HC Deb 04 June 1964 vol 695 cc1220-1
2. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of widespread dissatisfaction with the present state of the electoral law, he will initiate all-party discussions with a view to possible amendments.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. C. M. Woodhouse)

My right hon. Friend has no evidence of widespread dissatisfaction, but he is considering certain proposals for electoral reform put forward by the parties and from other sources.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the hon Gentleman aware that the provisions of the law as far as expenses are concerned are being deliberately flouted by the Tory Party, that the 1949 Act never intended that colossal sums of money should be spent in the way that they are being spent by the party opposite in the months preceding an election, and that action should be taken to stop this abuse of a democratic process?

Mr. Woodhouse

I expected that the hon. Gentleman had some grievance on his mind, but I would remind him that it is the traditional practice that the electoral law should not be amended in the closing stages of a Parliament. I have given an indication that the whole subject is under review for action in the next Parliament.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Would my hon. Friend, in order to avoid what is in practice a restriction of the franchise, consider giving postal votes to those away on holiday?

Mr. Woodhouse

This is the subject of a Private Member's Bill which is now before the House and I do not think it is a matter that can be dealt with by way of Question and Answer now.

Mr. Fletcher

May we take it, with regard to that Measure as well, that the Minister agrees that there should be no change in the electoral law in any respect in the closing stages of a Parliament?

Mr. Woodhouse

I think that I have already made that clear.

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