HC Deb 20 June 1944 vol 401 cc11-2
14. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is in a position to give the results of his inquiry into the extent to which A.F.B. No. 3626 has been completed.

The Secretary of State for War (Sir James Grigg)

More than 200 units stationed in this country have now been visited by War Office liaison officers, with the specific object of finding out how the Army Council instructions regarding the registration of Service voters are being implemented and what proportion of the officers and other ranks have completed A.F.B. 2626. On an average, 70 to 80 per cent. of the personnel in the units visited had already completed the form. In a number of cases, the percentage was much higher.

Mr. Hogg

While thanking my right hon. Friend for the trouble and interest he has taken in this matter, might I ask whether he does not think that 70 to 80 per cent. is still an inadequate proportion for the whole establishment?

Sir J. Grigg

No, Sir, it is not the whole establishment. A good many of the units visited are now in Normandy. I should think that, in view of the difficulties which have arisen since this registration took place, it was an extraordinarily good result.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the difficulties encountered over registration, has not the time arrived to provide automatic registration for men who are fighting for the country?

Sir J. Grigg

Automatic registration is impossible when a considerable element of the registration is the provision for a proxy.

Mr. Shinwell

Apart from the proxy arrangements, cannot we provide, as we do for civilian electors, that they should be registered?

Sir J. Grigg

That was discussed when the legislation came before this House, and it was decided that they should not be automatically registered.

Sir H. Williams

Surely it is possible to obtain the registration of a disciplined body of men? If the commanding officers had been told that, if all the men had not been registered in 24 hours, they would be sacked, it would have been done.

Mr. Molson

Is there any difficulty, apart from the words of the Statute, about making the registration compulsory and universal?

Sir J. Grigg

I would like notice of that. It is a new proposal to make registration of soldiers compulsory.

Mr. John Dugdale

Are men now asked at pay parades whether they have registered?

Sir J. Grigg

Some are. Commanding officers use their own methods, but the possibility of using pay parades has been specifically brought to their attention.