HC Deb 20 November 1969 vol 791 cc1497-8
19. Air. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to make the day of a general election a public holiday; if he will examine means of arranging for similar holidays on the days of some major local elections; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

So far as concerns Parliamentary elections, this matter was considered by Mr. Speaker's Conference on Electoral Law, which recommended no change in the law. I see no reason for dealing differently with local government elections.

Mr. Roberts

Would not my hon. Friend agree that the present system has a built-in advantage for the Tory Party, many of whose election workers, as they are the idle rich, are available earlier in the day, whereas many of our election workers, who have to earn their living, are available only much later? Will my hon. Friend look at this again?

Mrs. Williams

I deplore a number of built-in advantages whic the Opposition have, but I do not think that we ought to add to them. It is the case that elections held on Saturdays, particularly, invariably have a lower poll than those held on another day of the week. I am sure my hon. Friend will appreciate that the greater the number of people who vote, the greater the number who will indicate their support for my party.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Even assuming that the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts) is right, does not the hon. Lady agree that to offset that there is a distinct advantage to the Government by fiddling the Boundary Commission's Report?