HC Deb 21 April 1948 vol 449 cc1879-80
Mr. Younger

I beg to move, in page 54, line 11, to leave out from "is," to "or," in line 12, and to insert: not validly nominated, or if he withdraws, or is deemed to have withdrawn, from his candidature. This enables candidates at district and parish elections to require the poll to be open until 9 o'clock, and it provides that a request by any candidate who is not shown as remaining validly nominated when the statement is published, shall be of no effect whereas, now, as the Committee know, candidates may withdraw after the day of the publication of the statement. It obviously is right that a request of a candidate who withdraws 24 hours later shall be equally of that effect, and it is the purpose of this Amendment to effect that.

Amendment agreed to.

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

7.0 p.m.

Mr. McKie

May I put one point to the Under-Secretary of State, whose Amendment has just been accepted? I can quite see the argument, from his point of view, that if anybody withdraws his candidature and has previously made a request that the poll shall remain open for an hour or so, that application should be null and void. One of the candidates who has made the request may have behind him a large body of electors who find it inconvenient to attend the polling station beforehand to have their votes registered. I hope the Under-Secretary will appreciate this when a request is made for the polling station to be kept open for a longer period, and that the request will not be turned down or rendered void. I am sure that the Under-Secretary, with his strong democratic views, will bear in mind this large section of the electorate, who might possibly be anxious to vote for his own party.

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham)

One point which occurs to me may be a matter of some importance. The first part of this Clause refers to the number of councillors to be elected. The wording of the Clause might easily be held to include elections where candidates were returned unopposed. In such circumstances there might be a real difficulty in carrying out the obvious meaning of the Clause, because in the case of a district council election where there were three contested elections, there might be three people returned unopposed; and it might still be required under this Clause that six candidates must ask for the extension. I may be wrong, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give us his views.

Mr. Ede

The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) has raised a point which is worth looking into. I imagine that he was dealing with the case of a district divided into wards where, in some of the wards, there were unopposed returns, and there was no need to ask for any extension of the hours. I should have thought that each ward would have been taken as a separate election. I will, however, go into the matter and, if clarification is needed, I will see that it is attended to on Report stage.

Question put, and agreed to.

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