HC Deb 15 February 1937 vol 320 cc811-3
3. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he can give any explanation for the decision in the United Provinces not to adopt the coloured ballot box or symbol method of voting for illiterate electors, although this method was adopted elsewhere?

The Under-Secretary of State for India (Mr. Butler)

The United Provinces Government have preferred to retain for rural constituencies the marked ballot system with which they are familiar. I have no doubt that this Government reached its decision after taking into account the relative merits of the different systems considered by the Hammond Committee, to whose report I would refer the hon. Member.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that the method adopted in the United Provinces lends itself to the danger of intimidation in view of the number of illiterate voters in the area?

Mr. Butler

I am satisfied, after investigating the matter very closely, that it would have been unwise to change the system to which the voters in the rural districts of the United Provinces were accustomed.

Mr. Sorensen

In other areas in India has not the method of coloured ballot boxes or symbols been adopted in preference to the method adopted in the United Provinces?

Sir William Davison

Approximately how many illiterate voters are there?

Mr. Butler

It is impossible to give the exact figure, but the proportion of literacy is about 14 per cent. of the population of India. In regard to the question whether any Government has changed over, every Government has adopted the system it thinks most suitable and probably in some cases there has been a change.

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

What is an illiterate voter to do who is also colour blind?

Mr. Butler

His ballot paper is marked by the presiding officer.

4. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is in a position to give detailed results of the Indian elections to date; how many of the candidates returned are supporters of the Congress policy; and whether any incidents have taken place or arrests have been made during the election campaign?

Mr. Butler

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing the election results as far as they are at present available. With regard to the last part of the question, the Government

Congress Party. Non-Congress Hindus. Depressed Classes League. Moslem Independent. Moslem United. Moslem Ahrar. Moslem Tenant or Proja Party. Moslem League. European. No Party. Total.
Bengal Legislative Assembly. 54 42 43 38 40 31 2* 250
Bengal Legislative Council (Elected Members). 3 7 13 4 3 30
Bihar Legislative Assembly. 91 4 16 6 3 32 152
Bihar Legislative Council (Elected Members). 9 1 2 1 1 14
Assam Legislative Assembly. 32 9 30 4 33 108
Assam Legislative Council (Elected Members). 10 6 2 18
Orissa Legislative Assembly. 36 Other parties 24. 60
* Muslim seats party not known.
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