HC Deb 25 May 1972 vol 837 cc1604-5
7. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now consider the use of voting machines in parliamentary and local government elections, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Carlisle

In December, 1970, after a study had been made of the use of voting machines, my right hon. Friend's conclusion was announced that they would not offer enough advantages to outweigh the radical change in our traditional voting methods which they would require. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] He sees no reason to take a different view now.—[Vol. 807, c. 1457.]

Mr. Madel

In spite of the Parliamentary boundary changes, constituencies are growing all the time, with larger local authorities coming into being under the Local Government Bill. Will my hon. and learned Friend look again at the possibility of having a pilot scheme? Will he also have a fresh look at American experience in this sphere?

Mr. Carlisle

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary does not at present feel able to recommend any such change to Parliament. He has decided against making any further study of voting machines at this stage, and by the murmurs of assent which I heard when I gave my original answer I have the impression that that is a decision of which the House approves.

Mr. Heffer

At the risk of being considered an old Conservative, may I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to take it from me that some of us on this side of the House, having looked at the American system and particularly bearing in mind recent experiences of the use of voting machines in that country, very much welcome his right hon. Friend's decision in this matter, a decision which is probably applauded by the majority of hon. Members and the country as a whole?

Mr. Carlisle

The number of names on the ballot paper in America and the number of candidates for whom one must vote at any particular time make for different considerations there than apply at parliamentary elections in this country.