HC Deb 16 April 1964 vol 693 cc580-1
22. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why Her Majesty's Government will not declare the day on which the General Election takes place a Bank Holiday.

Mr. Woodhouse

My right hon. Friend sees no reason to think that this would either facilitate voting or secure a higher poll.

Mr. Lipton

Do not the Government want as many people as possible to vote in the next General Election? Will the Government take note of what happens in many other countries where the day of the election is a Sunday, or certainly not a working day? Does not experience show in those countries that that very fact helps to ensure a higher percentage poll?

Mr. Woodhouse

I do not think we can draw conclusions for this country necessarily from the experience of other countries. In the last four General Elections, in all cases operating under the same conditions, the polls were very high. The poll was higher in 1959 than in 1955. I should also explain to the hon. Member that under the existing law, for legal reasons of a highly technical character, if the General Election day were to be declared a Bank Holiday it would probably be illegal to hold a General Election.

Mr. Fletcher

May we take it, therefore, that the General Election will not be held on a Sunday?

Mr. Woodhouse

I do not think the hon. Member can draw any precise conclusions from the remarks I have made this afternoon.