Provision shall be made by electoral registration regulations for securing that, where a ballot paper is issued to any person registered in the service register or the business premises register for the purpose of voting by post under this Part of this Act and, when the absent voters' ballot boxes are opened for the purpose of checking the envelopes therein and their contents, the declaration of identity sent to that person with that ballot paper is found to have been returned and is not rejected by the returning officer, any vote cast on that person's behalf by his proxy shall not be counted; and for that purpose the regulations shall in particular provide,—
It might be convenient if I dealt now with the point which the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has raised, as it is this Clause, in general, which raises the point which he had in mind. As I understood my hon. Friend there were three points which he raised. The first was the question of the address. He regretted that the address was not included in the Service declaration and hoped that, if a new declaration were made, the address would go in. I shall certainly again consider that point with reference to all the considerations which I have just put before the Committee. The second point was with regard to continuance. It was hoped that this system of voting would be needed during the present year. I do not think my hon. Friend actually adumbrated the point, but he may have had it in mind, that we should have some provision to give power to continue it by Order in Council or Regulation or the like. I will again consider that point, and there will be an opportunity for intimating the decision come to. On the third point, that of maintaining the present position of the delay between the poll and the count, I shall not go into that, because it is the position put forward by the Government, and, unless any alteration is suggested, no alteration will be put forward from this Bench.
I am very glad also to have the opportunity of dealing with the points raised by the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale). The first of these was that the fullest possible steps should be taken to give information to the troops. That is certainly the policy of the Government, and everything that can be done will be done by the Service Departments, and everything will be done by the Home Office, who are in charge of electoral machinery, to inspire the other Departments to take that course. As my hon. Friend himself indicated, there is no question to the contrary. This ballot will be conducted with complete secrecy, and, of course, there will be no adverse reaction on the soldier in any way. I can give that assurance quite categorically. My hon. Friend knows that certain pieces of machinery had to be erected and other processes gone through with regard to the supersession of proxy-votes by postal votes, but that does not, as is quite clearly shown in the Appendix to the Report of the Conference, interfere in any way with the secrecy of the ballot. I am very glad to have had the opportunity of dealing with these points, and I am grateful to both hon. Members for putting them forward.