HC Deb 30 November 1951 vol 494 cc179-80W
Mr. Joseph Price

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that 22598003 Sapper W. Dodds, 3rd Training Regiment, Royal Engineers, Guillemot Barracks, Gore, Hampshire, was deprived of his right to vote in the recent General Election having been registered as a voter at his home address 13 Lord Street, Westhoughton, and having made application for a postal vote to his commanding officer on 4th October, 1951; and if he will inquire how this happened.

Mr. Head

When a soldier joins his unit, his voting rights are explained to him as part of the normal enlistment procedure. I am afraid, however, that this soldier cannot have clearly understood his position since, while he completed a Service Voter's Declaration Card to ensure his inclusion on the electoral register as a Service voter for 1952, he failed to apply to the Electoral Registration Officer of his home constituency so that he might exercise his vote by post in the impending General Election.

Mr. Speir

asked the Secretary of State for War, if he is aware that troops who returned from active service in Korea on board the "Empire Royal," which reached the United Kingdom early in November, did not have any opportunity for recording their votes in the recent General Election; and whether he will take steps to ensure that all men now serving in Korea are given an opportunity to have their names put on their electoral register.

Mr. Head

Full facilities are afforded to men serving in Korea, as elsewhere, to be included in the electoral register. Appropriate instructions setting out the responsibilities of commanding officers are issued annually and this important matter is brought to the notice of all ranks by special information leaflets. Those who were serving and made their declaration by the closing dates for the 1951 Spring electoral register and who reached the age of 21 years by 15th June, 1951, could record their votes by proxy in the recent General Election. I know of no reason why the proportion of those registered as Service voters amongst those on board this vessel should be much lower than the figure of some 70 per cent. which is found elsewhere in the Army.

Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Defence the number of those entitled to be registered on the Services electoral register; and the number actually listed during the last Election.

The Prime Minister

I am having inquiries made, and will circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT as soon as possible.