HC Deb 09 May 1944 vol 399 cc1706-7
4. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that under the Parliament (Elections and Meeting) Act, 1943, a duty is imposed on registration officers to compile and publish a register of civilian electors; and what steps are being taken by the Army Council to ensure similar results for service voters.

80. Mr. Cove

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now satisfied that all men in the Army entitled to vote under the Parliament (Elections and Meeting) Act, 1943, are being made aware of their rights; and that easy and full facilities for their registration as electors are being made available.

Sir J. Grigg

Under the Act referred to, the register of electors consists of three parts, namely, the civilian residence register, the business premises register and the Service register. The preparation of all three parts of the Register is the duty of the registration officer. The measures which are being taken by the Army Council to enable all ranks of the Army, and of those Women's Forces administered by them to get their names placed on the New Register, were explained by me in answer to Questions by the hon. Members for Skipton (Mr. H. Lawson) and Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) on 2nd May. The effect of these measures is being watched, and I am considering whether any further measures are practicable.

Mr. Bellenger

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, when the Service registed is compiled, the registration officer will be able to publish the names of electors on that register, as he is able to do, or as, indeed, he is under an obligation to do, with civilians?

Sir J. Grigg

I do not think exactly similar arrangements are practicable. As I tried to explain last week, this House quite definitely decided on different arrangements for the Services from those applicable to the civilian population.

Mr. John Wilmot

Are we to understand from the answer given that there is a definite obligation on the officer to register men?

Sir J. Grigg

I explained last week that, in place of a definite obligation on the officer, our intention is to see that the men get every possible chance of registering, and the duty of the officers to assist is brought to their attention very prominently.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that the Minister who introduced this Bill said that the three Service Departments had given an assurance that they would co-operate with a view to securing, subject to any unintentional errors, the full registration of Service personnel concerned, and is he satisfied that the answer he has given is sufficient to justify the claim that he is going to secure full registration?

Sir J. Grigg

I think so, completely. We cannot secure something which is definitely contrary to provisions of the Act.