HC Deb 12 June 1939 vol 348 cc903-4
70. Mr. Silkin

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been directed to the exceptionally low polls in recent by-elections, particularly in London; and, as one of the contributory factors is the large number of removals since the compiling of the last register of electors, amounting in one case to some 15,000, he will, with a view to making democracy function more effectively, reintroduce the half-yearly revision of the electoral list instead of yearly as at present?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)

My right hon. Friend is not in a position to estimate the extent to which the size of the poll at by-elections is related to the number of removals since the compiling of the last register; as the hon. Member is no doubt aware, removal does not disqualify an elector or necessarily place any material difficulty in his way, unless he has removed to a distance. After careful examination, there does not appear to be any sufficient justification for incurring the heavy expenditure which would be involved in the hon. Member's suggestion.

Mr. H. Morrison

In that case, would the hon. Gentleman cause it to be conveyed to the Government's supporters in the Press, when they complain of those polls, that the fault rests with His Majesty's Government and not with a large number of the electors?

Mr. Peake

I am afraid I cannot agree with that.

Mr. Macquisten

Is it not possible that the electors are not satisfied with either of the candidates?