§ 26. Mr. Hugh Lawson
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that Mr. W. R. Hipwell, organiser of the Allied Ex-Services Association, is inviting Service personnel to send him A.F. B2626 and similar forms not fully filled in so that he can appoint proxies of his own choice without the Service voter knowing anything about the proxy; if such proxies will be valid under the Regulations; or if it is proposed to issue further regulations to deal with this situation.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I am not aware of this practice. The completion of proxy appointments by Service voters without specifying the name of the proxy is not barred by the Regulations, but it is an irresponsible procedure which is to be deprecated. As no person may hold more than two proxy appointments in any one constituency—unless a close relative of the Service voter concerned—and must in general vote in person, it is very unlikely that any such practice can have any material result. It is not therefore proposed to deal with this point by an amendment of the Regulations.
§ Mr. Lawson
Will the Home Secretary take care to examine how this practice is developing, and if he finds it is working contrary to the spirit of democracy will he consider the matter further?
§ Mr. Morrison
The hon. Member may be quite sure that, if I find anything is working contrary to the spirit of democracy, I will take notice of it. I do not think they can get very far, but I will certainly keep this matter in mind.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is it not definitely illegal that anyone, apart from the soldier himself, should appoint a proxy?
§ Mr. Morrison
I think that is not so. A soldier can fill up the form without putting in the proxy's name. There may be a few cases where the soldier might wish to have the advice and help of people at home in selecting a proxy. I do not think it is illegal, but it is undesirable, and' should be discouraged, but I am not sure that it would not be going too far to make it illegal.