General Elections (Voting Facilities)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East 12:00 am, 9th April 1959

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure the widest opportunity to vote at General Elections, particularly for those traveling long distances to work, by introducing legislation to allow employees to take three hours off work on polling day without loss of pay, as is done in 27 States in the United States of America.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

No, Sir: I think the existing facilities for voting in person between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., or in certain cases by post, are sufficient.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

Does not the Home Secretary think that a high vote is in the interests of democracy? Would not this proposal be in line with the generations of adaptation and experiment which have led to our present system?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The voting was 82.6 per cent. in 1951 and 76.8 per cent. in 1955. This is a far higher proportion than occurs in America, to which the hon. Member's Question was related.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Will not the Home Secretary consider making polling day a national holiday, in view of the fact that the Government will have no reason to rejoice afterwards?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

In the forthcoming election the more time people have to vote the more certain we are of a resounding victory. The question is—and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to provide the answer to it—who will pay for the national holiday?