Clause 21. — (Interpretation.)

Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th December 1945.

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Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields 12:00 am, 7th December 1945

I beg to move, in page 14, line 36, at end, insert: 'member of the forces' and 'seaman' have the meanings respectively assigned to them by section twenty-two of -the Act of 1943: This is an Amendment which is designed to remove some doubts which were expressed during the Committee Stage. It was thought that it might possibly be that a man released under Class B or a man on indefinite release was not included in this Clause. I am advised that the position was quite reasonably clear, but these words make it quite certain that these particular people will be able to claim the same rights as the men who have been permanently discharged from the Forces.

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

Here again we should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for doing his best to meet the suggestion put forward from this side of the House. I am glad that it will be quite clear that the men released under Class B, and also men released on compassionate grounds, will be catered for in the supplementary register.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

Again I would like to thank my right hon. Friend also. It is a matter of particular interest to the seamen of the country, whom I represent to a considerable extent, and who I believe are likely to elect members of my Party to represent them. I am glad that on this occasion, as on others our pleas have had some effect in moving a rather obdurate Department. I do congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on this not very big concession but which is something which shows he is amenable to suggestions.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

May I, with the leave of the House, thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks? The other evening he spoke for the Scilly Isles. I cannot help thinking that really he was the proper person to reply for them.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time." —[Mr. Ede.]

11.15 a.m.

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

I should like to say I appreciate the difficulties to which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary alluded, in moving the Motion for the recommittal of the Bill, in placing any time limit on Clause I of the Bill. Obviously, there are practical difficulties of a fairly formidable character, and there is also the difficulty that the Bill is being put through the House rather against time. Therefore, I want to say that I am perfectly satisfied with the assurances that have been given by the right hon. Gentleman that he intends the whole of this Bill to be of a purely temporary character and that, as soon as he gets the Report of the Committee set up to deal with electoral registration and cognate matters, he will proceed with legislation of a permanent character. This Bill is now an agreed Measure and will go to the other place as such.

Photo of Major Sir Duncan McCallum Major Sir Duncan McCallum , Argyll

I wish to express the gratitude of those of us from the Highlands of Scotland that an Amendment which was accepted by the Home Secretary on the Committee stage will enable quite a large number of the inhabitants of the Highlands of Scotland to register their votes in Parliamentary elections.

Major Sir basil Nevcn-Spcncc:

I want to re-echo the words of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Argyll (Major McCallum). I am exceedingly glad the Home Secretary saw his way to accept that Amendment which has put right an old standing grievance, which does not affect a very large number of people, but nevertheless affects a thousand or two people, who have never been able to record their votes at a general Election. I have always considered that a particular hardship, because it is my experience that the people who live in the most remote places are among the most highly intelligent people to be found anywhere in the country. They have not a great deal of time to spend on amusements, but they spend all that time in thinking. It has been very unfair to them that they should have had all these opportunities for thinking and yet never have had an opportunity to record by way of vote their opinions on current affairs. There is a fair number of men on very lonely lighthouse stations around the coast. We do not very often think about these men who watch the traffic lights of the sea highways and who lead an incredibly lonely life. They are people who think a great deal. The Amendment that was made will, at least, give all these people a sporting chance of being able to record their votes.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

I am able to support the general principles of this Bill. I will not attempt in any way to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in the remarks he made about certain Islands, remarks which will be useful from the electoral point of view in future. It is rather a pity that such an obviously small point as that which he made should have been made by one whom I regarded as having the possibilities of being an outstanding person among rather indifferent comrades

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

As I formally moved the Motion for the Third Reading of the Bill, I must ask the indulgence of the House to be allowed to reply. This morning I feel very much in the position of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who said, alter the 1906 General Election, that he had received support both from the Scilly Islands and the Islands that were far from silly. I thank hon. Members for what they have said, but I hope they will not repeat these compliments too often, or they may get me into trouble among my colleagues.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third Time, and passed.