HL Deb 01 May 1900 vol 82 cc402-3


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is another small Bill which, if not necessary, is at all events desirable in consequence of the war in South Africa. The Bill is for the purpose of removing the electoral disabilities which may arise in the case of those who have volunteered to go to the front. It deals with the case of members of the Reserve who have been called out with members of the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteer force, and also with any other Volunteers who may have been accepted for active service; and it lays down that they shall not be deprived of their qualification merely by reason of the fact that they are absent from home. I think your Lordships will agree that it is only fair that men who have shown such public spirit and patriotism as to volunteer for service in South Africa in this emergency should be protected, as far as possible, in their civil rights, and that their absence from home on active service should not deprive them of the qualification to vote which they would otherwise possess. The Bill only refers to the period of the present war in South Africa, and, as was pointed out in the other House, does not deal with the case of the Regular forces. That would be a much larger matter. The Regular forces of the Crown are enlisted for the purpose of service in different parts of the world when they are so called upon. This Bill only deals with those who in the natural course of their profession would not be called out of the country, and, as was pointed out by the Home Secretary in the other House, it would be quite outside the scope of the Bill to include in it the Regular forces. I have explained to your Lordships the provisions of the Bill, and I beg to move that it be read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Helper.)

On Question, agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Friday next.