General Election
Oral Answers to Questions — British Army

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander

Sir Geoffrey Mander (Wolverhampton East)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is satisfied that the arrangements for placing the names of repatriated prisoners of war on the electoral register are working well; and what is the approximate percentage so registered.

Sir J. Griģģ:

Each repatriated prisoner of war who returns to this country is given an opportunity as soon as he arrives, whether he goes to a reception camp or a hospital, to complete an Armed Forces Declaration Card (Army Form B 2626). These declarations can be received by Registration Officers up to four days before Nomination Day, for the purpose of the forthcoming General Election. Special measures have also been taken to obtain declarations from prisoners of war arriving in Italy, who may not reach this country in time to register here. I believe these arrangements are working well, but as the completion of the card is a voluntary matter on the part of the individual registering, and as he can post the card at his own convenience, I have no means of knowing even the approximate percentage of those who have availed themselves of the arrangements made.

Mr. Driberģ:

If repatriated prisoners of war are not at their own homes at the time of the election, but are in this country, will they have to vote by proxy, or will they be able to vote by post?

Sir J. Griģģ:

That is a matter of their applying for the postal registration facilities, and these are open up to four days before nomination day, which is still some time off.

Mr. Driberģ:

Are they also told about these facilities?

Sir J. Griģģ:

To the best of my belief, yes; instruction after instruction has been sent to them.

Photo of Mr Denis Pritt

Mr Denis Pritt (Hammersmith North)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that AFB 2639, the form applicable to troops voting by post, has not been made available for large numbers of Servicemen in the United Kingdom; and what arrangements he is making to ensure its early and complete availability.

Sir J. Griģģ:

On 28th April, an instruction was issued to all units in the United Kingdom telling them that supplies of the form were available, and to obtain the quantities they required. Two reminders have since been sent out to ensure compliance with the instruction.

Photo of Mr Denis Pritt

Mr Denis Pritt (Hammersmith North)

May I ask whether, as it sounds that the War Office is doing its best, the various units are playing up by applying for the forms?

Sir J. Griģģ:

A fair question merits a fair answer. I think there is some evidence that the staffs of some units were caught well off the mark, but I hope and believe that they have been reminded of their obligations pretty effectively.

Vice-Admiral Taylor:

Will nurses in hospitals also have it?

Sir J. Griģģ:

It may be my stupidity, but I am unable to distinguish any connection between that question and the one originally asked.

Photo of Mr Hugh Lawson

Mr Hugh Lawson (Skipton)

Will the right hon. Gentleman say if he has any idea what proportion of the men in this country have so far filled up this application?

Sir J. Griģģ:

The hon. Member has a Question on that point later on the Order Paper. He is trying to get "most-favoured-nation" treatment.

Photo of Mr George Hall

Mr George Hall (Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as the previous reminders apparently have not done what they were intended to do, a further reminder may be sent, in view of the importance of this form?

Sir J. Griģģ:

I think my hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. All the information at my disposal goes to show that the reminders have been effective.