§ Mr. Peake
I beg to move, in page 62, line 10, at the end, to insert:or any such person's wife who is resident with him.The purpose of this Amendment is to enable the wife of a Service voter, who is stationed overseas, to vote, if she is living overseas with her husband. She, of course, is a person who has no residence qualification here, because she gave up her residence here when she moved to the overseas station where her husband is serving. We think, however, that there is a strong case for enabling her to vote. After all, her husband can vote as a member of the Forces, and we think that wives stationed overseas should also have a vote.
The only way in, which we can do that, so far as we can see, is to bring her within the definition of "members of the 1891 Forces" in Clause 66. It may not be a very precise or accurate or clean way of doing the job, but it is the only way which we can think of to entitle her to vote.
§ Mr. Ede
I am not unsympathetic with the object of this particular Amendment, but there is an Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman and others which follows later, and which would very considerably extend the number of people and categories who might be brought within the Bill. I do not think it is quite accurate to say that the wife of a serving man is a member of the Forces. In fact, if some of the warrant officers attempted to assert that she was—and it has been alleged in bygone days that they used to do so—there would in these days, I think, be very considerable resistance on the part of the ladies concerned. I would prefer to see what happens to the later Amendment, because I do not feel that I could extend this to spouses there, and if the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw this Amendment now, I will see between now and the Report stage, if—for this limited number of people, that is, the wives of Service men, "the colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady," the whole of them—I can bring them, within the provisions of the Bill.
§ Mr. Keeling
Although it may not be true today that wives are members of the Forces, if the right hon. Gentleman would go to the Royal Gallery, where there is a picture of the Battle of Trafalgar, he would see that it would appear that wives were members of the Forces at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar. I am quite content with the assurance which he has given.
§ Mr. Ede
May I say that I was not trying to extract a bargain. All I wanted the right hon. Gentleman to understand 1892 was that I realise that he was giving one blow now to the thin wedge which I have inserted in the provision that people must vote in respect of their residence in this country. I realise that he has a few more blows coming along later on and I wanted him to be aware that I had spotted it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.