HC Deb 13 March 1950 vol 472 cc735-7
28. Mr. Driberg

asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that on 23rd February there was, especially in rural districts, widespread evasion of the law restricting the number of motor vehicles used to carry electors to the poll; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this situation.

The Attorney-General

While I have heard complaints of a general nature, the Director of Public Prosecutions has received only one complaint of an infringement of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1949, in regard to the use of motor vehicles. If my hon. Friend has evidence that any such offence has been committed and will send it to me or the Director of Public Prosecutions it will be considered.

Mr. Driberg

While, of course, large numbers of car numbers were noted and will be forwarded to my right hon. and learned Friend, may I ask him if it is an infringement of the law at all when a car not registered for carrying voters repeatedly and systematically carries a large number of voters to within a few yards of the polling station?

The Attorney-General

I am always loth to answer a hypothetical question, but if a car were not being used for conveying members of the household of the user of the car, it would be an offence.

Mr. Keeling

Is the Attorney-General aware that the new law was so well observed and also so ill-conceived that many thousands of electors were unable to exercise their right to vote?

The Attorney-General

I believe that a higher poll was recorded in this election than on any previous occasion.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is my right hon. and learned Friend satisfied that the drafting of the relevant Section in the Act makes the law sufficiently clear, and if not, will he look at the matter again to see whether any real change in the law has been effected? Does not the Section read more as legislation against discrimination, than as a law against carrying electors to the polls?

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Is not a person entitled to carry all and sundry in his car? Is that not the interpretation of the law?

The Attorney-General

To carry all and sundry? No, that is not my interpretation.

Mr. Baldwin

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider doing away with this vexatious law, which does more harm to the remote rural districts, and those who cannot afford cars, than anything else?

Mr. Driberg

Is my right hon. and learned Friend not aware, with respect to the supplementary question of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller), that in many rural areas Conservative supporters did carry all and sundry, not actually to the gates of the polling stations, but to within a few yards of them? Is that forbidden or not?

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