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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. I do not regard that as a problem. If a candidate has the foresight to consider the matter beforehand, he has the relevant period of time in which to obtain the signatures. The vast majority of political parties select their candidates, many months—indeed, years—beforehand. Even the fringe parties have that in mind. The suggestion seems to be that some of the loony candidates, deciding that they have a spare £150—or, as it will be, £500—rather than put that money on a horse race will invest it in a forthcoming general election or by-election. How otherwise could Mr. Piccaro have put up as the Official Acne Candidate, or, indeed, the candidates who stood for "Reclassify Sun Newspaper" or "Chesterfield in Thame"? The serious contender to the mother of Parliaments will have considered this before the calling of a general election or by-election and will have prepared the ground beforehand. I believe that the local government objections will be overcome.
On those grounds, I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to accept the clause and not to prevaricate. This is not something new that I have thrust upon him, because I have been in correspondence with his Department for approximately a year and a quarter. During that time he will have had an opportunity to compare our system with that of other legislatures, he will wish to bring Britain into line with them, he will appreciate the flexibility that I propose in the suggested 5 per cent. and six months, and, in his wisdom, he will want to accept the clause.