HC Deb 16 April 1964 vol 693 cc582-3
24. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to enable voters at local and national elections to identify candidates by allowing the inclusion on ballot papers of political party affiliations.

37. Mr. Lagden

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the confusion of the electorate, if he will introduce legislation to make provision, if so desired by the candidates, for an indication of their political party to appeal on the ballot sheet at all elections.

Mr. Woodhouse

The answer is No, Sir.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the hon. Gentleman aw Ire that that is a very unsatisfactory and reactionary answer? Does he realise that in the London elections there were on occasion 16 or 17 names on the ballot paper and in many cases people voted for Tories and Communists together? Does he think that those people were knowingly voting for those candidates and therefore perhaps confirming the views of Mr. Khrushchev some years ago when he said that if he was in this country he would be a Tory? Seriously, does the hon. Gentleman recognise that in circumstances such as we have in this country it would to invaluable for the voter and for the political parties concerned to have the name of the official party clearly stated on the ballot paper?

Mr. Woodhouse

I must leave the hon. Member to draw his own conclusions about the way in which his friends, if they were his friends, voted in the London election. The G.L.C. election was this year conducted on a whole borough basis and electors were then voting for two, three or even four councillors together, but as soon as the Parliamentary Boundary Commission has reviewed the constituencies of London it is intended that each London borough shall be divided into single G.L.C. election areas electing single councillors. As to national elections, the question was examined by the Carr Committee on Electoral Reform in 1948 and the present practice was unanimously endorsed by the parties in the House at that time.

Sir D. Glover

Will my hon. Friend have another look at this matter? The situation is not satisfactory. Whether we like it or not, in 99 cases out of 100 people today vote for a party and they want to know the names of those for whom they are expected to vote when they get the ballot paper. It is very confusing when all that they find on the ballot paper is a list of names.

Mr. Woodhouse

I am aware of the possibility of difficulties arising, but my hon. Friend must also see the difficulties to which this suggestion would lead. For example, it would be impossible to prevent a candidate putting on his nomination paper the label "Conservative", Labour "or" "Liberal" when in fact he does not belong to the party bearing that name.

Mr. MacColl

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that it would be possible to allow the returning officer discretion to refuse to put on the ballot paper a title which was ostensibly calculated to deceive? Is he aware that what he said about the Greater London Council is correct but not in respect of all the wards within Greater London boroughs, because many of them will have up to six or more places to fill?

Mr. Woodhouse

The House is no doubt aware that from time to time my right hon. Friend receives many suggestions for electoral reform. There are a considerable number being considered and processed now. It would be wise to wait until after the General Election before any further reform was attempted.

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