Elections (Conveyance of Voters).

– in the House of Commons on 25th March 1925.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Leicester West

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Law relating to the conveyance of persons to or from the poll, and for purposes connected therewith. I am sure that there are many Members of all parties who feel that the present position with regard to the conveyance of voters to the poll is not wholly satisfactory. In the first place, it places the voters, particularly in rural constituencies, in a rather invidious position. They must either, in effect, declare which way they are going to vote, and thereby make the Ballot Act of no effect, or they must be willing to travel in a motor car or some other vehicle carrying party colours, to which party they do not really adhere. That many independent voters do not like to do.

In the second place, the present position of affairs places the owner of a motor car in a very peculiar position as against other people. A man who owns a car may bring the car to the election from a long distance away. He may spend a considerable sum of money in transit. He may have to provide additional wages for the chauffeur, and he may, very likely he will, have to pay a heavy bill for repairs after the election is over. That is considered legitimate, where another man who is prepared to hire a car for the day of the poll is forbidden to do so. Further than that, ten people, say, of no great means, may be prepared to club together and to pay £1 each, or a little less, for the purpose of providing a car, but they are not allowed to substitute themselves for the one man who owns a car. I am sure that every person in this House must realise that that is not an equitable method of dealing with this question.

Further I am certain that hon. Members who own cars, or whose friends own cars, must realise that the damage done to the ear in an election is out of all proportion to the advantage which the car confers upon the community as a whole.

Finally I think we are all beginning to realise that there is a very considerable danger to the public, and particularly to children, in many elections owing to the use of motor cars. Whenever I take part in an election, I am always very much afraid that some child will be run over and killed in the course of the helter-skelter of motor cars during the election. These are difficulties which hon. Members in all parts of the House will recognise.

What are the objects which we have in view? Our object is to enable every voter who honestly desires to go to the poll to have an opportunity of getting there. That implies, in the case of boroughs, that there must be some means of conveying the infirm and aged and those who are unable to walk a comparatively short distance. In counties it means a good deal more than that, because the distance to the poll from the homes of the people is often very considerable, and even active people would be unwilling, if not unable, to go the long distance which would be required in some cases to enable them to vote.

The object of the Bill, which has the support of Members of all parties in the House, is an attempt to remedy this evil. I do not think it is a very easy matter to deal with. It is a difficult and complicated question to tackle. The way in which my Bill proposes to deal with it is this: in the first place, I propose to pro-

hibit the use of private motor cars in taking voters to the poll, except in taking the man or woman who owns the car, and members of their own family living with them. The Bill makes it incumbent upon the returning officer to provide, according to certain Regulations, means of conveying to the poll in all constituencies persons who are infirm or unable to get to the poll. In addition to that, the Bill provides that in the county constituencies each candidate may nominate 2 per cent. of the electorate, and throw upon the returning officer the responsibility of conveying them to the poll.

The Bill does not attempt to do what would obviously be an advantage in regard to the saving of time, and that is, to increase the number of polling stations; but I hope that that would take place at the same time.

I admit that this is a very complicated question. Although I have done my best in this Bill to put forward proposals which I think are reasonable and could be carried into effect, I am bound to admit that they are not perfect. I do, however, ask very sincerely that hon. Members will allow the Bill to have a First Reading, so that it may be printed and they may be able to see it in print for themselves and, where necessary, the Bill can be modified at a later stage. If hon. Members agree to the First Reading of the Bill, they will have" an opportunity of having the definite proposal before them, and they can then consider it.

Question put, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Law relating to the conveyance of persons to or from the poll, and for purposes connected therewith.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I waited for the hon. and gallant Member to rise. I have now collected the voices.

The House divided: Ayes, 122; Noes, 212.

Division No. 60.]AYES.[4.0 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Batey, JosephBuchanan, G.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeBellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Butler, Sir Geoffrey
Attlee, Clement RichardBenn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)Charleton, H. C,
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Birchall, Major J. DearmanClowes, S.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Broad, F. A.Cluse, W. S.
Barnes, A.Bromley, J.Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
Barr, J.Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Compton, Joseph
Connolly, M.John, William (Rhondda, West)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Cove, W. G.Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Snail, Harry
Crawfurd, H. E.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Dalton, HughJones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Kelly, W. T.Stamford, T. W.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Kennedy, T.Stephen, Campbell
Day, Colonel HarryKirkwood, D.Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Dennison, R.Lawson, John JamesSutton, J. E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Lee, F.Taylor, R. A.
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)Lowth, T.Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Fenby, T. D.Lunn, WilliamThorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)Thurtle, E.
Gibbins, JosephMackinder, W.Tinker, John Joseph
Gillett, George M.MacLaren, AndrewTrevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Gosling, HarryMaxton, JamesVarley, Frank B.
Greenall, T.Montague, FrederickViant, S. P.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Warne, G. H.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Murnin, H.Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Naylor, T. E.Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Groves, T.Palin, John HenryWedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Grundy, T. W.Paling, W.Welsh, J. C.
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)Ponsonby, ArthurWestwood, J.
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)Potts, John S.Whiteley, w.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Wignall, James
Hardie, George D.Riley, BenWilliams, David (Swansea, E.)
Harris, Percy A.Ritson, J.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonRobertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Henderson, T. (Glasgow)Rose, Frank H.Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hilton, CecilSaklatvala, ShapurjiWindsor, Walter
Hirst, G. H.Scrymgeour, E.Wright, W.
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Scurr, John
Hore-Belisha, LeslieShaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Shiels, Dr. DrummondMr. Pethick-Lawrence and Mr.
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)Oliver.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelCrookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)Herbert, S.(York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Curzon, Captain ViscountHogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.Derby)Davidson, J. (Hertf'd Hemel Hempst'd)Holland, Sir Arthur
Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William JamesDavies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)Holt, Capt. H. P.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K.Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Homan, C. W. J.
Balniel, LordDawson, Sir PhilipHope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Barnston, Major Sir HarryDrewe, C.Hopkins, J. W. W.
Beamish, Captain T. P. H.Duckworth, JohnHorne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)Eden, Captain AnthonyHoward, Captain Hon. Donald
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Edmondson, Major A. J.Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-England, Colonel A,Hume, Sir G. H.
Berry, Sir GeorgeErskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)Huntingfield, Lord
Bethell, A.Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithHurd, Percy A.
Betterton, Henry B.Everard, W. LindsayHutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)
Blades, Sir George RowlandFairfax, Captain J. G.Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftFalle, Sir Bertram G.Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.Fanshawe, Commander G. D.James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Brass, Captain W.Fermoy, LordJephcott, A. R.
Brassey, Sir LeonardFisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeForrest, W.Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William
Brittain, Sir HarryFoster, Sir Harry S.Kenyon, Barnet
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Fraser, Captain IanKindersley, Major Guy M.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Frece, Sir Walter deKnox, Sir Alfred
Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)Ganzoni, Sir JohnLane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Gates, PercyLocker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)
Burman, J. B.Gault Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonLoder, J. de V.
Burton, Colonel H. W.Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George AbrahamLucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardGilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnLumley, L. R.
Campbell, E. T.Grace, JohnMacAndrew, Charles Glen
Cautley, Sir Henry SGrant, J. A.Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Greene, W. P. CrawfordMcDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)Gretton, Colonel JohnMcNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Charteris, Brigadier-General J.Gunston, Captain D. W.Macquisten, F. A.
Christie, J. A.Hacking, Captain Douglas H.MacRobert, Alexander M.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerHall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHarrison, G. J. C.Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Cobb, Sir CyrilHartington, Marguess ofMalone, Major P. B.
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Colfox, Major Wm. PhillipsHaslam, Henry C.Margesson, Captain D.
Cope, Major WilliamHawke, John AnthonyMarriott, Sir J. A. R.
Couper, J. B.Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.Milne, J. S. Wardlaw
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryHeneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Crook, C. W.Henn, Sir Sydney H-.Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Morris, R. H.
Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)Remnant, Sir JamesTempleton, W. P.
Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur CliveRentoul, G. S.Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Murchison, C. K.Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JosephRoberts, E. H. G. (Flint)Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell. (Croydon, S.)
Nelson, Sir FrankRoberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)Tinne, J. A.
Neville, R. J.Ropner, Major L.Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Rye, F. G.Waddington, R.
Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Nuttall, EllisSandeman, A. StewartWaterhouse, Captain Charles
Oman, Sir Charles William C.Sanders, Sir Robert A.Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamSassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave DWatson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Pennefather, Sir JohnShaw, Capt. W. W, (Wilts, Westb'y)Wells, S. R.
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Shepperson, E. W.White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairympie
Perkins, Colonel E. K.Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)Slaney, Major P. KenyonWilson, Sir Charles H. (Leeds, Central)
Pielou, D.P.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Pilcher, G.Smith-Carington, Neville W.Wise, Sir Fredric
Power, Sir John CecilSmithers, WaldronWood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W.R., Ripon)
Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel AsshetonSomerville, A. A. (Windsor)Wood, E.(Chest'r Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Radford, E. A.Sprot, Sir AlexanderWood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Rains, W.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)Wragg, Herbert
Ramsden, E.Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. PeelStuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Rawson, Alfred CooperStyles, Captain H. WalterTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Remer, J. R.Sugden, Sir WilfridMr. Dennis Herbert and Mr.
Gerald Hurst.