HC Deb 01 February 1973 vol 849 cc1602-3
24. Mr. Mark Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will advise returning officers for the impending county council elections on the eligibility of students for postal votes during university and college vacations.

Mr. Carlisle

No, Sir. The grounds on which persons may be entitled to be treated as absent voters are laid down in the Representation of the People Act 1949. My right hon. Friend considers that it is not necessary, nor would it be proper, for him to seek to advise electoral registration officers on the interpretation of these provisions.

Mr. Hughes

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that the definition of the question whether a vacation is a holiday and, therefore, whether students are absent of their own volition determines whether 200,000 people will be able to vote in particular areas in the elections on 12th, 13th and 14th April?

Mr. Carlisle

What is quite clear is that for those who are absent on holiday it is not a ground for obtaining a postal vote. I must stand by what I have said—that the interpretation of the question whether or not a person is on holiday must be a matter for the electoral registration officer and not for the Home Office.

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