HC Deb 14 December 1944 vol 406 cc1334-6
32. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether His Majesty's Government propose to make any further provision to enable members of the Forces to vote at the forthcoming General Election.

33. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provision it is proposed to make to enable the maximum number of Service men and women to vote at the General Election.

Mr. H. Morrison

As my hon. Friends are aware, provision has already been made by the Parliamentary Electors (War-time Registration) Act, 1943, whereby members of the Forces who, but for their service as members of the Forces, would be residing in this country, may be registered in the Service Register, but they may only record their vote by proxy if serving abroad at the time of the election. It is recognised, however, that voting by proxy is by no means the most satisfactory method of voting and that it would be preferable to afford postal voting facilities where such a system is feasible. His Majesty's Government have accordingly invited my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to convene and preside over a conference to consider the practicability of extending postal voting to members of the Forces and seamen overseas and war workers abroad over a wide geographical area as possible, on the assumption that the system would not be operated until the conclusion of hostilities in Europe. It is proposed that the conference should include Members of this House representative of the main political parties selected, registration and returning officers in England, Wales and Scotland, and officers of the Government Departments concerned, together with the chief party agents. If a suitable scheme is devised, it is hoped to give effect to it by inserting the necessary provisions in the Representation of the People Bill, which was introduced yesterday.

Mr. Bellenger

Although the House will be very gratified to hear my right hon. Friend's remarks, may we take it that he will set up this conference with the greatest possible speed, even though the House of Commons may be in Recess, in

  1. view of the eventuality of an early General Election? 140 words