HC Deb 12 May 1931 vol 252 cc1013-134

Discussion will be taken on the first two Amendments on the first page of the Order Paper, and the first Amendment on the second page.


I beg to move, in page 6, line 8, to leave out from the word "candidate" to the end of paragraph (a).

The two following Amendments are consequential on the first Amendment. The Opposition are constantly twitted, and naturally so, on not producing constructive suggestions. The Amendment is of a helpful and constructive nature. It is designed to improve the Bill. The scheme of the alternative vote which is proposed in the Bill is admittedly imperfect. Its own authors do not claim for it that it is anything but imperfect, and open to obvious objections. The scheme of the Amendment is the most perfect scheme for the alternative vote that has yet been devised by the wit of man. I will point out the manner in which that is so. In doing so, I want to be perfectly fair. I do not want to put the advantages of the scheme of the alternative vote laid down in the Amendment, too high.

4.0 p.m.

There are certain defects in the whole scheme of the alternative vote which this Amendment will not remedy, and I desire most frankly to confess what those defects are. For instance, Members of the Committee may be inclined to ask whether the scheme which I am presenting will in any degree increase the simplicity of the alternative vote. No. It is no simpler than the Government scheme. It will require no less profound an alteration in the habits of the electorate than will be required by the Government scheme, and it will present all the same difficulties as regards the uncertainty of the results in the hands of uneducated electors that the Government scheme possesses. I may be asked whether it will do anything to remedy another mischievous effect of any scheme for the alternative vote, namely, that of increasing the number of what I would call curiosity candidatures, and of four-cornered fights. I do not make any such claim for the scheme. That particular defect is, I believe, inherent in any scheme of the alternative vote, and the Amendment will not remedy it. There are other and more fundamental disadvantages as to which this Amendment will not effect a remedy. For instance, there is that inherent disadvantage of any scheme of the alternative vote which has been so thoroughly analysed in our discussions, namely, that, as a necessary consequence it puts a controlling influence into the hands of the smallest party in the election.

I should like to be able to say that the scheme which I am about to put before the Committee would do something to remedy that basic defect in any scheme of the Alternative Vote but it does not. I cannot put the claim for this scheme as high as that. I do not think that it will do anything at all to remedy that defect in the scheme. Analogous to that defect in the Alternative Vote is another, which I do not think this scheme will do anything to remedy. It is that the controlling votes are the later votes, which are usually given for the least political and most frivolous reasons. I am afraid that our scheme will not remedy that defect at all: its advantages lie in a different sphere. On a matter which has occupied a good deal of attention in our discussions, the Committee may be disposed to ask, "What will this scheme you are putting before the Committee do to remedy the danger, which has been a good deal dwelt upon, that the scheme of the Alternative Vote would lead to undesirable compromises, dodging, and bargaining between the parties, and to a general loosening of the straightforwardness of political principles, in order to obtain electoral advantage?" I cannot claim that this scheme will remedy that defect of the Alternative Vote either. That will remain as much as ever under this scheme.

Finally, in order to put myself perfectly straight before the Committee with regard to the claims made for this scheme, of course it has to be admitted that no scheme of Alternative Vote has been proposed—not even this, the most perfect of all schemes—which does anything to meet the very large body of opinion in the House which desires to see the representation of minorities. It has been fully ascertained in our discussions that the representation of minorities is not achieved by any form of Alternative Vote. That is a completely different thing, which can be obtained only by some scheme of Proportional Representation, or a scrutin de liste on the Belgian system. Such representation cannot be obtained by any scheme of Alternative Vote, and is, indeed, absolutely inconsistent with it. It is based on a contrary theory to that at the bottom of the Alternative Vote. When my hon. Friends and myself put forward this scheme, I hope we shall not be misunderstood as claiming that it remedies all those defects. They are inherent in any scheme of Alternative Vote, and they remain as much in the scheme proposed in this Amendment as in any other.

Let me turn from what the Amendment does not do to what it does do. First of all, there is a very obvious defect in the scheme put forward by the Government which has, I think, been attacked from every quarter of the House. It is this: It only allows for first and second preferences, and so, if there are more than three candidates, it does not do anything to clear up the situation as regards later preferences. That feature is attacked by hon. Members opposite and hon. Members below the Gangway, as well as by hon. Members on these benches. The first point about the alternative scheme now put before the Committee is that it allows for a full number of preferences, so that the elector can vote for three, four, five of six, right up to as many candidates as there may be. I am sure the Committee will agree that it is making very rough-and-ready business of it when you start to allow the elector to express his preferences in the order of merit, and when there are more than three candidates you only allow him to go as far as 1 and 2. You are cutting the matter short in the most arbitrary manner. That is the first defect which will be remedied by this scheme.

Now I wish to come to the real gist of the matter, the glaring and obvious defect of the Government scheme, which the scheme now before the Committee will remedy. The object of the alternative vote is not, of course, to represent minorities, but to find a method not capable of bringing about a result contrary to the wishes of the majority of the electors. The fact which leaps to the eye about the scheme in the Government Bill is that it is capable of bringing about a result directly contrary to the wishes of the majority. It does not achieve what it sets out to achieve. In more heated Debates we have gone as far as to use the word "humbug," by which we mean something which does not do what it professes to do, and almost knows it does not do what it professes to do; in fact, is indifferent to whether it does or does not do it. In that sense, the scheme put forward in the Government Measure is a humbug. It can be proved that the Government scheme is capable of bringing about a result contrary to the wishes of the majority; but I am afraid that I cannot make this extremely important matter clear to the Committee without asking the Committee to allow me to tell them a story about A, B and C. It is really impossible to get along in this Debate without these useful characters. I know-that the doings of A, B and C are listened to with the greatest reluctance by the Committee, but I am afraid that we cannot get the matter straight without them. I have noticed that very few of those who have participated in our discussions have been able to get to grips with the subject without their help.

Let us suppose that there is an election in progress between A, B and C, and I will ask the Committee to make the further supposition that there are only 12 voters. Of course, you can multiply those 12 by any factor you like to bring the matter into relation with realities, but, for the sake of illustration, let us suppose there are 12 voters. Under the Government scheme, let us suppose that at the first count A gets five first preferences, B four and C three. In our present scheme of the majority vote, A is elected by a majority of one vote. He is the winner in the ordinary sense. He is preferred by the majority of electors in the constituency as their first choice. However, what we have to look for is some scheme which does not allow the winner to be the winner, and gives the prize to somebody else who does not win. That, of course, underlies the whole idea of the Alternative Vote. And so we have got to proceed beyond the point of declaring the man who comes first to be the winner. The Government scheme declares the man who comes in second to be the winner. That was at first received with enthusiasm by the Liberal Opposition, because in those days they were still running second. But the enthusiasm for the scheme has, perhaps, somewhat waned, now that even that modest position is not often occupied by the Liberal candidate.

Under the Government scheme on this occasion, C with his three votes is thrown out. Let us suppose, in order to follow out the working of the scheme, that all C's three voters preferred B to A; that is like supposing that when the Liberal is at the bottom of the poll—a not unnatural position in present conditions—all the Liberal voters prefer the Socialist to the Conservative. Then, at the second count, under the Government scheme, A will receive five votes and B seven, and B, who ran second, will be elected by a majority of two. Now in fact that result may be against the wishes of the majority of the electors. In order to demonstrate that that is so, we have only to suppose—a very natural supposition—that all A's five voters would have preferred C to B. [Interruption.] I will make the generous assumption that at this election all the Conservative electors would prefer the Liberal to the Socialist. Suppose all A's five voters preferred C to B, and suppose there was a match at this election between B and C. The result would be that B got only four votes and C eight, so that C would be elected in preference to B by a majority of four. He is better than B. Let me further make the very easy assumption that all B's four voters would prefer C to A. Assuming a match between B and A, C would get seven votes and A five. C is better than A. So in our story of A, B and C the same stone that was rejected is really the head of the corner. Under the Government scheme, C would be contemptuously thrown out, whereas if he had had a fair chance against A and B, he would have been elected in both cases by a thumping majority. He is the man really preferred by the majority of electors, and the Government scheme is proved to have been, in the old Euclidian tag, absurd.

The truth is that that state of affairs is extremely likely to occur under the three-party system which we have at present. Let me remind the Committee that when the scheme of the alternative vote was recommended by the Royal Commission in 1910, a recommendation upon which so much is based in the arguments adduced, it was specifically recommended by them as applicable to the conditions which then prevailed, that there were practically only two parties in the field. It was specifically said by the Royal Commission, who gave to this question the most profound consideration, that it was unsuitable for the three-party system. The reason why it is unsuitable is that this method under the three-party system leads to a result which is completely arbitrary. The other day, when he was introducing the Bill, the Home Secretary told us: There are in the main, as I say, only three parties, as far as they are parties which can at any time in the immediate, or even remote future hope to form a Government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1931; col. 1472, Vol. 247.] Even so, if there are only three parties, the Government system fails. But the Home Secretary is unduly optimistic in thinking that there are only three parties before the country. There is, for instance, the rising party led by the hon. Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley), who is so satisfied with the initial result of the appearance of his party before the country. If that party continues to rise, we may shortly be presented with at least four parties between which the country has to make a choice.

I think I have said enough to demonstrate—if I may use even so definite a word—that the Government scheme is imperfect, that it leads to no certain result, and that it is not capable of doing what the alternative vote professes to be able to do. Now let me very briefly explain the method which is proposed in this Amendment. This is a method devised by an eminent mathematician, Professor Nanson, of the University of Melbourne, and although I agree that it looks rather formidable on paper, we can encourage ourselves with the belief that its complexity, as it appears on the paper, is only the result of the very careful drafting necessary in an Act of Parliament. Simple things very often look very complex when the draftsman has finished with them. Really this is a very simple scheme indeed. All that is required of the elector is that he should vote for the candidates in the order of his choice, one, two, three, four and five, or as many candidates as there may be. That does not require any greater intelligence on the part of the elector than the scheme in the Bill, where he has two preferences; he can easily carry on to three and four.

It presents no greater complexity to the voter than the scheme in the Bill, but when you come to the enumerator, who has to work out the result, admittedly there is more complexity, but in that case you have skilful and expert persons to deal with the matter. What have they to do? In their case the principle is this, that in the order of preference each vote counts one more than the one next below it. That is surely a very simple proposition. What indeed could be more simple or more obvious? If there are three candidates to the first name you give two votes, to the second name one vote, and to the last name no vote at all. When you have done that you go ahead with a process which is not so difficult. A third of the total votes you call the average. If you have three candidates all three cannot be above the average, one must be rejected. The Committee will see that the lowest candidate must be below the average. It is impossible for all three candidates to be above the average. The candidate who gets less than the average goes out, as he does in the Government scheme. But he goes out for a much better reason.

The second candidate may be above or below the average. If he is below the average out he goes too, and the election is over. One candidate has a clear majority of the votes polled, and, as must be the case in every election, he is at once elected. If two candidates have more than the average there must be a second scrutiny. In this case each elector has only one vote, which is counted for the remaining candidate who stands highest in the order of his preference. That is all there is to it. What could be more simple? Some slight sacrifice has to be made to attain a really logical system; you cannot have anything perfect in this world without taking some trouble. If there are more than three candidates in the election, you have to pursue exactly the same method with a little more complexity. You will have a series of scrutinies at each. Any candidate with less than the average is thrown out and the choice between the other candidates is ascertained in the manner I have described. The essence of the method is giving different values to different votes, giving more to the higher choice than to the lower.

However, the hardest part of my task is still before me. It would not be doing justice to this scheme to lay it before the Committee without producing the proof that it is a scheme which achieves what it professes to achieve, as distinct from the Government scheme—namely, that it makes absolutely certain that the wishes of the majority of the voters in the division shall prevail and that it is impossible to reject a candidate who is actually preferred by the majority of voters, as poor C was rejected in the election we held first. This is the proof, and it is certainly one which requires the closest attention. I remember the Prime Minister speaking rather scornfully of the application of mathematics to such a practical question as elections, but, nevertheless, if it is the only way in which you can prove that the scheme you are bringing in is not humbug I do not see any alternative to giving the proof in that manner. Let me follow closely in the footsteps of the competent mathematician who first demonstrated to an eager and expectant world that this was the only consistent method of the Alternative Vote.

Let me point out to the Committee what I am sure is already clear, that it is enough for me to show that if A in the three-cornered election is preferred to B and C by a majority of the electors, under the method I am propounding he cannot be rejected on the first scrutiny, as poor C was rejected. Although he was preferred to A and B, poor C was thrown out on the first scrutiny and never got a chance. He was left at the post, and that is a most unsatisfactory way of deciding a race. I want to show that A cannot be left at the post if he is preferred to B and C by a majority of the electors. I have to show that he cannot be rejected at the first scrutiny. If he is not rejected at the first scrutiny he must win at the second, in the straight fight. I have to ask the Committee to agree to let the whole number of electors be equal to 2N. Then let those who prefer B to C be represented by N + a. Consequently, those who prefer C to B will be N - a. We can find other beautiful expressions for other possible preferences.

It is easy now to see that the number of votes polled by A, B and C respectively at the first scrutiny will be

2N -b +c
2N -c +a
2N -a +b.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I am fortunate to have carried the Committee with me so far. But I have to attempt to carry the Committee with me a further and a longer step, and to agree that 2N-b + c is necessarily greater than 2N. All depends upon that; that is the vital step in the argument; and the Committee will be satisfied that it is so if they appreciate the striking fact that 6 is a negative quantity. It is impossible for b to be otherwise than a negative quantity. It is an enormously negative quantity. Then as A will have more than one-third of the votes he has more than the average of the votes polled and cannot be rejected at the first scrutiny. That is what we set out to prove. I have demonstrated that this method will certainly bring about the correct result. I agree that it is a proof which is not easy to digest wholly on the spur of the moment but I am sure the Committee will agree that if the proof holds, and I am confident it does, we have provided for our consideration a really satisfactory method of the Alternative Vote which is capable of achieving all that the Alternative Vote sets out to achieve. It is a modest claim. But there are certain difficulties left.

I have to make a further confession to the Committee, and that is that the whole of this theory of the perfected Alternative Vote depends on a certain supposition. I can best show what that supposition is by comparing it with what often happens in the football world. Sometimes team A beats team B, and team B beats C, but team C upsets all calculations by beating team A. This perfected Alternative Vote, and, indeed, every scheme of the Alternative Vote perfected or unperfected, depends on the supposition that if A is preferred to B, and B is preferred to C, then A is also preferred to C. As a matter of fact, in this very human world it may turn out to be otherwise. When you are dealing with so irrational a thing as the voter, he may express a preference for A to B and for B to C, and then turn round and prefer C to A. It is quite impossible to deal in this imperfect world with that alternative, and it is one of the things which makes nonsense of any sort of Alternative Vote. But our scheme does have a try even at this difficulty. It effects this results, that of these three self-destructive propositions it rejects that affirmed by the smallest majority. Although the scheme I have laid before the Committee does not in this matter produce a perfect result, although it is imperfect, as every scheme for an Alternative Vote must be, it is less imperfect than any other scheme.

The Committee may ask what about the effect of incomplete papers on the arithmetical perfection of your scheme? I am prepared to deal with that difficulty. We have not heard a word as to how the Government are going to deal with it under their scheme. If they do not deal with it their scheme is reduced to mere nonsense. A large proportion of the voting papers under the Alternative Vote are not completed. I have heard of one colonial election where only 50 per cent. of the voters expressed their second preference. What is to become of a scheme in which there is no provision made for these obvious cases? [An HON. MEMBER: "You cannot force the voters to indicate their preference!"] Experience has shown that those countries which have tried the Alternative Vote have found it so unsatisfactory, in view of the number of incomplete papers, that many of them have been driven even to try to force the voters into expressing their preferences as the only way of making the Alternative Vote a success.

I do not propose any such violent methods. With the assistance of the ingenious inventor of this scheme, I have a gentler and easier method of getting round the difficulty; and it is this. Suppose, again, you have an election in which there are three candidates. An incomplete vote in that case means a plumper for one candidate. How are you going to deal with that? I ask hon. Members to make one supposition. If the voter casts a plumper he is equally favourable or unfavourable to the two candidates for whom he does not vote. He has expressed complete indifference to them. We deal with that in this way; that you count his vote, not as two, but as one and a-half—[Interruption.] I hear some derisive cheers. May I point out that the derision does not hit this beautiful scheme. The derision hits the imperfect scheme in order to remedy which you have to introduce these complexities. If we are to have a scientific method of election let us be perfect in our science and in the case of the plumper count the first vote as one and a-half. If you have imperfect votes when there are more than three candidates you have to be prepared to take some trouble again in order to introduce reason into your system. You have to give one vote to the candidate marked lowest, and so on, one more to each of the candidates above him in the order of preference, until as many votes are given to the candidate marked first as the names marked. It can be done without much trouble, and in any case one must suffer in order to have perfection in an imperfect world.

There is only one other thing to particularise. This method may call for the keeping of a poll book in which the votes are to be entered, but that will be a very simple administrative change. Finally, this proposal undoubtedly eliminates the arbitrary element from the method of the Alternative Vote. Other methods which are proposed are full of arbitrary factors. This proposal gets rid completely of the arbitrary element and substitutes for it a method by which the will of the electors really prevails. That is important. The vital objection to the alternative in the form in which it is proposed in the Bill is that it introduced an element of chance which will gravely impair the authority of an election and of the member elected therein. I cannot imagine anything more disastrous for our public life and for democratic institutions than that, as a result of the crudely imperfect methods of the Government scheme, you should reduce an ordinary elector to this frame of mind—"I hardly know for whom I voted. I do not know how or why this fellow who succeeded was returned. I do not know what it is that he represents in the constituency." I ask the Government to substitute for that method one which is the best that can be got out of a ridiculous lot.

Captain BOURNE

I wish to support the Amendment, because, although it has perhaps some mathematical complexities, I feel that it is the only method under the Alternative Vote which would, in fact, produce a result at which the Alternative Vote professes to aim. We have always been told that the object of the Alternative Vote is to reduce the chance of a candidate being elected by a majority and to ensure the choice of the one on whom there is the greatest common measure of agreement. Under the scheme of the Government, that is by no means likely to happen. From calculations I have made, it would seem that the general result of carrying out the scheme of the Home Secretary would be to cause the elected candidate who really had the least amount of support to win the constituency. The scheme will not give representation to minorities. There is nothing in the Government scheme to ensure that the worst candidate is not elected. It is said that the present system of the straight vote does not guarantee the worst candidate not getting in, but at least it ensures that the man who has the largest solid following gets elected. The Government scheme ensures nothing, but the scheme of the Amendment at least enables the views of the electors to be taken as to the different candidates, and the one who gets the greatest measure of support from all sections of the community will ultimately be returned as the elected candidate. The Government's suggestion fails in that is is discredited and it merely introduces unnecessary complications into our election machinery. As my right hon. Friend said, if we are to have an alteration, let it at least be one that has been worked out to give the most nearly theoretically perfect result, and that, I believe, the system which he recommends to the Committee will achieve.

Ever since elections started, mathematicians in all parts of the world have been trying to work out some system which would represent more accurately the feelings of a constituency than the simple system of first past the post. This system which we are now putting forward was one started by Condorcet in 1782, and finally brought to perfection by Mr. Nanson in 1881. The case for it is very simple. If you have three candidates standing, and, if there are only two of them standing at any given election, so that first A fights B, then A fights C and then B fights C, you would get the result that a different candidate would be returned at the head of the poll in a straight fight. I apologise for again introducing A, B, and C, but there is really no other method of expressing the argument.

I have taken the case of three candidates A, B and C. A gets 25 votes, B 20, and C 15. Under the present system, A would be elected. But if we assume that there is a second preference given and if we also assume that B is the middle party it is not unreasonable to suppose that B's 20 votes are divided between the other two and this gives 10 to A and 10 to C; but A, the largest party, has 25 votes, and we assume that all A's second preferences go to C, and that C gives the whole of his second preferences to B. On a straight vote between A and C, A would have 25 votes of the first preferences for himself and 10 second preferences from B, giving A a total of 35 votes, while C would have 15 original votes and 10 votes from B. A would therefore get a majority, having 35 votes as against C's 15. If we now take a straight fight between A and B, A would only get his original 25, but B would get his 20, together with 15 votes transferred to C, making 35 in all, and B would be elected. But if the election is between C and B, C would get his original 15 together with the transfer of 25 to A, giving him a total of 40, and B would get only 20. Therefore, you get the very remarkable calculation that every time in these elections in which there was a straight fight between two candidates we get a different candidate elected and that B is preferred to A, but A is preferred to C, who in his turn is preferred to B. If you take the Government's proposals now before the Committee, C having the fewest first preferences is eliminated, his second preferences, 15 in number, go to B, who gets 35 votes against A's 25, and B is elected.

Under my right hon. Friend's scheme the thing would work out slightly differently. A would get his original 25, together with 10 votes transferred from A's. A's first preferences count double. His total vote is 50 in respect of his own first preferences, plus 10 transferred from B, or a total of 60. B would get 40 votes, his 20 first preferences counting two each, together with 15 transferred from C, making a total of 55; and C would get 30 first preferences, together with 35 second preferences, or a total of 65 votes. So B, who is elected under the Government scheme, would under this scheme be the least favoured by the electorate of all the different candidates, and as the most unpopular candidate would go to the bottom of the poll. If you add up the votes given you will finally come to the total number of votes, 180. One-third of that is 60, and the only person who gets over the quota is C, who would be elected, although under the Government scheme C is the man who would be arbitrarily excluded, despite the fact that he has the biggest amount of support.

The case is a little more difficult with four candidates. We cannot assume that we shall have only three-corner contests in future elections. I am speaking from memory, but I believe that in the last election there were 23 contests in which four or more candidates were nominated. With the rise of the New party, with which we are threatened by the hon. Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley), and possible candidates supported by newspapers, we may look forward to at least a considerable number of four-cornered contests at the next General Election, and in that case, if we are to have the Alternative Vote, there must be some method which will prevent second preferences becoming totally ineffective. If we assume that A, B, C and D receive respectively 25, 20, 15 and 10 votes, it is quite conceivable that D, the bottom candidate, will give his second preferences to C, and that C will give his to D. Under the Government scheme the result will be that both sets of second preferences are completely wasted, as there is no provision for either C or D supporters exercising a preference as between A and B. The Government are doing absolutely nothing in their suggestions to get rid of this particular difficulty. Nor are they taking any steps to prevent the occurrence of which hon. Gentlemen on the Liberal benches complain so bitterly, namely, the return of a majority of this House by a minority vote.

It seems to me that the same condition has not only to be met with four-cornered contests, but that counting the votes fairly in these four-cornered contests, so that the preferences given to the two bottom candidates will have due weight and be given to a choice between the candidates who are respectively first and second. Under the Government scheme such a choice would be completely excluded. If you take our friends A, B, C and add a further friend D. We assume that A gets 25, B 20, C 15 and D 10. Under the Government scheme D is struck off. If we assume that D divides his second preference votes equally between C and B, the effect will be that B will receive five more votes, bringing his total up to 20, and C will go. When you take C's second preferences, I have assumed that C gives five votes to A and 10 to B. A had 25 original preferences, B had 20, but B had also five votes transferred from D. He will now get an addition of 10 second preferences to C, giving B a total of 35. A will have 25 plus five, to get a total of 30 votes. Therefore B will have 35 votes as against A's 30, and be elected. Yet under my right hon. Friend's scheme B is the least popular candidate.

I have worked it out. You come to this very remarkable result, showing how far the Government scheme will fail to reflect the feeling of the constituency. Under that scheme A will get 120, C 115, whereas B, the gentleman who would be elected under the Government scheme, will go to the bottom of the poll and be excluded from the first count.

It is true that it will be necessary to have a second count, as has already been explained, as between A and C, but if the second and third votes transferred to different candidates go in the main to them it will be the case that these two are the candidates who command the greatest amount of support from all sections of the community, and that B—the man who would get in under the Government scheme—is the man who commands the least amount of confidence. I do not think that the system outlined in the proposals of the Government can be defended, logically, and it is a system which has been applied nowhere else in the world where the Alternative Vote has been tried. We shall have an opportunity later on of discussing the different ways in which the Alternative Vote has been applied in different parts of the world, but I think it may be said that nowhere has the scheme now put forward by the Government been attempted. It is an ill-considered scheme, and one which is not likely to result in the election of the most popular candidate. On the contrary, it is calculated to secure the return of the candidate who is least wanted. For that reason, I support my right hon. Friend's scheme as being, at least, logical, and far more likely to achieve the results which supporters of the Alternative Vote have always claimed for that system.


I think that most of those who are interested in electoral reform will agree with the Mover of the Amendment that the Alternative Vote is a very poor form of electoral reform, and that the particular form of Alternative Vote which is at present to be found in the Government's Bill is a poor form of the Alternative Vote. There are certain other Amendments down on the Paper to-day the effect of which will be to make the Alternative Vote proposed in the Bill a rather more admirable system than it is at present, and, if it were not for those Amendments, I should be inclined to approve of and support the Amendment now before the Committee. As there are those other Amendments to be considered, one is bound to look critically at this system which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) has brought before us in order to see whether or not it is a practical system.

It was first launched upon an expectant world, as I think the right hon. Gentleman, said by Professor E. J. Nanson on 12th October, 1882—two years before I was born—and ever since then no one has ever adopted it, in all the innumerable constitutions which have sprung into existence during a more or less democratic period, not because it is not theoretically perfect, but, I venture to submit, because it is not practicable in its working. When going home at the week-end I spent the greater part of the time during the journey from London to Manchester in making all sorts of calculations and conducting all sorts of theoretical elections on this basis. I think generally it works out quite well—if you can conduct the election in a railway carriage.


Did the Liberal always get in?


It generally got in the person who ought to be in, whether Liberal, Conservative or Socialist. But we have not to consider elections which can be conducted in this House or elections which can be carried out, like a crossword puzzle, in a railway carriage. We have not even to consider elections such as might be carried out in the council of a university or for a professorship. I believe that Professor Nanson himself, in a later paper, agreed that his system would be a difficult system in the hurly burly of politics, but was a perfect system for electing professors of universities and in other cases in which the electors sat down, calmly and dispassionately, and without political prejudice, to try to find out the very best man for a particular position. But that does not hold good in regard to political elections. What would happen in practice under this system if applied to an election to Parliament? Supposing there are not three but four candidates, A, B, C and D and that A is the man whom I want to elect. I give him my first preference and he gets three votes. Two votes go to B and one vote goes to C. I have therefore given six votes, three to the man whom I want to get in and three to other men whom I do not want to get in and although I have distributed those other votes between two other candidates my votes really cancel out each other.

If all these six votes are going to be added up in the first count and then divided by the number of candidates and if the man who gets above the average is going to have a chance of election, while the man who is below the average is going to be excluded, then, as I have given two votes to B and one vote to C, I have helped them to that extent to get above the average, and, in so far as I have done so, I have helped to depress the man whom I want to elect below the average. If we go still further and imagine an election in which there are not four but five candidates, what will happen? I do not assume that Members of the Liberal party will ever fight each other at a General Election or at by-elections but there is always the possibility of two Members from different benches of the Labour party or two Members from different benches of the Conservative party coming forward at an election. If there are five candidates, then I give four votes to the man whom I want to get in, and distribute my other votes among other candidates—that is to say, I give four votes to the man I want to get in, and six votes to men whom I do not want to get in. Therefore not only do I cancel out my votes, but I actually give more votes, distributed among the others, than I give to the man whom I want to get in, and in so far as I have given those votes to the others, I have helped all of those candidates, whom I do not want to get in, to get above the average.

If we were calmly and dispassionately considering the best man to be a professor in a university or treasurer of a church or chapel, this is a perfect system but when you are using it for the purposes of an election to Parliament, then, for either Liberals or Conservatives or Socialists to advise their supporters, not only to vote for their own candidate but also to cast their other votes for their opponents, to be used in the first count, will be putting an unnecessary strain upon them and it will be found that, so far from people indulging in this admirable practice of marking their preferences, every voter who is a real politician will plump for his own man. For these reasons, not because it is theoretically unsound but because it seems impracticable in the hurly-burly of politics, I cannot support the right hon. Gentleman's proposal.


The hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. P. Oliver) started by saying that he thought the Government scheme a poor type of a poor system and we cordially agree. We do not often hear such an expression of opinion from the Liberal benches but here we actually have a Member of the Liberal party saying, in effect, that they are, for their own purposes, seeking to impose what is really a second-rate form of electioneering on this country and I think that is a very valuable admission. I do not wish to go into the long algebraical calculations which have been made by previous speakers but I think that in his calculations the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment showed very lucidly indeed how his proposed system would work. It is not in any way an easy matter to explain and I am sure the Committee will agree that the right hon. Gentleman explained the Nanson scheme as well as it could possibly be explained. The hon. Member for Blackley objected to the scheme because it was complicated and I have no doubt that the Solicitor-General, or whoever replies on behalf of the Government, will make the same remark. It will no doubt, be said that the scheme is perfect in theory, and that it works mathematically, but that it cannot be worked in practice. It is to that argument that I shall address myself.

Who is the man who really counts in an election? The man for whom the system has to be made easy is not the candidate, or the returning officer, but the voter, and in regard to this system there is no more difficulty for the individual voter than there is under Proportional Representation, or under the Government's scheme. Where the difficulty arises is not while the votes are being cast but after they have been cast and I suggest that it is not beyond the wit of man to find a gentleman in each of the 615 divisions of this country who will be able to do what is to a mathematician the comparatively simple calculation involved in this scheme. When we are changing the electoral system, although it is admitted on all sides that we are changing to a second-rate system, we should none the less, seek the best second-rate system that we can possibly find. Everybody admits that the Government scheme may, possibly, work, in a way, in cases where there are only three candidates, but that it breaks down hopelessly in cases where there are more than three candidates. The scheme of my right hon. Friend has been put forward to obviate that difficulty and to see that that candidate is returned whom the electorate really desire to see at the head of the poll. That is the reason for this Amendment.

I am sorry that we have not had any remarks on this subject from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). He has spoken on almost every Amendment in connection with this Measure so far, and as he is always extremely lucid the Committee, I am sure, would have been pleased to hear his explanation of this very complicated scheme. HON. MEMBERS: "Simple!"] Some of my hon. Friends here say it is simple, and I agree that it is simple for the voter, but I think that it may be highly complicated when it reaches the point at which the returning officer is adding up the votes. At the beginning I said that that is really no argument against the scheme, and I hope that the Solicitor-General, if he replies for the Government, will not use it as an argument. What he has to prove is that the Government scheme is a good one, and one that will work, and in order to destroy the scheme which we put forward he has to prove that the ordinary elector would not be able to understand it. I think it will be difficult to prove that the ordinary elector cannot mark 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 against the names of the candidates in the order which he desires. Therefore, I hope that the Solicitor-General will find a better argument than that which has already been used from the Liberal benches.

5.0 p.m.

I was surprised to hear the suggestion made that in future there are only going to be three candidates at elections. I think there may be a great many more. Anybody in this country, if he can get nominated by 12 electors, has the right to stand for the House of Commons, and, if we go back over the records of General Elections for many years past, we find that in a great many Divisions there have been more than three candidates. You may call them freak candidates if you like, but they have a perfect right to stand and it is part of the English Constitution that they should have the right to stand. In a Debate the other day an hon. Lady on the Labour benches said, as I understood, that she thought that elections in future would be stereotyped as between the three existing parties. She did not see why any new party should arise. But, after all, the party which now occupies the Government benches did not exist 30 years ago, and I wonder what the late Mr. Keir Hardie would have said if he had heard that hon. Lady putting forward such a proposition. We have to make provision, when we are 5.0 p.m. altering the electoral law, for any number of candidates. The Constitution itself takes no cognisance of parties at all. You have to send a writ to the returning officer for an election, and anyone can stand, whatever may be his views. He need not belong to one of the recognised parties. Therefore, in altering the electoral law, we have to make a system whereby any number of candidates may stand, and we have to see that, if they stand, we get a proper and mathematical result. That is why I support the Amendment. I agree that from the returning officer's point of view it is not simple. Nevertheless, from the voter's point of view, it is just as simple as any of the other schemes of alternative voting which have been put before us; and, therefore, I am prepared to go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.


I should not have risen to speak if it had not been for the fact that Professor Nanson happens to have been the first professor under whom I studied. I knew him very intimately in Australia, and it was owing to him that I left Australia to enter Cambridge University. He was a very celebrated mathematician. The whole question of the Alternative Vote is ultimately dependent on mathematical calculations, and I therefore think it 13 unfair for the Prime Minister to sneer at mathematics. He appeals to the mathematicians to support the Alternative Vote, and then he refuses to go the whole way with mathematics and to accept the only possible perfect method, namely, that which has been proposed to-day by the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young). He wants to use mathematics half-way, to take mathematics just as far as it will help him, and then he wants to refuse to accept it to its logical conclusion. There is one other thing in regard to mathematics that I would like to say. There is not a single person here whose daily life is not dependent upon the accuracy of mathematical calculations. You cannot travel by train, or by ship, or by aeroplane unless you are putting your trust in the mathematicians, and therefore I support this Amendment.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Stafford Cripps)

I am sure that everybody on this side has the most profound respect for mathematics, but I would remind the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. G. Wilson) that a great many people who have a profound respect for mathematics certainly cannot travel in the area of higher mathematics, and those who are accustomed to use mathematics in ordinary life only use them half way, and very seldom go to the logical conclusion to which mathematics might lead them if they went on with their studies. The right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young), in introducing this Amendment, has adopted an argument which might be called the reductio ad perfectum—that is to say, producing an absurdity by following the logical desire to get perfection—and it is some comment on this system which he has put forward that for over 50 years it has been known and has been a possibility, and yet it has never yet been adopted.

The Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine) said that it would be no good my stating that this scheme was difficult to carry out, because it was perfectly simple for an elector to write down six preferences, or whatever the number might be, according to the number of candidates standing at an election; but I would remind him that other people than the electors are responsible for the counting of the votes, and they are not in all cases skilled mathematicians, and although it may not be necessary that they should be skilled mathematicians, it is necessary that they should have a very high degree of intelligence if they are to carry through this system correctly. No doubt it was to that that the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks referred when, on the 4th March, he thus spoke of the Nanson system: Systems have been devised and proposed—there was one proposed by an eminent Norwegian mathematician, Professor Nanson"— No doubt at that stage of his studies in this matter he was tricked into the belief that all Nansons were Norwegians— which would get over the difficulty and result in a man who has really got the majority of first preferences and second preferences beng elected, but it is so difficult to work that it has been unanimously dismissed in practice by all those acquainted with electioneering in the world of facts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1931; col. 488, Vol. 249.] The right hon. Gentleman, by studying the Blue Book which contains all the information which he has so kindly given us this afternoon, and a great deal more, has no doubt, since then, been converted to the practical nature of the Nanson scheme, but I think the Committee may justly complain of the right hon. Gentleman in that he only took them half way through the mathematics of the system. He left them at a very critical point indeed, and he skipped over at least three-quarters of a column of the Blue Book, which is most material if one is to follow the logic and really appreciate the equation which he put before us.


The remedy is in the Solicitor-General's hands.


The right hon. Gentleman speaks quite accurately. It is in my hands, and it is indeed in the hands of a great many other Members of the Committee, but I do not propose to transfer it from my hands through my mouth into the brains of the Members of this Committee, because I think that that would probably be inexcusable, in view of the vast complexity of the problem. Examples were given us by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the way in which the Government scheme would operate. He took the three gentlemen, A, B and C, and 12 votes, and he made certain assumptions as regards second preferences. His assumptions, if one looks at them, are very curious. If I may take the unlikely case of A, who got five votes as being a Conservative candidate, the second, B, being Labour, and the third, C, being Liberal, I find that nobody under any circumstances gave the Conservative a second choice. That may be quite right, but it is very curious, and although all the Conservatives preferred Liberals, all the Liberals preferred Labour. Of course, one can take such extraordinary assumptions as that you are going to have a 100 per cent. transfer of votes from one party to another, and yet that other party will not transfer any of its votes to the first, and under those circumstances you will arrive at curious results, no doubt.

Then, if I may take the example which the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) gave, as regards A, B and C—I am afraid I cannot go into the other examples, because I could not take them down quickly enough—on his assumption, as I understand it, according to what he thinks right, A would be elected by a straight election; according to the Government system, B would be elected; and according to the Nanson system, C would be elected. What I do not understand is whether the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford thinks the Nanson system or the one at present in existence is the better, because they elect different candidates. If he says, of course, that the present system must be wrong, because A is elected, then I can understand his argument that the Nanson system is better, but if he says that the present system is right, by which A is elected, that must necessarily, in his view, condemn the Nanson system altogether.

The argument against the Nanson system, I think, has been put, in words upon which I could not possibly improve, by the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks on the 4th March, that its complexity makes it impossible. It is seeking after a perfection which in this world one cannot attain. The system which is proposed at present in the Bill is a system which, as the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford said, is a very simple one indeed, and it has that great virtue of simplicity. It also has the virtue that under no circumstances is anyone elected against whom there is a majority in the constituency; that is to say, under no circumstances can the least popular candidate be elected. Having that advantage, and being a short way of achieving what is really a second ballot, it is, in our view, the right and proper way of putting the alternative vote into force. For those reasons, it would be impossible for us to consider the acceptance of such a complicated system as the Nanson system.


Those who have spoken have admitted that the Nanson system is the most perfect, if not the perfect system. In fact the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. P. Oliver) admitted that it was a perfect system, and he added that what we want is a simple system. That is exactly what we on these benches want, so why not let well alone? We have a simple system at the present time, which everybody understands, and if we are to change our system, let us not change a simple system for a more complicated one, as the Alternative Vote undoubtedly is, but if we are to change to a more complicated system, why not change to a perfect system? Undoubtedly the Nanson system is the most perfect system which has been evolved up to the present time. The learned Solicitor-General argued against this system that it had not been adopted, although it had been before the world for 50 years. It is argued on the other side of the House that education has advanced greatly in the last 50 years, and I should say that we are now ripe for the adoption of such a system.

This system commends itself to me because it undoubtedly makes the chief factor in an election the average support of the constituency for each candidate. After the votes have been cast, you find what is the average weight of opinion in the constituency for each candidate, the total number of votes is divided by the number of candidates, and any candidate who receives less than the average number of votes is very properly cast out. Then, if only one candidate has received above the average number of votes, he is elected very properly, and if more than two receive above the average number of votes, the process is continued, and eventually you arrive undoubtedly at a just appreciation of the opinion of the constituency with regard to the candidates.

A great deal has been urged with regard to the complicated nature of this system, but, as has been pointed out by more than one speaker the complication will exist not in the polling booths, but in the counting room, and there you have a number of intelligent people and you certainly have one expert who can give directions. Therefore, it seems to me that the objection urged that the system is too complicated does not obtain. If we are to change our simple system for a complicated one, which has the additional disadvantage that it may lead to wangling between the parties, let us change to a perfect system such as the one proposed in the Amendment.


The Solicitor-General, in what was, I think, a very inadequate answer, rejected the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Seven-oaks (Sir H. Young) outright, on the ground that its complexity makes it impossible, but he made no attempt to distinguish between actual complexities in working and difficulty of definition in the language of a Statute or in speeches in this House. There is a very great difference between the two things. It would be very difficult in the language of a Clause or a Schedule to define the shape of a very ordinary instrument, the corkscrew. It would also be very difficult for any hon. Member to justify easily in a speech the dynamics by which the corkscrew works. On the other hand, there is extremely little difficulty in practice in using a corkscrew for its proper function. In exactly the same way, we need only ask ourselves how this system will be worked either by the voter or by the counting clerk to see that it is in no respect intrinsically much more difficult than the Government scheme, and that it at any rate enables the scheme to fulfil the purpose for which it is avowedly introduced.

As an illustration of the difficulty of dealing with these mathematical questions in Debate, I would point out that the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. P. Oliver), with the general approval of those who were listening to him, suggested that under my right hon. Friend's proposal voters would tend to plump, because by not plumping they would give as many votes to the other side as they were giving to their candidate. Surely, if you plump under my right hon. Friend's proposal, you give your candidate only one vote. If, on the other hand, you give second and third preferences, you give your candidate three votes, and, while you retain the advantage of your candidate over the next candidate, you give him two votes over the man whom you like still less, and three over the man you most dislike. Obviously, it is an advantage to fill in as many preferences as possible, because it gives the maximum advantage to your own side. The Solicitor-General complained that my right hon. Friend's speech was a reductio ad perfectum. Surely he had forgotten that my right hon. Friend at the outset dismissed the idea of the Alternative Vote ever being made a perfect system. What he did was to begin with a reductio ad absurdum of the Government scheme, and then to reduce it to something a little less absurd. I should like to follow on slightly different lines the same course. The avowed object of the Measure we are discussing is to secure, in the language of the Prime Minister, that those who are here in this House represent a majority in the constituencies. It may be that some form of Alternative Vote might secure that end The Government scheme does not.

My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) dived back into history to 1782 for a scheme of alternative voting which might work. There came back in a flash to my mind the fact that the Alternative Vote goes back a great deal earlier. The first, and I think the last, time of which I know in history when the Alternative Vote was satisfactorily used was in 480 B.C. when, after the Battle of Salamis, the Greek admirals were asked to vote who had rendered the greatest service to the cause of Greece and of freedom. They all gave themselves the first vote, and Themistocles the second. That was the last occasion on which the Alternative Vote worked successfully. The system in Alberta and Australia of which we have heard is better than the system which the Government propose, because it allows for third and fourth votes, but even that system does not work effectively. What are the reasons why the scheme in the Government Schedule does not carry out the object that they desire to see carried out? My right hon. Friend proved only too clearly that the result depends largely on the accident of who is at the bottom of the poll and in no sense represents the consensus of opinion in a constituency as to whom people would like elected if they do not get the man of their choice.

My right hon. Friend dealt with A, B and C. I should prefer to give the more concrete instance of the recent Shipley by-election. Some 16,000 voters voted for the Conservative candidate, 15,000 for Labour and 12,000 for Liberal. If you had had the Alternative Vote then—I do not know what would happen now after the recent by-elections—the assumption would be that on the whole the majority of the Liberal voters would give their second vote to the Labour candidate. Therefore, under the Government scheme the Labour candidate would be elected. But, if you take the second choice of the Conservatives, the majority of them would be given to the Liberals, and would secure the election of the Liberal. Last, but not least, in view of the whole trend of the election, where workers in the woollen industry were divided between their allegiance to Socialism and their recognition of the need for safeguarding their industry, it is perfectly possible that quite enough second votes of those cast for Labour would have been given for the Conservative candidate to elect him. You would get, therefore, three different results according to whose second votes you take into account. Does not that show clearly that the only fair system is one under which all second votes are taken into account?

The system proposed by the Government has a further serious drawback that it is only workable, if at all, on the assumption that there are not more than three candidates in the field. On that assumption only was the Prime Minister justified in saying that the scheme of the Alternative Vote unites the methods of the second ballot and the first ballot, and that you do both processes at the same time. That was repeated just now by the Solicitor-General. That is not in the least true if you have more than three candidates, and if only second preferences are allowed. Suppose you have four candidates with these figures: Conservative, 12,000; Liberal, 10,000; Official Socialist, 5,000 and some branch of unofficial Socialism, 4,000. The second preferences of the unofficial Socialist are given to the official Socialist, but do not prevent him being excluded, and thereupon those second preferences are carried no further. The preferences of the official Socialist might on balance be given to the Liberal. Enough third preferences of the unofficial Socialist might have gone to the Conservative, and if they had been reckoned an entirely different result would have emerged. There is the further possibility of the second preferences of the official Socialist being given to the unofficial Socialist, and in that case the two sections of the Socialist party would cancel each other out, and would have no influence upon the result of the election at all.

If you had more than four candidates, the result would be even more absurd, and it is possible under the conditions which the Alternative Vote would encourage that you would get more than four. You might quite well have three candidates dividing up the vote of what is really a majority party in a constituency, and by giving their second preferences among each other, entirely cancelling out that majority. In the case I have quoted you might have three Socialist candidates, official, unofficial and Mosley, dividing 12,000 votes among them, and thereby having the largest total of votes in the constituency; and yet under the Government scheme they would be unable to save any of these candidates from exclusion, and unable to give any weight or effect to the votes they cast. That is a defect that another Amendment on the Paper endeavours to remedy, but even that does not remedy the further defect of the principle embodied in the Government scheme, namely, that when it excludes the candidate who gets the fewest number of votes of first choice, it gives his second preferences, votes that admittedly are not given with the same weight and consideration and the same purpose behind them as the first, exactly the same value as the first vote. The Amendment of my right hon. Friend, while it does not do away with the fundamental objections which most of us feel to a system of the Alternative Vote, does at any rate do two things. It enables all the votes cast to have the same weight and gives the first preference a definitely greater weight than the second preference, and to that extent answers the objection made by the hon. Member for Blackley. Surely these are very serious considerations if we are to embark at all upon any of those complicated schemes depending ultimately on mathematical considerations.

On the whole, I am inclined to believe in the simple principle of the winner. After all, it is not only candidates, but alternative Governments who come before the country, and it is a good thing for the country to be faced with a straight issue of what Government it wants. If, however, you want to give weight to the other considerations, and are prepared to run the risk of a certain amount of complication and of confusion in the simple issue before the electorate, then go in for Proportional Representation, which does stand for something clear and consistent. The system which the Government are advocating is not likely to lead to results which will necessarily strengthen the hands of the Government or give minorities fair representation or lead to Parliament being a mirror of the nation; but, if you claim for it that it will give you a clear majority in a constituency, then the least you can do is to accept an Amendment which will not to any appreciable extent add to the voter's difficulties, or very seriously make difficulties for the counting officers greater than would be involved if other Amendments on the Paper were accepted which are essential if this scheme is to work and which have been adopted in every other country where the scheme has been applied, and where you are allowed to give third and fourth votes. They would, at any rate, do something to make the scheme work.

I hope the Government will believe that this Amendment has been brought forward not as a mere jest but as a contribution in the spirit of what the Prime Minister called the Council of State, in order to make what we think a bad system a little less unworkable, according to its avowed object. Of course, that object is not the real object. If the object is not to secure majority representation in the constituencies, or a House of Commons more truly reflecting the nation, if its only object is to galvanise moribund parties into a new lease of life, and avert the dangers ahead at the next election, then, of course, it may serve its purpose. In that case, I think a better description of the Bill would be not a Representation of the People Bill, but a Liberal and Socialist Parties Transfusion of Blood Bill, a Bill under which two moribund parties will each sacrifice a number of their Members and, by the transfusion of their electoral blood, preserve the life of the rest. That may be of some interest to the Members of this House who are concerned, but I do not believe it is in the permanent interest of either of the parties affected, or of the country, and certainly it is not in the interest of the working of our Parliamentary constitution, and of the maintenance of that authority of Parliament which, at the present moment, is in many directions gravely impaired.


The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) has such a reputation as a skilful electioneer that I cannot think he has contemplated what can be the result of his proposals. I myself am a little hardened in these matters, but the effect of his observations upon the ordinary elector will be to frighten him from going to the poll at all. This Amendment is really an extraordinary abortion, which has been designed to reduce the Government proposals to sheer absurdity. In my judgment it is not a serious proposal at all, but is a compendium of the objections which are felt by hon. Members to the Alternative Vote, and is put upon the paper as a very interesting specimen. I doubt whether our Parliamentary proceedings will disclose a more interesting specimen of a mathematical abortion directed to a public purpose which it obviously fails to achieve. On the face of it it is not an alternative to the Government's proposal. It sets up a scheme which has no practical working basis at all and has no serious purpose.

In my opinion the Alternative Vote proposed in the Bill meets the necessities of the situation. In recent contests, over a period of years, we have seen how numbers of votes have been wasted, and the Government's proposal is made to ensure that votes given to third candidates are not wasted but distributed among the other candidates according as the voter prefers. That seems to me a perfectly reasonable proposal. This Amendment would require the returning officer to reach a kind of equation between the total votes cast and the number of candidates. I do not accept that proposal seriously, and I shall vote for the plan proposed by the Government, because it does provide a means of ensuring that we shall not go on wasting votes, and that the person elected is the representative of the largest number of voters who are taking part in the contest. At present, by freaks, by sheer accidents, we may find a candidate elected who does not represent any considerable portion of the electorate, and if by the Alternative Vote, which will allow second preferences to be distributed among the candidates, we increase the chance of securing the election of the candidate who receives most votes, I am satisfied that the proposal is the best we can reach in the circumstances.


I am in favour of almost any system of election which anybody likes to propose provided only that it is complicated enough. I listened to the explanation of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), and I was delightfully puzzled by his description of second preferences and one thing and another, and how by voting for one person you might put the other party in a majority, and so on. I got completely mixed up, and I think this Amendment is a very good one for the reason that it is more complicated than the Government's proposal. I should like still better to see Proportional Representation, because the complication would be more complete. The fact of the matter is, the correct thing to do is to have that kind of voting paper which stupid people will spoil, because in that way you will disfranchise the stupid part of the population. The more difficult you make it to fill up a voting paper correctly the greater will be the influence on the election of the wiser part of the population. I myself am elected by some kind of complicated system called Proportional Representation. It is so far excellent that though I was somewhere near the bottom of the poll on the first count I came out top on the second count—a very good system of election. I think I am right in saying—I am approximately right—that at the last election, or it may have been the one before, the number of spoiled papers contributed by the graduates of the University of Oxford was out of all proportion to the number in any other part of the country.

At one time I was a student of mathematics, but that is so long ago that I have forgotten all about the subject. When I was listening to the speech of my right hon. Friend I wished that I had retained some fraction of my mathematical attitude of mind; but what I bank on is the firm belief that the more complicated you can make a voting paper the better the result you arrive at, and if you could make it so complicated that all the stupid people would go wrong, you would get a franchise system that would be really excellent. For these reasons I believe I am going to support this Amendment, though I would like the proposal in it to be carried somewhat further.


I feel it would be wrong for us to go to a Division without some further consideration of this complicated subject. The hon. and always learned Gentleman sitting below the Gangway opposite said the main object of this Clause was to see that the votes given to the person with the lowest number of votes were not wasted, in other words, whatever else is done we are to see that his supporters get a whack in at choosing the Member of Parliament—HON. MEMBERS: "What is a whack?"] If hon. Members do not know that, I will put it in another way. He is to have matters adjusted so that his supporters have more weight in choosing the Member than any of the voters who vote for the more popular candidate. Obviously, that is giving the voters for the candidate whose supporters are very few at least two votes to one which is allowed to voters for the more popular candidate.

I agree with the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir M. Conway) that the Amendment is very complicated, but it is just as likely as this Clause to produce a good election system. My great trouble is that I do not know which way to vote on this particular occasion, because it is obvious that this part of the scheme is only devised with the idea of encouraging more gambling in the

election. We would like the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) to explain which system he will vote for, because we do not know where he is. We know that he will make his usual speech, in which he will explain one side, and then destroy that side, and then put his own case and then vote against his own case. That is the course he has always followed in this House after he has put his own case.


The right hon. Gentleman will be stating his case on the next Amendment.


This Amendment is different from the next Amendment, or I gather we should not be discussing it.


That is why I rose. It is not necessary for the hon. Member to waste the time of the Committee by referring to the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment or asking him to explain his attitude to this Amendment as against his own Amendment.


I am sorry if I referred to the other Amendment. I only did so by way of passing on. All the arguments from the Government on this particular Amendment show that it is infinitely preferable to the Bill as it now stands, and although I thoroughly dislike any form of Proportional Representation I would rather vote for the Amendment than for the Bill. The whole effect of this reorganisation will be to complicate a quite simple system, and, as I hold, an almost perfect system, and I should like to see the whole of the Schedule turned down.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 158.

Division No. 241.] AYES. [5.45 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife. West) Batey, Joseph Cameron, A. G.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Cape, Thomas
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Bennett. William (Batteries, South) Charleton, H. C.
Alpass, J. H. Benson, G. Chater, Daniel
Ammon, Charles George Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Cluse, W. S.
Angell, Sir Norman Bowen, J. W. Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
Arnott, John Broad, Francis Alfred Cocks, Frederick Seymour
Aske, Sir Robert Bromfield, William Compton, Joseph
Attlee, Clement Richard Brothers, M. Cove, William G.
Ayles, Walter Brown, Ernest (Leith) Cowan, D. M.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Cripps, Sir Stafford
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Burgess, F. G. Daggar, George
Barnes, Alfred John Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Dallas, George
Barr, James Caine, Hall-, Derwent Dalton, Hugh
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lang, Gordon Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Law, A. (Rossendale) Ritson, J.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lawson, John James Romeril, H. G.
Dukes, C. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Duncan, Charles Leach, W. Rowson, Guy
Ede, James Chuter Lee, Frank (Darby, N. E.) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Edmunds, J. E. Lees, J. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lloyd, C. Ellis Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Longbottom, A. W. Sanders, W. S.
Elmley, Viscount Longden, F. Sandham, E.
England, Colonel A. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Sawyer, G. F.
Foot, Isaac Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Scrymgeour, E.
Freeman, Peter MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Sexton, Sir James
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) McElwee, A. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) McEntee, V. L. Sherwood, G. H.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) MacLaren, Andrew Shield, George William
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Gibbins, Joseph Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Shillaker, J. F.
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) MacNeill-Weir, L. Shinwell, E.
Gillett, George M. McShane, John James Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Glassey, A. E. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Simmons, C. J.
Gossling, A. G. Mander, Geoffrey le M. Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Gould, F. Manning, E. L. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Mansfield, W. Sinkinson, George
Granville, E. March, S. Sitch, Charles H.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Marcus, M. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Markham, S. F. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Marley, J. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Marshall, Fred Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Groves, Thomas E. Mathers, George Sorensen, R.
Grundy, Thomas W. Matters, L. W. Stamford, Thomas W.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Millar, J. D. Strauss, G. R.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Mills, J. E. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Milner, Major J. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Montague. Frederick Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Tillett, Ben
Hardie, George D. Morley, Ralph Tinker, John Joseph
Harris, Percy A. Morris, Rhys Hopkins Toole, Joseph
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Viant, S. P.
Haycock, A. W. Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Walker, J.
Hayday, Arthur Mort, D. L. Wallace, H. W.
Hayes, John Henry Muff, G. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Muggeridge, H. T. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Herriotts, J. Murnin, Hugh Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Hicks, Ernest George Nathan, Major H. L. Wellock, Wilfred
Hirst, G. H. (York, W. R., Wentworth) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Hoffman, P. C. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) West, F. R.
Hollins, A. Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Westwood, Joseph
Hopkin, Daniel Owen, H. F. (Hereford) White, H. G.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Palin, John Henry Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hutchison, Maj Gen. Sir R. Paling, Wilfrid Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Isaacs, George Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Perry, S. F. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Phillips, Dr. Marion Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Picton-Turbervill, Edith Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Jones. Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne) Pole, Major D. G. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Potts, John S. Wise, E. F.
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Price, M. P. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Kelly, W. T. Pybus, Percy John Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Quibell, D. J. K.
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Knight, Holford Raynes, W. R. Mr. T. Henderson and Mr. Thurtle.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Richards, R.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Carver, Major W. H.
Albery, Irving James Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Castle Stewart, Earl of
Allan, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Boyce, Leslie Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Bracken, B. Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Brass, Captain Sir William Christie, J. A.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Briscoe, Richard George Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Broadbent, Colonel J. Colfox, Major William Philip
Beaumont, M. W. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Colville, Major D. J.
Bellairs, Commander canyon Buchan, John Conway, Sir W. Martin
Berry, Sir George Burton, Colonel H. W. Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Butler, R. A. Cranborne, Viscount
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Campbell, E. T. Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hurd, Percy A. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Salmon, Major I.
Dalkeith, Earl of Inksip, Sir Thomas Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Dairymple-White, Lt. Col. Sir Godfrey Knox, Sir Alfred Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hartford) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittoms
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Simms, Major-General J.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Skelton, A. N.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Eden, Captain Anthony Llewellin, Major J. J. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.) Lymington, Viscount Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Everard, W. Lindsay Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Falle, Sir Sertram G. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Ferguson, Sir John Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Fermoy, Lord Meller, R. J. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Fielden, E. B. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Ford, Sir P. J. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Thomson, Sir F.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Todd. Capt. A. J.
Ganzoni, Sir John Muirhead, A. J. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Turton, Robert Hugh
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter O'Connor, T. J. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Gritten, W. G. Howard O'Neill, Sir H. Warrender, Sir Victor
Gunston, Captain D. W. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Peake, Captain Osbert Wayland, Sir William A.
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Hammersley, S. S. Pilditch, Sir Philip Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hartington, Marquess of Pownall, Sir Assheton Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Ramsbotham, H. Womersley, W. J.
Haslam, Henry C. Rathbone, Eleanor Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Rawson, Sir Cooper Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Reid, David D. (County Down) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Remer, John R.
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Captain Margesson and Sir George
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ross, Ronald D. Penny.

The next Amendment which I select is the one standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and other hon. Members, and on this Amendment may be discussed also the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. C. Wilson).


I beg to move in page 6, line 13, at the end, to insert the words: and in cases where there are more than three candidates, may similarly indicate his subsequent preferences by the figures 3 or 4 and so on opposite the names of further candidates. In moving this Amendment, I am glad to find that some hon. Members above the Gangway have appended their names to it, and I trust that I shall have their valuable support. This Amendment deals with merely a matter of machinery, and I hope the Government will not hesitate to accept it. My Amendment deals only with the case where there are more than three candidates at an election. There were 22 such cases at the last General Election, but with the advent on the political scene of a certain number of new parties, or sections of parties, there may be a larger number of four-cornered or five-cornered elections in future years. There are two possible methods of dealing with an election where there are, say, four candidates. One is the proposal in the Bill, and the other is the proposal contained in the Amendment. The proposal of the Bill is that each elector shall be able to vote 1 for the candidate he most approves and give next a second preference to the candidate he wishes to see elected, but he cannot go on. He can vote 1 or 2 but he cannot vote 3, and if there are five candidates he cannot vote 4. He can give a first and a second preference, but no more. The proposal in the Amendment is that he should be allowed to go on, and not only vote for the first candidate, or the second candidate he wishes to be elected, but if the second candidate he has voted for is not amongst the first two who are left in the poll, he can express a third preference. The only advantage of the Government plan is that it possesses greater simplicity, but the voter who can count up to two, is only required to count up to three or to four. Therefore, it is a very small measure of complication that will be introduced by the Amendment which I am moving.

The hon. Member for English Universities (Sir M. Conway), who spoke on a previous Amendment, made the plea that the ballot papers should be made as complicated as possible in order that the voting paper might be made an intellectual test. That is a most ingenious suggestion, but I do not think it is one that will appeal to the Committee, and the small measure of complication which my Amendment proposes will not meet the requirements of that scheme. The disadvantage of the Government plan is that where there are four candidates you will find that the real purpose of the Alternative Vote will not be fulfilled. The purpose of the Alternative Vote is to approximate, as nearly as possible, to getting an absolute majority for one of the candidates. The Alternative Vote is intended to ensure that the man who is elected and comes to Westminster shall have behind him the support of a majority of his constituency either expressed by the first preferences or the second preferences. That object will not be fully attained by the Bill as it stands. To secure that object it is necessary to give to each voter the right in the final count of casting his vote as between the two candidates who are left in the list.

I will give an illustration of how the Bill would work as it stands. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seven-oaks (Sir H. Young) brought in cases A, B and C, but I will take the names of actual parties at an actual election in the constituency in which I happen to live, namely, South Paddington, where there was a famous by-election a few months ago. At that election there were four candidates, and as not one was a Liberal, I give the illustration without any suspicion of bias. I will not take the actual votes, but, for the 6.0 p.m. sake of simplicity, will take imaginary figures. Assume that there are at an election four candidates, and that, as in the case of South Paddington, three of them belong substantially to one school of thought. There was an official Conservative, there was what was called an Empire Crusader, and there was a United Empire candidate, who were all Conservatives, and there was also a Labour candidate. In that constituency there was very obviously a majority of the Conservative party, if it were united, over the Labour party, and, therefore, according to any sound principle of election, a Conservative of one school or another ought to be sent to Parliament to represent that constituency. The particular figures that I will take I have chosen for the purpose of simplifying the illustration.

Assume that the Conservative voters numbered 12,000, and the Labour voters 11,000. Then, the Conservatives being divided into three, I will assume that the official Conservative received 7,000 votes, the Empire Crusader 3,000, and the United Empire candidate 2,000. That is on the first count. I will assume, also, that all the United Empire voters would wish to see the Crusader elected if they could not get their own representative in, and that, therefore, their 2,000 votes would be transferred on the second count to the Empire Crusader. That, on the second count, would give 11,000 votes for the Labour candidate, 7,000 for the official Conservative, and 5,000 for the Empire Crusader.

Now comes the point at which our scheme and the scheme of the Government diverge. Under the scheme of the Amendment, all of the 5,000 votes for the Empire Crusader shown on the second count would be transferred to the official Conservative, and, therefore, in the final count, the official Conservative would get 12,000 votes, and the Labour candidate would get 11,000, which would be electorally equitable, however distasteful it might be politically. If, however, the 2,000 who had voted in the first instance for the United Empire candidate were only allowed one other preference, and if they gave their first preference to the United Empire candidate and their second to the Empire Crusader, they would have shot their bolt, and, in the final count, where the issue would be between the Labour candidate and the official Conservative, their votes would disappear. [Interruption.] That might be desirable, but it is not the purpose of the Alternative Vote, and it is not the purpose of any sound or just electoral system that such votes should disappear, because in that case the final result would be that the Labour candidate would get 11,000 votes and the official Conservative 10,000, so that, owing to an obvious imperfection of the electoral system, the clear intention of the constituency would be defeated, and the 12,000 Conservatives would have been deprived of a seat which would properly belong to them.

Even worse might happen if a Liberal seat were in question! But whatever the grouping may be for the purpose of any abstract illustration, it obviously is wrong that any class of electors should in the last resort be treated unequally in this way, and that, while the 3,000 who had voted for the Empire Crusader should have their votes counted in the final poll, the 2,000 who had voted for the United Empire candidate should not. Whether the number be 2,000 of 20, if the principle is wrong it ought to be altered, and for that reason we move this Amendment. I am quite sure that, if the Bill is passed as it stands, it will be found, when it comes into actual operation, that in many of these constituencies in which there are four or five candidates large numbers of electors will find that what I have just described will take place, and that, if they are allowed only first and second preferences, they will be allowed no votes at all in the final issue between the two candidates at the head of the poll in the last count.

When this matter was before the House on the Representation of the People Bill in 1918, the House of Commons passed the Alternative Vote on more than one occasion, and embodied it in the Bill, but it was struck out by the House of Lords. The machinery, however, that was adopted by the Government of that day for putting the Alternative Vote into operation was what we are now proposing, and not what is proposed in the present Bill. I have here the White Paper that was presented to Parliament at that time by the Government of the day, and there it was laid down that, where there were more than two candidates at an election, the voter at any such election might place the figure "1" on his ballot paper opposite the name of the candidate who was his first choice, instead of the cross prescribed by the Ballot Act, 1872, and any vote given by placing the said figure or cross opposite the name of a candidate was in those rules referred to as a first preference vote. It was also laid down that, in addition to the figure "1" authorised by the rules, or the cross, placed on the ballot paper, the figures "2," "3" and so on might be added by the voter in the order of his preferences opposite the names of the candidates whom he would prefer if the candidate of his first choice could not be elected, and any votes so given were in those rules referred to as alternative votes. I suggest to the Government that they should modify their procedure in this particular, and follow the precedent that was set by their predecessors in 1918. As to the actual drafting of our Amendment, we do not, of course, attach much importance to it, and, if the Government can improve upon the wording, we shall be very pleased. As the Committee has now decided in favour of the principle of the Alternative Vote on an earlier Clause, I trust that Members in all quarters of the Committee will agree in endeavouring to make the method of its application as perfect as may be.

Captain BOURNE

I find myself, perhaps for the first time during the progress of this Bill through Committee, in agreement, at least at this stage, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). The object of his Amendment is to make it possible, in cases where there are more than three candidates, for voters to express a third preference, or, where there are many candidates, as many preferences as there are candidates. I think it is obvious, to anyone who considers the case of an election in which there are more than three candidates, that something will have to be devised to enable more than two preferences to be ascertained, if any system of Alternative Vote is to work out at all, or, at any rate, to work out justly. It is true that the Home Secretary, on the Second Reading, used these words: I intend to say only a little on the method by which this alternative voting system will be applied, and to say even less at this stage on the machinery that will govern that method. We had the opportunity to choose between one system or the other. Indeed, there are many systems, but, as hon. Members know, in the main our contests are fought with but three candidates representing the three parties, and this Bill is designed, not with a view to covering the rare and exceptional case, but to cover, in the main, the general conditions in which our Parliamentary elections are fought. We, therefore, decided in favour of limiting an elector's choice to two candidates. That does him no wrong, for it gives him an Alternative Vote, but not Alternative Votes for several candidates who may be standing in any exceptional contest. There are in the main, as I say, only three parties, as far as they are parties which can at any time in the immediate, or even remote future, hope to form a Government. The Government are, of course, aware that there are other methods of giving effect to the system of the Alternative Vote. We have decided that the method proposed in the Bill is fair and reasonable to the electors, that it is the simplest, the best and the easiest to work, and, therefore, on all grounds, compared with others, I hope that it will commend itself to the favour of the present House of Commons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1931; col. 1472, Vol. 247.] That, I understand, is the basis and the defence of the system which the Government have put forward in this Bill. But, since the right hon. Gentleman made his speech, we have been threatened with the existence of a fourth party, which professedly intends to run a large number of candidates. I have no means of knowing whether its professions are accurate or otherwise, but he would be a very bold man who would prophesy to-day that there may not be, if not in the immediate, at any rate in the remote, future, other parties that may be capable of forming a Government. As was said by one of my hon. Friends, speaking on the last Amendment, it is not so many years ago since hon. Members who now sit on the Government Benches were a very small party, and a party which, in those days, few people would have prophesied would ever form a Government; and if in those days, not so very long before the War, this system which the Home Secretary now suggests had been adopted, hon. Members opposite would probably never have risen to be anything like so large a party as they are to-day. What the Home Secretary is attempting to do by this Bill is to stereotype the three existing political parties. So far from showing any signs of being progressive in thought, or desirous of encouraging new political developments and qualities, of recognising that in the life of this country we must be prepared to meet with new movements and to give them at least a fair opportunity, the right hon. Gentleman, with a reactionary Toryism surpassing anything to be found on these benches, is trying to stereotype for ever the existing system.

I would ask the Committee to consider a case where there are four candidates, and where, as is very possible, one of the existing parties is even running two candidates. There were occasions of that kind just after the Coalition, and there may very easily be cases in the party of hon. Members opposite, where the Independent Labour party and the official Labour party do not see eye to eye about contesting some particular seat, and where, therefore, in contesting a particular seat, or perhaps several seats, Members of that party may be fighting one against another. It is quite conceivable that the party which is running two candidates may be actually the largest in voting strength of any of the parties in the country, but that, owing to the division, its two candidates may be at the bottom of the poll. I would venture to suggest to the Committee that in such a case the presumption is that people will give their second vote for their own party—that the people who vote, say, Independent Conservative or Independent Labour will not unnaturally give their second preference to their respective official candidates in the vast majority of cases; and I think we may equally assume that the people who give their votes to the official candidate will very naturally give their second preference to the unofficial candidate, because, on the whole, he comes nearest to representing their point of view of any of the candidates standing at the election.

Consider now what happens under the Government scheme. The elector is given one second preference, and one only. I will assume—and it is a very likely assumption—that, in the case of the party which has two candidates, those two candidates, thanks to the split, come out at the bottom of the poll. Assume that an independent candidate comes out at the bottom. Then, when his second preferences are counted, they would go to the official candidate. These second preferences may not be enough to take him to the top, and perhaps not even enough to shift him from the third place to the second, but, as his second preferences go to a candidate who has already been excluded, the result will lie between the two candidates who originally came at the top of the poll, and the other candidates will have completely lost any chance of being returned. It seems to me that that is one possible result of the Government's proposals, and that, in order to elect a candidate who is fairly representative of the majority in a given constituency, you must allow voters to indicate more than two preferences in cases where there are more than three candidates.

It is difficult for anyone to say accurately how these further preferences will be given, and I admit that there is the difficulty, which I think is a serious one, that as the number of preferences is increased the tendency of voters will be more and more to give their later preferences carelessly among the candidates. Nevertheless, I think they ought to have that choice. Wherever the Alternative Vote has been tried, and it has been tried to a considerable extent in Australia and parts of Canada, more than two preferences have been allowed, and it seems to me that when we, at this late stage in our electoral history, are following up those experiments, we should at least be wise to follow the example of those who have more years of experience than we have, and to adopt at least as many preferences as there are candidates. Therefore, I support the Amendment.


On the Second Reading I expressed the view that Proportional Representation was very much more desirable than the Alternative Vote, but the House has decided that question and it, therefore, seems very desirable that any rules that we adopt in connection with it should be in conformity with those that are in general use in the English-speaking world, and wherever any form of transferable or Alternative Vote has been adopted, the electors are instructed to indicate their various preferences without any limit whatever. That does not only apply in the matter of political elections. I have here a number of ballot papers, including an election for the divisional council of the Independent Labour party, an election for the National Union of Rail-waymen where there were 12 candidates, and elections for the University of Cambridge and Queen's University, Belfast, and in every case the instruction is given to the voters that they could mark their papers with their various preferences going up as high as they desired to do. The system in Winnipeg is somewhat different, but I have here a voting paper containing 23 names in which they are also permitted to vote for the whole 23 if they so desire.

On a previous Amendment the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir M. Conway) referred to the extreme confusion that there has been in the case of Oxford University. It is rather unfortunate that he made that reference, because the Chancellor of Cambridge, referring to an election in which 10,000 voters took part, said the number of spoilt papers due to wrong preferences was negligible. In the case of a recent election for the National Union of Rail-waymen, where 76,000 voters took part, the number of spoilt papers was only one per thousand. That is very creditable to the National Union of Railway-men when compared with Oxford University. These rules ought to be dealt with in such a way as to be in general agreement with the practice of other countries.


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) will not take it amiss when I say I am not altogether happy at having my name attached to his Amendment, because I, in common with, a very large number of Members opposite, dislike the whole principle of the Alternative Vote, and both they and I have been driven for the time being into accepting a position in which the smallest party in the House is driving the great majority of the House into adopting an electoral system in which neither of them believes. Nevertheless, as the House has adopted the principle of the Alternative Vote, it is right that we on this side should do what we can to improve the Bill. I am sure the Government scheme as now put forward is a bad one. It has been criticised on all sides of the House. If there are more than three candidates, the voter should be able to have more than two choices. It is true the Government may say, as indeed they said on the last Amendment, that their scheme is the simplest. That is true. Nevertheless, it has been proved, even in so far as the Debate on this Amendment has gone, that, if there are more than three candidates, you may get a perfectly ludicrous result, and for that reason I am inclined to back up the Amendment. I think the argument put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) showed that, where there are four candidates, the Government scheme goes wrong. I should like to reinforce what my hon. and gallant Friend said, that if the Government do not accept the Amendment, they are really stereotyping the position of parties. I do not think any of us would say that the position of parties at present is permanent. All parties change. Within the last 50 years we have seen very great changes, and I have no doubt that in another 50 years we may see an equally great change.

I do not think that it is right for any House of Commons to lay down an electoral law which will undoubtedly have the effect of making it far more difficult for any new party to start. We who belong to the old parties may, no doubt, have a vested interest in them. We all do, on whatever side we may sit. After all, parties may disappear. We are seeing before our eyes the disappearance of one of the old parties in the State, and we may very shortly see the emergence of a new party. We have no right to put into the Bill a system of voting whereby the older parties can maintain their vested interests. We have to make provision for anyone who has a new political idea and I do not think, if you adopt the scheme of the Bill, you have made that provision. I should like to ask the Government, if their scheme remains as it is and various voters, under the impression that they have more votes than two, put down 3 and 4 on their ballot paper, does that invalidate the whole ballot paper or not? We have not really had very much explanation from the Front Bench so far as to what will be a spoilt paper under the alternative scheme and what will not. On the last occasion when the Bill was down, we had a rather rambling discussion and the Government said they would think about it between now and Report. I wonder if the Home Secretary could tell me straight off under existing conditions whether, if people put more than two votes on their paper, the paper will be invalidated or not. I believe the Amendment will put before the country a better form of the Alternative Vote than is in the Bill, and those of us who vote for it will, therefore be voting to improve the Bill. That does not in any way say we are voting in favour of the principle of the Alternative Vote, which most of us dislike, and which a large number of Members opposite dislike equally, and if we vote for the Amendment we are merely doing so in order to make a ludicrous Bill slightly better.


The first thing I should like to say in relation to this Amendment is that we are not seeking to drive the electors to do anything. The Noble Lord talked as though we were proposing to dragoon some millions of people, and to require them under this system to do something which at present they do not do. The Bill imposes no state of force on anyone. It does not compel the elector to vote for two candidates if he does not wish to do so. It imposes no change whatever. It enlarges the freedom of the elector if he feels he would like to exercise a wider choice than is possible under the existing law. If I am to answer the Noble Lord's definite question as to what would be the positon under our present system, I can only say I believe, if the Bill were passed in its present form, and an elector marked his paper not merely 1 and 2, but 3, 4, 5 and so on, probably marking it in that manner would destroy his vote. That fact is an argument in favour of the Amendment. It is an argument in support of the support given by the Noble Lord to the Amendment. I have listened with sympathy and interest to the arguments generally in favour of the Amendment, mainly for the reason that a new party has been born since this Bill was framed. There are indications that even additions to the political organisations of the country may be made before very long.

The difference between the Amendment and the Bill is not a difference of principle—of kind. It is a difference in degree. I argued on the occasion of the Second Reading that our main object, in the proposals as we submitted them, was to secure the greatest measure of simplicity and if, as they have put the case, with this Amendment we can have what is proposed in the Bill together with what is demanded, I see no objection to accepting the Amendment. Our purpose is achieved and, if a wider choice is wanted, it is conceded by the acceptance of the Amendment. The effect of the Amendment can only be on a comparatively small number of electors and in a small number of constituencies, so that in the main the terms of the Bill as they now appear would achieve the object of the Alternative Vote system in the vast majority of cases. As an indication that we are not obdurate and not tyrants, I listened to the views which have come from all parties, and, subject to any review of the matter on the mere wording of the Amendment—I am not quarrelling with the wording, for it seems to me that on the face of it the terms are acceptable enough, though for reasons of safety they should be subject to reconsideration in relation to the Report stage—I am able, on behalf of the Government, to accept the Amendment.


I have listened with interest to the speech of the Home Secretary. Once again we have noticed the fact that the Government have been ready, or have been compelled, to make drastic alterations in the Clauses of the Bill, and I conjecture that by the end of the Committee discussion, certainly by the end of the Third Reading discussion, there will scarcely be a single proposal left in the Bill which has not been altered or which has not been riddled with criticisms during discussion on the Committee stage. On the whole, I think that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) is a slight improvement of a very bad Bill. Earlier in the afternoon we heard the existing proposals of the Government riddled with criticism from one end to the other, and even with this Amendment every kind of anomaly and grievance still remains. It is as I have said, a slight mitigation, but all the very serious objections raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) earlier in the afternoon still remain unremedied, and it will be as possible, when this Amendment is accepted, for the wish of the electors to be flouted and for one of the worst candidates of the three or four who are before the electorate to be elected.

One of the incidental results of this Amendment is to put the result of an election even more into the hands of a very small number of voters than was the case before. By allowing a voter to vote for the third, fourth and fifth candidates, it will probably mean that a very small percentage of the voters will give those numerous preferences. Even in Australia to-day only 50 or 60 per cent. give a first preference, and I am sure that when it comes to giving second, third, fourth and fifth preferences, very few voters will give those preferences at all. The result, therefore, will confirm what hon. Members on this side of the Committee have frequently stated in the past, namely, that a few irresponsible votes given as the third, fourth, and, it may be, the fifth choice will eventually control the result of an election. That, again, shows how totally indefensible is the whole proposal of the Alternative Vote. The fact that the Home Secretary has had to accept the Amendment makes the original proposals less absurd, but they are still absurd, and will lead to every kind of anomaly and foolish result in actual practice. Having said that, I have no further comment to make upon the action of the Home Secretary. If we have to vote upon the Amendment, I think that probably I should have to vote with the right hon. Member for Darwen who moved it, not because it makes the Bill materially better, but because it makes it a little less foolish than it was before.


There is one point which arises from the acceptance of this Amendment to which I would invite the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. I cherish a suspicion that after we have altered the voting system in this country by giving a man second, third or fourth preferences, it may lead to confusion in the mind of the elector, who may have an idea that he has two, three or four votes. I feel that, in spite of anything we may do in this House to alter the system of voting, we shall find at the first election held under this system a preference on the part of the electors as a whole to vote in favour of the candidate they most desire to see elected. If we are to have this confusion between preferences and absolute votes, I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, in view of his acceptance of the Amendment, it might be advisable to make it clear that a man, in the case where there are six candidates, who writes the figure "6" opposite, say, the Labour candidate, or whoever is his choice, should not be disqualified from having his vote recorded. It would merely mean an excess of zeal. The man who would fall into that error is precisely the sort of man who has no hesitation as to his duty at an election, and he is much more likely to be a citizen with strong political beliefs than the man who would otherwise distribute his preferences amongst six candidates. I ask the Government whether they cannot find it possible at a later stage to introduce a provision making it clear that if a man put the figure 2 opposite the candidate of his choice, his paper should not be regarded as a spoilt paper, and similarly if he put 3, 4, 5 or 6 opposite the candidate of his choice, it should not be counted against him as an act of unrighteousness in recording his vote, but rather be regarded as an excess of zeal, and his vote should be allowed to count.


I should like to acknowledge, on behalf of any right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), and those of us who have put our names down to this Amendment, the reasonableness which the Home Secretary has shown, not only to us but to the whole of the Committee. Somebody has said that when certain parties agree, their unanimity is wonderful. We have had an example of that this afternoon. I was not ungrateful for the kindly, if somewhat glib, patronage extended to the Liberal party by the Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine), He was good enough to observe that he saw a party fast disappearing before his eyes. This Amendment, I daresay, will enable him at the next election to observe more clearly the effect of what happened at the last election. Electors to the number of 3,250,000 voted for the Liberal party in 1924, hut they extended support to the Liberal party to the tune of 5,250,000 at the last election. No doubt the Noble Lord will be enabled to see a little more clearly the strength of a party which has a long history and a great and a noble future.


I think the Committee are in a position to understand what really is the position. The Committee are unanimously of the opinion that the Amendment is rather better than the original proposal. Any committee can be unanimous provided it is in regard to a matter in which no principle is involved. There is absolutely no principle involved in the Liberal Amendment. The position is gloriously simple. Originally the Government drafted the Clause; it had no principle in it. It was a question of putting down something. Then they waited for criticism. They know the back benchers on this side and the back benchers on the side opposite thoroughly dislike this principle because it simply gives unlimited power to endless oddities such as we sec scattered about. They may call themselves "I.L.P." or this or that branch, or the third, fourth or fifth branch of the Liberal party or whatever they like, but, at any rate, it does give a chance to the "odds and ends."

And now we have the position that the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) comes down with his Amendment and says that his object is to secure an absolute majority, first by means of a preference. It does not appear to matter what happens as long as you secure this curious thing called an "absolute majority." The real position is that there is not an absolute majority in any sense of the word. The people who believe in principles will vote for this candidate or the other candidate, either for the Tory candidate or for the Socialist candidate. They are the people who do not very much care who votes for the various "odds and ends," but the people who vote for the "odds and ends" will not want, in any circumstances, to put in a man of principle. It is really not treating the electorate as they ought to be treated on these occasions. Are we not rather assuming that we have by this Amendment, or by the original scheme, to build up some system which takes into account all these various small positions? I would rather see a scheme which deliberately encouraged fixed principles.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen is very fortunate. He moved his Amendment in a few words, and curiously enough—I have never known it happen before—he kept precisely on the same lines from the beginning to end of his speech. There was one curious sentence in his speech. He said that, of course, the drafting part could be altered. That gives him a continuous loophole, and we may have further drafting. As a result of that, he might change the position right round. The Government ought to be very careful about the Amendment unless they are certain where they stand. You may even see the right hon. Member for Darwen voting against his own Amendment. He carried the position so easily and simply that it looks as if one of two things must have happened. Either he really did convince the Government on the spot or something had been going on beforehand. The Committee is entitled to know whether the Amendment had been agreed to outside, at Downing Street or some other place, before we came to the House. I cannot see how that information can be denied to us.

One hon. Member said that he hoped that if a voter, through exuberance, thought that one candidate was very good and all the others were useless, and he put down 5 or 6 to the name of that candidate, he should not be disqualified. I had hoped that the Government would give a reply on that important matter, because it seems to me rather hard that a man should be disqualified because he wanted to show that he does not think anything of the other candidates, the first, second, third or fourth, but that he wanted his candidate to come in about the sixth. I do not think that man should be entirely disqualified from exercising any influence upon the election. Another hon. Member said that we ought to make it very clear to the electors that they are not to have plural voting under this system, because they would have a number of choices. It ought to be explained that they will not be voting for four or five different people. That has not been made clear.

I am not quite certain that under this system a person will not get three or four votes. On the first count, your vote scores if you vote for someone who is just below the bare majority. The elector who votes for the candidate who is at the top of the poll does not get another vote, but the person who votes for a candidate who is at the bottom may exercise a vote perhaps three or four times. He scores from every part of the target, although he does not get a bull's-eye in the first instance. The voter who votes for a candidate who nearly gets in really has a bull's-eye, and then he gets an inner, an outer and a magpie. I am rather shocked that the Home Secretary has not given a proper explanation of this matter. The right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) said that a very large number of Liberals voted at the last election. I will not follow up that argument, except to say that a large number of Liberals have not had candidates at the by-elections, and where they had candidates they generally did pretty badly.

On the whole, the Amendment is less bad than the original words in the Bill. I do not like the Amendment, but as I cannot find anyone who is likely to vote against it, and as it will not make the Bill any worse, I shall not oppose it. It will still leave the position that we are doing nothing to improve the electoral conditions. The Bill is against the best interests of getting elections simple and easy. It will not do one thing that is absolutely essential; it will not make the connection between the elector and the House of Commons more close. I know who are my supporters, and hon. Members opposite know who are their supporters in their constituencies. When we are elected we represent, more or less, the whole of the electors. Under the proposed new system, a person may say: "I voted No. 3 preference for you, and it is possible that my vote was counted and helped to put you in." We shall look upon that person in a somewhat different light from that in which we view our supporters to-day.

I would not like a sort of C3 supporter, and I am certain that the electors will not like this system. It seems to be introducing a sort of a betting system. I do not understand betting but I have friends below the Gangway and on the Front Bench who do, and I am assured that the ordinary man likes to put his money on a horse, and to win or lose. There are some people who like to have reserves. It is not right to encourage this widespread form of gambling in elections. It means that instead of having a proper electoral system we are encouraging one of the worst forms of gambling by giving the people a great variety of choices. I suppose we have to accept the Amendment, although I believe that it will add to the complications of the system.

I should like to know from the Home Secretary or the Solicitor-General their grounds for supposing from any example in any other country that this Amendment is likely to be more efficient than the Bill in its original form. If they have evidence to that effect, why did they not give it to the House earlier, or make the necessary provision in the Bill? That would have saved a good deal of time. By not having done that, and by coming to the House of Commons this afternoon and accepting this Amendment without giving any real reason for it, they have treated the Committee in a very bad way. I hope that they will consider the question very carefully, and when it comes forward for further consideration on the Report stage, they may have to deal with it in a different way.


I listened with much interest to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. Williams), but I could not tell whether he desires the Amendment to be accepted or whether he would sooner see it omitted. I do not wish to take up an attitude of absolute isolation, but I confess that I do not like the Amendment. Instead of improving the Bill it seems to me that it will make it worse. The principle of our electoral system hitherto has been that the candidate returned for a constituency was the one who managed to secure the largest measure of support. The principle of the Bill was that where there are more than two candidates and none of them obtains an absolute majority, the supporters of the candidate who has received the least measure of support shall have another chance of deciding who is to be the Member for the constituency. It is now proposed to carry that system on to an endless number of candidates.

It is a proviso for the promotion of freak candidatures. That will be the first and obvious consequence of it. It will encourage every little group by way of advertising itself, by way of putting pressure on those parties which are brought together on larger issues of national policy, whether on the one side or on the other, to adopt the particular fads of these little groups, to start candidatures with a view to collecting a sufficient number of voters to make their second preferences valuable. So you go on through these series of candidates, not to find out whom any body of the electors want to be elected but by the process of elimination to discover which of the candidates is least objected to. That is not the way to recruit the best men for this House or to secure the best electoral system, and, for my part, I register my protest against the acceptance of the Amendment, in speech, even though I may not have an opportunity of registering my protest in the Division Lobby.

7.0 p.m.


The original object was to give to every elector two votes where there were three candidates, to enable the voter to select which candidate he desires should be elected and which of the other two he disliked the least. The proposal now before the Committee is that we should carry that principle on where there are more candidates, so that 1, 2, 3 or 4 could be indicated, and we are told by the Government that they think the Amendment is an improvement. It is suggested that the person who votes for No. 4, a particular candidate, is to be placed in such a position that in certain circumstances his vote may decide the election. It is not a question of indicating a preference for the candidate the elector likes the best but it is giving an opportunity to the elector of showing which candidate he detests the most. To that one he will not give a vote, but he will be able, to show which one he dislikes slightly less than the one to whom he will not give a vote. That vote may possibly decide the election. It is not an indication in the slightest degree of the preference of the voter but merely an indication which of several people whom he dislikes intensely and does not want to see elected to the House of Commons, he dislikes rather less than the absolute last. Such an Amendment, far from being an improvement, is carrying an absurd principle to the limits of absurdity. We know where we are under the present system, which is 7.0 p.m. a perfectly plain and simple system, under which no one has a vote for anybody except the man he wants to see elected. Now, what is to decide the election is not the vote for the man the voter wants to see elected, but the vote for the one of four or five candidates he dislikes least. That is a different principle from what we have hitherto had, and is so utterly foreign to what the electors understand, that it is not only an absurdity but it is positively wrong to introduce it into our electoral law. Therefore, if there is any opportunity to do so, I shall oppose the Amendment.


I feel a difficulty in this matter, although I may be entirely in error. It is very hard to discuss this Amendment without considering also the further Amendment which affects the distribution of the third or fourth preferences. It is simple if you have only a second preference, because then you exclude the last man and distribute his preferences and carry that on until one of the candidates gets an absolute majority. The danger of having third, fourth and fifth preferences is this: These further choices will count equally in the distribution with first choices, with the result that a third, fourth or fifth choice may determine the election of a Member of Parliament. It was made perfectly clear in the examination of the Proportional Representation system made by the Royal Commission that one objection to that system was the great weight given to the low choices, the fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth choice. I do not know how far that applies to the Alternative Vote system, but it seems that the same reasons that were against Proportional Representation because of the great weight given to the late choices would also be valid against the same plan when applied to the Alternative Vote. If that is so, do you not get this? You give undue value to a vote by the voter who has exhausted his power of choice. When a man has voted for one, two or three candidates he has done all he can. He has no subsequent power of selection, and his subsequent choices are determined by name or by pure chance, and you are giving to those subsequent choices a very important weight in determining who shall be Member for the constituency. I dislike the whole of this system. If we are to have the Alternative Vote, I prefer it in the broad form proposed by the Government to the form proposed by the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). He has not explained the way in which he will distribute his later choices. I take it that the essence of his system is that those choices have the same value as first choices. That is wrong, because the more choices you give to a voter, the worse the system becomes, and the less justification there is for taking late choices as being of the same value as first choices.

Commander SOUTHBY

I had not intended to take part in this Debate, but I am emboldened to do so because the swift acceptance by the Government of the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) is sufficient justification for some protest from this side. I do not wish to traverse the ground covered by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), who voiced the objections not only to the Alternative Vote but to this system, which only makes confusion worse confounded. The right hon. Member for Darwen is only adding one more patch to the already crazy patchwork quilt of this Bill. If there is to be a Division, I shall register my protest against the Amendment. I object entirely to the system of Alternative Voting. If there is to be foisted on the electorate this system, which they do not want—and back bench Members opposite will agree that their constituents do not desire it—it is better to have the system put down plainly and straightforwardly, as the Government did in the original draft, than to have this mixed grill of candidates and choices put forward by the right hon. Member for Darwen.

May I point out to the Committee that in racing you have place betting, but even in racing you do not have place betting with a view to having more than three horses named. You might have three candidates and allow the electors to have a second preference, but there is no reason for extending the number of preferences in this way to an unlimited number. As the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said, it is an encouragement to running freak candidates. Although the party below the Gangway are experts at running candidates, even they will not consider it is in their interests to have a number of freak candidates run against them. I will follow my right hon. Friend into the Lobby against an Amendment, which makes confusion worse confounded, and makes a bad Bill worse than it would otherwise be.


May I ask the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) one question? Is it not possible that, if he were one of nine candidates, in the present state of the country the electors might all decide that he should not be the one elected if they could help it, and consequently they would all, or the vast majority, mark the figure nine against his name. If, however, they were so unable to distinguish between the other candidates that their preferences were equally split between them, does it not follow that the right hon. Member would get in although the electors were determined not to have him?


I have been asked by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) as to

what precisely I was going to do. A series of speeches has followed mine to back up what I said, and the Committee is rapidly turning towards my way of thinking. As all the sensible people in the Committee support me, I hope I shall get some more converts. The Members opposite would vote with me but the Whips are on. Why not take off the Whips? I shall certainly vote against the Amendment because it is making a not very honourable proceeding rather less nice than it is already. It is quite bad enough already, and I shall certainly go into the Lobby against it.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 250; Noes, 129.

Division No. 242.] AYES. [7.12 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Ede, James Chuter Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Edmunds, J. E. Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Alpass, J. H. Elmley, Viscount Kenworthy, Lt. Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Ammon, Charles George England, Colonel A. Kinley, J.
Angell, Sir Norman Foot, Isaac Kirkwood, D.
Arnott, John Freeman, Peter Lambert. Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)
Aske, Sir Robert Gardner, B. W. (West Han, Upton) Lang, Gordon
Attlee, Clement Richard Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George
Ayles, Walter George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Law, A. (Rossendale)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Lawrence, Susan
Barnes, Alfred John Gibbins, Joseph Lawson, John James
Barr, James Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)
Batey, Joseph Gillett, George M. Leach, W.
Bonn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Glassey, A. E. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Gossling, A. G. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Gould, F. Lees, J.
Benson, G. Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Lindley, Fred W.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Lloyd, C. Ellis
Birkett, W. Norman Granville, E. Longbottom, A. W.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Gray, Milner Longden, F.
Bowen, J. W. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Lunn, William
Broad, Francis Alfred Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)
Bromfield, William Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Bromley, J. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Brothers, M. Groves, Thomas E. McElwee, A.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Grundy, Thomas W. McEntee, V. L.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Burgess, F. G. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) McShane, John James
Cameron, A. G. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Cape, Thomas Hastings, Dr. Somerville Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Haycock, A. W. Manning, E. L.
Chater, Daniel Hayday, Arthur Mansfield, W.
Cluse, W. S. Hayes, John Henry March, S.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Marcus, M.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Markham. S. F.
Compton, Joseph Herriotts, J. Marley, J.
Cove, William G. Hicks, Ernest George Marshall, Fred
Cowan, D. M. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Mathers, George
Cripps, Sir Stafford Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Matters, L. W.
Daggar, George Hoffman, P. C. Messer, Fred
Dallas, George Hollins, A. Middleton, G.
Dalton, Hugh Hopkin, Daniel Millar, J. D.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Horrabin, J. F. Mills, J. E.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Milner, Major J.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Montague, Frederick
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Morgan Dr. H. B.
Dukes, C. Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Morley, Ralph
Duncan, Charles Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Rosbotham, D. S. T. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Rothschild, J. de Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Rowson, Guy Thurtle, Ernest
Mort, P. L. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Tillett, Ben
Muff, G. Salter, Dr. Alfred Tinker, John Joseph
Muggeridge, H. T. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Toole, Joseph
Murnin, Hugh Sanders, W. S. Viant, S. P.
Nathan, Major H. L. Sandham, E. Walker, J.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Sawyer, G. F. Wallace, H. W.
Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfelk, N.) Scrymgeour, E. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Sexton, Sir James Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Wellock, Wilfred
Palin, John Henry Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Paling, Wilfrid Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Palmer, E. T. Sherwood, G. H. West, F. R.
Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Shield, George William Westwood, Joseph
Perry, S. F. Shiels, Dr. Drummond White, H. G.
Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Shillaker, J. F. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Phillips, Dr. Marlon Shinwell, E. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Picton-Turbervill, Edith Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Wilkinson, Ellen G.
Pole, Major D. G. Simmons, C. J. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Potts, John S. Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Price, M. P. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Quibell, D. J. K. Sinkinson, George Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Sitch, Charles H. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Rathbone, Eleancr Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Raynes, W. R. Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley) Wise, E. F.
Richards, R. Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Sorensen, R.
Ritson, J. Stamford, Thomas W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Romerll, H. G. Strauss, G. R. Mr. Ben Smith and Mr. Charleton.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Falle, Sir Bertram G. Pilditch, Sir Philip
Albery, Irving James Fermoy, Lord Ramsbotham, H.
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Fielden, E. B. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Atholl, Duchess of Ford, Sir P. J. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Balniel, Lord Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Remer, John R.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Beaumont, M. W. Gritten, W. G. Howard Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Berry, Sir George Gunston, Captain D. W. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Hammersley, S. S. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bird, Ernest Roy Hartington, Marquess of Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Shepperson, Sir Ernest whittome
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Simms, Major-General J.
Boyce, Leslie Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)
Bracken, B. Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Skelton, A. N.
Briscoe, Richard George Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Broadbent, Colonel J. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Smithers, Waldron
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hurd, Percy A. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Buchan, John Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Inskip, Sir Thomas Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Butler, R. A. Iveagh, Countess of Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Carver, Major W. H. Knox, Sir Alfred Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Thompson, Luke
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Thomson, Sir F.
Chapman, Sir S. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Christie, J. A. Long, Major Hon. Eric Todd, Capt. A. J.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Colfox, Major William Philip Makins, Brigadier-General E. Turton, Robert Hugh
Colville, Major D. J. Margesson, Captain H. D. Vaughan-Morgan. Sir Kenyon
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Meller, R. J. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Cranborne, Viscount Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Warrender, Sir Victor
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Wells, Sydney R.
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Muirhead, A. J. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Womersley, W. J.
Duckworth, G. A. V. O'Neill, Sir H. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Penny, Sir George
Edmondson, Major A. J. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Everard, W. Lindsay Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Major Llewellin and Mr. C. Williams.

I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to insert the words, "provided that the votes of a candidate who loses his deposit shall not be transferred to any of the other candidates."

I apologise to the Committee for moving this manuscript Amendment, but hon. Members will agree that I could not have taken any other action in view of the fact that we did not know that the Government were going to accept the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). In the observations I made on that Amendment I emphasised the risk we were running that a few votes low down in the list might affect the result of the election, and I expressed my anxiety as to that Amendment. Then came the speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), who drew a very disquieting, but very accurate picture of what might happen in the case of an election where there were several candidates and in which the result depended upon a few fifth or sixth preferences right down in the list, very likely for a freak candidate. The Amendment I now propose is intended to remove some of that danger.

The House of Commons has by its action in the past in the matter of the forfeit of a candidate's deposit definitely discouraged freak candidates. One of the dangers in the Government's proposal is that the votes given to a freak candidate will count in the result of an election and, surely, it is a reasonable proposal to say that the votes given to a candidate who loses his deposit, that is to say a candidate who does not receive one-eighth of the number of votes cast, a candidate whom the House of Commons has always wished to discourage, should not count when the transfer comes to be made from one candidate to another. The Government, having shown their reasonableness in accepting one Amendment this evening, will, I feel sure, accept such a reasonable proposal as this. If they do not, then they must consider the fantastic results in which we may be involved. A candidate who does not get one-eighth of the votes, a freak candidate, a man who is not a member of any existing party or any organisation, might eventually decide the result of the election. I need use no further arguments in support of so reasonable a proposal, and I hope the Solicitor-General will accept this Amendment in the same spirit as he did the last.


I desire to support the Amendment, not because I am particularly in favour of it, but for a good and sufficient reason, namely, that I think it shows the ridiculous nature of the whole of this scheme and the way in which the Government have absolutely failed to consider our electoral law generally when devising their scheme. It may be that the Attorney-General will-be able to wash away all these difficulties and to show that they do not really exist, but anyone who expects to stand again as a Parliamentary candidate would like to know what will be the law with regard to losing the deposit. There is nothing in the Bill which makes this scheme lit in with the present law under which a candidate loses his deposit if he fails to get one-eighth of the total votes polled. Is the total number of votes polled to be the total of the first preferences, or is it to include the second preferences as well? If so, are second preferences only to count as half a vote or as one vote? And is it not possible, in the case of there being nine candidates—the case I mentioned just now—that if only first preferences are to count for the purposes of losing a deposit, the whole nine candidates might lose their deposit, including the candidate who succeeds eventually in winning the election? [Interruption.] I am not surprised at the laughter of hon. Members opposite, and really if one looks at any Measure proposed by the present Government in a cheerful frame of mind, the only thing to do is to laugh at it. I suggest that by the time we have finished discussing this Schedule we shall be prepared to laugh it altogether out of the Bill.

Lieut-Colonel Sir A. LAMBERT WARD

This Amendment seems to provoke outbursts of mirth on the benches opposite, but it really seems to me as if there is solid ground for the acceptance of some amendment on these lines. If a Parliamentary candidate is so unpopular, or holds such unpopular views, that he polls so few votes as to forfeit his deposit, it must surely mean that his views are so much at variance with the general views held by the constituents that it is impossible for his votes to be reasonably assimilated by any of the other candidates in the election. Therefore, in those circumstances, it seems to me that, as far as the other candidates are concerned, these votes should be null and void. If a man does hold those views and finds that they are upheld by less than one-eighth of the electors, it is only reasonable that his votes should not be added to the votes polled for any of the other candidates. Would the Attorney-General state what actually is the position under the Bill with regard to forfeiting the deposit? If forfeiture of the deposit is still to be held good, what is the minimum number of votes that a candidate can poll and still recover his deposit? It seems to me that with all these troubles of the Alternative Vote, and the possibilities of an infinitely larger number of candidates, the position as it is to-day might be seriously altered.


I cannot help feeling that the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), having had to put in a manuscript Amendment at short notice, has hardly given the matter the thought and attention that it deserves. On further reflection I think he will realise that he has proposed something which might have a disastrous effect on the prospects of his party at the next election. As a well-known sympathiser with the Conservative party, I would mention the sort of thing I have in mind. At the present time there is a temporary truce between the Conservative party and Lords Beaverbrook and Rothermere. No one knows how long that truce will last. Trouble may break out again in all its old frenzies, and there might be a whole series of so-called freak candidates put up against Conservative candidates all over the country, either by Lord Beaverbrook or Lord Rothermere. A certain number of votes might go to a freak candidate, but not sufficient to prevent his losing his deposit. In all probability the second choice in the case of these freak candidates would be the Conservative candidate. The Mover of the Amendment will realise that the Amendment might have the effect of losing 30 to 40 seats to the Conservative party, and in his view and that of some people that would be a disaster to the country. I am only doing the wise and kind thing in pointing out to the right hon. Gentleman and his friends exactly what is the pit that they are digging for themselves.


The speech to which we have just listened has thrown a very strong light on the way in which the Liberal party consider this Bill. They are looking at it solely from the party point of view. We prefer to see how the Measure is going to act with regard to the country as a whole, and whether it is going to be -worked easily. The Amendment raises a point regarding the candidate who loses his deposit. I see nothing in the Bill to repeal Section 27 (2) of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, which says: For the purposes of this Section the nnmber of votes polled shall be deemed to be the number of ballot papers counted; and where the election is held under the system of the transferable vote the number of votes polled by a candidate shall he the number of votes polled by him as first preferences. I believe there is a difference between the system of the Transferable Vote and the system of the Alternative Vote. Therefore the last part of that Subsection does not apply to the Alternative Vote, and we must go back to the first part: For the purposes of this Section, the number of votes polled shall be deemed to be the number of ballot papers counted. Under this system we may well get this result: We may count the number of ballot papers and find that on the first count the candidate who subsequently is elected for that constituency forfeits his deposit. At the same time we get the returning officer saying to him, "You cannot have your £150 back because you did not get a sufficient number of ballot papers on the first preferences. You forfeit your deposit, but still I have great pleasure in declaring you Member of Parliament for this constituency." The possibility of such a thing happening shows the Bill to be exactly what it is. We ought certainly to see that the Bill is put into some sort of order and that we get some sort of instruction on these points.

Commander SOUTHBY

Surely before we go to a Division on the Amendment, we might have some criticism for or against it from the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), who moved the original Amendment. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) spent some time in having a sly dig at the Conservative party. He expressed himself as a great sympathiser, I am sure that the Conservative party is very grateful, but at the same time the hon. Member can find plenty of objects of sympathy in his own party. Surely the right hon. Member for Darwen should be the first to say that we cannot have a Gilbertian situation such as was described by my hon. Friend who has just spoken. Or is it that a situation of that kind is so dear to the heart of the Liberal party that they accept it with avidity. It was not until we had heard of the foolishness of the Amendment just adopted that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea drew up this manuscript Amendment. I hope that we are going to hear some words from the pundits on the Liberal Front Bench on this Amendment. Or is it that they do not like to express a view on an Amendment which they know in their hearts to be a particularly good one?


The right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment must have been struck by a sudden sense of humour when he went out of the House to draw up this Amendment. He will hardly expect a serious answer to the suggestion put forward. Let me deal with one question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Major Llewellin) as to the position of candidates under this Bill and the forfeiture of their deposit. If the hon. Member had read the Amendments which have been made already in the Bill, he would have found that this matter has been dealt with in Clause 8, Sub-section (2), as amended, which amends Section 27 (2) of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, by introducing the words "according to the principle of the alternative vote." The position is fully covered by Section 27 (2) as it stands.


I am much obliged. I see the point, but we are still referred to the second part of the Subsection, and my argument that a man might still be elected although he forfeits his deposit is not invalidated.


The argument, of course, is perfectly possible to put forward, but its practical application is very difficult to imagine.


If these words which the learned Solicitor-General has pointed out are to be substituted, what is to happen about the universities, which at present are under the transferable vote?


If the hon. Member had followed the Amendments so far made, he would have known that they were not a substitution, but were an addition. As to the manuscript Amendment, I would only say that the present position as regards forfeiture of deposit is in order to penalise candidates and not in order to penalise electors. The suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman is one not based upon any theory of reasonableness or justice.


The answer of the learned Solicitor-General shows that he cannot have read the Debates on the Representation of the People Act, 1918. Had he done so, he would have seen that the argument used by the then Home Secretary, Lord Cave, puts a rather different complexion upon the forfeiture of deposits from that just given by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The then Home Secretary, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, said that the provision relating to the forfeiture of deposits was intended to prevent freak candidates. I should have thought that if it was intended for that, it was also intended to prevent the tendency of people to vote for freak candidates. There is no object in preventing freak candidates unless you do something to prevent people voting for them. The provision was originally put in the 1918 Act because of the doings of a certain Mr. Hunnable who stood as a candidate at by-elections all over the country. He suffered from what some people would not think an illusion—that all parties were more or less mad. He thought they were all more or less bad and all more or less mad. There was quite a number of people who shared his views as to the badness and madness of this House. It was to put an end to what had become a considerable nuisance to the country, and to prevent the candidature of such people, that this provision was put into the Bill.

I can understand the feeling of the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway against this Amendment, because his party is rapidly reaching the position of Mr. Hunnable, and regarding themselves, in a mad and bad world, as the only sane and good people. If one looks at the number of votes cast at some recent by-elections it will be seen that a larger proportion of people voted for Mr. Hunnable in the old days than have voted for the Liberal party at some of these elections. As I say, it was to prevent the antics of people like Mr. Hunnable that the Government of the day, when bringing in the Representation of the People Act, made this provision, which Lord Cave described as a provision to prevent freak candidates. Let it be noted that the Government do not intend to alter the Representation of the People Act. All that they have made provision for, if I understood the Solicitor-General aright, is that a candidate who has forfeited his deposit shall not be elected—


The Noble Lord has misunderstood me. The provision is that where forfeiture takes place, the votes which are counted in order to ascertain the forfeiture are to be first preference votes in the case of the Alternative Vote.


I think that the point made by my right hon. Friend who moved this Amendment is a legitimate and logical one. If the State, by the Representation of the People Act of 1918, placed this heavy penalty upon the freak candidate, by taking away his deposit from him, it is not right, after imposing that penalty, that the votes of the people who have been foolish enough to vote for the freak candidate should be counted and should influence the general result. That is a perfectly simple and logical issue, and I do not think that the Solicitor-General, even though he did it in the nicest possible way, is entitled to suggest that my right hon. Friend has his tongue in his cheek in proposing this Amendment. It is a perfectly logical Amendment to a ridiculous Bill, and if in the course of these proceedings, some of the matters discussed are such as to arouse laughter, that is not the fault of those who propose Amendments, but the fault of those who have brought forward such a Bill as this.


I support what my Noble Friend has said. I suppose I am the only Member here who took part in an election at which Mr. Hunnable stood, and the Committee may be interested to learn the platform on which that gentleman sought the votes of the electors of Jarrow. His first item was, I think, hot water pipes for cemeteries. His second was to have coal-mines above ground, and the third was compulsory mixed bathing. On that programme he actually obtained a certain proportion of votes in Jarrow. In doing so he had to erect his own polling booths because he could not find the deposit, and print his own ballot papers. Yet he polled a certain proportion of votes in that constituency which is in one of the most intelligent counties in England. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) I expect took part in that election, and can bear out what I say. I put it to the Committee that electors who vote for a candidate of that sort are not entitled to have their second choices counted. When a voter descends from that romantic level to give a second choice what sort of intelligence is he exercising? I must leave it to the Committee to decide. I cannot define it, but I suggest to the Solicitor-General that this is a serious Amendment and ought to be seriously considered.


The learned Solicitor-General began his remarks by saying that he would not give a serious reply to the Amendment, and I could not help wondering what sort of fee the hon. and learned Gentleman would receive if he made that sort of reply in an ordinary court of law. I cannot understand why this Committee, on a serious Amendment dealing with the franchise, and affecting some 20,000,000 people, should be treated to a reply from the Solicitor-General which would not be tolerated in any other place. The Solicitor-General, later on, made one interesting remark about first preferences. I am not going into the application of first preferences as regards the earlier parts of the Bill, but I should like to know how it is that, until a few minutes ago, when a question was put by my noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) no one had the least idea as to the basis in this Bill, on which a deposit is to be forfeited. Supposing for example that a candidate only polled one-tenth of the total of first preferences. The Solicitor-General has said that we are punishing candidates and not voters. That candidate is to be punished by losing his deposit. But the man who has voted for a candidate who is, presumably, to be regarded as an unnecessary candidate, is to be in exactly the same position as any other voter, and he will be able to transfer his vote to some other candidate. That seems absolutely wrong. His second and third preferences may be given to other candidates and may eventually go to a candidate who obtains the necessary majority. You are punishing the candidate but you are also giving a direct advantage to the man who votes in the first instance for the unnecessary candidate.

What is going to be the effect of this proposal? Lots of people will put up unnecessary candidates, hoping that they will not forfeit the deposit, but not minding very much whether they do or not. We have all in mind a group who would not mind in the least forfeiting a few deposits out of the 400 candidatures which they advertise for the next Election, but the fact remains that such candidates upset the balance in these elections, and take a certain number of electors away from definite and grave issues. If this Amendment is not accepted, the effect of the provision will be to tell people that they can vote for candidates like Mr. Hunnable, and that it will not matter, because they will have another vote. The English elector, as a rule, is kind hearted, and i f there is some poor wretched candidate with hardly any chance, some people are bound to vote for him on the first preferences, with the result that such people will be encouraged to go to the poll. It took me some time to acclimatise my mind to the seriousness of this Amendment. It seemed novel at first, but having considered all its aspects I am certain that even the most degraded of Governments could not do otherwise than accept it. I notice that the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department is in his place. He is a sensible person, more or less, and I feel sure that he would accept this Amendment. It would have the effect of lightening this part of the Bill, and making it less horribly stupid and impracticable than it is, and it would definitely place a disadvantage in the way of people voting for these unnecessary candidates.

8.0 p.m.


I support the Amendment because I think that, without it, the Bill will mean handing over the government of this country to the people who are least able to carry on that government. People who vote for freak candidates are obviously freaks or, shall we say, cranks, themselves, and therefore, their opinions are unstable and of little value in relation to the good government of this country. I know that the section of Members who like to call themselves the Liberal party are not concerned with the good government of the country, but are supporting the Bill because they believe that its operation will improve the chances of their party in returning Members to this House. Therefore, I can understand their opposition to the Amendment, but that observation does not apply either to the supporters of His Majesty's Government or to His Majesty's Opposition. Both Socialists and Conservatives are, each in their own way, concerned with the good government of the country, and therefore, it seems ridiculous that this Amendment should be resisted, because without it we run a grave risk of handing over the selection of Members of Parliament to those who are least able to exercise a wise judgment on that point. Goodness knows, the present system of election produces some very odd and peculiar results. One has only to look at the benches opposite to see how the present law operates in providing the country with—I will not use the expression, freak Members of Parliament—but at any rate, peculiar people as Members of Parliament. Therefore it seems to me that it is the height of folly to run the risk of increasing the oddness and the peculiarities which are already sufficiently in evidence in this House. The logical conclusion of the resistance to this Amendment is to include within the electorate all inmates of lunatic asylums, because it is only people who are verging on that unhappy condition who can be persuaded to vote for such people as the Mr. Hunnable who has been mentioned and indeed for many representatives of the Liberal party. The only objection that I see to this Amendment, and it is not a very serious objection, is that if the Amendment is not incorporated in the Bill, it might easily prevent Liberal candidates from being of any use whatever to anybody, because undoubtedly, as we know from experience, in the vast majority of cases they are at the bottom of the poll, and in a very large number of those cases they are so far at the bottom of the poll that they forfeit their deposit. If they seriously intend to continue running candidates at the forthcoming election, the proportion of their candidates who will forfeit their deposits must greatly increase. The only chance that they have of being of any use to anybody is that some of their votes, useless as they are to themselves, might be

transferred to other and better candidates. But that is a minor defect in the Amendment, and it has so many advantages attaching to it that I shall support it.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 108; Noes, 234.

Division No. 243.] AYES. [8.4 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Albery, Irving James Gritten, W. G. Howard Reid, David D. (County Down)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Gunston, Captain D. W. Remer, John R.
Atholl, Duchess of Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Balniel, Lord Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Hammersley, S. S. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Berry, Sir George Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Simms, Major-General J.
Boyce, Leslie Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Briscoe, Richard George Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Skelton, A. N.
Broadbent, Colonel J. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Smith, Louie W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Smithers, Waldron
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hurd, Percy A. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Carver, Major W. H. Iveagh, Countess of Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Chapman, Sir S. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Thompson, Luke
Christie, J. A. Llewellin, Major J. J. Thomson, Sir F.
Colfox, Major William Philip Long, Major Hon. Eric Todd, Capt. A. J.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wallace. Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Margesson, Captain H. D. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Meller, R. J. Warrender, Sir Victor
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Wells, Sydney R.
Eden, Captain Anthony Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Muirhead, A. J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Womersley, W. J.
Fermoy, Lord Oman, Sir Charles William C. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ford, Sir P. J. Penny, Sir George Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Ganzoni, Sir John Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Pilditch, Sir Philip TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Ramsbotham, H. Captain Sir George Bowyer and
The Marquess of Titchfield.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Burgess, F. G. Elmley, Viscount
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) England, Colonel A.
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Caine, Hall-, Derwent Freeman, Peter
Ammon, Charles George Cameron. A. G. Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)
Angell, Sir Norman Cape, Thomas Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)
Arnott, John Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)
Aske, Sir Robert Charleton, H. C. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)
Attlee, Clement Richard Chater, Daniel Gibbins, Joseph
Ayles, Walter Cluse, W. S. Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Gillett, George M.
Barnes, Alfred John Cocks, Frederick Seymour Glassey, A. E.
Barr, James Compton, Joseph Gossling, A. G.
Batey, Joseph Cove, William G. Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Cripps, Sir Stafford Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Daggar, George Granville, E.
Benson, G. Dallas, George Gray, Milner
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Dalton, Hugh Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)
Birkett, W. Norman Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)
Bowen, J. W. Denman, Hon. R. D. Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Broad, Francis Alfred Dudgeon, Major C. R. Groves, Thomas E.
Bromfield, William Dukes, C. Grundy, Thomas W.
Bromley, J. Duncan, Charles Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Brothers, M. Ede, James Chuter Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Edmunds, J. E. Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Hardie, George D. Mander, Geoffrey le M. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Manning, E. L. Sanders, W. S.
Haycock, A. W. Mansfield, W. Sandham, E.
Mayday, Arthur March, S. Sawyer, G. F.
Hayes, John Henry Marcus, M. Scrymgeour, E.
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Markham, S. F. Sexton, Sir James
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Marshall, Fred Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Herriotts, J. Mathers, George Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Hicks, Ernest George Matters, L. W. Sherwood, G. H.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wont worth) Messer, Fred Shield, George William
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Middleton, G. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Hoffman, P. C. Millar, J. D. Shillaker, J. F.
Hollins, A. Mills, J. E. Shinwell, E.
Hopkin, Daniel Milner, Major J. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Horrabin, J. F Montague, Frederick Simmons, C. J.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Morley, Ralph Sinkinson, George
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Morris, Rhys Hopkins Sitch, Charles H.
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Mort, D. L. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Muff, G. Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Muggeridge, H. T. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Kelly, W. T. Murnin, Hugh Sorensen, R.
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Nathan, Major H. L. Stamford, Thomas W.
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Stephen, Campbell
Kinley, J. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Strauss, G. R.
Kirkwood, D. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Lang, Gordon Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Taylor. W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Palin, John Henry Tinker, John Joseph
Law, A. (Rossendale) Paling, Wilfrid Toole, Joseph
Lawrence, Susan Palmer, E. T. Viant, S. P.
Lawson, John James Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Walker, J.
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Perry, S. F. Wallace, H. W.
Leach, W. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Phillips, Dr. Marion Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Picton-Turbervill, Edith Wellock, Wilfred
Lees, J. Pole, Major D. G. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Lindley, Fred W. Potts, John S. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Lloyd, C. Ellis Price, M. P. Westwood, Joseph
Longbottom, A. W. Pybus, Percy John White, H. G.
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Quibell, D. J. K. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Lunn, William Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Raynes, W. R. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Richards, R. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Williams, T. (York. Don Valley)
McElwee, A. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
McEntee, V. L. Ritson, J. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston) Romerll, H. G. Wilson, R. J. Narrow)
MacLaren, Andrew Rosbotham, D. S. T. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Rothschild, J. de Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Rowson, Guy
McShane, John James Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Salter, Dr. Alfred Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.

Sir Dennis Herbert.


On a point of Order. There is a manuscript Amendment in my name, and I do not know whether it has received your attention, Mr. Dunnico, but it should come in as a proviso.


I have considered that Amendment, but I do not select it.


I beg to move, in page 6, line 13, at the end, to insert the words: (2) At an election conducted in accordance with these rules the counting of the votes shall not be commenced until the day succeeding the day of polling.

The Amendment is a very simple one in principle, and I am moving it in the interests and at the request of some of those who are concerned with the dullest part of elections, the hard work, namely, the returning officers and those who work with them at the polling booths and in the counting rooms. The object of the Amendment is to provide that where an election is conducted under these principles of the Alternative Vote, the counting of the votes shall not be commenced until the following day. There is always pressure on the part of candidates and others who are anxious to see the result, to commence the counting at the earliest possible moment. That is a very good thing to be done to get it out of the way where it can easily be done, but hon. Members will know that in many cases, where the counting is rather more complicated, by the number of candidates or something of that kind, particularly in borough constituencies with two Members and with, say, five candidates, the voting and the counting are more complicated, and it takes longer.

It must be admitted in all seriousness that the counting under this system of the Alternative Vote must be rather harder work, take rather longer, and require a little more care than the ordinary counting in a perfectly straightforward election for one seat between only two candidates. Therefore the object of this Amendment is to protect those hardworking officials—to whom we always move and second votes of thanks—in order to relieve them from the pressure, which we are only too anxious to put upon them, of sitting up late at night after a hard day's work doing a very important job. In the circumstances, it is only reasonable that the request which has been made to some of us by a number of men who hold the posts of returning officers should be acceded to and that it should be provided that the counting should not take place until next day.

It is in the interest of the candidates themselves and of all concerned that the counting should be done correctly, without the difficulties, the delay, and the hard work which are entailed where mistakes are made. It takes a long time to reconcile the apparent result of the count with the actual number of votes polled. That kind of thing is likely to be enhanced where the counting of votes is done on the principle of the Alternative Vote if the people counting are tired out and sleepy after a hard day's work, and are feeling that they ought to be asleep and resting. It would be much better and simpler for all concerned that in these circumstances the counting of votes should not take place until the following day. In the Amendment, as I have it on the Paper, the last word is "election," but that, of course, should be "polling."


This is a small matter, but it is for the convenience of the officials who have to conduct elections, and I do not think that it will hurt the candidates. To count the votes on the day of the polling is only a matter of personal convenience, but, if we have won, it is just as pleasing to get the knowledge of that the next day, and, if we have lost, the evil moment is postponed. This Amendment expresses the strong desire of those concerned in the matter, and I hope that the Government will see their way to grant this small concession.


I cannot understand this anxiety to put these words into the Measure. At the present time, there is nothing to compel the counting of votes on the same day as the polling, and surely we can leave it to the discretion of those in charge of the election. If they find that it is too difficult a task to undertake to count the votes on polling day, they can decide to do it on the following day. I hoped to see the hon. Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) rise and inform the hon. Member for Watford (Sir D. Herbert) that he knows the result of his election by half-past nine. In Manchester, they are able to have the result out within an hour and a half of the close of polling, and it will not take a great deal longer in a city of that type under this scheme. I am amazed that the hon. Member for Watford should begin to say that we must have all our conduct regulated by Act of Parliament.


I am in sympathy with this Amendment in view of what will happen under the Bill. If there be a closely contested election, and there has to be some transference of votes, the counting will go well on into the morning hours before the result can be declared With the possibility of polling being continued until nine o'clock, there is a tendency for votes to be counted next day, and it would be an advantage to make the practice universal. My own experience is that we should count the votes the next day. That would obviate the anxiety caused by waiting until the votes are all in, when everybody seems to be in a hurry, and the polling clerks, the returning officer, the candidates and everybody concerned seem to be excited. A little reflection and waiting would be better for everybody all round. If I were free, I would vote for the Amendment.


I have a great deal of sympathy with the object of this Amendment, and I fully appreciate the motives of the hon. Gentleman in submitting it to the Committee. I wish a larger number of Members were present and that we had time for a fuller discussion on this question, because it is a matter which I should like the Committee to decide in the light of the expressed opinions of many Members. In the absence of those opinions, let me submit one or two points with regard to the Amendment. It is, as the hon. Gentleman said, a simple Amendment, but it raises considerations touching a matter of natural community excitement, which you cannot set aside as though it did not exist. We must consider not merely those who have to do the work in counting the votes, but the electorate and the public. Whatever is said about politicians, there seems to be a great eagerness on the part of the public generally to know who has won. Therefore, it will make a great demand on public patience to ask them to keep themselves in check not merely for a day, but, it may be, for a week-end.

The hon. Gentleman drew attention to the error in his original Amendment, and pointed out that the word "election" would not be the proper word, and that the right word should be "polling." If that alteration were made, this would be the position. You would have elections on a Saturday, as in very many cases they do take place; in the case of a general election, there is a preference in a large number of cases for Saturday. My first four or five contested elections were always on a Saturday. At any rate, you may depend upon it, there will be a large number of cases where the election will be on a Saturday. I am certain the hon. Member would not desire that the votes should be counted on a Sunday, but according to the terms of the Amendment, that is what the law would require in such a case.


I think Sunday is a dies non from the legal point of view.


I may stand corrected in that respect, but I am a little afraid of accepting that conclusion in view of the terms of the Amendment. I was only pointing that out as a danger, and not suggesting that it was the final consideration against the Amendment. The real argument against it is that put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly), who has pointed out that the law at present permits the votes to be counted either on the day of the poll or the day after, and that being the position there is scarcely strong ground for urging that it should be made compulsory to defer counting to the next day. It has been said that if this Bill becomes law a longer time will be required to complete the counting, and that is true, but is it not certain that in those circumstances those who decide these matters locally in consultation with the representatives of the different parties would take all such considerations into account? Probably they would more often than not decide that in the changed circumstances it was better to have she count on the day after the poll. Taking all things into consideration I fear that a case has not been made out for changing the law so as to institute compulsion, and therefore I must ask the Committee not to accept the Amendment.


I think the Home Secretary has failed to deal with the most significant argument put forward, the argument of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker). It may seem queer, that I should be reinforcing his argument, but I wish to do so. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) appears to be running in blinkers. That may enable him to see his immediate opponents, but it does not enable him to see the future of the course which he is advocating. This Bill will mean that wherever there are more than two candidates there will be two counts instead of one, and that, roughly speaking, the time of counting will be doubled in every case. I do not think the hon. Member for Rochdale has taken that into consideration.


Yes, I have.


Then I cannot think that his remarks about the extraordinary speed of counting in Manchester, and how they get the result out by half-past 9, has any relation to the case. If Manchester stops polling at 8 o'clock and takes an hour and a half to count the votes now, they would then take another hour and a half, and, if there were four candidates, yet another hour and a half. The hon. Member for Leigh has pointed out a fact that we all know very well, that in a constituency like mine in the south of England the Labour party always like to keep the poll open to 9 o'clock. They like to do that—and they have a right to demand it—against the general, the majority, feeling of all the population except their own supporters, who, unfortunately, are a minority. [Interruption.] It is a minority which has shown no tendency to grow since I have been there. The feeling of the returning officer, the feelings of the poll clerks, the whole feeling of the borough, is against them. If this question is left to the discretion of the local officials, consider the power of exercising pressure which will be put into the hands of the returning officer. Acting perfectly fairly, but, still, with the idea of his own convenience, and after consulting the other candidates, who may wish to have the poll closed earlier—he will be able to say to the Labour candidate, "Of course, if you insist on the poll being kept open to 9 o'clock you cannot have the result of the poll declared until the next day."

The argument used by the Home Secretary lends force to that danger, because there is a public feeling in favour of having the poll declared as soon as possible, and therefore the returning officer, in making that threat, will have behind him a large element of popular approval from all parties who do not want to be defrauded of this moment of enthusiasm on the night of the poll, even if it comes after the hour at which the public houses are closed, as it will. In a part of the world such as my constituency that will put the Labour candidate at a considerable disadvantage. The hon. Member for Rochdale may smile.


I do.


I am afraid the hon. Member is quite incapable of supposing that any party man ever looks at any problem from the point of view of the public weal, but in spite of that natural bias on his part I think there are hon. Members opposite who will know that I am describing bare facts. I want to remove the possibility of the returning officer exercising that kind of pressure upon the local leaders of the Labour party. I want it to be clearly laid down that whether the poll closes at 8 o'clock or 9 the declaration of the result will take place on the succeeding day. I do not believe there is a single Member of the Labour party who has had real experience of constituencies where the Labour party have been in a permanent minority in the South of England ever since the Labour party began who will not appreciate the desirability of taking out of the hands of the returning officer the possibility of creating prejudice.


After the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite I am more than ever inclined to oppose this Amendment. I do not agree with the premises on which this Amendment is founded. I have not yet accepted the view that there will be all this complexity about this system of voting. It has been my experience that it is difficult enough to get electors to cast a single vote, and I think the picture which the Opposition have so carefully drawn about freak candidates and irregular methods of voting will not be seen in reality. In any case, I stand for something like local determination as to when the votes shall be counted. The Noble Lord has thought round his own problem, and I am thinking round mine. I do not want the count in my constituency to be put off till next day, and there is no earthly reason why it should be. We can allow it to be a matter for determination between the parties and the candidates, their agents and the returning officer. No damage will be done. I do not share the view of the Mover of the Amendment that returning officers wish to put off the work of counting. As it is, I think they find the proceedings from the date of nomination of candidates to the declaration of the poll more than sufficiently protracted.

My experience at every election in which I have fought and participated, is that the people want to get the job over as soon as possible. The Home Secretary has said that we have to consider the public point of view, and not merely the party point of view of the candidates. As a rule an election night is a gala night, and I think there is too much of a tendency to allow important events in our national life to die down. I do not care if the counting goes on into the small hours. I have seen mafficking scenes take place, and I see no reason why, in the case of a great national event like a General Election, people should not celebrate it, and sit up all night if necessary to hear the result. I do not know that many returning officers are asking for an Amendment such as the one we are considering, but if the returning officer has some particular point of view on this question, he can exercise it under the law as it obtains to-day. For these reasons, I hope that full support will be given to the course suggested by the Home Secretary.


I rather sympathise with the view which has been expressed by the Home Secretary that there is great need for some elasticity in regard to this question. I know that the circumstances are different in big county divisions, but I know that in all the 10 divisions of Manchester there is no difficulty about announcing the result by 11 o'clock in the evening. If this Amendment is carried, there would probably be a second count, and perhaps the result would not be known until about 12 o'clock, instead of 11 o'clock. I agree with what has been said upon this matter from the public point of view, and it makes all the difference in the world to the great mass of the people in large towns, because they want to hear the actual announcement of the result on the election day and not on the following Monday when the election takes place on the Saturday, because on the following Monday they are all at work. People are stimulated to look forward to the announcement of the result, whereas if they have to wait for 24 hours it would kill their enthusiasm. I am looking forward to great scenes when the results of the next election are declared and ten Conservatives are returned for Manchester; and the enthusiasm of the people will be damped if they have to wait from Saturday night to Monday morning to hear the result. I think that returning officers have always had due regard to the wishes of all parties, and for these reasons I hope this Amendment will not be pressed to a Division. This is a point well worth consideration, and I think it would be a mistake to lay down a hard-and-fast rule.


The Home Secretary said he had a good deal of sympathy with this Amendment, and, quite frankly, he put forward arguments both for and against it. It is unfortunate that in regard to a matter of this kind there are so few Members in the Committee who would really know what has been said on either side if this Amendment went to a Division. In these circumstances, I am willing to withdraw my Amendment if the Home Secretary will raise no objection to the same Amendment being moved again on the Report stage, and perhaps in the meantime the right hon. Gentleman would be willing to find out whether the returning officers hold very strong views upon this question.


I am quite willing to ascertain the views of the returning officers on this question. I agree that the point is one well worth considering, and I will give it further consideration between now and the Report stage.


I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Captain BOURNE

I beg to move, in page 6, line 18, to leave out the words "the candidate who has received the smallest" and to insert instead thereof the words: all the candidates except those two who have received the greatest. It will be within the recollection of the Committee that not long ago the Home Secretary accepted an Amendment by which, instead of dealing with only two of the candidates, the voter could deal with four or five, and so on. After the acceptance of the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) something has to be done to meet the situation, and the situation which has arisen is one which is not uncommon in the case of the Alternative Vole. There are a great many ways of dealing with an election where you have more than three candidates, and we have now to devise an intelligent scheme to put into the Bill. You can knock out the bottom man and transfer his second preferences and then have a fresh count. You can then knock out the next bottom man, and transfer his second preferences and at the same time transfer the third preferences of the man previously knocked out, and so on. Where you have four candidates you have four counts, and where you have five candidates you may have five counts. The system I am suggesting is one which has been in use for 30 or 40 years in Queensland. Where you have four candidates you exclude all except the first two, and the second preferences of the excluded candidate are distributed among those who survive. Suppose that we go back to our old friend A, B, C and D, and imagine that they are returned in that order. I will add E because we have to deal with the larger case. All the candidates except A and B would be excluded in the second count, and, assuming that the preferences of E given to them will be, the second to D, the third to C, and the fourth to B, these preferences would be divided betwen A and B, the total number of votes thus made available for A and B would be ascertained, and whichever of the two receives a majority will be finally declared elected.

I do not put forward this proposal as ideal, but when there are a great many preferences, in an election where there are many candidates, we have to find what is on the whole the simplest and least objectionable method of dealing with the results. It has been claimed by the Prime Minister, I think by the Home Secretary, and by several others who have spoken in favour of the Alternative Vote, that it has the merit of combining the choice of the voter with the Second Ballot in one single operation. I am merely carrying that to its logical conclusion. Under the system of the Second Ballot, you exclude all candidates except the two at the top, the election is then closed, and the voters can only, in the Second Ballot, express their choice as between A and B. I merely suggest that the further preferences given as between the remaining candidates should go to A and B, and that whichever of these two receives the larger number of votes in the final count shall be declared elected.

I want to add one further word in support of this proposal. We have just heard an argument in which hon. Members have taken different views as to the possibility of having counts, under the system of the Alternative Vote, on the same night on which the poll takes place. If the system I suggest were adopted, the maximum number of counts would be two, but under the Government's scheme, where there are several candidates, I foresee not only many counts—which I feel certain would be impossible on the night of the poll—but also the necessity for very complicated transfers, with the result that the electorate will not understand why any given candidate is elected, and, in addition, much greater chances of error. It seems to me, therefore, that since the Government have accepted the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen, some provision must be put into this Schedule to smooth out the position, and I believe that the suggestion I have made is the simplest.


On a point of Order. May I ask you, Mr. Dunnico, which of the Amendments on the Paper we are dicussing in conjunction with this Amendment?


The Amendment that I have called is the one which I have already read to the Committee. There are certain Amendments which are consequential upon this Amendment.


Could you tell us which are consequential?


It is not ray duty to do that at this stage.


I do not think that the acceptance of an earlier Amendment places the Government under any obligation whatever to accept the Amendment which has now been moved. This Amendment proposes the system of Alternative Vote known to us as the Craigmyle scheme, under which all the candidates except the two at the top are eliminated simultaneously, whereas under the Bill candidates are eliminated successively one by one from the bottom of the poll. We think that the better and fairer plan, and the one which best gives effect to the desires and intentions of the electorate, is the plan that I might call piecemeal elimination. The Royal Commission of 1910 pointed out that the system of eliminating simultaneously all the candidates except the first two was, of course, a more Summary method, but that it sacrificed accuracy and did not carry out the intentions of the electors. I understand, or at any rate I have heard, that Lord Craigmyle does not now advocate the method with which his name has been associated. That method is very much nearer to the second ballot than the Alternative Vote proposals embodied in this Bill.

I think, however, that the principal disadvantage of the proposal contained in this Amendment is that the voters cannot know which two candidates will be left after the first count and, when second preferences are given in favour of a candidate other than the two at the top, the intentions of the electorate would be completely destroyed. On the whole, I think that this Amendment must be resisted, if only for the reason so often adduced from the other side of the Committee, that the acceptance of Amendments of this kind would make the Bill even much worse than it is.


I am always puzzled, in dealing with this matter, as to what point I should direct my arguments to, because I am never certain what object hon. Members opposite desire to attain. In other words, I never know what principle I am up against. The Home Secretary has swept this Amendment aside on the ground that the voter cannot know who the two top candidates will be, and, therefore, has no means of knowing where his Preference Votes will be effective. Surely, however, that is an argument against the present scheme of the Government, because no preference given to the man who finds himself at the bottom of the poll will be of any use at all. The Home Secretary might just as well say, "My scheme is hopeless because no voter knows whether the man to whom he is giving his second preference is not going to be at the bottom of the poll, in which case his second preference will never be counted." That kind of uncertainty is inherent in any scheme except that proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) earlier in the day. If you want a scientific scheme, which gets over that difficulty and leaves the voter with the minimum of uncertainty, take the scheme of my right hon. Friend.

The argument of the Home Secretary really misses the point. The advantage of this present proposal is that the voter has not to decide or guess which two candidates will be at the head of the poll on the first count, because, if he gives his preference, as he is now able to do under the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), to all the candidates in the order upon which he decides, he must clearly vote for the two top candidates, and, supposing that there are six candidates, and that he gives his fifth preference to B and his sixth to A, those votes will be counted as second preference votes for all purposes. Therefore, so far from the argument of the Home Secretary being valid, this proposal is precisely a means for ridding the voter of the uncertainty under which he is under the Government scheme in regard to knowing for which candidate it is useless to vote.

Under the Government scheme he has to guess which candidate is going to be at the bottom of the poll. This wipes out that difficulty. He can give his vote for each of the candidates knowing that, whichever two are left in after the first count, his preference as between those two top candidates will tell in the election. What possible argument can there be against that system? It is all very well identifying it with the name of Lord Craigmyle, but it was in operation in Queensland considerably before Lord Craigmyle thought of it. It is rather an instance of our proverbial insularity that we should call it by the name of a gentleman who talked about it rather than by the name of the State which has actually put it into force. You have to choose between this method and that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen, which is death by a thousand cuts. There must be as many counts as there are candidates, or as many counts as there are candidates minus one. It is certainly a more complicated scheme. Those who rejected the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks earlier in the day will prefer to vote for this alternative rather than that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen.

9.0 p.m.

There is an argument of principle which I will put before the Committee, because it is the principle for which we have always stood consistently throughout these Debates. That system, according to us, is best which forces upon the attention of the voter his duty to elect a Government in a majority—not to exercise his vote according to his dislikes, but to vote for the man whom he wants. At any rate, under this proposal you bring that issue as prominently as you can under any Alternative Vote system before the elector. He must in the last resort-exercise his preference between the last two candidates who are in. He does not know which they are, but it becomes essential for him, in stating his order of preference, not to state it on purely frivolous grounds, but to remember when he puts the last "five" and "six," if there are six candidates, against the names of his ultimate choice he is not merely voting for a fifth and a sixth choice, but even then in the last resort, when he is driven, as it were, to his last corner, he must ask himself whether he wishes A or B or 5 or 6 to be the governer of the country for the next five years. That at least is something. This Alternative Vote system is designed to give us the weakest possible executive during the coming years, when what we shall need most is a strong executive with a positive policy. That is why we bate all this idea of the Alternative Vote. That is why every Member on tie other side hates the very mention of the Alternative Vote. Hon. Members opposite dare not talk about this when they go to their constituents, and their constituents never hear of what is going on in the House of Commons. We all feel that the days that we spend on this Bill are part of the byplay of politics. We do not attach any importance to it. The next few years are going to be years for strong executives and not for compromises. It is impossible to rescue much out of the Alternative Vote system. You can never get a strong executive out of it. You will never rid yourselves of compromises and logrolling. At least this proposal saves something out of the wreck and forces every voter to consider in the last resort whether he wishes A or B, whether he wishes this principle or that principle, to govern the country.


There is one striking advantage conferred by the Amendment which I do not think my Noble Friend alluded to, and that is that it absolutely secures a constituency against having as its Member a man who came lower than second on the first vote. This seems to me of the very greatest importance. The Home Secretary said the Amendment would defeat the object of the Bill, which is to give every constituency the representation that it really desires. It is difficult to say that it is the real desire of any constituency which, on the record of the first preferences, returns a man third or fourth or fifth that that man should represent it. If the Amendment is carried, it means that one of two men only can represent the constituency, the man who comes first or the man who come? second on the record of the first preferences. It secures the constituency against what I suggest is the absurd anomaly of having as its representative a man who came third or fourth or fifth on the first preferences. Apart from the larger constitutional issues to which the Noble Lord referred, it seems to me an extraordinarily undemocratic thing to resist the Amendment. By resisting it, you are making it possible for a man whose whole programme attracts so little confidence that he comes third or fourth on the first vote to be the Member of Parliament for the constituency. That cannot be described as democracy. It cannot be described as securing for a constituency the representation that it wishes. I hope hon. Member opposite will realise the true bearing of the Amendment before they vote against it.


I have been trying to find out the respective advantages of these two alternative systems. If there are five or six candidates, you must make 6ve or six preferences.


Under the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), he will have as many preferences as there are candidates—1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, right away down the list.


He will determine A and B also; is that it?


Wherever A and B come, whether they come 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, he will express the preference as between those two, whether he votes for A 3 and B 2, or A 6 and B 5.


I will give an instance in regard to the election of officials of my union. We may have a dozen candidates in the field, and we want to get the man who receives the majority of the votes. If there are 30,000 votes, the two top candidates may get 6,000 each, and a third may get 5,000, and then they will probably tail off. If we cut the one with 5,000, and the remainder with fewer votes, we might probably cut out the winner. It has happened in that way in regard to the appointment of two miners' agents in Lancashire. The two men who came out at the top of the first ballot did not succeed in getting the jobs. We eliminated, first of all the bottom candidate, and continued to cut out the candidates until only four candidates were left in the final voting, and, strange to say, the two candidates who had come out at the top of the first ballot did not get the jobs. Therefore, if we wish to stand for democracy, as we understand democracy in our trade unions, we should not be doing right if we agreed with what hon. Members on the opposite side of the Committee have said.


The hon. Member pointed out that the number of candidates was reduced according to certain proportions. He did not take a fresh count on the elimination of each individual.


There were 12 candidates in the election, and we knocked out four on the first occasion, and four on the second occasion, and it so worked out that the two men who were at the top on the first occasion did not get the jobs. I agree with the Noble Lord that the whole thing is complicated. I am certainly not at all in love with the Bill, but as it is before the Committee one has to direct his attention towards getting the very best out of it without confusing the electorate. Whatever hon. Members opposite have in their minds in an endeavour to make this a better Bill, their proposal on this occasion is not a good one. I think that the view adopted by the Home Secretary is the proper one, and I shall support him on this occasion.


There is not very much between the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) and ourselves in regard to this Amendment. He was dealing with a question where there were 12 candidates for two vacancies. In the majority of cases I do not think that there will be more than about four, five, or, at the outside, six candidates for one vacancy. The hon. Member eliminated four candidates, and then four again, and then came to the last four. Therefore our way is very little different from his as far as proportions go. We say that in an average electorate there will probably be three or four candidates, and if we take the two top candidates as reasonably certain of getting in, they correspond with the proportion of tour candidates instanced by the hon. Member. He takes out four candidates and then another four. We should do it a little differently from that, though there would not be very much difference. We should eliminate them down to two, and the votes of the candidates who were eliminated would be divided between those two. If you have five or six candidates, it is almost certain that the bottom candidate will lose his deposit.

The Government way, which, I think, is very slow and cumbrous, would appear to be that you would eliminate the bottom candidate and use his votes, you would eliminate the fifth candidate and use his votes, you would eliminate the fourth candidate and use his votes, and you would use precisely the same process with regard to No. 3 candidate and so on, whereas we should eliminate all the candidates down to two. Let me illustrate a little further how hopeless the position is going to be, unless you have a simpler process of elimination. If you have five candidates, and on your first count you find that No. 5 candidate has only 1,000 votes or even less, or that the fourth and fifth candidates between them have only 3,000 or 4,000 votes out of a total of, perhaps, 30,000 or 40,000, you have to go through the voting papers of No. 5 candidate and add them to other candidates. If there are five candidates and the requisite proportion has been obtained, it really means that the lowest and the worst has the deciding votes. The Government have not made the position clear.

I come to another point, which ought to be emphasised. It was the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst), that as far as this Amendment is concerned you restore the balance that has been taken away. It would let the people know that if they are voting for the first three candidates we are restoring the direct power to the man who gets the largest number of first preference votes. That would mean that the man whom the largest number of people wish to be returned as their member, or the candidate who has the second largest majority of people who want him to be returned as their own member would be so placed that the choice would be brought down between those two candidates. It would not be necessary to go down the list so far as the candidate who has the third or the fourth largest majority of people who want him to get in, but the position would be restored in favour of the first or second favourites in the first preferences. We know that the Government are forced into this position and that their difficulties are enormous. We have great sympathy with them, but I do say that all the arguments are in favour of doing something to restore the balance which is being taken away from the first choices of the electors, and that can be done by our series of Amendments.

I have never been able to understand how, if there are five candidates, the voter who has voted three, four and five will know whether or not in the long run he has voted for a particular person. It is impossible if one tries to work out the figures to discover how the ordinary voter who has voted for his candidate, Mr. Jones, will know, if Mr. Brown gets in, if Mr. Jones is five, four or three, how his vote has worked out in the final result. The procedure of the ballot being secret, it is difficult to know how the declaration will be made. If our Amendment were accepted, the system would be simplified and every voter who gave his vote three, four or five, would be able to know how his vote was counted in the first choice. In that way there would be a more direct connection between the voter and the Member.

We ought to have a straight answer from the Government why they cannot accept our Amendment. They accepted an Amendment earlier to-day from another part of the House. Surely, when we on this side, who represent a very great interest in the country and a very large number of votes ask them to give consideration to our series of Amendments, we are justified in asking that for once in connection with this Bill we shall be given some alleviation and help from the Government. We have had nothing offered to us. I hope that the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) will press the point and that we shall be able to extract one small crumb of comfort from the Government, and that we shall be able to do something to make a disgraceful Schedule better than it is.


I was very much interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker). He seemed to go a very long way in support of our Amendment. As far as I understood his case, there were 12 candidates and they were eliminated not piecemeal but in blocks. Why were they eliminated in blocks?


They formed fours.


The hon. Member says that they formed fours and were eliminated in fours. I imagine that they were eliminated in fours because it would have been clumsy to have eliminated them piecemeal, one by one. Am I right in assuming that that was so?

Mr. TINKER indicated assent.


That is a strong argument in favour of our Amendment. We are faced with an extraordinarily complicated system, under which we shall have a whole series of counts, going on, maybe, for days. The electorate will be muddled as to what is happening, and at the end the candidate who may be the least expected to win may be declared the winner. I should have thought that it would be much better to adopt the simpler system which was accepted in principle by the hon. Member's union, and to make the elimination in blocks, and to give quite definitely a preference to the candidates who come in first or second or, as my hon. Friend behind me suggests, first, second or third. Candidates who come in first, second, or third are entitled to some advantage.


The Amendment only says the first two.


My hon. Friend behind me said that he did not think the first two was sufficient. If there was a general wish on the part of the Committee to extend it to three, I should be willing to extend it to three. We are in agreement with the hon. Member opposite that it is much better to make the elimination by blocks rather than by the complicated and cumbrous system proposed by the Home Secretary. It has not been sufficiently kept in mind that the system we are proposing from this side of the House has been working for a number of years in Queensland. We are making a proposal upon the lines of what has been happening in one of the few parts of the world where the Alternative Vote has been applied. I should have thought that that was a strong argument for its practicability. For the best part of a generation we have seen in operation in Queensland this simpler system under which all candidates are eliminated except two. The preferences of the eliminated candidates go direct, without a whole series of different counts, to one or other of the first two.

It seemed to me as I listened to the Home Secretary that he was really speaking on a brief that had been prepared for him before he accepted the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). He seemed to think that under our proposal the preferences of the eliminated candidates would not count. That might have been the case before the Committee accepted the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Darwen, but, since that Amendment has been accepted, that criticism cannot be made against our proposals. The later preferences of all eliminated candidates would all count for one or other of the first two candidates. The whole of the Home Secretary's speech was totally irrelevant to our Amendment after the passing of the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Darwen. I am waiting to hear the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen on this Amendment for the reason that the Home Secretary described our proposal as being similar to the proposal made by Lord Craigmyle, one of the Liberal delegates to the Ullswater Conference. Lord Craigmyle made this proposal in some detail and argued it before the conference. He not only circulated a memorandum on the subject to members of the conference, but, very much to the annoyance of the Chairman, he also circulated it to the Press. That was his affair and not ours.

In any case, it made this proposal all the more public, and, as far as I remember, the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway accepted the proposal. As far as I know he never made the least criticism of its details, but he has since seen fit to sit silently while the Government threw over the proposal, so pleased was he with the fact that the one Amendment which the Government have accepted so far was the one he made earlier in the day. That makes us think all the more that the criticism which we made on the main provisions of the Bill earlier in the Debate are well founded and that the whole Debate is a tactical arrangement between the Government and a few right hon. Gentlemen, below the Gangway. In any case, I hope I have said enough to lead the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway to explain to us why it is that he accepted without a word of criticism Lord Craigmyle's proposal only a few months ago, and why now, by silence, he seems to imply that he has thrown it over and will not support our Amendment when we go into the Lobby in a short time.


I did not intend to intervene in this Debate, because I am anxious to fulfil what I am sure is the eager desire of hon. Members above the Gangway, namely, to make our proceedings as concise as possible in order that we may come to a rapid decision. Since, however, the right hon. Gentleman has desired me be make a few observations, I cannot refuse to respond to his appeal out of courtesy to him. It is the ease that Lord Craigmyle in the Ullswater Conference did propose a plan of the Alternative Vote which was on the lines of this Amendment. I did not agree with that particular part of that memorandum at the time. It never came to the discussion of details, as far as I remember, at the conference, or I should have made that plain. I am not quite sure whether Lord Craigmyle now adheres to his previous views on that particular detail. For my own part, I do not agree with this Amendment, for the simple reason that if we were to have it, in a number of cases it would really defeat the purpose we have in view in proposing the method of the Alternative Vote.

I will give a simple illustration. Suppose that there are four candidates, and three parties, and one of them is split. Hon. Members above the Gangway will permit me to assume, again, that, the Conservative party is split between an official Conservative and say, an Empire Crusade candidate. Let us assume that if not so divided they would have a majority, but, being divided, their two candidates are at the bottom of the poll on the first count, the Labour candidate having 10,000 more or less votes, the Liberal 10,000 more or less, and the two Conservative candidates 6,000 each. According to the proper working of the electoral system, they should be able, if they so wish, to combine their votes so as to come out at the top of the poll. That would be the case if the arrangement in the Bill, as amended in the proposal which has been accepted, were to operate. If this Amendment were to operate, on the first count it would be Labour 10,000, Liberal 10,000, official Conservative 6,000, and unofficial Conservative 6,000. The last two on the poll would be struck out on the first count, and would not be able to give their preferences to one another. They might not have given their preferences at all to the Labour or Liberal candidates and all that would happen would be that the Conservative majority of 12,000 as against 10,000 for each of the other two

parties would have been defeated, and at the very beginning of counting they would have been entirely ruled out of the running and have no chance whatever of coming to the top of the poll. That obviously is wrong, and therefore I think the Amendment should be rejected.


I thank the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway for his solicitude for the Conservative party, but I would point out that the instance he gives really does not move me at all. In the case he mentions, the 12,000 united Conservative votes would, in the final count, be far overruled by the fact that 10,000 more or less Labour votes and 10,000 more or less Liberal votes would have been interchanged, and the Conservatives would have been beaten in the end by 20,000 votes against 12,000 votes instead of at the beginning by 20,000 votes to 6,000 votes. If I am going to suffer execution, I would rather suffer it by the summary and painless method of execution than by a process of death by a thousand cuts.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 241; Noes, 119.

Division No. 244.] AYES. [9.34 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Cluse, W. S. Granville, E.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Gray, Milner
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Cocks, Frederick Seymour Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Compton, Joseph Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Ammon, Charles George Cove, William G. Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)
Angell, Sir Norman Cripps, Sir Stafford Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)
Arnott, John Daggar, George Groves, Thomas E.
Aske, Sir Robert Dallas, George Grundy, Thomas W.
Attlee, Clement Richard Dalton, Hugh Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Ayles, Walter Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)
Barnes, Alfred John Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)
Barr, James Denman, Hon. R. D. Hardie, George D.
Batey, Joseph Dudgeon, Major C. R. Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Dukes, C. Haycock, A. W.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Duncan, Charles Hayday, Arthur
Benson, G. Ede, James Chuter Hayes, John Henry
Birkett, W. Norman Edmunds, J. E. Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Herriotts, J.
Bowen, J. W. Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Hicks, Ernest George
Broad, Francis Alfred Elmley, Viscount Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)
Bromfield, William Foot, Isaac Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Bromley, J. Freeman, Peter Hoffman, P. C.
Brothers, M. Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Hollins, A.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Hopkin, Daniel
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Horrabin, J. F.
Burgess, F. G. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Gibbins, Joseph Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) Jones, Llewellyn-, F.
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Gillett, George M. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Cameron, A. G. Glassey, A. E. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
Cape, Thomas Gossling, A. G. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)
Chater, Daniel Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Kelly, W. T. Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Mort, D. L. Simmons, C. J.
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Muff, G. Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Kinley, J. Muggeridge, H. T. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Kirkwood, D. Murnin, Hugh Sinkinson, George
Lang, Gordon Nathan, Major H. L. Sitch, Charles H.
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Newman. Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Law, A. (Rossendale) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Lawrence, Susan Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
Lawson, John James Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Leach, W. Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Sorensen, R.
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Palin, John Henry Stamford, Thomas W.
Lees, J. Paling, Wilfrid Stephen, Campbell
Lindley, Fred W. Palmer, E. T. Strauss, G. R.
Lloyd, C. Ellis Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Longbottom, A. W. Perry, S. F. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Thurtle, Ernest
Lunn, William Phillips, Dr. Marion Tillett, Ben
Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Picton-Turbervill, Edith Tinker, John Joseph
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Pole, Major D. G. Toole, Joseph
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Potts, John S. Tout, W. J.
McElwee, A. Price, M. p. Viant, S. P.
McEntee, V. L. Pybus, Percy John Walker, J.
McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston) Quibell, D. J. K. Wallace, H. W.
MacLaren, Andrew Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Rathbone, Eleanor Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Raynes, W. R. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
McShane, John James Richards, R. Wellock, Wilfred
Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Mander, Geoffrey le M. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Manning, E. L. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Westwood, Joseph
Mansfield, W. Ritson, J. White, H. G.
March, S. Romerll, H. G. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Marcus, M. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Markham, S. F. Salter, Dr. Alfred Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Marshall, Fred Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Mathers, George Sanders, W. S. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Matters, L. W. Sandham, E. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Messer, Fred Sawyer, G. F. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Middleton, G. Scrymgeour, E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Millar, J. D. Sexton, Sir James Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Mills, J. E. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Milner, Major J. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Montague, Frederick Sherwood, G. H.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Shield, George William TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Morley, Ralph Shiels, Dr. Drummond Mr. T. Henderson and Mr.
Morris, Rhys Hopkins Shillaker, J. F. Charleton.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Shinwell, E.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Long, Major Hon. Eris
Albery, Irving James Everard, W. Lindsay Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Falle, Sir Bertram G. Margesson, Captain H. D.
Atholl, Duchess of Ford, Sir P. J. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Berry, Sir George Ganzoni, Sir John Muirhead, A. J.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Gower, Sir Robert Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Pilditch, Sir Philip
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Gritten, W. G. Howard Purbrick, R.
Boyce, Leslie Gunston, Captain D. W. Ramsbotham, H.
Briscoe, Richard George Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Broadbent, Colonel J. Hammersley, S. S. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'f'd., Hexham) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Remer, John R.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclcsall)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Chapman, Sir S. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Christie, J. A. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Colfox, Major William Philip Hurd, Percy A. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Simms, Major-General J.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Dalkeith, Earl of Iveagh, Countess of Skelton, A. N.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J- A. F. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Duckworth, G. A. V. Kindersley, Major G. M. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Eden, Captain Anthony Leighton, Major B. E. P. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
England, Colonel A. Llewellin, Major J. J. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Todd, Capt. A. J. Womersley, W. J.
Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Turton, Robert Hugh Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F. Warrender, Sir Victor Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. Waterhoue, Captain Charles
Thompson, Luke Wells, Sydney R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Thomson, Sir F. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay) Sir George Penny and Captain
Titchfield, Major the Marquess of Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.) Wallace.

I beg to move, in page 6, line 22, after the word "as," to insert the word "half".

This Amendment aims at giving only half a vote to the second choice indicated on a ballot paper by a voter. When I put this Amendment down I little imagined that five hon. Members of the Socialist party would add their names to it, and I hope that when it goes to a Division they will be faithful to their first choice and not record their votes on the principle of the second preference. The aim of the Amendment is to mitigate to some extent the grave injustice which the Bill inflicts upon the majority of voters in any constituency. The Bill in its present form gives those voters who vote for the last of three candidates, or any number of candidates, two votes when those who have voted for the first or second candidate have only one vote. Although in theory it may be that the votes of those who have voted for the first or second candidates are recounted on the second count, what really happens is that those whose votes are thrown away on the last candidate have a second vote which can be attributed to one of the surviving candidates. Those who have voted for the first or second candidate have no second vote in those circumstances. The aim of the Amendment is to mitigate that unfairness by giving those electors who vote for the bottom candidate on the first poll one and a half votes instead of two. That is much fairer than the proposal in the Bill. I submit, in the first place, that it is much fairer to the majority of the electors in anly constituency. In addition to this, from the point of view of those who seek to carry out the true meaning of democracy, it is obvious that a man who records his vote in favour of a candidate by way of second preference has not got the same zeal and desire to get that candidate returned. So that if you give one vote to his first preference and one half vote to his second preference, you are really carrying out that elector's true intentions much more faithfully than if you give one vote for his first choice and one for his second choice.

A third reason is that this scheme is less likely to disturb the true view and opinion of any constituency. The best test for the type of policy which a constituency desires to have forwarded is the number of votes recorded on the first ballot. It is idle to suggest that an elaborate and complex system of the transferable and Alternative Vote, which may go on, count after count, and may have the effect of ultimately returning the man who was third or fourth or fifth in the first ballot as the Member for the constituency—it is idle to suggest that such a result represents the true political opinion of any constituency. For those reasons I suggest that the Amendment provides a fairer and more democratic scheme than the scheme provided in the Bill. It has also collateral advantages. Hon. Members who were in the House when the last Amendment was debated will remember the point made by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), who said that what we ought to aim at was to have a strong executive Government in this country, and that the Bill was designed to make a strong executive Government impossible.

The smaller the power which you attribute to a second preference the less chance there is of the survival of a third party in English politics. My contention is that it is an unhealthy and wrong thing for a nation to be governed, as we are governed now, by a small clique of a small party. That is the inevitable result of the three-party system. The point to which the Amendment is directed is the point of giving such power to the second preference as to inflict upon this country for all time the dominance of a log-rolling and group system in English politics. I cannot see how hon. Members opposite can tolerate a political system which perpetuates an evil which everyone, except the Liberal Members, acknowledges to be an unmitigated evil. The only aim in giving this additional value to the Alternative Vote is to preserve the Liberal party, and the Liberal party is not worth preserving. I think we ought to look forward to a time when the more radical element of the Liberal party will humanise the Socialists and make them less revolutionary than they otherwise would be, while the more thoughtful elements of the Liberal party liberalise us. That is probably a truer goal than the goal which the Bill keeps in view.

By a two-party system you have strong executive Government. Even if you do not agree with the party that is in power it is far better to have a Government that can govern than a Government, like the present one, which cannot. The aim of the Amendment is so to diminish the ill effects of the Alternative Vote that the second preference counts for only one-half the power which the Bill gives it. It is an Amendment which ought to appeal not only to all who believe in democracy but to all who love their country. I welcome the whole-hearted support which we are promised from five distinguished hon. Members of the Labour party. I hope that that promise will come to fruition, and will lead to a reflection in the Division Lobby of what must be the opinion of most thoughtful members of the Labour party.


I desire to support the Amendment, but not for the reasons put forward by the Mover. I hope that the learned Solicitor-General will not have his sympathies alienated by the fact that, through the accident of time, the Amendment has been moved by the Opposition, but that he will give sympathetic consideration to a proposal which has the support of a number of Members on the Labour benches. No one suggests that the principle of the Alternative Vote is a perfect electoral device. Its strongest advocates will admit that it has defects and dangers. It is the purpose of the Amendment as far as possible to lessen those defects. Advocates of the Alternative Vote urge that it is a convenient method of holding a second ballot without going to the difficulties of another election. They say that it frequently happens that trade unions and other bodies elect their officers on the basis of the Alternative Vote or the second ballot. But it is, I suggest, a very different matter indeed when a body is choosing an individual and when it is choosing a Government or deciding on a policy. When the electors are asked to vote in an election they are not asked to say whether they prefer the individual Smith, Jones or Robinson; they are asked to say which party or political philosophy they wish to dominate national affairs for a period. There is, I claim, a considerable difference.

I believe that under the Alternative Vote, as suggested in the Bill, those political philosophies would get damaged in the process; that inevitable compromises would be made between the candidates; that our political creeds would have their salient points rubbed off and their edges blurred, and that virility of thought and action in politics would be at a discount and inertia at a premium. I suggest that a remedy to overcome that danger would be to count the Alternative Vote as a half. Plainly if it only counts as half ft vote, candidates will be only half as anxious to angle for it. The Amendment should be treated seriously. The question may be asked, Why have an Alternative Vote at all I A very strong case may be made out for it in certain circumstances. In an election where the three candidates are our old friends A, B and C, who get 20,000 votes, 19,000 votes and 18,000 votes respectively, possibly there might be a very big preponderance of C's second preference votes, possibly up to 10,000 or 12,000, in favour of B. In those circumstances, it is plainly fair that B should be returned.

May I put another case? Supposing A gets 20,000 votes, B 19,000, and G 4,000, I cannot consider it fair, if C's second preferences are, say, 1,002, that they should displace A and elect B. I believe it would be much fairer if C's 1,002 second preferences only counted as 501, and if A remained at the top of the poll. In other words, unless there was a very big preponderance of second preferences of the rejected candidate, for the second man, then the first man should remain at the head of the poll. I also believe that the second vote has not the same value in this matter as the first. It is plainly impossible to say with mathematical exactitude what its value is and what its comparative weight ought to be, but I suggest that one-half is a reasonable figure and it certainly has the beauty of simplicity. This Amendment seeks, while retaining the principle and the benefit of the Alternative Vote, to mitigate some of the evil results to the Government of the country which are likely, I believe, to ensue, and it seeks to bring an element of justice into the practical application of the principle which at the moment is absent. I hope it will commend itself to the Solicitor-General and the Committee.

10.0 p.m.


I am very grateful to the Mover of this Amendment in that he has exposed his object-so plainly. He has stated in terms that its object is to eliminate the party which sits on these benches, and I am not altogether surprised that for that purpose he has enlisted the support of five Members from the benches opposite. I would ask hon. Members opposite to realise that they have a short way to fame and favour because, as soon as they begin to enter into these immoral coalitions with hon. Members above the Gangway, they suddenly become "distinguished," they suddenly become "honourable." I expect that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy) was surprised at finding himself referred to from such a quarter as "distinguished." I should think that it must be the first time for many years that that has happened and he knows, now, how he can secure a testimonial to his respectability. The object of the Amendment, apparently, is to prevent log rolling in our public life, but it does not seem to go all the way. Apparently it is only going to say that our politicians are to roll half a log instead of a whole log. Instead of our politics being deprived of the whole of their virality, they are only to be deprived of half their virality. But it is unnecessary to follow into all its ramifications a proposal the object of which have been so plainly exposed. Hon. Members above the Gangway want to have a two-party system, however many parties there may be in the country. It means nothing to them whether the House of Commons reflects the opinion of the country or not. They think it better to have only two parties because then there is one chance in two of being in power and that idea seems to meet with a sympathetic response in at any rate five hearts among those on the benches opposite. But I hope that emotions and temptations of that kind will not rule among hon. Members opposite, in general. There is nothing to be said for this proposal at all. The Mover tried to make out that there was some kind of injustice and that the supporters of our old friend C, who is always so unfortunate, were able to have two votes against one. But that is absolutely untrue, because if the election results in a clear majority for one candidate, then every voter votes once and once only. If there is not a clear majority, then every voter votes twice if he so chooses—that is, if he chooses to indicate a second preference. The only person who has "got a grouse" at all, if there is to be any complaint, is the man who has supported C in the first instance, because whereas the supporters of A and B are able to record once again their unaltered devotion to Mr. A or Mr. B whose merits they so much admire, and therefore to get the dearest wish of their hearts recorded, the supporters of C pay the penalty for being at the bottom and have to be content with indicating a second preference. If anybody is cheated of his full electoral influence it is the supporter of the bottom candidate, and I suppose it is quite right, and that that is the penalty which they pay for being at the bottom, but there is no other penalty paid by anybody. I suggest that the method proposed in the Bill is the only workable one, and that nobody who has considered the question seriously will be misled by these petty calculations of party advantage which have been so nakedly exposed by the Mover of the Amendment.


The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) is under a misapprehension. My hon. Friend has not moved this Amendment to eliminate the party below the Gangway. [HON. MEMBERS: "He said so!"] No, we shall leave that to the electorate and, whatever system may be introduced, if we are to judge from the by-elections at Scarborough and Ashton-under-Lyne, it is quite unnecessary for us to worry about any new arrangement for ensuring that result. This is a reasonable Amendment, and I would ask hon. Members to brush aside the partisan fury which the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough has tried to introduce, and to look at it simply from the point of view of their own practical experience. Let them ask themselves this simple question. Is not the most important vote given by any voter his first vote—the vote which he gives for the party of which he is a member, and for the candidate whom he wishes to see returned? Surely the answer to that question must be "yes," and, that being so, is it not only fair and just that the vote which he really desires to count should count for more than a vote which is of quite secondary importance? I should have thought, therefore, that it was only a fair and moderate proposal that the first vote should count for twice as much as the second.

There is another reason why this Amendment should be accepted, and I commend this argument particularly to hon. Members opposite who have put their names down to it. It has been the experience of countries and territories where the Alternative Vote has been in operation that the swing of the pendulum has been made much greater by the Alternative Vote than it would have been otherwise. I am one of those who, rightly or wrongly, think that any extreme swing of the pendulum is a bad thing from the point of view of the national interest generally. I should have thought in any case that it was desirable for hon. Members opposite to limit this swing to the extent of halving the second vote. It is not for me to advise hon. Members opposite as to their own party interests, but I would certainly have thought, from one's own experience of politics, that it-was very unwise for them to give their support to the proposals of the Bill as it stands, which will quite inevitably make the swing greater against the Government of the day, whatever that Government may be. For these reasons, and they seem to be very good ones, I very much hope, first of all, that the Government will accept the Amendment and, secondly, if it does not accept it, that the House, each Member voting from his own experience as to what he thinks best, will carry the Amendment and improve the Bill to this extent.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

We are very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) for his good advice to us. I would only remind my hon. Friends that they must beware of the Greeks when they come with gifts. This Amendment was put down really at the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. Strauss). I think it is the most sensible Amendment that I have seen on this Bill, and if only we could for a moment forget our party alignments, it would be a very good thing. Let me clear away a misapprehension on the part of the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) and the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith). In this Amendment there is no coalition. My hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth, as is well known, bad to go through certain constitutional forms before putting down the Amendment, and no Members were more surprised than my hon. Friends and I to find that we were in this unholy alliance with the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side. Let me assure the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough that my hon. Friend could have got, not only five, but two score Members to put their names down to this Amendment if he had wished, but only six names were allowed on the Order Paper, and that is why the names of only five Members from this side appear on the Paper.

The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough has taken alarm at a remark of the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side to the effect that the halving of the second preference vote is intended to destroy the Liberal party. That is an admission from the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough that the Alternative Vote will save the Liberal party. I do not want to comment on this at length, but I am very sorry for a party with a great past and with distinguished Members in this House which really thinks this is likely to save them. [Interruption.] I am making a fair debating point, and the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) knows it.

I wish to put one other consideration to my hon. Friends la all our discussions on the Alternative Vote it is supposed that the Liberal party will be the gainers or that the Liberal and Labour parties will be the gainers. I traverse that view. I do not think that that will be the way in which it will work out at all. The great questions of the future are going to be economic questions, and I do not believe even that the main issue at the next election will be such a question, for example, as Free Trade and Protection. I believe that there are far greater issues on which we shall have to fight future elections. There are great questions such as public control of the great services, what we call nationalisation, questions such as Socialism and capitalism, and at elections fought on those issues the second preferences will be weighted against this party, to our detriment. Far from being a Liberal and Labour alliance for the exchange of second preferences, I believe it is far more likely—in fact, I am certain—that in the future, though perhaps not at the next election, the second preference will be given for one of the other anti-Socialist parties.

This Amendment was put down in order that it could be discussed. We are not all voting machines to register the decisions of the party caucuses. It was put forward for fair discussion, and I would like an answer to this question from my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General: Why is it that the second preference should have the same voting rights as the first preference? What is the logic of it? I would ask my hon. Friends on this side, What is the argument to justify the second preference having the same value in the counting of the votes as the first preference? The argument for not giving it is that obviously the second choice should have only half the value of the first. This is an attempt to improve the Bill. We believe it to be fairer and more democratic, and we put forward this proposal quite sincerely and seriously. It has been shown by previous discussions on this Bill how unfairly the proposal at present in the Bill would work. I admit that almost any system that you could devise would have anomalies in it, but we are trying here to remove an anomaly. We put forward this Amendment, as the names attached to it will prove, not in any unfriendly way to the Government, but because we think it is worth discussing, and I would ask the Solicitor-General to give it his most sympathetic consideration.


We were all glad to hear from the last speaker that there were at least two score of his friends around him who had taken a similar view to his on this Amendment. We were also glad to hear that we were not in this House to be mere voting machines, so I hope that he and those two score Members will, at any rate on this occasion, have the courage of supporting this Amendment to give the second preference only half the value of the first preference, because that is quite obviously all that it is entitled to. The only speech that has been made against this proposal, that of the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith), clearly proves from his own words that the second preference should not have the same value as the first. He took three candidates, our old friends, as he called them, A, B and C, and he said that the supporters of A have no reason to be dissatisfied, nor have the supporters of B; the only people who are dissatisfied are the supporters of C. They are dissatisfied because they have had to give a vote for a fellow for whom they did not care to vote as much as their first candidate, and the supporters of C originally did not put as much value on their second preferences as they did on their first. If the voters did not put the same value on the second preferences, why should it be given that value by the statute law of this country? The only speech we have heard against the proposal, therefore, was, in fact, a very strong argument for it. If there be anything said about the difficulty of counting halves, the simple way is to take the whole of the second preference votes, and divide them by two. Until the Solicitor-General speaks we shall have had no real argument against the proposal.


The hon. and learned Member who moved this Amendment stated that it was unhealthy and wrong to have a strong third party. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) has explained that the third party is not the Liberal party, so one presumes that it must be aimed at the Beaverbrook party, or at some such party as the hon. and learned Gentleman is particularly alarmed at in his part of the country. I am not clear how the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks the Amendment would fit in with the Bill now that it has been amended to include first, second, third, fourth, and fifth preferences, if necessary. Are they all to have halves after the first, or are they to have one-half, then one-third, then one-quarter, and then one-fifth? If that be the system, it is one which the Committee has already turned down, because it is the Nanson system on which there has already been a Debate, and which the Committee have decided they do not want. In this system, instead of speaking of preferences five, four, three, two and one, you have to speak of one-half, one-third—

Lieut-Commander KENWORTHY

It would be one-half, one-quarter, one-eighth and one-sixteenth.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman, I am sure, is wrong mathematically. May I explain the point which the hon. and gallant Member desired to have explained why a second preference vote should have the same value as the first preference? The answer is that this system is really equivalent to a system of a second ballot; it has been so explained. After the elimination of the bottom candidate, it is equivalent to starting again, and every voter has a vote for one or the other of the remaining two candidates. In that system, which the Alternative Vote is reproducing, it is obviously right that in the second ballot each voter should have one full vote, and not some have a full vote, and some half a vote. The fallacy of saying, as the hon. and earned Member who moved the Amendment said, that two votes are given by this Bill, is the fallacy which lies at the bottom of this Amendment. Two votes are not given by the Bill. One vote is given, and if that vote becomes useless because of the elimination of a candidate, then the voter has another opportunity of voting. [HON. MEMBERS: "One and one make two!"] Hon. Members opposite are coming on in their mathematics. That, no doubt, is due to the extraordinarily interesting lecture which the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment with reference to n - a, and so on, gave us. The argument in this case is based upon the fallacy that you are at the same time exercising two votes, which you are not doing. You are really exercising the right of the second ballot, although we are making arrangements by which the two ballots can be carried out in one operation, thereby saving time, and it would not be right in the second part of that ballot to say that a certain number of the votes are to be given only a half value. I suggest to the hon. Members on this side who support this Amendment that if they look at the matter from the point of view of the second ballot they will appreciate that we are not really doing what they say.


I do not think the answer of the learned Solicitor-General to the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) is a sufficient one. We on this side deny that the system which the Government will ask us to vote upon in a few minutes' time is the second ballot. It will be apparent to anyone who has listened to the earlier part of the Debate that this scheme differs in many essentials from the second ballot, and, therefore, the question put by the hon. and gallant Member is still unanswered, in my submission. Why should a man's second preference have the same value as his first choice? Or, to put it more simply, why should a voter's second choice have the same value as his first choice? To say that a second choice should have the same value as a first choice is to reduce the representative system to a farce. When a man is asked to vote he obviously skives his vote in favour of a particular candidate, and what the Government are saying is that the man 6hall be entitled to say that in giving his votes he thinks just as highly of another man as he does of the first man, which reduces the system to an absurdity.

I must refer to the ferocious attack, very curious from such a quarter—a case of the mouton enragé—of the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) on an hon. Member of our party. As one who has sat hour after hour through this Debate I feel that we have had far too much of the position of the Liberal party. We are not legislating here with reference to the position of any particular party. What we ought to be concerned with is the advantage or the disadvantage which the country as a whole and the electorate as a whole will get from the Bill. Every speech from the Liberal party has been directed to one purpose and one purpose alone, to show whether or not a particular proposal will or will not help their party. I think their action was very inappropriate, and I would like to apply an analogy from eel fishing. I am very fond of eel fishing in my spare time. It is a form of blood sport to which I am very much given. When the eel is caught it takes a long time to kill it. You may cut off its head, and the rest of the body still wriggles about. You may cut off its tail, and the rest of it still wriggles about. You may stab it with a knife, and still it wriggles about. That is exactly the position of the Liberal party. On any important question we never know in which direction the Liberal party is next going to wriggle.


I regret that my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General could not find it in his heart to accept this Amendment. This Debate has something of a personal interest to me, because one of the first votes I gave in this House was in favour of this principle when it was advocated by a distinguished Liberal Member, Dr. Chapple, who gave as his reason for advancing it that he thought the election by which I had been returned to the House would have had a better result if my hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) had been elected. It is true that he dealt with the principle in another way, and he said that the formula was one which any schoolboy could see and had proved the success of the majority candidate which we all desire to see. In that formula the returning officer multiplied the first preference by two and the second preference by one. What was more remarkable was that the rejection of that Bill was moved by the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst).


That was a Measure for introducing the Alternative Vote.

I opposed it for that reason and there is nothing inconsistent in moving an Amendment to reduce by one-half the disadvantages of the Alternative Vote.


The hon. and learned Member for Moss Side was speaking under the Ten Minutes Rule—I am speaking under the Three Minutes Rule—and he was dealing with the mathematical formula. This is what he said: It combines all the disadvantages of the present system and all the disadvantages of proportional representation without any of the advantages of either. The hon. Member proposes to subvert what has been one of the most important characteristics of our constitution for over 600 years. We are slow in making these changes and it is absurd to make them unless some good ground, something beyond mere mathematical formulas, is adduced in their support."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1923; col. 502, Vol. 161.] I regret that the hon. and learned Member cannot accept this proposal to-night, because, had he done so, he would have been giving some reality to the course which he has taken. Some of my hon. Friends have asked me whether a man's second wife is entitled to only half the affection he gave to his first wife. My answer would be that she would spend a great deal of time listening to a recital of the superior virtues of the first wife, and I cannot help thinking that the candidate who is elected on the second preference votes will always be reminded that the candidate to whom the first preference was given was really a superior persons.

Question put, "That the word 'half' be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 226; Noes, 254.

Division No. 245.] AYES. [10.30 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Betterton, Sir Henry B. Buckingham, Sir H.
Albery, Irving James Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Bullock, Captain Malcolm
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Burton, Colonel H. W.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Bird, Ernest Roy Butler, R. A.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Boothby, R. J. G. Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Campbell, E. T.
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J. (Kent, Dover) Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Carver, Major W. H.
Astor, Viscountess Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Castle Stewart, Earl of
Atholl, Duchess of Boyce, Leslie Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Bracken, B. Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Brass, Captain Sir William Cazalet, Captain Victor A.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Briscoe, Richard George Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)
Balniel, Lord Broadbent, Colonel J. Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Brown, Col. D. C (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)
Beaumont, M. W. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Buchan, John Chapman, Sir S.
Berry, Sir George Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Christie, J. A.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Remer, John R.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Cohen, Major J. Brunei Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)
Colfox, Major William Philip Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Colman, N. C. D. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Colville, Major D. J. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Ross, Ronald D.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hurd, Percy A. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cranborne, Viscount Inskip, Sir Thomas Salmon, Major I.
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Iveagh, Countess of Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Kindersley, Major G. M. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Knox, Sir Alfred Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Dalkeith, Earl of Lamb, Sir J. Q. Simms, Major-General J.
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Skelton, A. N.
Davies, Dr. Vernon Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Dawson, Sir Philip Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Smithers, Waldron
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Llewellin, Major J. J. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Dixey, A. C. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Lockwood, Captain J. H. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Eden, Captain Anthony Long, Major Hon. Eric Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Lymington, Viscount Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Elliot, Major Walter E. McConnell, Sir Joseph Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Everard, W. Lindsay Macquisten, F. A. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.
Ferguson, Sir John Makins, Brigadier-General E. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Fielden E. B. Margesson, Captain H. D. Thomson, Sir F.
Fison, F. G. Clavering Marjoribanks, Edward Thompson, Luke
Ford, Sir P. J. Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Meller, R. J. Tinne, J. A.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Galbraith, J. F. W. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Todd, Capt. A. J.
Ganzoni, Sir John Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement.
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Turton, Robert Hugh
Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Gower, Sir Robert Muirhead, A. J. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Grace, John Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Ward, Lieut-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Warrender, Sir Victor
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Greene, W. P. Crawford O'Connor, T. J. Wayland, Sir William A.
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Oman, Sir Charles William C. Wells, Sydney R.
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John O'Neill, Sir H. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Gritten, W. G. Howard Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Peake, Captain Osbert Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Gunston, Captain D. W. Penny, Sir George Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Womersley, W. J.
Hall, Lieut. Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Peto, Sir Basil E (Devon, Barnstaple) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Hamilton. Sir George (Ilford) Pilditch, Sir Philip Wright, Brig.-Gen, W. D. (Tavist'k)
Hammersley, S. S. Power, Sir John Cecil Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Hartington, Marquess of Pownall, Sir Assheton
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Purbrick, R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Haslam, Henry C. Ramsbotham, H. Mr. Culverwell and Sir Gerald
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Rawson, Sir Cooper Hurst.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Cripps, Sir Stafford
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Bowen, J. W. Daggar, George
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Broad, Francis Alfred Dallas, George
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Bromfield, William Dalton, Hugh
Alpass, J. H. Bromley, J. Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)
Ammon, Charles George Brothers, M. Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)
Angell, Sir Norman Brown, Ernest (Leith) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Arnott, John Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Denman, Hon B. D.
Aske, Sir Robert Burgess, F. G. Dudgeon, Major C. R.
Attlee, Clement Richard Burgin, Dr. E. L. Dukes, C.
Ayles, Walter Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Duncan, Charles
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Caine, Hall-, Derwent Ede, James Chuter
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Cameron, A. G. Edmunds, J. E.
Barnes, Alfred John Cape, Thomas Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Barr, James Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Edwards, E. (Morpeth)
Batey, Joseph Chater, Daniel Elmley, Viscount
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Cluse, W. S. England, Colonel A.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Cocks, Frederick Seymour Foot, Isaac
Benson, G. Compton, Joseph Freeman, Peter
Birkett, W. Norman Cove, William G. Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Lunn, William Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Salter, Dr. Alfred
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Gibbins, Joseph MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Sanders, W. S.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) McElwee, A. Sandham, E.
Gillett, George M. McEntee, V. L. Sawyer, G. F.
Glassey, A. E. McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston) Scrymgeour, E.
Gossling, A. G. Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Sexton, Sir James
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) McShane, John James Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Granville, E. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Gray, Milner Mander, Geoffrey le M. Sherwood, G. H.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Manning, E. L. Shield, George William
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mansfield W. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro W.) March, S. Shillaker, J. F.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Marcus, M. Shinwell, E.
Groves, Thomas E. Markham, S. F. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Grundy, Thomas W. Marshall, Fred Simmons, C. J.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Mathers, George Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Matters, L. W. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Messer, Fred Sinkinson, George
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Middleton, G. Sitch, Charles H.
Hardie, George D. Millar, J. D. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Harris, Percy A. Mills, J. E. Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Milner, Major J. Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
Haycock, A. W. Montague, Frederick Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Hayday, Arthur Morgan, Dr. H. B. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Hayes, John Henry Morley, Ralph Sorensen, R.
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Morris, Rhys Hopkins Stamford, Thomas W.
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Stephen, Campbell
Herriotts, J. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Hicks, Ernest George Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Mort, D. L. Thurtle, Ernest
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Muff, G. Tillett, Ben
Hoffman, P. C. Muggeridge, H. T. Tinker, John Joseph
Hopkin, Daniel Murnin, Hugh Toole, Joseph
Horrabin, J. F. Nathan, Major H. L. Tout, W. J.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Viant, S. P.
Hunter, Dr. Joseph Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Walker, J.
Isaacs, George Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Wallace, H. W.
Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Palin, John Henry Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Palmer, E. T. Wellock, Wilfred
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Perry, S. F. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Westwood, Joseph
Kelly, W. T. Phillips, Dr. Marion White, H. G.
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Picton-Turbervill, Edith Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Kirkwood, D. Pole, Major D. G. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Knight, Holford Potts, John S. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Lang, Gordon Price, M. P. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Pybus, Percy John Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Law, A. (Rossendale) Quibell, D. J. K. Williams, T. (York, Don valley)
Lawrence, Susan Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Lawson, John James Rathbone, Eleanor Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Raynes, W. R. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Leach, W. Richards, R. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Wise, E. F.
Lees, J. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Lindley, Fred W. Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Lloyd, C. Ellis Ritson, J.
Longbottom, A. W. Romeril, H. G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Longden, F. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Mr. Paling and Mr. Charleton.
Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Rowson, Guy

It being after half-past Ten of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 3rd March, successively to put forthwith the. Questions necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion.

Question put, "That this Schedule, as amended, be the First Schedule to the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 253; Noes, 228.

Division No. 246] AYES. [10.42 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Arnott, John Barr, James
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Aske, Sir Robert Batey, Joseph
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Attlee, Clement Richard Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Ayles, Walter Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)
Alpass, J. H. Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Bennett, William (Battersea, South)
Ammon, Charles George Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Benson, G.
Angell, Sir Norman Barnes, Alfred John Birkett, W. Norman
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Hunter, Dr. Joseph Price, M. P.
Bowen, J. W. Isaacs, George Pybus, Percy John
Broad, Francis Alfred Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Quibell, D. J. K.
Bromfield, William Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Bromley, J. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Rathbone, Eleanor
Brothers, M. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Raynes, W. R.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Richards, R.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Burgess, F. G. Kelly, W. T. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Ritson, J.
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Kirkwood, D. Romerll, H. G.
Cameron, A. G. Knight, Holford Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Lang, Gordon Rowson, Guy
Chater, Daniel Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Cluse, W. S. Law, A. (Rossendale) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lawrence, Susan Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lawson, John James Sanders, W. S.
Compton, Joseph Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Sandham, E.
Cove, William G. Leach, W. Sawyer, G. F.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Scrymgeour, E.
Daggar, George Lees, J. Sexton, Sir James
Dallas, George Lindley, Fred W. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Dalton, Hugh Lloyd, C. Ellis Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Longbottom, A. W. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Longden, F. Sherwood, G. H.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Shield, George William
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lunn, William Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Shillaker, J. F.
Dukes, C. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Shinwell, E.
Duncan, Charles MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Ede, James Chuter McElwee, A. Simmons, C. J.
Edmunds, J. E. McEntee, V. L. Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston) Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) MacLaren, Andrew Sinkinson, George
Elmley, viscount Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Sitch, Charles H.
England, Colonel A. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) McShane, John James Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Foot, Isaac Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Freeman, Peter Mander, Geoffrey le M. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Manning, E. L. Sorensen, R.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Mansfield, W. Stamford, Thomas W.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) March, S. Strauss, G. R.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Marcus, M. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Gibbins, Joseph Markham, S. F. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Marshall, Fred Thurtle, Ernest
Gillett, George M. Mathers, George Tillett, Ben
Glassey, A. E. Matters, L. W. Tinker, John Joseph
Gossling, A. G. Messer, Fred Toole, Joseph
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Middleton, G. Tout, W. J.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Millar, J. D. Viant, S. P.
Granville, E. Mills, J. E. Walker, J.
Gray, Milner Milner, Major J. Wallace, H. W.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Montague, Frederick Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Morley, Ralph Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Morris, Rhys Hopkins Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Groves, Thomas E. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Wellock, Wilfred
Grundy, Thomas W. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Welsh, James (Paisley)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Mort, D. L. Westwood, Joseph
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Muff, G. White, H. G.
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Muggeridge, H. T. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hardie, George D. Murnin, Hugh Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Harris, Percy A. Nathan, Major H. L. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Haycock, A. W. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hayday, Arthur Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hayes, John Henry Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Owen, H. F. (Hereford) Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Palin, John Henry Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Herriotts, J. Palmer, E. T. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Hicks, Ernest George Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Wise, E. F.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Perry, S. F. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Hoffman, P. C. Phillips, Dr. Marion
Hopkin, Daniel Picton-Turbervill, Edith TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Horrabin, J. F. Pole, Major D. G. Mr. Paling and Mr. Charleton.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Potts, John S.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Atholl, Duchess of
Albery, Irving James Ashley. Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Astor, Maj. Hon. John J. (Kent, Dover) Balfour, George (Hampstead)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Astor, Viscountess Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)
Balniel, Lord Ferguson, Sir John Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Fielden, E. B. O'Connor, T. J.
Beaumont, M. W. Fison, F. G. Clavering Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Bellairs, Commander Cariyon Ford, Sir P. J. O'Neill, Sir H.
Berry, Sir George Forestler-walker, Sir L. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Peaks, Captain Osbert
Bavan, S. J. (Holborn) Galbraith, J. F. W. Penny, Sir George
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Ganzoni, Sir John Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Bird, Ernest Roy Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Boothby, R. J. G. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Pilditch, Sir Philip
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Gower, Sir Robert Power, Sir John Cecil
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Grace, John Pownall, Sir Assheton
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Purbrick, R.
Boyce, Leslie Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Ramsbotham, H.
Bracken, B. Greene, W. P. Crawford Rawson, Sir Cooper
Brass, Captain Sir William Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Broadbent, Colonel J. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Remer, John R.
Briscoe, Richard George Gritten, W. G. Howard Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Gunston, Captain D. W. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Buchan, John Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Buckingham, Sir H. Hamilton. Sir George (Ilford) Ross, Ronald D.
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Hammersley, S. S. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hartington, Marquess of Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Butler, R. A. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Salmon, Major I.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Haslam, Henry C. Samuel. A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Campbell, E. T. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Carver, Major W. H. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittoms
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Skelton, A. N.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Hunter-Weston. Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Smithers, Waldron
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Hurd, Percy A. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Chapman, Sir S. Inskip, Sir Thomas Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Christie, J. A. Iveagh, Countess of Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Churchill. Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Clydesdale, Marquess of Kindersley, Major G. M. Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Knox, Sir Alfred Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Lamb, Sir J. Q. Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Cohen, Major J. Brunei Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Colfox, Major William Philip Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Colman, N. C. D. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.
Colville, Major D. J. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Courtauld, Major J. S. Lewis. Oswald (Colchester) Thompson, Luke
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Cranborne, Viscount Llewellin, Major J. J. Tinne, J. A.
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Locker-Lampion, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Lockwood, Captain J. H. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Long, Major Hon. Eric Turton, Robert Hugh
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Lymington, Viscount Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Dalkeith, Earl of McConnell, Sir Joseph Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godlrey Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Macquisten, F. A. Warrender, Sir Victor
Davies, Dr. Vernon Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wayland, Sir William A.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Margesson, Captain H. D. Wells, Sydney R.
Dawson, Sir Philip Marjoribanke, Edward Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Dixey, A. C. Meller, R. J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Duckworth, G. A. V. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Womersley, W. J.
Eden, Captain Anthony Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Edmondson, Major A. J. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Elliot, Major Walter E. Morrison. W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Muirhead, A. J.
Everard, W. Lindsay Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Major Sir George Hennessy and
Sir Frederick Thomson.

Question put, and agreed to.

Second Schedule (Double-Member constituencies which are to be divided) agreed to.

Third Schedule (Enactments Repealed) disagreed to.

Whereupon the CHAIKMAN left the Chair to report the Bill, as amended, to the House, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 3rd March.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 151.]