asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many voting papers were invalidated in each of the constituencies during the recent General Election in consequence of their not having been officially stamped; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that such contingencies shall not arise in the future.
I regret that this information is not yet available, but I will in due course circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The use of the official mark is one of the matters we are considering in connection with a general review of electoral law.
Would my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is possible for the number of votes cast for a defeated candidate to be greater than those cast for the successful candidate if these spoiled votes could be counted? Although the mistake could be due to no fault of an elector, he would thus be disfranchised? Will my right hon. and learned Friend take this fact into consideration when forming new rules with regard to how election voting papers are to be officially stamped and ensure that a person is not returned to the House of Commons when the majority of the electors are against him?
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that this is absolutely true and that it can be of considerable importance, but does he realise also that on the whole returning officers and their staff do a remarkably fine job?