§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Lloyd, who is unable to be present today, I beg to ask the four Questions standing in his name.
§ [The Questions were as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government—
- 1. Whether the Franchise Committee will reassemble in London when the communal questions have been decided, in order that the necessary changes in their report may be made and the gaps filled in?
- 2. Whether His Majesty's Government agree with the Franchise Committee that secret voting can be secured by the adoption of coloured ballot boxes, each representing a candidate, thus getting over the difficulty of placing a mark on the ballot papers.
- 3. Whether His Majesty's Government agree with the Franchise Committee in setting up two Labour constituencies: namely: — "Special Labour constituencies," and "Trade Union constituencies," while providing no constituency for agricultural labour, in which industry the vast majority of Indians are employed.
- 4. Whether there is any precedent in any country for reserving seats for women, as recommended by the Franchise Committee for the Assembly and Provincial Councils.]
THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN)
My Lords, the question of the future of the Franchise Committee can only be settled after the communal decision has been announced. It is receiving the attention of His Majesty's Government, but I can give no answer about it at the present time. As regards the second and third Questions asked by the noble Lord, His Majesty's Government cannot, in advance of the decisions to be taken in due course, express opinions on isolated proposals contained in the Committee's Report. As regards the reservation of seats for women, so far as I am aware, there is no country at present using this practice. The principle of the reservation of seats for special interests is, of course, familiar in India to-day under the present Constitution.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
My Lords, I do not quite understand the answer to the second Question:Whether His Majesty's Government agree with the Franchise Committee that secret voting can be secured by the adoption of coloured ballot boxes, each representing a candidate, thus getting over the difficulty of placing a mark on the ballot papers.Am I to understand that the voters who are going to be enfranchised are unable to put a mark on the paper? If that is so, it does not seem to me to be a very good omen for the future of India. Secondly, if the ballot boxes are coloured, surely everybody will see who you are voting for and there will be no secrecy?
THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I cannot add anything to my answer so far as the policy of His Majesty's Government is concerned. They must reserve judgment till they consider the problems as a whole. As to the adoption of coloured ballot boxes, might I refer the noble Lord to the appendix in the Franchise Committee's Report which deals fully with the matter?
§ House adjourned during pleasure.
§ House resumed.