HC Deb 24 October 1961 vol 646 cc719-21
11. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to revise the Maltese electoral register and to abolish the voting certificate system.

21. Sir D. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if, as recommended in the Blood Report, he has investigated the alleged abuse of voting certificates in Malta; what have been the results of his investigation; and what alterations he intends to make in the law as a result;

(2) to what extent he intends reforming the electoral laws of Malta with particular reference to proxy and postal votes, numbered electoral lists, and the abolition of a free choice of polling stations.

Mr. Maudling

As recommended in the Blood Report, the alleged abuse of voting certificates in Malta has been most carefully examined by the Government of Malta. I am satisfied from the Report that the allegations of abuse have been greatly exaggerated. A new electoral register is being prepared and certain administrative changes are being made to reduce still further the possibility of abuse, including restricting use of each voting certificate to a single polling station. No changes are contemplated in respect of proxy and postal voting. I believe that the consideration of further changes in the electoral system should properly be left to the new Maltese legislature.

Mr. Wall

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the present electoral register—the one introduced this summer—is still on the lines of that which was issued in 1921? Would not it be a good thing to bring it fully into line with the British system, with compulsory registration?

Mr. Maudling

The Questions deal with abuses. I have said that we have made certain administrative changes which should reduce the danger of abuses, but I shall be happy to consider any suggestions from hon. Members.

28. Mr. Thorpe

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give details of the representations received from the Maltese political parties concerning the number of electoral divisions and number of seats in the new Parliament; and if he has yet decided on the number of electoral districts.

Mr. Maudling

The number of electoral divisions and seats in the new Maltese Legislative Assembly were discussed with the Maltese political parties in confidential correspondence. As for the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the Malta (Electoral Provisions) Order in Council, 1961, which provides for a Legislative Assembly of fifty.

Mr. Thorpe

Is the Colonial Secretary aware that this will mean there will be one Member of Parliament per 3,000 electors? Is he further aware that even with a legislative assembly of forty, the Blood Report called attention to the difficulties of finding enough Members of the right calibre? Does not the increase in the size of the Assembly add to the problem of finding the necessary Members of Parliament?

Mr. Maudling

I shall certainly study what the hon. Member says, but I have explained the position under the existing Order, which was made after pretty full consultation.

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