in its substance. The Solicitor-General said that the Government would make the matter right on Report. Thereupon the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) asked whether there was any objection to doing it now. We said no, we were quite willing to do it now, but it appears that in meeting the wishes of hon. Members opposite we are still wrong. I merely ask hon. and right hon. Members opposite to choose whether we are to discuss the matter now or on Report stage.


There is no reason for the Home Secretary to attempt to read us a lecture. It is a little difficult to introduce an atmosphere of reality into a Clause so fantastic as this. An Amendment was moved from these benches. It has been en the Paper for some five or six weeks, and the Government, through the Solicitor-General, suggested that they were prepared on Report to put in some words which it was difficult for hon. Members to follow although the Solicitor-General repeated them. It seemed to some of us on this side that the best course was to give an opportunity to the Committee to consider the words now and get them into print, as the Government have not thought fit to put them on the Order Paper, and with that object in view I suggested that the Amendment should be incorporated in the Bill at this stage so that we might be able to pin the Government down to something which can be considered on Report. That was not unreasonable. [Interruption.] If hon. Members opposite could for a moment divest themselves of a little of the prejudices they feel against any suggestions from this side of the Committee they would realise and agree that it was desirable in the interests of legislation that the Amendment suggested by the Solicitor-General, which contained more than one or two words, should be put into print so that the House might be able to consider it.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) has made it plain, however, that the Amendment must be subject to review by the Opposition, and they have a perfect right to reconsider the Amendment on Report stage. The Home Secretary objects to the tone and temper of the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend. I can quite appreciate the fact that the Home Secretary objects to speeches which show him and his colleagues in an unfavourable light, but what does debate come to if we cannot make our own speeches without the Home Secretary lecturing us? In dealing with the ludicrous business of this Clause both sides should at any rate try to do their duty. If the Home Secretary and hon. Members opposite will do their duty we will do ours and try to make intelligible what the Government have not even made intelligible.


The Home Secretary says that this is an agreed Amendment, and on the face of it it does look something like the Amendment on the Order Paper. If that is so I invite the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider it; and, indeed, the whole Clause. The speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) was quite legitimate criticism, and I think the Home Secretary would be well advised to reject the Amendment and the Clause too. It is really an undemocratic Clause and the Amendment makes a bad Clause worse. What is its effect? Under the Clause yon have a large number of registered cars Sub-section (1) excludes those registered cars and gives power to certain privileged people to use their own cars. The Clause, in its original form, limited that exception to the owner of the car and his family, but the Amendment extends that limitation and says: a person permanently or temporarily resident There comes the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove. You may have a large house party on the eve of the poll and the whole lot can be driven to the poll. You are extending a privileged position. Does the Home Secretary agree? If he does, is he going to accept the Amendment? It is undoubtedly an increase of a privileged position and I invite the Government to give more careful consideration to this matter. I invite the right hon. Gentleman before the Report stage to reject it, and the whole Clause.


I join my hon. Friends in protesting against the language used by the Home Secretary in dealing with the perfectly reasonable remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot), and I hope, moreover, that in doing so I shall have the support of the back benchers on the other side of the Committee. It must be clear to everyone that this is a very important Bill. An hon. Member comes down to the Committee and makes a criticism of the Amendment, whereupon the Home Secretary, like petty Prussian princeling, reads him a rebuke and says that this is an agreed Amendment. We know nothing about that. We are not so privileged as you, Mr. Dunnico; we have not had a glance at the paper on which the Amendment is written, and we feel that there is a great deal to be said for the point made by my hon. and gallant Friend. I am not a friend of the rich like the Home Secretary, but men who own large country houses, like Lord FitzWilliam or the Duke of Marlborough, could fill their mansions with large numbers of electors and run them to the poll in omnibuses or other vehicles whilst a poverty-stricken person like myself, who lives in a cottage, must trust to Providence to get to the poll. I think hon. Members opposite, who claim to have more regard for the cottage than for the ducal palace, will see the strength of that point. As a private Member I think this is perfectly scandalous procedure. The hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) whose agreeable character has endeared him to hon. Members, has said that this Amendment, which is written on a piece of tissue paper, was produced at the last moment by the Home Secretary. I ask hon. Members opposite, how are we going to transact business in this way?

I am not a person who would be called hard of hearing but there must be many people behind the Labour benches who have not heard a word of this Amendment which we are asked to accept now. The Attorney-General, with his great capacity for speech, has not condescended to explain it and here we have to sit ignorant and uninstructed. [Interruption.] I am glad hon. Members opposite so cordially agree with me. Private Members like myself have to depend upon you, Mr. Dunnico, for protection, and as a mere private Member I sympathise with you in the scandalous way in which you have been treated by the Government. They have had five weeks' interval already and at the end of that time they hand you this grubby piece of paper—


I have enough responsibility without being made a party to this Debate. I must point out that, while it may be inconvenient, it is not out of order to hand in a manuscript Amendment, and it is often done in Committee.


Of course I accept your Ruling absolutely. I was not attempting to interpret the Rules of the Chair, but was offering the Chair the humble and respectful sympathy of a back bench Member.


I am the person largely responsible for this Debate, for when I rose on a point of Order to ask the guidance of the Chair if my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the original Amendment about the owners of cars and the drivers of cars had merely withdrawn it, we should have been left without the suggestion of an alternative and without having the opportunity of seeing it ultimately in black and white, though so far we are denied that privilege. A good deal has been made of the question of the driver of the car, the owner of the car and so forth. But there is another point which is entailed by the words now moved from the Government Front Bench. Some people, for instance, may have a lodge occupied by a gardener. Is that gardener to be regarded as "resident" with the person concerned? Or the person may have household assistants living outside, in a garage behind the house. I am not trying to make party capital. I should appreciate some information from the learned Attorney-General as to what in his opinion the expression "resident with him" will mean. Does it mean that if anyone has a footman living in the house he can take that footman to the poll, but that if the footman is living in a room over the garage he cannot be taken to the poll?

It is true that these questions do not arise except in a limited number of cases, but we are legislating for the electors as a whole. Indeed at the moment we are legislating for the fortunate owners of motor cars, which, though not yet universal, soon will be, because the motor bicycle is included, and the girl on the pillion is going to be ruled out on polling day. If these words are not given a rather wide interpretation the Amendment will cause absurd hardship. For example, you may have working for you people who are living close by, in cottages. Their voting district may be two or three miles away. They are the whole day at work in the garden or doing something of that sort, and unless they are to be regarded as pant of your establishment they will be obliged at the end of a day's work to tramp two or three miles to the poll and back again.

The ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir William Jowitt)

I will take the Committee into my secrets at once by saying that I do not pretend that I have been immersed in the details of this Bill. The Solicitor-General is absent for a short time, and I will do my best to answer the questions, but I must make it plain that I am answering on the spur of the moment, and that I cannot pretend that I have given consideration to the matter before or looked up any authorities. First, in answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot), if anyone is staying at a house the night before the poll he would be at least temporarily resident. The two adverbs used here are "permanently or temporarily." Nothing in this world is permanent, and the word here is used only relatively. But I think that the two adverbs make it plain that a night's residence at the house with the owner of the car before the polling day constitutes residence within the meaning of this Amendment. An hon. Member points out that in the case of the Census it is necessary to enter the names of those living in the house, but there the test of residence is different.


There they interpret "residence" on the form, and point out that anyone sleeping in the house on the previous night is intended.


I should have thought that would be so. An hon. Member asked a question as to what constitutes residence. I should have thought, again speaking off-hand, that the test is whether the person has an "occupation" of his own. Suppose you have a lodge-keeper living in his lodge. That lodge, I think, is in the occupation of the park-keeper, and I should not think that he could be said to be resident in any sense with the person who owns the park. If you have a footman living in the house he has no "occupation" of his own at all, but I think would be resident with the owner of the house. Someone mentioned the footman living over the garage. There, again, I conclude that he has no "occupation" of his own at all, and that he is resident with the owner of the house. I am using the word "occupation" in the sense of occupation of a residence. A footman living above a garage or in a house would be resident, but someone living in a lodge—it may be two or three miles away—would not be resident. That is the test I would apply, but I will look into the matter between now and Report, and if there is any further light to be thrown upon it I will inform the House then.


There is the question of the hire of a car. I supose that the great bulk of us hire a car for the day of the election, and a great many of us have a vote in our own constituencies. Apparently that car cannot take me to the poll. I suggest that after the word "owner" there should be inserted the words "or hirer." Then there are the people who buy cars on hire purchase. They are not owners but hirers. They ought to be able to use their cars to go to the poll. Such people may have had their cars on hire purchase for several months, but presumably they would not be allowed to use the cars in going to the poll.


I appreciate the Attorney-General's difficulty in defending a Bill which he has not studied, and we should be sorry to set him a new puzzle while the Solicitor-General has so inconveniently disappeared. Under this Bill what would happen in the case of the residents in a hotel? Suppose that you had residents more or less permanent in a great hotel. There may be several hundred. Would the owner or manager of that hotel be permitted to take those residents to the poll?


I should have thought not.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

They would not be on the register.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 3, line 42, at the end, to insert the words: Provided that nothing contained in this section shall, subject to the provisions of the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act, 1883, prohibit any person from conveying to the poll any elector who by reason of age, bodily infirmity, or any other incapacity would be unlikely to vote unless conveyed to the poll. This Amendment raises the question of whether or not it is the intention of the Government to prohibit persons, who, by reason of age, bodily infirmity or other incapacity would be unlikely to vote unless conveyed to the polls, being so conveyed. It will be agreed that the small number of persons who are covered by this Sub-section ought to have every consideration possible and it is not an unreasonable request that a person who is unable to vote or unlikely to vote, unless conveyed to the poll, in the circumstances indicated in the Amendment, should have the facilities which a motor transport and other transport afford. I do not know if the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department will say that the point is covered by Sub-section (2) which deals with the pool of cars, but I ask him to consider whether it is desirable to limit the facilities offered to infirm persons as rigorously as will necessarily be the case, if only the provisions of Sub-section (2) are to apply.

After all, any person who conveys a voter to the poll unnecessarily under this proviso is subject to the extremely severe penalties imposed by the Corrupt Practices Act and I should have thought that those penalties would be quite sufficient to ensure that the Sub-section would only be used in a bona fide manner. It will require almost a triumph of organisation if a census of the infirm persons in a huge modern constituency has to be made and if the names have to be sorted out by the returning officer after consultation with the election agents and the infirm persons then conveyed to the poll by means of this novel scheme of a pool of cars under the direction of some officials not connected with any of the parties concerned in the election. We all know how difficult it is to arrange for cars for those persons who are found in the course of an election to be sick or infirm or liable not to vote unless conveyed to the poll. It is not an easy matter and it is not quickly done. We know that on polling day itself, the election rooms are frequently rung up by persons to say that so-and-so is ill, or that so-and-so cannot possibly get down to the poll, or that some old lady is unable to come out to vote because the weather has broken.

We all have had examples of such incidents in our own experience and it is these emergency cases arising on polling day which will be ruled out by the very stringent provisions of this Clause unless some step is taken to deal with it. The proviso which we propose may not be ideal but it is an attempt to deal with the situation. It leaves the person who conveys any voter not covered by the Sub-section, subject to the extremely severe penalties of the electoral law and it allows the person who is not able, otherwise, to get to the poll to be conveyed there without going through the elaborate formalities prescribed in Subsection (2). It is almost a matter of agreement that the provisions of the Sub-section are so elaborate that they will not work and that it will be necessary to modify them. Here is the first attempt at modification. As I said it may not be ideal but I have confidence that the Government will see the justice of the point and will do their utmost to meet it in some way or other. [HON. MEMBERS: "Quite right!"] Apparently I have been more successful with the Government on this occasion than I was a few moments ago, and, having succeeded in the eliciting of that expression of approval from hon. Members opposite, I leave it at that. I only say that a case of real hardship might arise in this connection. Our Amendment attempts to meet that case of real hardship and is also a first attempt to deal with a provision which I think we all agree will have to be considerably modified before it is placed on the Statute Book.


I heard the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) on the last Amendment denounce the Government in all the moods and tenses, for the nature of the Amendment which they had accepted—


No, which they had moved.


It was an agreed Amendment.


Oh, no!


Yes it was, if we are to accept the statement of the Solicitor-General.


In case there should be any charge of bad faith in connection with this matter—which is a really serious thing in the House of Commons—let me make it clear that there was no question of those words having been agreed upon, nor could there have been any question of those words having been agreed upon. I think the Minister's contention was that the Government were meeting the principle of the matter but it was not suggested for a moment that those words had been agreed to by or had even been submitted to hon. Members on this side.


It was certainly understood on these benches.


I leave it to the Minister.


It was an attempt on the part of the Government to meet the views which had been expressed and the views contained in Amendments. We put forward the words on that understanding. I certainly understood that the Opposition were not bound to the exact words and indeed the Attorney-General has indicated that if, between now and the Report stage, further elucidation should be found necessary, he will be prepared to consider the matter.


It was understood that it was on that basis that those words were agreed to.


I think it will be found that the phrase used by the hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. G. Oliver) was quite accurate. It will be within the recollection of the House that what the Home Secretary said was that the Amendment was an agreed Amendment.


The hon. and gallant Member used most violent language against the Clause, but when we read the Amendment down in his name and heard his exposition of it, a more amazing thing never emanated from any Member of Parliament. I put it no higher than that. We have heard condemnations of the appointment of officials, but who, in Heaven's name, is going to determine at what age an elector may be conveyed to the poll? Are we going to start at 50, 55, 60, 65, 80, 90, or 100? What age has the hon. and gallant Member opposite in his mind when he puts forward this proposal? As to infirmity, who is to determine that point? Must we have a board of doctors to declare beforehand that this gentle man or that lady is infirm? and is it confined to physical infirmity, or does it extend to mental infirmity? These are very relevant points—certainly as relevant as anything which has yet come from the other side during this Debate. If there is any case at all for the use of motor cars for the purpose of taking people to the poll, surely it is for the people who, through various causes, cannot get there without some such means. The determination of that question ought to be in the hands of the returning officer, and not of "any person" as set forth in the Amendment. The hon. and gallant Member was very scathing in some of his comments, but I hope that in the next Amendment that he moves, he will be a little clearer in his definitions and in his attempts to establish the purpose which he has in mind.

Lieut. - Colonel FREMANTLE

The great point is that we want to establish the principle contained in this Amendment. It is likely that the Government may suggest a further limitation of this Clause, but the point is that, in our opinion, there will be very few persons owing private motor cars who will place them at the disposal of the returning officers under Sub-section (2) of this Clause, and therefore the alternative is not a true one. To my mind, the probability is that there will be very few motor cars of which the returning officer will have control, and if, as is frequently the case, in any particular constituency there may be one or more institutions, containing between them hundreds of electors who are bodily infirm, and unable to go to the poll on foot, the returning officer may not have sufficient motor cars to deal with them.

There are many electors who would be quite prepared, out of their warmth of heart, to lend motor cars for the purpose of taking individual infirm persons whom they know to the poll, or who can themselves take them, but who will not give their cars to the pool under the returning officer, and we believe that we ought to be allowed, on our own initiative, to use cars under those circumstances for those who are sick or infirm. If that is not allowed, the result will be that the Government will be branded in those constituencies will having deprived the sick, the aged, and the infirm of their vote, because that will be the effect of the Clause without this Amendment. I therefore beg the Government to consider the substance of the Amendment on behalf of the sick and the infirm.


I believe it is the general desire in all parts of the Committee that provision should be made for the sick and infirm. It may be that the Government contemplate under Sub-section (2) that the returning officer may make provision for these persons under the regulations which he is authorised to make, but the case just stated by the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle) may well arise, where the number of cars which the returning officer can allocate will not suffice, and we should like, from these benches, to hear from the Government how they propose to secure the conveyance of sick and infirm persons to the poll. I am not much concerned about the difficulties mentioned by one hon. Member who analysed the description in the Amendment of age, infirmity, and so on. It is a description that is well known in election Statutes and is no doubt lifted from the old Statutes. It is not a controversial matter at all, but we want to make quite sure that provision is made for the conveyance of sick and infirm persons, and, if it is the intention of the Government so to provide under Sub-section (2) and that provision does not suffice, what other provision the Government have in mind.


I wish to support the Amendment from personal experience, and from my memory of a thing that has always struck me as most sympathetic, and that has been going on in the village with which I am best acquainted. The local small shopkeeper has a little lorry, and next door to him is a very aged lady who cannot walk at all. I have seen him repeatedly loading her on to the lorry and taking her down to the poll—a piece of neighbourly kindness which has always gone to my heart. Unless this Amendment is accepted, such a thing becomes impossible. The owner of the little lorry must tell the old lady that though he has taken her down to the poll for the last four or five elections, it is no longer possible, because the Government, always the enemy of the aged, the infirm, and the poor, prevent her from being taken to the poll by her old friend and neighbour who lives next door.


My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) has put a point to which I shall be glad to give an answer. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot), who moved the Amendment, is not now in his place. Had he been here, I should have said that, from my quite recent experience, I have concluded that it is inadvisable to settle a matter like this by inserting anything on the Committee stage of the Bill. But I quite admit that there is something in the idea of this Amendment, and that it may well be that there is in every Parliamentary constituency a group of persons, quite unlike the general body of electors, in such a condition of infirmity as to be physically disabled from going to the poll like the rest of the electors and in such a condition as not to feel quite safe going with groups of other people, and who would therefore desire to be conveyed in what I would term the ordinary private way by friends of their own who may have a motor car at their disposal. I can assure the Mover of the Amendment that I have some sympathy with his object, and that we will consider whether, between now and the Report stage, some words might be proposed to cover what he has in mind.


I want to draw the attention of the Committee to one or two points that have emerged from this Debate. First, there is the fact that under the Bill as it is drawn, the aged and infirm will find it more difficult, to vote than they have in the past. That affects my constituency very much. In Chelsea there is the Royal Hospital, with many hundreds of old men who have served their country well, and most of them have to be conveyed to the poll if they are to vote at all. As the Bill 'stands, these men will be debarred from voting. All that the Home Secretary said to us is that he will try to think of something new between now and the Report stage. My only comment is that I regret that he has not thought of something new since the last discussion on the Bill. It is five weeks since the last Debates, and it has been quite obvious since that time that this Clause was totally unworkable and objectionable in its present form. Yet to-day we are brought to this Committee to waste our time in long discussions, and at the end are told that the Government may think of something new between now and the Report stage, when they might have thought of some of these things during the last five weeks. Under these circumstances, it is scarcely worth continuing a Debate of this kind at all. As far as I am concerned, I am prepared to vote upon this Amendment and to make it clear that I am not prepared to take any action which will make it more difficult for the aged and infirm to vote at elections.

9.0 p.m.


I do not quite understand the complaint of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), for I understand the function of a Committee is to try and mould a Bill into something that will be equitable and just in its final form. I hope, however, that the words that I seemed to hear from the Home Secretary are not a correct indication of what he proposes to do. We do not hear a great deal in the tete-a-tetes that regularly go on. What we understood from the Home Secretary was that private owners of cars might be allowed under circumstances like this to take old and infirm people to the polling booths. I hope that the Home Secretary will not agree to that. It would mean giving way all that we have already won on the first Sub-section of the Clause. The view of most democratic people has always been that, in order to prevent those who have an undue proportion of cars having an undue influence at elections, the returning officer should have left at his disposal, or have the power to obtain, such cars as were necessary for any such people who put in a claim to be taken to the poll. I see no difficulty in that at all. Sub-section (2) seems to suggest that, but it does not make it at all clear, and the simplest way would be for the Government to make Sub-section (2) a little more explicit in that respect. It speaks of those who wish to pool their cars, giving the use of them to the returning officer. Let us be frank. Those who have used cars in the past in order to get the advantage which comes from the possession of cars, will not be governed by such an altruistic spirit as to let the returning officer have cars in order to help political enemies; so that we may regard that provision as useless. We shall therefore have to come to the point where the returning officer must be given power to obtain cars in order that he may, in consultation with the agents, equitably distribute them among the political parties. I hope that we shall not hear again that private owners of cars are to be allowed the privilege of bringing up those who, by age, infirmity or otherwise, are unable to go to the poll.


The hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. McShane) cannot have fully followed the language of the Home Secretary when he spoke on the previous occasion, because the right hon. Gentleman gave us distinctly to understand that the principle of the Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford, would be accepted. Unless the principle of that Amendment is eventually embodied in this Clause, I could not support the Clause at all. That principle would involve the leaving of cars in the hands of private individuals to use them in their discretion for aged and infirm persons. The hon. Member for Walsall, however, objects to the whole principle of private persons being entitled to fetch

the sick and infirm to the poll. I can only support this Clause if, instead of there being this pool, which would never in fact come about, a registered minimum number of cars were left in the hands of each party, the cars to be employed as they desire. As the Government have indicated that they intend to accept this proposal, it is desirable that this matter should be cleared up. Either I have misunderstood the Home Secretary, or the hon. Member for Walsall has understood him worse.


The hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. McShane) is proposing to put in the hands of the returning officer such a power as, except in time of war, has never been given to any British official, that is, the power to commandeer cars belonging to other people and to use them for certain purposes. That is absolute dictatorship, and quite contrary to the rules of British law. If the returning officer commandeers cars and any harm comes to them, surely he will personally be liable for any damage, which the officer will not at all like. It is absolutely contrary to all the rules of State to give a private official in time of peace power to commandeer the property of other persons.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 142; Noes, 250.

Division No. 220.] AYES. [9.5 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Clydesdale, Marquess of Greene, W. P. Crawford
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Cobb, Sir Cyril Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John
Atholl, Duchess of Colfox, Major William Philip Gunston, Captain D. W.
Atkinson, C. Cooper, A. Duff Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Courtauld, Major J. S. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cowan, D. M. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Cranborne, Viscount Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Berry, Sir George Crookshank, Cant. H. C. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Croom-Johnson, R. P Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)
Bird, Ernest Roy Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S J. G.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Cunliffe-Lister. Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Dawson, Sir Philip Hurd, Percy A.
Boyce, Leslie Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Bracken, B. Dixey, A. C. Inskip, Sir Thomas
Brass, Captain Sir William Edmondson, Major A. J. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Briscoe, Richard George Elliot, Major Walter E. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) England, Colonel A. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M. Kindersley, Major G. M.
Buchan, John Falle, Sir Bertram G. Knox, Sir Alfred
Burton, Colonel H. W. Fielden, E. B. Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Butler, R. A. Fison, F. G. Clavering Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Campbell, E. T. Ford, Sir P. J. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)
Carver, Major W. H. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)
Castle Stewart Earl of Galbraith, J. F. W. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Ganzoni, Sir John Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Glyn, Major R. G. C Llewellin, Major J. J.
Chapman, Sir S. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Christie, J. A. Granville, E. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)
McConnell, Sir Joseph Remer, John R. Train, J.
Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Reynolds, Col. Sir James Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Maitland, A. (Kent, Faveraham) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Turton, Robert Hugh
Makins, Brigadier-General E. Ross, Ronald D. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Marjoribanks, Edward Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Meller, R. J. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Warrender Sir Victor
Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Wayland, Sir William A.
Morris, Rhys Hopkins Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Wells, Sydney R.
Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Muirhead, A. J. Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Nelson, Sir Frank Smithers, Waldron Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Somerset, Thomas Withers, Sir John James
O'Connor, T. J. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Womersley, W. J.
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton) Sir George Penny and Captain
Ramsbotham, H. Thomson, Sir F. Wallace.
Rawson, Sir Cooper Todd, Capt. A. J.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Foot, Isaac Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Freeman, Peter Lees, J.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Gardner, B. W. (West Ham. Upton) Lewis, T. (Southampton)
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Lindley, Fred W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lloyd, C. Ellis
Alpass, J. H. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Logan, David Gilbert
Ammon, Charles George Gibbins, Joseph Longbottom, A. W.
Angell, Sir Norman Gill, T. H. Longden, F.
Arnott, John Gillett, George M. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Aske, Sir Robert Glassey, A. E. Lunn, William
Attlee, Clement Richard Gossling, A. G. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Ayles, Walter Gould, F. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Barnes, Alfred John Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) McElwee, A.
Barr, James Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) McEntee, V. L.
Batey, Joseph Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) McKinlay, A.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) MacLaren, Andrew
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Groves, Thomas E. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Grundy, Thomas W. McShane, John James
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Malone, C, L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Benson, G. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Manning, E. L.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mansfield, W.
Birkett, W. Norman Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) March, S.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Harbord, A. Marcus, M.
Bowen, J. W. Hardie, George D. Marley, J.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Harris, Percy A. Marshall, Fred
Broad, Francis Alfred Hastings, Dr. Somerville Mathers, George
Brockway, A. Fenner Haycock, A. W. Matters, L. W.
Bromfield, William Hayday, Arthur Messer, Fred
Bromley, J. Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Middleton, G.
Brooke, W. Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Milner, Major J.
Brothers, M. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Morgan, Dr. R. B.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Herriotts, J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Buchanan, G. Hicks, Ernest George Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Burgess, F. G. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Mort, D. L.
Buxton. C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Hoffman, P. C. Muff, G.
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Hollins, A. Muggeridge, H. T.
Cameron, A. G. Hopkin, Daniel Murnin, Hugh
Cape, Thomas Horrabin, J. F. Naylor, T. E.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Noel Baker, P. J.
Chater, Daniel Isaacs, George Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Church, Major A. G. Jenkins, Sir William Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Clarke, J. S. John, William (Rhondda, West) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Cluse, W. S. Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Jones. Rt. Hon Lelf (Camborne) Palin, John Henry
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Paling, Wilfrid
Cove, William G. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Palmer, E. T.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Perry, S. F.
Daggar, George Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Dallas, George Kinley, J. Phillips, Dr. Marion
Dalton, Hugh Knight, Holford Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Pole, Major D. G.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lathan, G. Potts, John S.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Law, Albert (Bolton) Price, M. P.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Law, A. (Rossendale) Pybus, Percy John
Dukes, C. Lawrence, Susan Quibell, D. J. K.
Duncan, Charles Lawson, John James Ramsay, T. B. Wilton
Ede, James Chuter Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Raynes, W. R.
Edmunds, J. E. Leach, W. Richards, R.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Walker, J.
Romeril, H. G. Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Wallace, H. W.
Rosbotham, D. S. T. Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Watkins, F. C.
Rowson, Guy Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Sorensen, R. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Salter, Dr. Alfred Stamford, Thomas W. Wellock, Wilfred
Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West) Stephen, Campbell Welsh, James (Paisley)
Sanders, W. S. Strauss, G. R. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Sandham, E. Sullivan, J. West, F. R.
Sawyer, G. F. Sutton, J. E. Westwood, Joseph
Scrymgeour, E. Taylor R. A. (Lincoln) White, H. G.
Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Sherwood, G. H. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Shield, George William Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Shiels, Dr. Drummond Thurtle, Ernest Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Shillaker, J. F. Tinker, John Joseph Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Shinwell, E. Toole, Joseph Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Tout, W. J. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Simmons, C. J. Townend, A. E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Sinkinton, George Vaughan, David Wise, E. F.
Sitch, Charles H. Viant, S. P.
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Walkden, A. G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Mr. Hayes and Mr. Charleton.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 1, to leave out Sub-section (2).

In view of the way in which this Bill has been drafted, it has been impossible to debate the various Amendments on Sub-section (1) without alluding to some extent to this Sub-section, because the two overlap. I have no wish to repeat at undue length any of the criticisms that have been applied to this Sub-section during the course of the Debate. I move this Amendment for two reasons, and the first is that it will hopelessly fail to achieve its objective. The objective put forward by various hon. Members, including one or two from the other side, for reasons into which it is unnecessary to go, is that it will lead to unfairness and discrimination on polling day, because the party represented on these benches, with possibly a few from the party below the Gangway, have control of a larger number of motor cars to carry their supporters to the poll. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) reminded me, and as I was going on to point out, it is to a great extent a fallacy for hon. Members opposite to think that only the occupants of these benches have this facility. What is said about the motor car applies also to the motor-cycle and the sidecar, and to other forms of transportation of many humble folk, a large number of whom are supporters of hon. Members opposite. It is absurd, in this year of grace, to suggest that the motor car is a prerogative of the wealthy or of the Tory voters. That is based on a complete misapprehension.

Be that as it may, as I read this Sub-section, its intention is to try to undo, to some extent, the sheer stupidity of the preceding Sub-section. The preceding Sub-section disfranchises the motor car. It says: "Here is a method of transportation which has added to the convenience of the community to an ever-increasing extent and for an ever-increasing number of people in all ranks of society. Nevertheless, we, in our great wisdom, are going to put an end to that, when it comes to the question of Parliamentary elections, and we are going back into the Middle Ages." Having done that that in Sub-section (1), in Sub-section (2) they say: "Now we are going to reconsider it, to get a pool of motor cars and to allot them equally to all concerned." How do hon. Members opposite think that that will operate? Do they imagine that the Socialist owner of a motor-cycle and side-car is going to place his vehicle at the disposal of a pool to carry members of the Liberal or Conservative party? If so, they are living in a fool's paradise. It is the same appeal to human nature as in the question of the alternative vote. Individuals, at the time of an election, are backing a horse, as it were, and they do not want to work it all out by permutations and combinations, deducting the number they first thought of, and then dividing by three in order to find out who won. It is precisely the same with the motor car. Motor car owners want to feel that they are working for their party with their car. They put on the party colours, and he or she is willing from morning till night, going into all kinds of unattractive and unusual spots to pick up those who otherwise would find it difficult to get to the poll. It is proposed in this Sub-section to form a pool, into which people are to put their cars, they are to set aside all those feelings which are one of the mainsprings at the time of an election. You are to go to a returning officer and say: "Here is my car. Do what you like with it for the day."

My first objection is that the Sub-section is based on a complete misapprehension of what human nature is going to do. The thing will not work at all. The returning officer will say: "From nine until four, I am at home to those who are going to place cars at my disposal to-morrow." He will be at home a long time before anybody of any party comes up with a car. Let us suppose for a moment, bringing the matter down to homely and personal example, that I happened to be so foolish as to send my car, complete with chauffeur, to the returning officer, and that I said: "Here am I. Send me,"—in good Scriptural phrase. What happens? The returning officer is a busy man. He takes instructions prescribed by the Secretary of State, who is generally a busier man, or ought to be. The Sub-section says that people may register their cars, and that any vehicles so registered shall be allotted by the returning officer for use in such manner as he, after consultation with the election agents of all the candidates, thinks desirable, having regard to the needs of the several parts of the constituency, with a view to facilitating the conveyance of voters irrespective of party to their polling stations. What is the intention of that? Is the returning officer going to allot the car for an area? I am thinking of what would happen to me personally. I send my car to the returning officer, who, on instructions from the Secretary of State, which are obviously general instructions, allots. Is he going to allot the car to an area, or from a list of agents? Will he say: "You may take Mrs. Jones to No. 30 polling station, or Mrs. Smith to No. 27"; or will he say, "I allot your car to that area and there you operate, and the people who wave their umbrellas or say "Hi!" you must stop and pick up"? It is a vital question, as to whether the car is to be allotted to certain individuals or to an area. I care not which it is; neither can possibly work. I say "Here am I." I report with a car. It is all so beauti- fully arranged, with the yearning for the international spirit of hon. Members opposite, that now we are to have an inter-party spirit at the time of an election. The returning officer says to my chauffeur: "You go and get Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Smith, and Mrs. Robinson." My chauffeur then goes to our election agent and says, "What are the politics of Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Robinson?" The agent says, "Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Robinson are good Tories, but do not take Mrs. Jones, as she is either Liberal or a Socialist." How is any Home Secretary, or anybody else, going to compel my chauffeur to pick up Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Robinson and also Mrs. Jones; or, if it is a question of area, to pick up all those who wave their umbrellas and call "Hi!" The chauffeur is going to have a list from my political agent and pick up those who are going to support him.

These are absolutely practical objections to the working of the scheme, because that is the way in which it is going to work out in practice. There is no way to compel the chauffeur, unless you are going to bring in some other factor, and my chauffeur will have to go to gaol or pay a fine because he did not like the look of Mrs. Smith or her politics. There are those who say that the prestige of Parliament is sinking in the estimation of people in general. I think our proceedings on this absurd Clause, and the absurd methods of handing round the manuscript Amendment, which very few hon. Members know anything about, and some who do jolly well wish they did not, are not going to raise the prestige of Parliament in the eyes of electors. Therefore, with confidence I move the omission of this Sub-section, hoping that the majority of the Committee will express their common sense by throwing it out.


I feel a great deal of sympathy with the very cogent criticisms made by the Mover of the Amendment. I think his criticism of the actual working of the pool is almost irresistible, but I want to point out that, perhaps, his object is not fully met by the Amendment which he has moved. What is the position? If with Sub-section (1) already standing part of the Clause, Sub-section (2) is now omitted, the result will be that no motor cars will be able to be used in elections except to convey the owner of a vehicle or members of his family. Surely that defeats the object which hon. Members above the Gangway have been trying to achieve by their criticism. They have thought it wrong to limit the use of motor cars for fear that motor cars for people who really need them would not be provided. If they leave out this Sub-section, they preclude the possibility of the consideration of any Amendment subsequently which will give a more genuine extension of the use which might usefully be made of motor cars. There is the Amendment standing in the names of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bottrne), and hon. Baronet the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) to this Sub-section which would, if carried, involve a substantial addition to the amount of legitimate use which could be made of motor cars at elections. Hon. Members rule that out if they reject this Sub-section, and will leave the Clause as a whole in a much worse condition than it might be. Of course, they know their own tactics best.


That particular Amendment is ruled out, anyhow.


In point of fact, that is the Amendment to the principle of which the Government have already undertaken to give effect upon the Report stage. That was said by the Home Secretary. It might not be taken here to-day, but there has been an undertaking that some effect shall be given to that principle on the Report stage.


The Committee should not be under any misapprehension. Could the Solicitor-General say whether the hon. Member is right in saying that there has been an undertaking?


I under stand that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary stated that he was prepared to accept an Amendment to Sub-section (2) on the principle of the Amendment referred to, but not in the terms. He gave an undertaking, or made a statement, that he was prepared to accept an Amendment if the Committee thought that that was a better way of dealing with this limitation of motor cars than the way suggested in Sub-section (2).


I am very glad to have had that stated, because it is very important from the point of view of Members on these benches. Very many of us cannot accept the principle of this Clause as a whole unless we have some understanding that some such Amendment, perhaps not here but on the Report stage, will be introduced which will give effect to the general principles underlying the Amendment standing on the Order Paper in the names of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford and the hon. Member for Barnstaple. That was clearly stated by the Home Secretary, and I understood from him that he did want time between now and the Report stage to consider the exact terms which would be used, and that he was not going to be bound by the words which appear on the Order Paper. If that is going to be done, we should not be achieving very much by ruling out at this stage Sub-section (2), because there would be nothing to which an Amendment might be added at a subsequent stage. This is a matter of great importance, and although I agree strongly with many of the criticisms which have been passed on the working of the pool, we have to contemplate the possibility, and even the probability, that that arrangement will work in an entirely different way, and, at any rate, we should in Committee preserve space in the Bill in which some provision may be made for a much more extensive use of motor cars than would be provided for in the Clause if we had only Sub-section (1). That is a point which I desire to make, and which prevents me from supporting this Amendment.


The speech to which we have just listened shows the great difficulty under which the Committee is labouring. It is almost impossible to carry on this discussion in face of the slipshod way in which the Government have conducted this Debate. At the end of the general Debate before eight o'clock, the Solicitor-General, in response to questions raised almost at the very last moment of the Debate, gave an answer which I, personally, totally fail to understand. He said that the Government were prepared to agree, in principle, to the Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), but it is impossible to know what the Government mean until we see their Clause actually drafted.

Let me in a sentence or two point out the difficulties in which we are placed. It is no good talking in general terms about the principle. What we want to know is whether, in every constituency, there is going to be an adequate number of motor cars in the control of each of the parties for the voters who need motor transport. From the answers so far given by the Home Secretary and the Solicitor-General, it is clear that they are thinking of something quite different from what my hon. Friends and I are thinking of. They are thinking of a very limited number of cars, still placed at the disposal of the returning officer, and still kept under the control of the returning officer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members on the other side, in applauding that view of the case, are confirming my fear as to what is meant by the Home Secretary's pledge.

Let us be clear about this. We on our side mean a totally different thing. If the Home Secretary means what his friends behind him mean, there can be no compromise between us. We believe, unlike hon. Members on the back benches opposite, that the more motors there are in a constituency, and the greater the number of voters who are likely to vote, the better it is for the general interests of the country. We believe, further, that to ask private owners to put their cars at the disposal of a pool to be managed by the returning officer is sheer humbug, and that no private owners are going to lend their cars on those conditions. We also believe that the course which apparently is approved by hon. Members opposite, of putting this matter in the hands of the returning officer, is objectionable. We think that it places the returning officer in a very objectionable position—that he would be laid open to charges of partisan feeling in favour of this or that party; and in our opinion, without any organisation for the purpose such as is now possessed by the parties in an election, he will be totally unable practically to deal with the problem with which he will be faced.

Let hon. Members turn aside from a partisan consideration of these questions and think of their own experience at elections. I am sure they will agree with me when I say that there is no part of an election which needs more careful organisation than that which deals with the transport of electors, and in nine constituencies out of 10 there is a number of workers, working, very likely, for a considerable time, arranging the details of the transport of out-voters, the aged and the infirm, and the other voters who without transport could not vote. Surely, it is sheer humbug to talk of the returning officer, without any organisation of this kind, attempting a duty of that nature. If the Home Secretary simply means, when he says he accepts the principle of the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford, that he simply intends to go on the principle already set out in Sub-section (2), namely, that there should be a very small number of cars available, that those cars should be put into a common pool, and that the cars should be under the control of the returning officer, I and my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee cannot agree in holding that view. We think it is much better to vote against this Sub-section and get it out of the Bill altogether.


Personally, I am inclined to think that the proposal in this sub-section with regard to the voluntary pooling of cars would be, in its effect in obtaining cars, ridiculous. I do not think that the average wealthy Conservative Member or those who support him would go out of their way to offer their cars to the returning officer with the knowledge that they were going to bring Socialist voters to the poll. [Interruption.] I am asked why I speak of wealthy Conservatives only. It is quite true that in this party there is, in relation to the party opposite, a very small number of wealthy people, but the general character of the Conservative political party is that of a wealthy party, while the general character of the party here is that of a party of the working class. It is quite true, as I have said, that there are a few wealthy people in it, some of whom have recently left us. It would be against all common sense and against all common experience to expect that a wealthy Tory voter or candidate would, sua sponde, give up his car to the returning officer to be used in evidence against him. I do not think there is the slightest hope of that.

There is one thing in which this Sub-section is excellent, and that is that, if it were passed into law, it would, in the case of those who would then have the opportunity of offering their cars so that Socialist candidates might be helped, "call their bluff" immediately. The fact of this provision being passed would be the test as to whether, on the one hand, Conservative Members are anxious to have a big poll, or whether, on the other hand, they are anxious to have a big Conservative poll; and I know what would happen—they would not offer their cars at all. Therefore, that aspect of the Sub-section is ridiculous. It would not lead to any large number of cars being offered to the returning officer, and I say that it has "called the bluff" of those who are always anxious to have a big poll provided that it is a big Conservative poll.

I heard the Home Secretary say, and I think every hon. Member in the House would agree with him, that he was prepared to consider on Report the Amendment moved from the Front Bench opposite with regard to aged and infirm people. I think that every Member of this House would be glad to see some provision made for those voters, so that they may have the opportunity of recording their votes if they are handicapped by some physical incapacity. The only difficulty that arises is as to the means by which that is to be done, and I certainly hope that no proposal will be made on Report that is going to lose for us the benefit that we rightly consider we have gained by Sub-section (1). If, as was suggested by the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffiths), something is going to be interpolated in the Bill to the effect that there shall be, say, one vehicle for every complete 500 electors in a borough, I am bound to say that it will meet with considerable opposition from some of us here. The position is too ridiculous to admit discussion. What would it mean in my constituency? I myself had four cars for an electorate of 64,000. My opponents would have, according to that proposal, 128 cars; there would be 16 for every ward. No doubt they would like to have a good poll on that day, provided it were a good Conservative poll.

There is another aspect of the matter. Even if any sort of ratio were to be worked out in relation to the three parties which would still leave the principle the same, it would be just as bad as if Subsection (1) had never been passed at all. Take the case of a poverty-stricken country area—[Interruption]. Someone sneers at that—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"!] I have the highest admiration for the humble men and women who belong to our party in the poverty-stricken country areas. Not only do they require money, but they require intense moral courage in those areas, where they are trying to build up the Socialist party—[Interruption.] I will not argue with the hon. Gentleman as to moral courage; if he does not understand it, it is for the others. The point I am making is that no rationing of cars would be in the slightest degree beneficial or just to members of our party in the country areas, nor in my own case. I do hope that this principle alone may operate, that, if there are people who cannot get to the poll through infirmity, or age, or physical incapacity, decent men and women throughout the country will say that some extra provision shall be made, outside the partisan machinery, to help them to get to the poll. That is the only principle that ought to guide the Committee in coming to its decision.


Might I suggest to the Home Secretary that it is time the Committee had some guidance from him? It is very difficult to know the Government's intention upon the Clause. As far as I can gather, it has scarcely a friend. It is a half dead and moribund Clause, and, as far as we know, the Government will not defend it. I do not know if it is in order to debate the later Amendment, with which the Goverment apparently have sympathy. The Home Secretary has not up to the present given us any guidance. He dealt briefly and in a perfunctory fashion with the matter on the previous Amendment. It reminded me of a previous Minister 100 years ago who was asked to give some information upon a Clause of a Bill of which he was in charge, and he informed the House that, before he came down, the Clause had been explained to him and the reasons for supporting it were very good but he had forgotten what they were. The position of the Home Secretary is not unlike that. In the circumstances, I presume the only thing to do is to go on debating the Sub-section on the assumption that it is to be dropped and some other solution substituted.

If that be so, I should like to draw attention to what will happen under the suggestion of the Solicitor-General. It made me think that the proper title of the Bill should be "The Election Amenities Bill." Under this solution of control by the returning officer, the Solicitor-General informed us that he would allocate to each polling station a certain number of cars. It does not matter whether the subsequent Amendment is accepted, because, whether it is 200 or 300 cars, the same principle applies. When the cars get to the polling station the representatives of the parties take control of them. Will it be a case of one representative bowing to another and saying, in the words of Sir Philip Sidney, "Your need is greater than mine." A worse solution than that put forward by the Solicitor-General I never heard.

As regards the returning officer, there has been some mention of possible bias. It puts the returning officer in a very unpleasant position. Whatever he does will be wrong, and the few Socialist Members who will survive the next election will spend most of the time at Question Time raising questions as to the deeds of the various returning officers in making wrong allocations of cars. It is not a fair position in which to put them. Neither side is satisfied and the onus of bias, or alleged bias, will fall upon them. The principle that we want to equalise the chances of all parties is admitted, but that does not mean that we have to adopt a solution of this kind, which will do no good except make most people walk. We want to get as many people as possible to the poll. Any solution like this can only result in preventing a great many people getting to the poll. I may be debating a Clause which the Government have no intention of passing, and that is the reason why I hope that, as soon as possible, the Home Secretary will explain exactly what he intends to do. Is the Clause to stand as it is, or is it to be amended, and, if so, how? At any rate, let us know what the position is.


It is not the fault of the Home Secretary if the Committee has not had the opportunity and the advantage of discussing in detail the principle outlined in the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne), for three hours ago I appealed to the Committee to proceed to a Division on the Amendment then before them and went on, with the consent of the Chair, to hint at what I understood this Amendment to mean, and I hoped that long before this it would have been reached and a discussion would have taken place upon it. But hon. Members have preferred to give their time to other Amendments. I do not complain of that, but I complain of being blamed for not having made a statement after rising three hours ago to indicate my willingness to do so. May I briefly repeat what I have in mind. The Sub-section now being discussed is an expression of a plan. You may say what you like about it, but it is the Government plan. The Amendment to which I refer has in it the germ of an alternative plan, and I am quite willing to enter into discussions with the party leaders in order to see whether we can come to an agreement for an alternative plan, the alternative plan being the use in a Parliamentary division of a fixed maximum number of motor cars, fixed first in relation to the number of voters, and next in relation to the dimensions of the constituency. That seems to me to offer the groundwork of an alternative plan.

If hon. Members opposite are anxious for equity, the object at which the Government Clause aims, they can have that condition, or equal conditions of treatment as between rich and poor candidates, on the basis of their Amendment with, of course, a very substantial variation in the matter of numbers. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Mr. McShane) that the numbers in the Amendment on the Paper are preposterous. It would mean in my own division, for instance, that the Conservative candidate would have 100 motor cars, and so could I if I could get them. But I have never had as many as 10. So it is only upon that basis of agreement, if we are to accept the principle of the Amendment, that anything like a final understanding can be reached among the parties.


We are much obliged to the Home Secretary for what he has said, but can he make clear beyond doubt what in his view is the intention of the Amendment which, subject to an alteration of numbers, he thinks might possibly be adopted as an alternative? He remembers what my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) said as to our understanding of the Amendment in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne). The intention of that Amendment is that, the cars are to be just as much at the disposal of the candidates, or of their organisations or their friends, as motor cars are at present, but hon. Members behind the Front Government Bench understand the Amendment in a wholly different sense. Their intention is, as I understand it—indeed, they have said so—that the cars, even if the Amendment at the bottom of the page is accepted, will still be employed only as allotted by the returning officer. I find it difficult to understand how the Home Secretary is in agreement with hon. Members behind him, because, in the speech he made just now illustrating what would happen if the numbers in the Amendment are accepted, he said, "For instance, I might have 100 cars if I could get them." That seems to suppose that the cars are to be at his disposal and are not to be allotted— [Interruption.] It is no good hon. Members disputing what I say, because the Home Secretary and the Solicitor-General hear me. If I have misunderstood the Home Secretary, I am only too anxious to be corrected, but I respectfully think that it is fair and legitimate—and I want to be perfectly fair—from what the Home-Secretary has said, to say that his intention or his contemplation is, that the motor cars are to be, as he says, in his case, at his disposal if he can get them, and at the disposal of his opponents if they can get them. That is what he seemed to imply. If I misunderstood the Home Secretary, will he be good enough to tell me so, because if I have not misunderstood him there is a variance between him and his hon. Friends behind him, and it is no good the Committee being at cross-purposes. Let us understand which is the view that is presented and accepted by the Home Secretary.


In the main, the hon. and learned Gentleman has not misunder- stood my intentions, but let me say that if an alternative plan be approved and agreed upon there must, of necessity, be many consequential points and additions to be dealt with which it is impossible to discuss just now. This, I think, can be said, that while any plan would, of necessity, involve the registration of cars so as to obtain accuracy and certainty in respect of cumbers, it also seems to me to be a wholly unnecessary procedure to leave those cars under the control of a registration officer, or a returning officer, or anyone else.


The matter is clear. The plan of the Bill, obviously, is that there shall be a pool of cars which shall be under the control of the returning officer, who will allocate them to different districts. Those cars are to be used irrespective of party considerations for any voters who may wish to be conveyed, and who have a claim to be conveyed. The number of cars would be unlimited by law, though, of course, it might be very strictly limited by the number of cars that would be offered and supplied. The plan of the Amendment of hon. Members above the Gangway is that there should not be a pool, that there should be no cars under the authority of the returning officer to be allocated in that way, that the owners of the cars are to be free, as now, to use their cars to bring up their own supporters in whatever locality they wish, and that the number of such cars available for each party is to be limited by a certain formula to be inserted in the Bill. Those are two quite different plans. The first plan, which is in the Bill now, as I endeavoured to point out at an earlier stage of the proceedings to-day, is open to several objections. First, you may have so few cars offered that the admitted need for cars at an election might not be fulfilled. You may find that cars are very few for conveying the aged, the invalids and the sick, and the public would be very greatly disappointed as soon as the law came into operation.

10.0 p.m.

Secondly, it would be exceedingly difficult for the returning officer to allocate the cars in a way to give satisfaction to everyone, and there would be no certainty who is to have the use and the direction of any particular car. There is no machinery created for making use of those cars. It seems, therefore, that the proposal in the Amendment is much better than the proposal in the Bill. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has indicated his willingness to accept it, at all events, in principle. I did not fully gather from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) whether he approves of the Amendment or not. He seemed to lay down the principle that the more cars there were the better. "The more motors the more voters" seems to be his maxim. Does that mean that he is unwilling to agree to the Amendment put upon the Order Paper—it has been there for a long time—by several of his supporters who have given very close attention to these matters, and which is now in the way of being accepted by the Government? Does he approve of that Amendment or not? It is rather important that that should be known at this stage. We think, as we have thought from the beginning, that, the Clause, as drafted, will be exceedingly difficult to work, if, indeed, it can be worked at all. At the same time, there is a case for a limitation of the excessive number of cars. What the number should be, as the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has reasonably said, is a matter for discussion between the three parties. He is quite willing to enter into such a discussion. The difficulty as to the Amendment is that you will provide for a number of cars greater, I imagine, that any used at any election at the present time. In my own constituency, which is a compact county constituency, it would allow each party to use 250 cars. I do not think that such a number has ever been known in that or any similar constituency, although we are not ill-provided with cars. If this Amendment be carried to a Division, and if the Committee accept it, it would mean that the Clause would be left only with its operative provision in Sub-section (1), namely, that the vehicles are not to be used in any circumstances except for conveying to the poll members of the family, or, it may be, of the household of the owner of the car. I am sure that no section of the Committee desires that. Therefore, it seems that this is an Amendment that, at all events, ought not to be carried.


The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) has asked me a question, and I have no intention of taking up the time of the Committee longer than is needed for my answer. He asked what is my attitude towards the Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne). I say that the Amendment of my hon. Friend is a great deal better than the Clause as it is at present. I think that it is a great mistake to try to restrict the number of motor cars, and that it would be much better to leave the liberty which exists at present. If cars are to be restricted, I think that the plan of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford is much better than the plan of the Government. It is worth noting that during this long Debate there has not been a friend to say a word in support of the Government Clause. Our difficulty now is that we are asked not to vote for but to withdraw the Amendment upon a very vague undertaking of the Home Secretary. I do not know what hon. Friends behind me think, but my view is that it is so vague that I really do not know what it means or what it does not mean. I suggest that the safest course to take, if we face the facts as they are to-night, is to support the Amendment which has been moved, and to get the Sub-section omitted if we can, and by that means help to destroy a totally unworkable Clause.


I am sure that the statement which has been made by the Home Secretary must have filled many of us on this side with grave disquiet. I feel that the whole principle of Sub-section (1) of Clause 6 will be completely destroyed. The whole purpose of the Clause is to do away with the inequality which exists between the rich candidate and the poor candidate. I cannot see the validity of the argument that if a man to-day can have 400 motor cars at his disposal, acceptance of an Amendment merely to reduce the 400 to 100 while your opponent cannot get one, will reduce the unfairness. It will reduce the disparity, but it will not reduce the unfairness. It will merely limit the number which the wealthy candidate will have at his disposal, but it will not increase the number which the poor candidate can obtain. What purpose will the first Sub-section of the Clause fulfil? What candidate is likely to register with the returning officer if the candidate is entitled only to run so many cars per 100 of the electors? I feel that the Home Secretary has not followed the implications of the Amendment which he proposes to accept. I hope before we come to the Report stage, that this matter will be seriously considered, because I fear that the whole principle of the Clause will be destroyed if the Home Secretary does what he has indicated.


As my name stands in connection with the Amendment which is so often alluded to in the discussion which we are having on a totally different Amendment, may I point out, to avoid any possible doubt, that the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) and myself had never any intention whatever of leaving the disposal of these motor cars to the returning officer. If our Amendment had been accepted, it would have left the disposal of cars by the returning officer entirely outside the Clause. It would have left the disposal of cars as they are now. There is nobody, under this part of the Bill, who is going to be given the franchise, and we have now got down to the dregs of the Bill and to a Clause dealing with a purely party issue, in the most bitter party spirit, a Clause which proposes to regulate elections and take away what is supposed to be to the advantage of one party while doing nothing to take away the corresponding advantages of other parties.

We obviously wish to omit Sub-section (2) of this Clause, because it is unworkable, unreasonable and irrational. Nobody would offer any cars. That has been freely admitted in all parts of the House, and, if they did, the cars could not be worked. The Government, five weeks since they were defeated on university representation, have now found out that this Clause would not work. Can they wonder that we should want to omit this Sub-section in order that the Government should put in something that could possibly be worked? Why should they look for an Amendment to be put down by one section of the Opposition in order to get them out of a hole? The first thing we have to do is to take the Sub-section out and leave the emasculated Clause till the Report stage, when it will be the duty of the Government to put in something which has some sense in it and can possibly be worked at the next General Election.

There is nothing in the Bill that any election agent could possibly work. There is nothing to enable people to get to the poll to vote. The Government, far from enfranchising anybody, are attempting to take away from those who have the vote but who have not a motor car of their own, the chance of getting to the poll. I cannot understand the view of the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith) that, because there is supposed to be something in an Amendment proposed by this side of the House which perhaps the Government will some day consider and put something analogous into the Bill, we should be doing something wrong in taking this Sub-section out. If the Government are going to put something into the Bill, we have to make a hole for them to put it Into.


I agree that the back benchers on this side of the House are against what the Home Secretary has said. I cannot for the life of me think that anybody would be so public-spirited as to put motor cars at the disposal of returning officers without their knowing what voters are to he carried in them. In my constituency, on the lines followed here, each candidate would be left with 100 motor cars. That is far in excess of what we have had before. I suggest that it might be narrowed down to one motor car for each five thousand electors. In my constituency that would give 10 motor cars to each candidate; and that would be quite enough. I think some settlement might be arrived at on the line of bringing up to the poll infirm voters. We are all agreed that we want all voters to come to the poll, and the only persons who ought to be brought are those who cannot get there because of some physical disability. If we can provide for these it should meet the case. I agree with the Home Secretary that this Sub-section is unworkable and that something will have to be done in its place, but I hope that we may get a settlement on the lines I have suggested.

Major GLYN

I am certain that the Home Secretary will realise that as this Sub-section has not a single supporter he will accept the Amendment to take it out of the Bill. What hon. Members opposite feel, as we feel on this side, is that it is wrong to put the returning officer in a position which may be prejudiced. We do not want to put the returning officer in an invidious position. This is a thoroughly bad Clause because it will lead to something approaching jerrymandering in our elections. Not a single Member opposite has spoken in favour of the Sub-section as drafted. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) has an Amendment later to set up a form of registration so that no unauthorised cars will be able to function in a constituency on polling day, and I gather that it is the intention of the Government to adopt the sense of that proposal. Therefore, it seems that those who desire to support this Amendment in the Lobby will be able to count on the support of hon. Members opposite because they are in favour of the deletion of this Sub-section.


I think that some answer is needed to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). One of the most vicious things in the Bill is the phrase "regulations made by the Secretary of State." We have heard a great deal about the provision relating to the returning officer but to my mind it is nothing compared with the provisions regarding the Secretary of State. I put a question to my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, who has been at the Bar for a considerable time and is a very successful member of the Bar. He said that my question was not worth considering. My question was this: Was it right and proper that a Secretary of State, a member of the Socialist party, should be the fons et origo—[Interruption.]—that is, the fountain and origin, of regulations affecting the whole of our electoral law as he is, ex hypothesi—[Interruption.]—a prejudiced person. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not pons asinorum?"] The result of regulations coming from a Secretary of State who, ex hypothesi, is a Socialist Minister, may vitiate in the public mind the whole of the regulations for the election. That is a real point of substance.

It may be that the Secretary of State is a fair-minded man—we know that he is—and that he will deal fairly in these matters. But this will lead, at any rate, to all sorts of complaints being made after an election. It may be that people will claim that the results of an election were determined by these regulations. It ill becomes any Secretary of State of any party to undertake this responsibility. I think the Solicitor-General might have considered this as a relevant argument to which he could at least have had the courtesy to give a reply. Perhaps I did not give him much notice and he could not think of a reply, but in the courts he is used to having arguments raised against him, and I should have thought that even he, with his short experience in the House, would have been able to reply. [Interruption.] I am perfectly serious. It is a very vicious characteristic of this Clause that the Secretary of State is given authority to make these regulations. If the power is given the Secretary of State ought to throw aside his membership of the Socialist party and become a sort of non-party Secretary of State.

There is one other consideration regarding motor cars in general. During the last election I called upon a very wealthy elector in my constituency who, I knew was the possessor of several motor cars. I hoped to be able to enlist his sympathy and to obtain the loan of his cars. He refused to lend them. What was his reason? He said, "You and your friends have enough motor cars of your own, and you will be able to carry all your people to the poll without my help, but if I lend my beautiful cars you will fill them with Socialists. You will not do any good to yourself, and you will only spoil my cars." People are sometimes very proud of their cars, and do not at all like to think that they will be used expressly for Socialists. [Interruption.] That is a complete answer to the argument of the pool. Unbeknown Socialists can go in the capitalists' cars to the poll. But they will not be able to go in future, because no sensible person, as has been recognised by hon. Members opposite, will lend his cars for the express purpose of use by opposing political parties. After all the arguments that have been brought forward on this Amendment there is no other course for the Committee to take but to leave out the Sub-section.


It seems that between now and the next stage of the Bill, we shall have to consider whether we are to have a pool or limitation. I must confess that I am not quite decided about it. I want to do away with privilege, but the problem has never seemed to me to be a problem of the use of cars inside a division. More elections have been won by sending cars outside a division to get in removals, than by the use of cars inside a division. The friend of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) was right. Inside the divisions people make use of the other party's cars and, as regards boroughs, any non-Socialist candidate who runs his cars in a borough after dusk deserves to be beaten. I never ran mine—the few I have ever had—after dusk. If the Government are going to consider this question as between a pool and limitation, may I ask the Home Secretary to apply his mind to this point.

How can you possibly prevent a clever transport officer who has plenty of motor cars of all three parties—for there are plenty of Socialist cars in some divisions now—at his disposal, and have information about removals, perhaps 100 or 200 miles away from the scene of the election, arranging to send cars away quietly a day or two beforehand to pick up those voters and drop them at a station within a few miles of the place where the election is being held. Any man who does not like privilege would like to lessen privilege, hut the fact is that whether the weight of privilege is on the one side or the other, no form of words in an Act of Parliament will do away with it. The real problem is not the problem of the use of the motor car inside the division, but how to prevent inequality in the matter of bringing in removals from outside the division. I have never yet been able to get any solution of that problem and if the

Home Secretary can find a solution, I shall be interested to hear it.

Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT

There is one point which has not been raised so far in this Debate. In numerous countries, notably Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, the working classes have by far the greatest number of motor cars. Why is it assumed that we in this country will not eventually—after a change of Government—rise to that same standard of civilisation? Is it the fear that we are going to have Socialism in our time, which makes us content to sit down under the proposition that we are not going to rise to that standard To attempt to do away with the advantage, which it is claimed, a certain section of the community has to-day, is going in the face of the facts of modern civilisation. If we pass this very foolish and vindictive Clause, a time will come, before long, when hon. Gentlemen opposite will be the first to demand that they shall be allowed to use their own property in any way they like to bring people to the poll.


In the short time remaining, I wish to ask a question, and if there is no time for an answer to it, I hope it will receive consideration. In the event of motor cars being allocated to the returning officer, or the agents of the parties, is there any provision in the Bill which will inflict a penalty on the driver of a car who refuses to carry out the orders of the returning officer or other official concerned? That point is worth consideration, and I think it shows the folly of these proposals.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'and,' in line 9, stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 264; Noes, 226.

Division No. 221.] AYES. [10.30 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Barr, James Brockway, A. Fenner
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Batey, Joseph Bromfield, William
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Bromley, J.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Brooke, W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Brothers, M.
Alpass, J. H. Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)
Ammon, Charles George Benson, G. Brown, Ernest (Leith)
Angell, Sir Norman Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)
Arnott, John Birkett, W. Norman Buchanan, G.
Attlee, Clement Richard Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Burgess, F. G.
Ayles, Walter Bowen, J. W. Burgin, Dr. E. L.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)
Barnes, Alfred John Broad, Francis Alfred Caine, Hall-, Derwent
Cameron, A. G. Kelly, W. T. Richards, R.
Cape, Thomas Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Kinley, J. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Charleton, H. C. Knight, Holford Romeril, H. G.
Chater, Daniel Lang, Gordon Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Church, Major A. G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Rowson, Guy
Clarke, J. S. Lathan, G. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Cluse, W. S. Law, Albert (Bolton) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Law, A. (Rossendale) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lawrence, Susan Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Cove, William G. Lawson, John James Sanders, W. S.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Sandham, E.
Dagger, George Leach, W. Sawyer, G. F.
Dallas, George Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Sexton, Sir James
Dalton, Hugh Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lees, J. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Sherwood, G. H.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lindley, Fred W. Shield, George William
Day, Harry Logan, David Gilbert Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Denman, Hon. R. D. Longbottom, A. W. Shillaker, J. F.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Longden, F. Shinwell, E.
Dukes, C. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Duncan, Charles Lunn, William Simmons, C. J.
Ede, James Chuter Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Edmunds, J. E. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Sinkinson, George
Foot, Isaac McElwee, A. Sitch, Charles H.
Freeman, Peter McEntee, V. L. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) McKinlay, A. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) MacLaren, Andrew Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Sorensen, R.
Gibbins, Joseph McShane, John James Stamford, Thomas W.
Gill, T. H. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Stephen, Campbell
Gillett, George M. Manning, E. L. Strauss, G. R.
Glassay, A. E. Mansfield, W. Sullivan, J.
Gossling, A. G. March, S. Sutton, J. E.
Gould, F. Marcus, M. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Marley, J. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Marshall, Fred Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Granville, E. Mathers, George Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Matters, L. W. Thurtle, Ernest
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Maxton, James Tillett, Ben
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Messer, Fred Tinker, John Joseph
Groves, Thomas E. Middleton, G. Toole, Joseph
Grundy, Thomas W. Milner, Major J. Tout, W. J.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Townend, A. E.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Vaughan, David
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Viant, S. P
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Mort, D. L. Walkden, A. G.
Harbord, A. Muff, G. Walker, J.
Hardie, George D. Muggeridge, H. T. Wallace, H. W.
Harris, Percy A. Murnin, Hugh Watkins, F. C.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Naylor, T. E. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Haycock, A. W. Noel Baker, P. J. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hayday, Arthur Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Wellock, Wilfred
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Oldfield, J. R. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) West, F. R.
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Westwood, Joseph
Herriotts, J. Palin, John Henry White, H. G.
Hicks, Ernest George Paling, Wilfrid Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Palmer, E. T. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Hoffman, P. C. Perry, S. F. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hollins, A. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hopkin, Daniel Phillips, Dr. Marion Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Picton-Turbervill, Edith Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Isaacs, George Pole, Major D. G. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Jenkins, Sir William Potts, John S. Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Price, M. P. Wise, E. F.
Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Pybus, Percy John Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Quibell, D. J. K. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Rathbone, Eleanor Mr. Hayes and Mr. B. Smith.
Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Raynes, W. R.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Beaumont, M. W.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Atholl, Duchess of Bellairs, Commander Carlyon
Albery, Irving James Atkinson, C. Berry, Sir George
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Betterton, Sir Henry B.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Balfour, George (Hampstead) Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman
Aske, Sir Robert Balniel, Lord Bird, Ernest Roy
Blindell, James Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Galbraith, J. F. W. O'Neill, Sir H.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Ganzoni, Sir John Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Peake, Capt. Osbert
Boyce, Leslie Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Penny, Sir George
Bracken, B. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Brass, Captain Sir William Glyn, Major R. G. C. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Briscoe, Richard George Grace, John Power, Sir John Cecil
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Pownall, Sir Assheton
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Ramsbotham, H.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Greene, W. P. Crawford Rawson, Sir Cooper
Buchan, John Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Remer, John R.
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Butler, R. A. Gunston, Captain D. W. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Butt, Sir Alfred Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Rodd, Rt. Hon. sir James Rennell
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Ross, Ronald D.
Campbell, E. T. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Rothschild, J. de
Carver, Major W. H. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hartington, Marquess of Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Salmon, Major I.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.) Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Savery, S. S.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm.,W.) Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Simms, Major-General J.
Chapman, Sir S. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Skelton, A. N.
Christie, J. A Hurd, Percy A. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Clydesdale, Marquess of Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Smith Carington, Neville W.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Inskip, Sir Thomas Smithers, Waldron
Cohen, Major J. Brunei Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Somerset, Thomas
Colfox, Major William Philip Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Colman, N. C. D. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Colville, Major D. J. Kindersley, Major G. M. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Conway, Sir W. Martin Knox, Sir Alfred Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Cooper, A. Duff Lamb, Sir J. O. Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Courtauld, Major J. S. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cowan, D. M Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Cranborne, Viscount Leighton, Major B. E. P. Thompson, Luke
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Tinne, J. A.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Llewellin, Major J. J Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Todd, Capt. A. J.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Train, J.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Long, Major Hon. Eric Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Dalkeith, Earl of Lymington, Viscount Turton, Robert Hugh
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) McConnell, sir Joseph Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Davies, Dr. Vernon Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Wallace, Capt. D. E, (Hornsey)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Warrender, Sir Victor
Dawson, Sir Philip Makins, Brigadier-General E. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Margesson, Captain H. D. Wayland, Sir William A.
Dixey, A. C. Marjoribanks, Edward Wells, Sydney R.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Meller, R. J. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Elliot, Major Walter E. Mitchell, Sir W Lane (Streatham) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
England, Colonel A. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Withers, Sir John James
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Everard, W. Lindsay Morris, Rhys Hopkins Womersley, W. J.
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ferguson, Sir John Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Fermoy, Lord Muirhead, A. J.
Fielden, E. B. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Fison, F. G. Clavering Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Major Sir George Hennessy and
Ford, Sir P. J. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Sir Frederick Thomson.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. O'Connor, T. J.

It being after half-past Ten of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 3rd March, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at this day's Sitting.

Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 263; Noes, 229.

Division No. 222.] AYES. [10.41 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Arnott, John
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Alpass, J. H. Attlee, Clement Richard
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Ammon, Charles George Ayles, Walter
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Angell, Sir Norman Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)
Barnes, Alfred John Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Pole, Major D. G.
Barr, James Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Potts, John S.
Batey, Joseph Harriotts, J. Price. M. P.
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Hicks, Ernest George Pybus, Percy John
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Hirst, G. H. (York, W.R., Wentworth) Quibell, D. J. K.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hoffman, P. C. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Benson, G. Hollins, A. Rathbone, Eleanor
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hopkin, Daniel Raynes, W. R.
Birkett, W. Norman Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Richards, R.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Isaacs, George Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bowen, J. W. Jenkins, Sir William Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Romerll, H. G.
Broad, Francis Alfred Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Brockway, A. Fenner Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Rowson, Guy
Bromfield, William Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. w. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Bromley, J. Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Brooke, W. Kelly, W. T. Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Brothers, M. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Kinley, J. Sanders, W. S.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Knight, Holford Sandham, E.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Lang, Gordon Sawyer, G. F
Buchanan, G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Sexton, Sir James
Burgess, F. G. Lathan, G. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Law, Albert (Bolton) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) Law, A. (Rossendale) Sherwood, G. H.
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Lawrence, Susan Shield, George William
Cameron, A. G. Lawson, John James Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Cape, Thomas Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Shillaker, J. F.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Leach, W. Shinwell, E.
Chater, Daniel Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Church, Major A. G. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Simmons, C. J.
Clarke, J. S. Lees, J. Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Cluse, W. S. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lindley, Fred W. Sinkinson, George
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lloyd, C. Ellis Sitch, Charles H.
Cove, William G. Logan, David Gilbert Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Longbottom, A. W. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Daggar, George Longden, F. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Dallas, George Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Dalton, Hugh Lunn, William Sorensen, R.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Stamford, Thomas W.
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Stephen, Campbell
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Strauss, G. R.
Day, Harry McElwee, A. Sullivan, J.
Denman, Hon. R. D. McEntee, V. L. Sutton, J. E.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. McKinlay, A. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Dukes, C. MacLaren, Andrew Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Duncan, Charles Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Ede, James Chuter Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Edmunds, J. E. McShane, John James Thurtle, Ernest
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Tillett, Ben
Foot, Isaac Manning, E. L. Tinker John Joseph
Freeman, Peter Mansfield, W. Toole, Joseph
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) March, S. Tout, W. J.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Marcus, M. Townend, A. E.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Marley, J. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Marshall, Fred Vaughan, David
Gibbins, Joseph Mathers, George Viant, S. P.
Gill, T. H. Matters, L. W. Walkden, A. G.
Gillett, George M. Maxton, James Walker, J.
Glassey, A. E. Messer, Fred Wallace, H. W.
Gossling, A. G. Middleton, G. Watkins, F. C.
Gould, F. Milner, Major J. Watson, w. M. (Dunfermline)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Morris-Jones. Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Wellock, Wilfred
Granville, E. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mort, D. L. West, F. R.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Muff, G. Westwood, Joseph
Groves, Thomas E. Muggeridge, H. T. White, H. G.
Grundy, Thomas W. Murnin, Hugh Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hall. G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Naylor, T. E. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Noel Baker, P. J. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Oldfield, J. R. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Harbord, A. Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hardie, George D. Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Harris, Percy A. Palin, John Henry. Wise, E. F.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Paling, Wilfrid Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Haycock, A. W. Palmer, E. T. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Hayday, Arthur Perry, S. F.
Hayes, John Henry Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Phillips, Dr. Marion Mr. Charleton and Mr. B. Smith.
Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Dixey, A. C. Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Duckworth, G. A. V. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Albany, Irving James Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Edmondson, Major A. J, Muirhead, A. J.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Elliot, Major Walter E. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. England, Colonel A. Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Aske, Sir Robert Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover) Everard, W. Lindsay O'Connor, T, J.
Atholl, Duchess of Falle, Sir Bertram G. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Atkinson, C. Ferguson, Sir John O'Neill, Sir H.
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Fermoy, Lord Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Fielden E. B. Peake, Captain Osbert
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Fison, F. G. Clavering Penny, Sir George
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Ford, Sir P. J. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Balniel, Lord Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Power, Sir John Cecil
Beaumont, M. W. Galbraith, J. F. W. Pownall, Sir Assheton
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Ganzoni, Sir John Ramsbotham, H
Berry, Sir George Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Rawson, Sir Cooper
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Remer, John R.
Bevan, s. J. (Holborn) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Glyn, Major R. G. C. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Bird, Ernest Roy Grace, John Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Blindell, James Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Bennell
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Ross, Ronald D.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Green,. W. P. Crawford Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Boyce, Leslie Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Salmon, Major I.
Bracken, B. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Brass, Captain Sir William Gunston, Captain D. W. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Briscoe, Richard George Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Savery, S. S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hanbury, C. Simms, Major-General J.
Buchan, John Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Skelton, A. N.
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Hartington, Marquess of Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Butler, R. A. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Butt, Sir Alfred Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Smithers, Waldron
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Somerset, Thomas
Campbell, E. T. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Carver, Major W. H. Hore-Belisha, Leslie Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Castle Stewart, Earl of Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Stanley, Hon. O (Westmorland)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.) Hurd, Percy A. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm-.W.) Inskip, Sir Thomas Thompson, Luke
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. H. (Edgbaston) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Thomson, Sir F.
Chapman, Sir S. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Christie, J. A. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Tinne, J. A.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Kindersley, Major G. M. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Cobb, Sir Cyril Knox, Sir Alfred Todd, Capt. A. J.
Cockerill, Brig.-General sir George Lamb, Sir J. Q. Train, J.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Colfox, Major William Philip Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Turton, Robert Hugh
Colman, N. C. D. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Colville, Major D. J. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Conway, Sir w. Martin Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Cooper, A. Duff Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Warrender, Sir Victor
Courtauld, Major J. S. Llewellin, Major J. J. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Wayland, Sir William A.
Cowan, D. M. Locker-Lampion, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Wells, Sydney R.
Cranborne, Viscount Long, Major Hon. Eric Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Lymington, Viscount
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. McConnell, Sir Joseph Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Withers, Sir John James
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Dalkeith, Earl of Margesson, Captain H. D. Womersley, W. J.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Marjoribanks, Edward Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Davies, Dr. Vernon Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Meller, R. J.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Merriman, Sir F. Boyd TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Dawson, Sir Philip Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Commander B. Eyres Monsell and
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Major Sir George Hennessy.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.

Resolved, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."—[Mr. T. Kennedy.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.