§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH (THE. EARL OF ONSLOW)
My Lords, this is a very short Bill and perhaps needs only one word of explanation. The principal Act of 1918 provided that the qualifying period for the spring register should end on January 15, and the register come in force three months later. The dates for the autumn register were July and October 15. This gave only three months for preparing the Register. Experience has shown that this was insufficient, and that four months were necessary in which to do the work, and it has been usual by Orders in Council to extend the period to four months. The emergency powers under which these Orders in Council were made expire a year after the termination of the war—that is to say, next August—and consequently legislation is necessary if the alteration is to be continued.
The dates in the Schedule of the Bill are those which have been in operation under these Orders in Council. They have all been settled by conferences of the various Government Departments concerned and other authorities, including the chief political organisations, and it has been found that they are the dates which cause the least inconvenience. The dates for Northern Ireland are those suggested by that Government, but, of course, they can be modified, if necessary, by local legislation.
443 Clause 2 is introduced in order to effect a small economy. At the present moment, under the Local Government Act, 1888, when application is made for alteration of an electoral division in England and Wales, it is obligatory to have a local inquiry. This may be an expensive matter, and under this clause power is given to the Secretary of State, if there is no opposition, to dispense with that inquiry. This clause follows the principal Act of 1888 in applying only to England and Wales.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Onslow.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.