HC Deb 02 February 1965 vol 705 cc885-6
Q4. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made in the inter-party discussions on electoral reform.

Q13. Mr. Gower

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now make a statement arising from the inter-party consideration of possible changes in electoral law and procedure.

The Prime Minister

I hope to be in a position to make a statement about this very shortly.

Mr. Hamilton

Would my right hon Friend indicate that when he makes that statement he will be able to announce a successful conclusion to the negotiations, because there are very many abuses in the present electoral law which need remedying?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that when I make my announcement I shall be able to announce a conclusion on all these questions. I think that it is the general view of the House that with your good will, Mr. Speaker, there should be consideration of these matters through a Speaker's Conference? There have been some discussions on this question, but we have to have further discussions with right hon. Members opposite before we are in a position to make a proposal to the House.

Mr. Gower

With regard to one important aspect of this question, does the Prime Minister agree that it seems unreasonable that thousands of people should be disfranchised simply because of holiday arrangements made before the announcement of an election, which arrangements cannot easily be broken?

The Prime Minister

I have no doubt that that is amongst the questions that will be considered by a conference organised under your chairmanship, Mr. Speaker. There were some 29 or 30 other proposals which we felt were inimical to the working of our democracy, which we put repeatedly to right hon. Members opposite when they were the Government, and which I think will also fall to be considered.

Mr. Lubbock

Is it the policy of the Government to resist any attempt on the part of private Members to improve electoral law until this comprehensive review has been completed?

The Prime Minister

I understand that the hon. Gentleman has a Bill. I think that we had better wait and see what happens to it when he moves it in the House.

Mr. Kershaw

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the system of election recently used at Leyton seems to be a pretty good one?