HC Deb 20 April 1948 vol 449 cc1650-6
Mr. Younger

I beg to move, in page 17, line So, at the end, to insert: "by all the candidates."

The Clause to which this Amendment relates provides that a candidate's deposit shall be forfeited if he is found not to have polled more than one-eighth of the total number of votes polled. It has been represented that there may be some doubt whether the number of votes polled included only valid votes or other ballot papers as well. There was a phrase in the previous Act of 1918 which might have been thought fit to cover this point, but which has been omitted because it was really designed to deal with two-member constituencies, and it is, therefore, no longer relevant in this Bill.

The words which it is now proposed to add at the end, "by all the candidates," are thought to make the matter quite clear, because obviously if a vote has been polled by a candidate, and has been allotted to a candidate, that must be because it has been accepted. That phrase could only apply to valid votes, and would exclude those which had not been accepted and which had not therefore, been polled by any candidate at all.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

As this Amendment is an attempt at clarification, I would like to ask, so that we shall know where we stand, what is the objection to the phrase "one-eighth of the valid votes." It seems to me to be a much fairer description of what we mean.

Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)

I would go further and suggest that these additional words do not in the least clarify the Clause. If it is doubtful whether the term "polled" means "validly polled," it must be equally doubtful whether the words "polled by all the candidates" means "validly polled by all the candidates."

Mr. Grimston (Westbury)

Would the Home Secretary look at this point again between now and the Report stage? It seems, on the face of it, that if the word "valid" is used where suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend it would be very much tidier and much more understandable.

Mr. Ede

I am willing to look at the point again, but I cannot think that there is any real doubt about the meaning of "votes polled by all the candidates." The votes polled by all the candidates are those which are recorded on the final form which the returning officer fills up. If anyone fails to poll one-eighth of those he is liable to lose his deposit. I do not think there is any doubt about what it means, but I will certainly look into it, because I am anxious that there shall be no room for doubt.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Grimston

I beg to move, in page 17, line 10, at the end, to insert: if the number of candidates shown as standing nominated in the statement of persons nominated did not exceed three or one-tenth of the total number of votes polled if the number of such candidates exceeded three. Perhaps for clarity it might be as well if I read out how the wording of Subsection (4) will read after these words have been inserted. It will read like this: … the deposit shall be forfeited if …. the candidate is found not to have polled more than one-eighth of the total number of votes polled by all the candidates if the number of candidates shown as standing nominated in the statement of persons nominated did not exceed three or one-tenth of the total number of votes polled if the number of such candidates exceeded three. This Amendment is put down to introduce into the Bill a recommendation of the Speaker's Conference. If hon. Members would refer to the final Report they will see in paragraph 10 that the conference made this recommendation so that the conditions of forfeiture should be made less exacting where the number of candidates is more than three. We want to know why this recommendation has not been followed, because it seems to us to be entirely reasonable. In order to bear that out, I would like to give an example of a case that might conceivably happen. Supposing there are six candidates at an election, a candidate who polls 4,999 votes out of 40,000 can hardly be deemed to be a frivolous candidate, but we should have this result: we might have the winning candidate getting 15,005 votes and the five other candidates getting 4,999 each. They would all lose their deposits, although I do not think it could be argued that those were all frivolous candidates.

Our Amendment would provide that in the case of more than three candidates they should only lose their deposits in the case of only one polling one-tenth of the votes cast and allowed. By virtue of the fact that this was a recommendation of the Speaker's Conference, that it was a reasonable one and certainly not one which would attract frivolous candidates into the field, we feel that this Amendment should be accepted. While we have departed from the Speaker's Conference recommendations in many directions, that is no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should depart from them in other directions; in fact, quite the reverse. I hope he will see his way to accept this Amendment.

Mr. Ede

The Government have considered this recommendation. We have come to the conclusion that the existing law represents a very reasonable arrangement which has now worked for 30 years without, as far as I know, causing any real ground of criticism. As we have been reminded more than once in the course of this Parliament, there was an election for the Scottish Universities where I think every candidate except the succesful candidate lost his deposit. One-eighth seems to us to be the kind of reasonable support in a constituency for which a candidate should look. To reduce the fraction will encourage splinter candidates and splinter parties, and we think that on the whole it is desirable that that should not happen. Those are the reasons which have induced us not to accept the recommendation of the Conference.

Mr. Grimston

What the Home Secretary's answer amounts to is this: "This is our opinion." It is quite obvious that this recommendation was made after considerable consideration at the Speaker's Conference, and the Home Secretary is merely pitting his opinion and the opinion of his party against the recommendation of the Speaker's Conference consisting of all the parties. That is another instance of what is happening under this Bill, and I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman should meet this Amendment with that answer. In the circumstances, I feel inclined to advise my hon. Friends to divide on this Amendment.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 125; Noes, 264.

Division No. 129. AYES. [4.41 p.m
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Price-White, Lt-.Col. D.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Raikes, H. V.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Hollis, M. C. Ramsay, Maj. S.
Baldwin, A. E. Hurd, A. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Birch, Nigel Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Jarvis, Sir J. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bower, N. Jeffreys, General Sir G Ropner, Col. L.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Keeling, E. H. Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan Lambert, Hon. G. Sanderson, Sir F.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Savory, Prof. D. L.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Scott, Lord W.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Shephard, S. (Newark)
Bullock, Capt. M. Lipson, D. L. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Butcher, H. W. Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Byers, Frank Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Smithers, Sir W.
Carson, E. MacAndrew., Col. Sir C. Snadden, W. M.
Challen, C. McFarlane, C. S. Spence, H. R.
Channon, H. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Sutcliffe, H.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Crowder, Capt. John E. Marlowe, A. A. H. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)
Cuthbert, W. N. Marsden, Capt. A. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Drewe, C. Mellor, Sir J. Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.
Duthie, W. S. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarther) Touche, G. C.
Eccles, D. M. Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Turton, R. H.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Wadsworth, G.
Erroll, F. J. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Fraser, H. D. P. (Stone) Neill, W. F.(Belfast, N.) Ward, Hon. G. R.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Nicholson, G. Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)
Gates, Maj. E. E. Nield, B. (Chester) Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)
George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Osborne, C. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Grant, Lady Peaks, Rt. Hon. O. York, C.
Gridley, Sir A. Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Grimston, R. V. Pickthorn, K.
Harvey, Air-Cmdre. A. V. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Head, Brig. A. H. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry) Major Conant and
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Prescott, Stanley Brigadier Mackeson.
Acland, Sir Richard Burke, W. A. Dumpleton, C. W.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Alpass, J. H. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Chamberlain, R. A. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Champion, A. J. Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)
Attewell, H. C. Chater, D. Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Austin, H. Lewis Chetwynd, G. R. Evans, John (Ogmore)
Awbery, S. S. Cluse, W. S. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)
Ayles, W. H. Cocks, F. S. Ewart, R.
Bacon, Miss A. Coldrick, W. Fairhurst, F.
Balfour, A. Collick, P. Farthing, W. J.
Barstow, P. G. Collindridge, F. Fernyhough, E.
Barton, C. Collins, V. J. Follick, M.
Battley, J. R. Cook, T. F. Forman, J. C.
Bechervaise, A. E. Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Benson, G. Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.
Berry, H. Corlett, Dr. J. Gallacher, W.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Cove, W. G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Bing, G. H. C. Crawley, A. Gibbins, J.
Binns, J. Crossman, R. H. S. Gilzean, A.
Blackburn, A. R. Daggar, G. Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Blenkinsop, A. Daines, P. Gooch, E. G.
Blyton, W. R. Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)
Board man, H. Davies, Harold (Leek) Grenfell, D. R.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Grey, C. F.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Deer, G. Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)
Brook, D. (Halifax) Diamond, J. Gunter, R. J.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Dobbie, W. Guy, W. H.
Brown, George (Belper) Dodds, N. N. Haire, John E. (Wycombe)
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Driberg, T. E. N. Hale, Leslie
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Marquand, H. A. Sorensen, R. W.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Middleton, Mrs. L. Soskice, Sir Frank
Hardy, E. A. Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R. Sparks, J. A.
Harrison, J. Mitchison, G. R. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Monslow, W. Stress, Dr. B.
Haworth, J. Moody, A. S Stubbs, A. E.
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Morley, R. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Herbison, Miss M. Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Swingler, S.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Sylvester, G. O.
Hicks, G. Mort, D. L. Symonds, A. L.
Holman, P. Moyle, A. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
House, G. Murray, J. D. Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Hoy, J. Naylor, T. E. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Neal, H. (Claycross) Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Oldfield, W. H. Thurtle, Ernest
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Oliver, G. H. Tiffany, S.
Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool) Orbach, M. Titterington, M. F.
Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.) Paget, R. T. Tolley, L.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Turner-Samuels, M.
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Palmer, A. M. F. Usborne, Henry
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Parker, J. Viant, S. P.
Johnston, Douglas Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Walkdon, E.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool) Paton, J. (Norwich) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Peart, T. F. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Perrins, W. Warbey, W. N.
Keenan, W. Poole, Cecil (Lichfield) Watkins, T. E.
Kenyan, C. Popplewell, E. Watson, W. M.
Kinley, J. Porter, E. (Warrington), Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D. Porter, G. (Leeds) West, D. G.
Lang, G. Price, M. Philips Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J. Pryde, D. J. Wheatley, Rt. Hn. J. T. (Edinb'gh, E.)
Lee, F. (Hulme) Ranger, J. White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Rankin, J. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Leonard, W. Reeves, J. Wigg, George
Leslie, J. R. Reid, T. (Swindon) Wilkes, L.
Rhodes, H. Wilkins, W. A.
Levy, B. W. Robens, A. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Lewis, J. (Bolton) Rogers, G. H. R. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Royle, C. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Sargood, R. Williams, R. W. (Wigan)
Logan, D. G. Scollan, T. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Lyne, A. W. Scott-Elliot, W Williams, W. R. (Heston)
McAdam, W. Segal, Dr. S. Willis, E.
McAllister, G. Shackleton, E. A. A. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
McEntee, V. La T. Sharp, Granville Wise, Major F. J.
McGhee, H. G. Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens) Woodburn, A.
Mack, J. D. Shurmer, P. Woods, G. S.
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Silverman, J. (Erdington) Wyatt, W.
McKinlay, A. S. Simmons, C. J. Younger, Hon. Kenneth
McLeavy, F. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C. Zilliacus, K.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Skinnard, F. W.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield) Smith, C. (Colchester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mann, Mrs. J. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.) Mr. Pearson and
Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Snow, J. W. Mr. Richard Adams.
Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Solley, L. J.

Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I would like to ask a question relating to Subsection (1). Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the procedure in reference to deposits outlined there is the same as has been the law hitherto, or is there any amendment? If it is the same as it has been previously, as I apprehend it to be, could the right hon. Gentleman tell the Committee exactly what happens to a forfeited deposit? Does it go into the general or a particular fund of the State? I have never been able to ascertain the answer to that question, which is of particular interest to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway.

Mr. Ede

I believe that the procedure is the same as formerly. I understand that the amount is forfeited to the Treasury, and I imagine, although I wish I had had notice of the question, that it goes to the general credit of the taxation fund of the country.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.