HC Deb 08 June 1944 vol 400 cc1496-7
30. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for registration for the Parliamentary franchise have been received from the respective Services; and whether he is satisfied with the progress in registration of the Services.

Mr. H. Morrison

The figures could only be obtained by calling on each electoral registration officer to examine his records and to make a return of the Service applications received up to a specified date. As many electoral registration officers are finding difficulty at the present time in coping with the work of preparing the new system of registration, I am reluctant to put this additional burden upon them, especially as the process of transmitting Service applications is still far from complete and new batches of applications are being received from day to day. I fully sympathise, however, with my hon. Friend's desire to ascertain to what extent members of the Services are taking steps to get on to the electoral register, and I will at a later date consider what useful information can be obtained.

Mr. Hogg

May I have a reply to the second part of the Question, whether the Home Secretary is satisfied with the progress which is being made?

Mr. Morrison

I think it would be premature to express a firm opinion on that, but the Service Ministers are doing what they can in the matter.

Mr. Hogg

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in point of fact, a relatively small proportion of the men in the Services are registering? Is he not aware, also, that there will be really serious trouble if at the last moment, for any reason, they find they have not a vote?

Mr. Morrison

If any trouble is coming it ought to come to the Service Ministers and not to me, since they are responsible. The House will appreciate, however, that at the moment the Armies in Italy and France are pretty heavily engaged.

Mr. John Wilmot

Would the Home Secretary later on call for a return of the number of registrations in order that the House may be informed as to the total registration of the Forces?

Mr. Morrison

I will certainly consider that, Sir.

37. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements have been made to set up a central index of all persons who have made Service declarations; and whether the index will be available for inspection by candidates or their agents.

Mr. Morrison

The central index of persons qualified to be included on a Service Register will be maintained at the Central National Registration Office and is for the purpose of ensuring that changes in electoral status of those concerned can be communicated to the appropriate electoral registration officer. This central index will not be arranged on a constituency basis, and is quite distinct from a Service Register, which is to be compiled for each constituency and published when an election is initiated. Copies of this Register when published will be available to candidates or their agents.

Mr. Bellenger

Then may I ask my right hon. Friend whether machinery has already been set up, in view of the applications which are coming in from the Services, to compile a Central Register and then to pass that information on to the constituencies?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that is so, Sir.