§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Lord WELLS-PESTELL
My Lords, I beg to move that these regulations be affirmatively approved and, with your Lordships' permission, I can take them very shortly indeed. In accordance with Section 171(5) of the Representation of the People Act 1949, these regulations have to be affirmatively approved by both Houses of Parliament before they come into operation, and the other House has already approved them. The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has scrutinised them and has not seen fit to recommend that your Lordships should not approve them.
All four sets of regulations are concerned with electoral law, and all four are consequential on the Representation of the People (Armed Forces) Act 1976. Their primary purpose is to provide for the registration of members of the Armed Forces and their wives as electors. The noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, who has an undoubted ability, if he will allow me to say so, for often putting his finger on things that are wrong, has, I know, been through these and, apart from one mistake which we had already discovered for ourselves, has found nothing wrong with them. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Representation of the People (Amendment) Regulations 1976, laid before the House on 9th December, be approved.
§ That the Representation of the People (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Regulations 1976, laid before the House on 9th December, be approved.218
§ That the Elections (Welsh Forms) Regulations 1976, laid before the House on 9th December, be approved.
§ That the Representation of the People (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1976, laid before the House on 14th December, be approved.—(Lord Wells-Pestell.)
§ The Earl of MANSFIELD
My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships will thank the noble Lord for the succinct way in which he has outlined these four sets of regulations. Also, I should thank him for acknowledging that others besides those behind the noble Lord saw the mistake. As I understand these regulations, Servicemen and their dependants will need to register for Service votes only once and not annually, and Service wives will be eligible for Service votes even if they are not overseas. I think I am right in that. These Instruments seek to ensure that nobody loses the right to vote in Parliamentary Elections as a result of Service in the Forces or because of the fact that they are married to Servicemen. I think that noble Lords in all parts of your Lordships' House will welcome the intention, and the fact that the Government mean this to come into effect in time for the compilation of the register, which I understand is to be published in February 1978.
§ On Question, Motions agreed to.