HC Deb 28 January 1960 vol 616 cc343-4
6. Dr. King

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce amending legislation to secure for citizens whose names have been omitted from the electoral register, and those who have removed from the place at which they are registered, facilities to cast their votes at General Elections.

Mr. Vosper

No, Sir. As regards omissions from the register, much as my right hon. Friend regrets the mistakes that occasionally occur, he attaches great importance to the principle that the register, once published, is final. The law already allows electors who have removed to another area to vote by post at Parliamentary elections.

Dr. King

Is the Joint Under-Secretary aware that in every election there are British citizens who, through no fault of their own, are deprived of one of the most precious rights of a Briton, namely, the right to vote? Is he aware that it is still possible, with some care, to see that every citizen who has the right to vote may do so at a General Election, without any of the abuses that some fear?

Mr. Vosper

I am aware, from my personal experience, that mistakes occur. I think that the right approach is to secure greater accuracy in compiling the register. It is to that point that attention is now being given.

Mr. Reynolds

Is not the best way of dealing with this matter to return to the original practice of having two registers per year, which was stopped for economy reasons that can surely no longer apply?

Mr. Vosper

I have already answered questions on that point. It is a matter that we are still considering.

Miss Bacon

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a great anomaly between the practice in the big divided boroughs and the practice in the county constituencies? In the county constituencies the elector can have a postal vote even though he resides in the same constituency, whereas in a big divided borough he may live as much as 10 or 12 miles outside his constituency and yet not be allowed a postal vote?

Mr. Vosper

I am aware of that fact, and also that the practices of registration officers vary. There may be room for improvement in that respect.

Sir P. Agnew

Can my right hon. Friend say whether, in the case where, against a man's name in the register, there is recorded the fact that he is liable for jury service and it turns out that he is exempt from that service, my right hon. Friend will hold the register to be final in that regard so that the man would still be liable to carry out that service?

Mr. Vosper

I should like to consider that question.

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