HC Deb 23 November 1937 vol 329 c1018
25. Mr. Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the complaints of the lack of secrecy in the ballot for the Scottish Universities by-elections, and of the practice of political agents attending at the voting places to check the returns from day to day, whereby they are able to ascertain how the electors vote, contrary to the procedure in other elections; and, in view of the forthcoming by-election, will he consider introducing legislation to ensure the secrecy of the ballot in universities polling stations or, alternatively, issue instructions to the presiding officers whereby political agents can be excluded from polling booths during the progress of the postal ballot?

Mr. Elliot

I have received no representations on this subject. The Statutory provisions relating to the poll at Scottish University elections permit candidates or their agents to be present at the poll, and to inspect any voting paper and object to it on certain specified grounds. Accordingly I have no power to issue instructions as suggested. The introduction of legislation is not under consideration.

Mr. Davidson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the last University election in Scotland adverse comments were made with regard to this procedure by almost every Scottish newspaper, and is it not time that the University elections so far as secrecy is concerned, were brought into line with the General Election throughout the country?

Mr. Elliot

I think we must receive representations on the subject before one can make any statement.