I beg to move, in page 3, line 35, to leave out Sub-section (2), and to insert instead thereof the words:(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section the election agent of a candidate at a Parliamentary election may register with the returning officer not later than thirty-six hours before the time appointed for the commencement of the poll any vehicles that are intended to be used for the conveyance of electors to the poll on behalf of the candidate, and the returning officer in such manner as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State shall issue in respect of each such vehicle a distinctive badge or permit, and any vehicle in respect of which a badge or permit has been so issued may be used for the conveyance of electors to the poll.Provided always that the number of vehicles to be registered, on behalf of any one candidate shall not exceed in the case of a borough other than a London borough a number equal to four vehicles for every polling district in the 6aid borough and in the case of a county eight vehicles for every polling district in the said county.4.0 p.m.
This Amendment is of a very fundamental character, as it may practically be said to be a substitute for the second part of the Clause as it stands. The House will observe that the Government have got down an Amendment, which is also of a substitute character, and practically entirely alters the Clause. As the Amendment which I am moving is of this character, I believe that I shall be in order in discussing, to a considerable extent, the Clause itself, as only by so doing is it possible adequately to give the reasons for the substitution which I propose. We have had throughout this Debate the advantage, not only of the presence of the Home Secretary, but also that of the learned Solicitor-General. I think that all Members on this side of the House appreciate his courtesy, and also his forensic and dialectical ability, and this afternoon I should like, as a humble layman, to ask him a question or 2228 two on the subject of the real intention of the Government with regard to this Clause, and I hope that he will give me answers to those questions. I shall put the questions in the mildest language possible, so as not to give him the excuse of adopting a formula popular with all Law Officers, and already adopted by the Solicitor-General during the brief period he has been in the House. When asked awkward questions, addressed in vigorous or ironical terms, the reply is, "I can hardly believe that the hon. Member expects an answer to his question." I shall give him no such excuse, and will put my questions in the most polite and reasonable form, as is my constant custom.
I do not propose to repeat the speech I made in Committee, but there are one or two observations of a general character which I should like to make. It remains true that this Clause in its original form, or as the Government intend to amend it, will curtail the facilities for voting at a time when the electorate is least inclined to exercise what should be a duty as well as a right. Of course, it would not be in order on this Clause to discuss the reason why there is this growing reluctance on the part of the electors. They may dislike or distrust the present party in power or their programme, or it may be due to a general decline of respect for, or belief in elected persons and elective assemblies—a reaction from the enthusiasm of a hundred years or so ago which followed various separate but connected events. Rut whatever the causes, the effect is obviously serious. At the latest by-election, for example, the number of electors who exercised the duty and the right of voting was not more than 50 per cent. of the whole electorate. The figures are given this morning. It must very injuriously affect the authority of this House, and indeed, of all parties. Yet by this Clause the Government are deliberately and designedly making it harder for country electors to vote.
I would like to go into the reasons for this attitude. The Government and their supporters do not suggest that the registering of a vote is a function to be restrained by Statute. Certainly that has not been the opinion of hon. and right hon. Members below the Gangway. Indeed, at one time they thought voting 2229 had almost Divine sanction. I remember, in the 1910 election, at meeting after meeting which I addressed, supporters of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) got up at the back of the room and sang a song, the words of which are still familiar:Why should we be beggars with the ballot in our hand?God made the land for the people.I am not certain that I have got the words correctly, but that was their effect. I was informed at the time that the least instructed electors, spurred on by their Nonconformist spiritual advisers, used to hurry in Tory motor cars to record a vote for the Liberal candidate, treating it almost as a duty to their Deity. The act of recording a vote is not regarded, I think, as immoral by any party in the House, nor is the act of riding in a motor car to the poll immoral or wrong in the opinion of the Government, because they themselves have provided in the Bill, although in the most cumbrous way, for motors to be used.
Therefore, my first question to the Solicitor-General is: At what point does riding in a motor car to record a vote become so unrighteous a deed, so detrimental to the public interest, so utterly wrong in every way, as to warrant the Solicitor-General using his unrivalled powers of persuasion, which we have already begun to admire during the short time he has been in this House, to induce this House to prevent it? I am going to supply the obvious answer, and I hope that the Solicitor-General will agree with it. It is: When the Tory candidate has more cars than the Socialist or Liberal candidate. That is when it becomes immoral, and as, for various reasons, the Conservative candidate usually does have more cars, in the opinion of the Solicitor-General it is always. I would like to ask why is it wrong, if the answer I have supplied is the correct one, as I believe?
I would submit that the question of wealth does not come into the matter. Conservative candidates may be, and very often are, poorer than the candidates opposed to them. Certainly at two elections I have fought my opponents have been very much wealthier than myself. A Conservative candidate may not own a motor car, while his opponent may have several. If the cost of the use of motor cars is to he taken into consideration, I 2230 suggest that it would be a very small sum if the cost of the hire of cars were included in election expenses. I suggest that the average candidate would be able to spend that money, and keep well within the limit of election expenses. It is not a question of using the power of money by legal but unfair methods to secure a candidate's return which comes into the matter at all. It is not a case of a candidate using this money which, if it had been given in his election return, would mean that his expenses would exceed the limit. Therefore, I cannot see where the injustice in the present Clause comes in, why it is necessary to meet it, why it is necessary to meet it in the way the Government intended to meet it in the first instance and the way in which they now intend to meet it in that Amendment.
Is the suggestion that the State ought to prevent any inequality, however legitimately it may arise, between candidates in respect of the facilities at their disposal? If that is the contention, merely to limit the use of motor cars is only redressing one of the many forms of inequality that may arise. If that really is the Government's view, they ought to be logical. I could mention two other cases of inequality which equally ought to be redressed. They should abolish the powers of trade unions to place the services of their staff, free of charge, at the disposal of a Socialist candidate, which is obviously an inequality, and they should limit the use of window cards. In some constituencies it is not possible for the supporters of a particular candidate to put up the window cards of that candidate. It is not necessary to specify any particular party. It happens, no doubt, in the case of all, though more frequently in the case of the candidates of the party that sit on these benches and below the Gangway than opposite. I make myself responsible for that statement, and I could give personal examples which have come under my experience. These things are neither more nor less aids or detriments to voting for a particular candidate than the use of motors. One of them operates wholly, and the other partially, in favour of hon. Members opposite.
I come to what in my opinion is an even more grave defect of the Clause and of the Government's Amendment, a defect which my Amendment partially 2231 removes but not wholly, because it is impossible to remove it wholly by amending this Clause. The Clause, as it stands, or as the Home Secretary wishes to amend it, would clearly inflict far greater inconvenience and hardship in the case of a country than of an urban constituency. Generally speaking, country electors are far more favourably disposed to those who sit on these benches than to those who sit opposite, or below the Gangway. Therefore, it might be held, though I hope it is not true, that the sinister intention of the Government in this matter is to hinder and obstruct the votes of those who are politically opposed to them. That is the method of manipulators all over the world.
Take the case of the negroes in the Southern states of America and certain racial groups in certain European countries—people who are in groups having a racial or religious kinship—who, if they polled their full strength would swamp their more powerful, though numerically fewer, opponents. Methods are invariably adopted to stop those people polling. That is the simplest way to prevent them returning their candidates. It takes the form of prohibiting them from using public vehicles, preventing them getting petrol and in other ways preventing them from getting to the poll. Many years ago I was in South America. I was being introduced by the Mayor of a town to a club. I had to write down in the Club Book what my profession was, and I wrote Deputy of the Chamber. The Mayor said, "Do not say that. Deputies are of no importance in this country. You should describe yourself as an English Lord." I asked him why deputies were of no importance. He said, "Because in our country every deputy who has been elected has succeeded either by intimidation or in other ways preventing his opponents going to the poll." He gave me several examples, some of which bear a striking resemblance to the proposals in this Clause. Voters from outlying districts were unable to obtain conveyances to get to the poll. Their horses or mules mysteriously disappeared the night before the poll. I should hesitate to suggest that these are the motives which have actuated the Government in bringing this Clause forward, but, on the face 2232 of it, there is a very distinct suspicion of their intentions.
My Amendment follows to some extent the Government Amendment, but in a simpler form, and permits a fairer allocation of motor vehicles. In the case of a constituency like mine, where there are 76,000 electors, the Government Amendment would mean that each candidate would be permitted to have only 76 motors, which is an absurdly small number in a country district. There is nothing that I can see that is in the least unfair to any political party. Even with any Amendment that can be made to it, the Clause will make for inconvenience and harassment to the voter. For instance, in the part of England in which I live certain wage earners, who have motor bicycles for the purpose of getting to their work, are in the habit of taking friends to and fro on a trailer or on the pillion. No doubt, at election time they have been in the habit of using their bicycles to get to the poll and taking their friends with them. Under the Clause, even with my Amendment, it will be impossible for them to do it any longer. That is only one example of many that might be given. My Amendment is simpler and more equitable than that of the Government.
§ Captain BOURNE
I support the Amendment because I think it is very much more logical to ration motor cars in accordance with the number of polling stations than with the number of electors on the register. Several points were overlooked when we dealt with this matter in Committee. One thing, which I think has not been mentioned before, is that, owing to the giving of the vote to women at the age of 21, the number of removals has increased out of all proportion to what it used to be. Last October I was calling on a new housing estate in my constituency. I had with me an advance copy of the register, which was not then in force. I found, very much to my surprise, that some 10 per cent. of the entries in the register were already completely out of date owing to the number of women who had married since 15th July and had moved, some to the other end of my constituency, some to neighbouring constituencies, and a few to remote parts of England, where, in the event of an election, no party would have been able to poll them.
2233 I do not think the enormous difference that has been made by giving votes to women between 21 and 30 in this respect is realised. A man who marries generally settles down close to his work. He does not leave the district. The case with a woman is totally different. She has to go where her husband works. At this time of the year I should think the total percentage of removals from that cause alone would be about 25 per cent. The woman cannot go to the poll with her husband, because in the majority of cases he is registered in respect of the district in which he and his wife are now residing, and a certain number of motor cars are necessary to deal with that problem alone. These people are morally entitled to vote and the Government have no right to put obstacles in their way by refusing to allow the use of motor cars. Very few of us know on which side these people are going to vote. There is a perfectly unreasoning dread on the part of hon. Members opposite that, because a person goes in a motor car belonging to one party, he will necessarily vote for that candidate.
There is another aspect of the question. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite, most of whom represent urban and semi-urban constituencies, realise the conditions in the sort of constituency in which I was brought up and in which I have taken a good deal of interest politically before I got into the House. I lived in a parish which contained 500 inhabitants and occupied some 3,000 acres, and where there were not six houses together at any one point of the parish. As a matter of fact, the polling station was in the next village. Before the War it was five miles away. People who lived in the remotest part of that village had to walk five miles across country—in winter, across heavy, wet, clayey fields. That was a very long way to go for people who were employed in agriculture. Many of them had to walk that distance, making a total of something like 14 miles, in order to exercise their undoubted right to cast a vote. I ask hon. Members opposite to think of that.
That state of affairs was not exceptional in the particular constituency of which I am speaking. It was a fairly big constituency. Its population was not very heavy, but the villages were few and far between. It was almost a case 2234 for comment and surprise to those who came to stay in that part of the world for the first time that they never saw the village. People would motor through five or six parishes and would not realise that they (had been through a parish at all. There were few houses by the roadside. They were scattered over wide areas. Yet that state of affairs is far more common in parts of England than hon. Members opposite seem to realise, and they are going to make it very difficult for inhabitants to vote for whatever party they wish to vote unless they meet their convenience to the full.
I have a certain number of figures which may perhaps interest the House. I admit that they relate to the worst cases, but, if we are legislating to put a statutory maximum upon anything, whether it be election expenses or whether it be the number of cars to be allowed, we cannot legislate fairly unless we make our statutory maximum at least fair for the most difficult cases. A statutory maximum does not mean that you must have that total number of cars, but it does, in the most difficult areas where people have the greatest distances to walk in order to get to the poll, do something towards ensuring that at least the majority of the inhabitants can vote if they so wish. I will give one or two examples. I will take, first of all, the example of the Bridgwater Division of Somerset, polling district Porlock. Among other parishes, is the parish of Oare. No part of the population of Oare is less than five miles distant, and between Oare and the polling place is Porlock Hill, two miles long, in some places with a gradient of one in five. The electorate of Oare is 60. How many of those persons does the right hon. Gentleman think will be able to vote without some assistance? Does he wish the man who has had to do a hard day's agricultural work to walk five miles, including a hill two miles long, with a gradient of one in five? Does the right hon. Gentleman want to put that sort of difficulty upon voters if they wish to exercise their rights? He must admit that even under this proposal these people will have little chance of voting. Surely the Home Secretary and the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot wish to deprive the voters of England of the opportunity to express their views on politics.
2235 I will take another example. There is the polling district of Simonsbath. It has an area of 20,344 acres, and, as the crow flies, you can take a straight line of seven and a-half miles across the parish. The electors number 170. Some of the electors would have at least five miles to travel over the bleakest and wildest of moorland country. Without the use of cars, it was not expected, in fine weather, that more than 50 per cent. would poll, and in a winter election not more than 25 per cent. would poll. Does the right hon. Gentleman wish to condemn women to walk five miles in winter in the face of cold, driving rain or snow, across the bleakest moorland in England? Do hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to do that in order to satisfy a purely jealous passion against motor cars?
I will give another case. Take the constituency of Berwick-on-Tweed. It has a population of electors of 39,000. There are 44 polling districts, and only in six of these are the majority of the voters within walking distance of the poll. In every other case the majority of the electors have to travel distances up to eight and 10 miles. Do hon. Members opposite consider that it is really reasonable that the electors of Berwick-on-Tweed should have to walk 16 miles in order to record their votes, or that they should be deprived of the vote which hon. Members opposite are always urging so eloquently every man and woman ought to have? I will take the last and most extreme case of the lot. It is the Division of Cardiganshire. I will not attempt to pronounce the Welsh names, as Welsh names are beyond me. In one case people living on one side of the mountain have to go 33 miles each way if they wish to go and record their votes. What are they going to do? It will take them two days to walk there and two days to walk back again.
I do not know whether the Home Office have any information or particulars of these points or whether the Clause is merely brought in out of the imagination of the Home Secretary, backed by the Solicitor-General out of the fertility of his brain. Why do hon. Members opposite always assume that the majority of motor cars must belong to the Tories 2 I notice, as I go about my constituency, that a very large percentage of the 2236 electors own motor cars. Although I have a large majority, I do not think that all those people who own motor cars, or anything like them, are my supporters. I imagine that quite a large percentage of them support the party opposite. In view of the growth of motor cars—there is one car to every 30 of the population or some figure like that—do they mean to say that none of their people own motor cars? I cannot believe it. Possibly—and it is the only explanation of which I can think—when once a man begins to get a little prosperous and begins to own a little property, such as a motor car, he begins to see the futility and the fatuousness of the proposals of hon. Members opposite, and for that reason he will not support their candidate whom he sincerely hopes will be at the bottom of the poll.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE
Yesterday we heard it said that the Government wished to do away with university representation because they knew the more educated a man was the more certain he was to vote for the Conservative party. Now they are taking a further step to make it more difficult for electors to get to the poll. They are dealing with agricultural workers because they know perfectly well that they get little support in the agricultural districts. They know that as a rule the agricultural worker is a Conservative, and therefore they are determined to make it as difficult as possible for him to get to the poll. Their one object in the Bill is not to bring any fairness into our elections, but to make them as inconvenient as possible. The Solicitor-General sat there sneering and grinning while the hon. Gentleman was speaking. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] We all saw it. There is nothing unparliamentary in that expression. What I said was absolutely true. The Home Secretary, in the Amendment which he has put down, has gone some slight way towards meeting our objections and has taken away some of the absurdities of the original Clause, but he has not gone nearly far enough. There is not the least doubt that he has not given proper consideration to the matter.
Take my constituency. Under this scheme, I shall be allowed 34 cars. The constituency covers a distance of something over 30 miles. How can you possibly expect people living in a con- 2237 stituency like that to get to the poll when there will only be 34 cars? Many of those people have to walk four and a-half miles, and you cannot expect women with children to go four and a-half miles on foot in order to vote. You cannot expect a man who has been spending the whole day haymaking or following the plough to walk four and a-half miles in the evening to record his vote. The Solicitor-General and the Home Secretary want to make it impossible for him to get to the poll. The number of motor cars suggested by them is absurdly small. The suggestions put forward in the Amendment of my Noble Friend are very much sounder. A distribution of cars by means of polling stations would undoubtedly be very much fairer than a distribution by means of counted noses. The more scattered are the areas, the more polling stations there are, and therefore, he should take into consideration the scattered nature of an area in Judging the necessity of motor cars. Hon. Members opposite who have their constituencies in towns have their polling stations grouped together, and probably very few of their constituents have to go more than half a mile. There are very few of my constituents who are within half a mile of the polling station, and a great number of them are more than a mile from the polling station. The electors in the towns do not require cars so much, but in the country districts a very large proportion of the electors cannot possibly get to the poll unless there are cars to take them.
The Home Secretary's scheme allows for only a small number of cars, and these will have to drive tremendous distances. The scheme ought to make it possible to avoid cars being worked for the whole of the day. A man cannot be expected to drive from 8 o'clock in the morning until 9 o'clock at night, practically never stopping, as will be the case under the scheme of the Home Secretary. Therefore, it will be necessary, if the scheme is carried in its present form, for arrangements to be made for cars to run, say, from 8.0 till 12.0, or from 8.0 till 3.0 and from 3.0 till 9.0 or something like that. Unless something is done on those lines, the 34 cars in my constituency will almost be useless. I hope that the Government will reconsider the matter. They had to take back the original Clause, and they have 2238 now put forward another scheme which is very nearly as bad. I hope that they will accept the scheme put forward by my Noble Friend.
§ Mr. LANG
I could, I think, have understood much better some of the passion aroused on this question from the benches opposite if there had also been a consideration of what seems to me to be a very vital fact, that is, that the people with whom they and we are so much concerned, the people who do the work of this country, are the people who seem to be almost entirely deprived of the possession of means of transport. I should have been much more impressed by the argument if I had heard a single remark that the people who do the work of the world should so be able to appropriate such share of it as would provide them with some of the surplus transport which is so rapidly gathered together for certain purposes on election day. I represent a purely industrial town, but I have lived almost all my life in country districts and am fully aware of the difficulties with regard to the long distances that exist between one polling station and another. But I should have thought that the appropriate method of dealing with those difficulties was not to increase the number of cars, certainly not a greater proportion of ears of one party over another, but to increase the polling facilities. If the answer to that be that that would be expensive, then it is a totally inadequate answer. The hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) made a strong point of that. If it is so important that everybody should have the opportunity of recording their vote at elections, no question of expense ought to be allowed to stand in the way of the provision of adequate polling facilities.
The contradictions in the speeches of hon. Members opposite surprise me. We are told that cars should not convey people indiscriminately to the poll, and that people often travel in the car of one candidate and vote against him. On the other hand, we are told by one hon. Member opposite that the agricultural labourers are entirely Conservative, despite certain results at the last election.
§ Mr. LANG
Mostly. Therefore, from the hon. and gallant Member's point of view, they are perfectly safe. One point that is not stressed in the Debate is the use of cars not merely in carrying voters to the poll but the psychological effect upon voters. By the continual processions of decorated cars. That is a much greater asset to the Conservative party on polling day than the mere transport of voters. One has often seen long processions of cars, decorated with party colours, and often accompanied by very influential people. That sort of thing has a considerable psychological effect upon certain voters who, for reasons that I need not go into, are to be found voting for the party opposite. I regret that the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) should have said what he did about Nonconformist spiritual advisers counselling their people to go in Tory cars to vote against the Conservative candidates.
No, I did not say that. It would be a serious charge. What I did say was that Nonconformist spiritual advisers had strongly at the 1910 election urged their people to vote for the Liberal candidates, and in many cases they travelled in Tory cars. I never suggested that the ministers advised them to do so.
§ Mr. LANG
I am glad to hear that statement from the Noble Lord, and I accept it at once. I made an error. I cannot allow it to go forward that Nonconformist spiritual advisers are the only people who ever give instructions to members of their flocks how they are to vote; not by any means. But I am glad that those days are nearly over. There was a time when almost every Nonconformist minister was upon the Liberal executive, and when the Anglican Conservative was nearly always a most important person in the Conservative organisation. I am glad that those days are practically over. The Nonconformist ministers of the far-off days, when they were Liberals, were dissociated from motor cars, because not only did they regard them as dangerous things but almost as works of the Devil, and they often regarded Conservative candidates as of similar origin. It ought to be made plain that some of us feel that the anxiety there is to trans- 2240 port voters to the poll might also be shown to provide for people who do the work of the world a larger share of the pleasurable part of transport. Enough attention has not been drawn to the fact that the increased transport system of omnibuses has to a very large extent negatived the difficulties of getting from one place to another, such as were instanced by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford. I was rather moved by his plea on behalf of young married women, but I must warn him that there is a danger for him there. It may be a very good thing to take the young married women back to their homes after voting, but unless the hon. and gallant Member can assure the husbands that the cars will not bring the mothers-in-law back, he may lose very much more than he gains. Therefore, that is a thing which cuts both ways.
The problem is different in the rural districts from the urban districts. The provision of greater polling facilities is the answer in the rural districts. In the urban districts there can be no case. More than once my colleague and I have told of our experience in Oldham, a great industrial town of 150,000 people, where we have a perfectly honourable agreement, which is kept by the three parties, that motor cars are not necessary. Apart from cars which are provided for the agents and candidates, which are not allowed to take a voter to the poll, no motor transport is permitted. If as the Noble. Lord suggests our opposition is one of unreasoning passion against motor cars, I would point out that in the enlightened town of Oldham that decision against motor cars is shared by members of his own party and members of the party below the Gangway opposite, as well as our own party.
§ Major GEORGE DAVIES
The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lang) was led away in two respects from the subject that ought to be under discussion. He suggested that there should be another way, which is not provided for in the Bill or in the Amendment, for dealing with the situation, namely, the provision of greater polling facilities in the rural areas. If it were in order to pursue that subject, it would be very interesting. I think we should all be agreed, if it were possible to carry it out, that instead of developing facilities for bringing the 2241 people to the polls we should concentrate on bringing the polling stations nearer to the people. Indeed I hope that some day we may be able to deal with all electors as is done with absent voters, that is, through the post. But that is not the position with which we are faced. We have to take things as they are. The hon. Member realises, but some of his colleagues do not, that the situation in the country districts is entirely different from that in the urban areas. He said that one of the great advantages possessed by the Tory party in having so many cars at their disposal was that they were able to have processions and to flaunt their colours to influence the weaker minded who, in their weakness of mind, might be induced to vote for hon. Members opposite. I would remind the hon. Member that so long as those cars are not carrying voters to the poll they can have their processions and flaunt their colours, and nothing can prevent them.
I support the Amendment with more than a vain hope that the Solicitor-General or the Home Secretary will support the principle behind it. The reason that I do that is because the principle is admitted by a later Amendment which stands in the name of the Home Secretary. Whatever the Government or their supporters think in regard to industry, they are being weaned to the quota system in regard to the matter now before us. Instead of saying that the cars shall be pooled, they now suggest that there should be a quota based on the numerical strength of the Division. Our suggestion is the same in principle but a little different in application. Moreover, it provides a more generous quota than is suggested by the Home Secretary's Amendment. Our reason is that so long as there are, as was admitted by the last speaker, great variations and difficulties which have to be met in the rural districts of England, it is not fair in legislation to ignore that state of affairs.
Many objections and difficulties have been put forward as to what will result if our Amendment or something substantially on the same lines is not accepted by the Government. There are one or two other difficulties that I should like to bring to the attention of the Home 2242 Secretary. It is a remarkable thing that in the year 1931, when we have been priding ourselves industrially and economically on the development of every kind of ingenious device for overcoming the difficulties of geographical distance, such as the aeroplane, the railway train, and the motor car, in connection with the question of citizens exercising the highest duty, or one of the highest duties, of citizenship, we should say to them: "No. You shall not take advantage of these developments. You shall go back, as it were, to the stone age." It is about the same thing as if we were not to be allowed to use the post for sending our election addresses or other means of keeping in touch with our constituents. Surely at this time in the development of the world, we ought to make use of every facility that will save people time and trouble.
It is particularly the saving of time that I want to press upon the House as a new point of view. There is a large number, particularly now that women have been enfranchised at 21, of housewives who cannot afford to be away from home long enough to allow them to walk any lengthy distance to and from the poll. That means that the children have to be left with no one to look after them, and arrangements have to be made. There is also the necessity of cooking for the husband when he gets home from work. The husband and the wife cannot go together to vote, and when evening falls it is not satisfactory to go to the poll through dark country lanes in rural England. The point of view of the motor car being a time saver, for the voter, particularly the woman, who can only afford to be away from home the shortest possible time to exercise the duty of voting, is a consideration to which the Solicitor-General will, I am sure, not be blind. Other speakers from this side have emphasised the importance of the question from different points of view.
There is one thing that the hon. Member for Oldham did not touch upon. I understand that the three parties in Oldham agreed to make no use of motor cars. Did they make that rule with regard to bringing in removals and outvoters? Were all the removals and outvoters disfranchised by mutual agreement, or not?
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Major DAVIES
I should be very much surprised if, on further investigation, the hon. Member finds that the agreement extended to the removals and out-voters, because that would be simply a mutual agreement to disfranchise them. I understand that that did not take place. Certainly, I cannot think that the agreement was carried out in that respect. Hon. Members opposite think that we Conservatives have had an unfair advantage over them in regard to motor cars. We are told that we have had an advantage over them by our wealth or by having wealthy friends who are able to give us these means of transportation for bringing Tory voters to the poll to the exclusion of others. There are two complete fallacies about that. Morals and ethics apart, it is a national joke that the Tory car carries about fifty-fifty so far as party voters are concerned. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh, and one hon. Member shakes his head. I can speak for my own division, and I know that I have too often been a public benefactor by having carried voters to the poll who on their arrival voted for the candidate holding the views of hon. Members opposite or of hon. Members below the Gangway. However, I managed to get returned. There are enormous numbers of motor bicycles and sidecar combinations. They are very deadly combinations but very common. It is absurd to say that people who have these vehicles are the people included in the thoughts of hon. Members opposite when they talk about the power of wealth in providing facilities for transport. On polling days in my constituency I see many maids being given lifts in sidecars or on the pillions of the motor bicycles, and those engaged in the manufactures of the district who own these motor bicycles always take a pal to the poll. All these people are going to be disfranchised, or at any rate prevented from lending this method of transport. To that extent the Bill will disfranchise those who are not wealthy Tories but people who in 99 cases out of 100 vote for hon. Members opposite or for the Liberals.
2244 As I have said, there are two complete fallacies in the minds of hon. Members opposite. When we pride ourselves on the progress made by Morris or Austin, the idea is that by the cheapening of production we are bringing the motor car more and more into use by a larger number of the population, and are thus providing a means of rapid transport. As that progress goes on is it to be supposed that fewer people who possess this means of transport are likely to vote for the party opposite? We know perfectly well that if we count noses and take the population as a whole, the vast majority of the people are included among the weekly wage-earners, indirectly or directly. Is it to be supposed that with the development of the cheaper motor bicycle, the cheaper sidecar combination, the cheaper three-wheeler and the cheaper baby Austin, or something corresponding to it, more and more of that majority of the population will not be included among those who acquire this means of transport?
It seems to be extraordinarily shortsighted for us to adopt the proposals of the Bill. The day is coming soon when more and more of the population will wish not so much to cadge lifts as to exercise their rights as individuals to use the means of transport that they own and have paid for. While some limitation of the use of vehicles may be arguable, personally I think it most unfortunate to have any limitation at all. The limitation of figures proposed is absurdly small. In principal the Amendment is precisely the same as that which stands in the name of the Home Secretary, and it has so much common sense and logic behind it that even the learned Solicitor-General, whose smiles have been commented on, might be expected to welcome the arguments that have been put before him.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Stafford Cripps)
The Government realise that this proposal in some form has a good deal of merit in it because, as hon. Members have said, there is an Amendment on the Paper in the name of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary dealing with the same subject. The part of the Clause with which we are dealing is not the part which relates to persons using their own cars. That has been 2245 dealt with by the House. What we are dealing with here is the question of putting other cars at the disposal of electors. I entirely agree that it is extremely desirable to have a good turn-out of electors. Everyone desires that a large majority of the electors should go to the poll. But I cannot agree with those who suggest seriously that that cannot be achieved without a vast number of cars. I have experience of living in the country in a fairly isolated district, and I know that not only for the purposes of voting but for ether purposes people are prepared to walk long distances. Let me give an instance. In our little village there is a welfare centre. It is attended by women from five villages around, many of them three or four miles off. These women are quite prepared to walk with their children once a fortnight in order to get to the centre. After all, what we are dealing with here is a journey once every four years or something of the sort, on the average.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
For which they pay. I do not think that that is any inducement. Surely it is not necessary to offer them the inducement of a car to record a vote once every four years. The Amendment has been put on the Paper in the name of the Home Secretary because we were so disappointed with the general view that the House took as regards the public spirit of motor car owners. We felt that the scheme which was adopted originally, in view of the general opinion of the House, would probably not work, because no cars would be put at the disposal of the registration officer. Now we have adopted the principle which is put forward in our Amendment. But in adopting the principle of course one cannot adopt necessarily the numbers now proposed. The real difference between us is, firstly, on the numbers, and, secondly, on the method by which it is proposed in this Amendment to calculate the numbers.
Before I come to deal specifically with that point I do not wish to evade an answer to the question which the Noble Lord put to me in such extremely kind terms. He asked, when was it that riding in a motor car at elections became im- 2246 moral—at what point in regard to the number of cars? He suggested that the answer was, "When the Tories have more cars than the other party." If the Noble Lord will do himself justice and will look back into the history of election law, he will appreciate that the proposal to limit the number of motor cars to be used at an election is nothing but a natural extension of the Act of 1883. Under that Act it was made illegal for anyone to hire a vehicle—at that time a carriage—in order to convey voters to the poll. In those days the question of taking voters long distances could not be contemplated at all, because—the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) spoke of 33 miles over the Welsh mountains—no carriage would have done the journey in the day. That problem, therefore, was not contemplated. But it was laid down that no unfair advantage should be derived by any one candidate by reason of his hiring vehicles in which to take electors to the poll. It was made an illegal practice if he did so. Since the introduction of motor cars and the far more common ownership of such vehicles as motor cars, the problem has changed, because it is no longer necessary for people who have large numbers of friends with motor cars to hire at all; they can get the cars lent.
I am loth to interrupt the Solicitor-General, as he did not interrupt me. As one who has had experience of elections when there were very few motor cars, I can say that the preponderance of people owning carriages was just as great in those days as is the preponderance in the case of motor cars now. We gained just as much advantage in the days of carriages. I remember some very long distances being covered, 14 or 15 miles, by voters who were brought to the poll in dog carts.
§ The SOLICITOR - GENERAL
The whole theory of election law has always been that no party, apart from carriages that they own themselves, should get any advantage by being able to acquire temporarily, for the purposes of polling day, other vehicles to convey electors to the poll. Now that the use of motor cars has become so common I suggest that the proposal of the Government is a most natural thing. I know that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite object 2247 to logic strongly, but it would be more logical to forbid the use of loaned motor cars altogether. I am glad to see that the Noble Lord the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine) agrees with me. Unfortunately he and I are not in a majority on that matter. The step which has been taken by the Government is a step which will limit as far as possible the use of motor cars, while still retaining a sufficient number in the constituencies to do all the work that really is necessary to be done. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) shakes his head, but if he will examine the figures I am sure he will agree that, taking the average county constituency, where you have at least two candidates and possibly three, the use of 100 to 150 motor cars should be sufficient to deal with all the eases that have been mentioned.
I ventured to smile when the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford was speaking about those extraordinary instances of places like Berwick-on-Tweed and Cardigan, and people who would be disfranchised, because he was really speaking as if no motor cars at all were to be permitted. That is not the proposal of the Government. Our proposal in the case of these constituencies would be that about 50 cars could be used by the candidates. It is hardly right to take a particular instance of an isolated village and to say, "Here are 100 voters who will be entirely disfranchised." Of course, if all the parties agreed not to send a car to that village the voters might suffer in some way, but one imagines that in a case of that sort a proper agent would see that cars were sent there.
Then there was the further point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Yeovil (Major Davies) as regards the use of cars by various parties. We all realise that what makes a car of advantage to one particular party is that the agent sends it to the known voters to fetch them. It is those known voters who, you know, will support you, who are the valuable people you get with the car. That is why everyone attaches great importance to cars at election times. The mere fact that great importance is attached to cars shows, I think, that it is not because of general utility to the halt, the lame and the blind, but because each of the parties 2248 thinks that the cars are going to advantage them so far as the poll is concerned.
Let me turn to the particular proposal of the Noble Lord and point out that the suggestion to arrange the numbers by polling districts is wholly illogical. If the Noble Lord will examine the last lists of election expenditure, which give the number of polling districts in each constituency, he will see that they are completely without logic as regards numbers. In the Division of Sparkbrook, with 47,000 voters, there are 47 polling districts. In the east, south and west divisions of Leicestershire, with electorates of 54,000, 53,000 and 52,000 respectively. There are four, seven and eight polling districts respectively. The result of this arrangement will be that for East Leicester you will allow 16 cars, and for the Sparkbrook Division 188 cars to each candidate. I am sure that the Noble Lord will not suggest such a result as that, although I appreciate the fact that he thinks logic is debarred in regard to these arrangements.
If the Noble Lord will look through the list he will find a number of such cases there. Take, for instance, the constituency of East Middlesbrough, with 44 polling districts and an electorate of 36,000, or Morpeth with 26 polling districts and 35,000 electors. It is quite irrational that one of these constituencies should be allowed twice as many cars as the other. The rational way to arrange this is to say that as regards the county districts they want twice as many as the boroughs, and that is what we suggest in our Amendment. As a rough guide, both in regard to counties and boroughs, population is the best, and everyone will agree that, except in very exceptional cases, such as large county areas, where there might be some reason for asking for special treatment, the criterion of population is a perfectly good one to adopt. I suggest that the House should not adopt this proposal, but should accept the Amendment which is down in the name of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
§ Sir SAMUEL HOARE
The Solicitor-General has such great Parliamentary talents, which we have been quick to recognise in the short time he has been in the House, that I was deeply grieved to hear him supporting so benighted and 2249 futile a proposal as that put forward by the Government. With his great talents he is defending the kind of action which would still make a man walk with a red flag in front of a car, which would still set its face against every modern development and which on the same principle would oppose the mechanisation of the Army and the use of any new methods in our daily and public life. He admitted that we want to get as many voters to the poll as possible and the great difficulty there is in doing so. It has become so great in some countries that they have had recourse to a system of compulsory voting. We have no means of raising that question on this Bill, but it is a significant fact that the bigger the constituency the more difficult it is to get voters to vote.
In view of that, I should have thought that it was to the advantage of everyone, no matter to what party they belong, that we should make the fullest use of every scientific and technical development which will make it easier—not more difficult—for voters to vote. The more voters there are, the more cars you should have actually working in the constituency. I support the Amendment, not because it restricts the number of cars, but because it makes the restriction less than does the Government proposal. My own position is clear. I should like to see no restrictions at all, because it is in the public interests to have as many cars working on election day as possible. The reason is obvious. An hon. Member for a county constituency has pointed out the great difficulty of getting country voters to the poll where the distances are very great, and I notice that there is an Amendment on the Paper in the name of an hon. Member below the Gangway to exclude altogether from the scope of this restriction some of the bigger country districts.
The difficulty, however, is not confined to the country districts. Take the case of an urban constituency. At first sight there may appear to be no difficulty at all, that everybody can vote quite easily, but the difficulty in urban constituencies is that of the removals, and it has become extremely formidable owing to the recent increase in the electorate. Take my own case, Chelsea, which has probably fewer removals than many other constituencies. Even in 2250 Chelsea there are as many as 5,000 removals every year out of an electorate of about 45,000. Most of these removals are to some distance from the borough, and they are out-voters who have left Chelsea, as they have done in large numbers in recent years, in order to live in the county council estates outside the county boundary. To cope with that problem and to make it possible for these large number of voters to vote, it is absolutely essential to have a large number of cars at the disposal of the various candidates. I am certain that the effect of the proposal of the Government—not of the Amendment, because my right hon. Friend excludes London seats altogether—would certainly be to disfranchise a large number of London voters.
What justification have we had for this proposal? The Solictor-General tried to make it appear that he was merely carrying on a practice which already exists; that he was applying the law of the hackney carriage to the more modern forms of transport. I hesitate to enter upon a controversy with the Solicitor-General on a point like that, but I really do not believe it is the case. If he will look into the history of the various Illegal and Corrupt Practices Acts, he will find that the reason for restricting the use of hackney carriages was totally different. It was not to hold a balance as between the two parties, but to prevent a secret form of bribery being carried on. If hon. Members will look at the accounts given to the Royal Commission which inquired into corrupt practices at the time of the great Reform Act, they will find that it was frequently the case that an account appeared in the candidate's expenses of £5,000 for ribbons or £5,000 for hackney carriages. The reason for restricting the use of hackney carriages was not to hold the balance between the parties, but rather to restrict an admitted form of corrupt practice.
My Noble Friend in his Amendment takes the polling district as the unit of calculation rather than population. The Solicitor-General criticised that proposal on the ground that the number of polling districts varied as between one constituency and another. That certainly is the case, but it is obvious that it is a much fairer proposal than that of the 2251 Government which makes no distinction between one county constituency and another, no distinction between a county division and a suburban constituency in which there are no great distances, and in which there are also various means of communication at the disposal of the elector, and a constituency like the Orkney and Shetlands or a constituency in some remote part where the distances are very great. I have in mind the case of one of the Scottish constituencies where, I am told, unless there is at the disposal of the candidate something like 500 cars, a large number of the electors will be disfranchised. I cannot see any justification whatever for the restriction of cars upon any basis, and, moreover, any attempt to restrict the number of cars is going to be very difficult to enforce. The Solicitor-General has told us that the owner will still be allowed to use his car for himself and those living with him under his own roof. At the same time, there will be a limited number of registered cars. Who is going to enforce the distinction as between these cars'? When hundreds of cars are going backwards and forwards, how is this proposal to be enforced?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
The right hon. Member appreciates the fact that there is a provision by which all cars registered have to bear a visible registration mark, which shows that they are so registered.
§ Sir S. HOARE
That may be the case in regard to a limited number of cars, but there will be a large number of privately-owned cars constantly moving backwards and forwards, and short of prohibiting the use of cars altogether on election days there is going to be complete confusion. Meanwhile, the wretched candidate and his agent are liable to be prosecuted for illegal practices and fined £100, with a period of imprisonment if any owner of a private car takes a mother-in-law instead of a mother to the poll, or whatever may be the dividing line as to the members of the family he is allowed to take and those he is not allowed to take, or if he takes the gardener, for instance, where he ought only to have taken the butler. Furthermore, the candidate will be liable for any offences in the use of the registered 2252 cars. How is it to be known which are the registered cars? The Solicitor-General says that they are to bear a distinguishing mark, but how are you going to know that that distinguishing mark is not transferred from one car to another?
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I presume that the distinguishing mark will bear the registration number of the car, and it will therefore be possible to see whether the distinguishing mark corresponds with the number of the car.
§ Sir S. HOARE
All this seems to show that it will be necessary to have an immense number of inspectors of various kinds at every street-corner to stop every car and look minutely at its number and its distinguishing badge, and, in the case of privately-owned cars, to ask the questions which we discussed during the Committee stage, as to the relationship of the various people in the car. All this is not for the purpose, of doing the State any good. It is not for the purpose of making it easier for voters to vote, but is simply for the purpose of "doing in" the Conservative party and for no other purpose at all. It cannot be suggested that anybody is going to be better of for this restriction on cars. It is going to make it more difficult for people to vote and the only possible reason which can be urged for it by hon. Members opposite is that it will put the Conservatives at a disadvantage, to some extent, as compared with their position in the past. In view of that fact it seems to me to be wasting the time of this House and prostituting the talents of right hon. and hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench to ask us to pass so benighted a proposal, a proposal so utterly out of touch with modern life and development, simply and solely for a petty and vindictive party advantage.
§ Mr. DENMAN
It is always a pleasure to hear the Conservative party defending its long-enjoyed privileges. We had an instructive Debate yesterday when they were doing their best to retain the plural vote. It is true that in the course of that Debate we were assured that this was not a privilege at all and that we on this side were under a complete delusion in supposing that the scales were in any way weighted in favour of the non-manual worker and in favour of those 2253 who control with and who enjoy more than one vote. To-day in connection with this proposal for limiting cars, we are charged with loading the dice in our own favour—a singularly ingenuous point of view. I fail to see how an equal number of cars in a constituency can favour us as against anybody else. Then we are told that we are reactionary because we are flying in the face of scientific development and endeavouring to make people walk when the modern scientists would wish them to fly. I observe, by the way, that there is no limitation on the use of aeroplanes. All this, of course, does not deceive us. It does not delude us into the idea that there is not a real advantage to the Conservative party in the present condition of things and that it constitutes a real weighting of the constitutional and Parliamentary scales against this party, which we are doing our best to redress.
I agree that no scheme can be perfectly satisfactory but I suggest that any scheme which the people at large will accept as being broadly just, has a real and fundamental advantage over any scheme which is obviously weighted in favour of one party. So long as people believe that Parliamentary institutions are weighted on one side, so long will there be a degree of indignation and that is not a good foundation for political thought. I make one suggestion to the Solicitor-General, to try if possible to meet the charge that we are being heavy-handed in this matter and are reducing the use of cars to one level and standard which may not be equally appropriate in the different circumstances of different constituencies. It is perfectly true, as has been said from the other side, that the growing development in the use of motor transport will produce very different conditions, perhaps within a limited number of years. It may be that in five years' time this problem will wear a very different aspect. An Amendment on the lines which I have in mind would not be appropriate until a later stage but I suggest precise words which would give the desired elasticity and would at the same time be perfectly just. I merely wish to show one method of meeting the real point put from the other side, namely, that there is a lack of elasticity and I suggest that at the end of paragraph (5) of the Amendment which stands later on the Paper in the 2254 name of the Home Secretary, to this Sub-section, there should be added the words:Provided that a higher scale may be adopted at any election where the election agents and the candidates agree thereto in writing.I think there will be cases in which, by universal agreement, it would be desirable to have a higher scale than is here suggested. Take the recent by-election at Scarborough for instance. I imagine that in that case both candidates would have been glad to have had a higher scale. That is only one example. The same thing may be true of many other constituencies. But I hope that we shall not attempt to meet the charge of lack of elasticity in the way suggested in the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) who wishes to exclude the largest county constituencies from this limiting factor, because that means that the grievance remains just in those areas where it is most felt—in the largest areas where the distances which voters would have to walk are longest. I take county constituencies in the North with which I am most familiar. To say that, there, the unrestricted use of cars should remain whereas in places like Carlisle and Newcastle these restrictions should apply is an undesirable solution. I believe that on this side we all agree with the principles of restricting cars in some way so as to bring about fairness and equality between the different parties. I believe it will also be agreed that we want to make this a workable proposal and not any kind of pedantic scheme. I believe that in principle the scheme of the Home Secretary is just and is not pedantic but I suggest that the degree of elasticity which would be secured by the words which I have indicated, would allow the local people and the candidates concerned to adjust this scale and to vary it, in agreement, so as to suit the local needs and the needs of a particular election.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
Two objections have been raised to the present system during this Debate. One objection was raised by the Solicitor-General, namely, that the Tories had too many cars and consequently took too many voters to the poll. The other objection which was voiced by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lang) was that the 2255 Tories had too many cars and, as a result, had too big a display at election time. Those two objections are not the same and I wish to deal, first, with the objection that the Conservative party, having too many cars, are able to bring too many voters to the poll. If the Government have their way they want, by this Bill, to cut down the number of cars which are in future to be allocated to the Conservative party, with the object of preventing a certain number of Conservatives from going to the poll.
I can understand the desire on the part of hon. Members opposite to try to win elections if they can, but I would point out that at the last General Election the polls were quite high. I think I am right in saying that they were between 70 per cent. and 80 per cent. on an average, and, in my constituency the poll was 91.3 per cent. of the whole electorate. That does not look as if my Socialist opponent was very badly handicapped or was not able to bring his supporters to the poll. I think if we take the country as a whole it will be found that the percentage voting was quite high and consequently that there is no call for this suggested restriction. The Solicitor-General said he did not think that, to be taken to the poll in a motor car, should be an inducement to the elector to vote. I rather agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. I do not see why anybody should require to be bribed by a ride in a motor car to go to the poll, but I see no reason why, if a voter lives a long way from the polling station where he desires to vote, a motor car should not be available to take him to that polling station. I consider that the vote is not only a privilege but a duty. I think that people should record their votes and that instead of trying to restrict the number of people who go to the poll we ought to encourage a larger number to go to the poll. We are certainly not going to do so by this Sub-section which we are now considering.
As to the objection of the hon. Member for Oldham, be said he did not think it fair that the Conservatives should have such a large number of cars to display their party colours, but I would point out that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent a constituency being flooded with 2256 motor cars bearing all sorts of posters and so forth as long as they do not take people to the poll. So far as that objection is concerned, it does not hold any water at all, because under this Bill people can use their cars for display purposes as long as they do not use them for conveying people to the poll. Then there is the point that was made by my Noble Friend on the Front Bench, that the Labour party have a very great advantage, as far as display is concerned, in the fact that they can get a large number of window displays where supporters of the Conservative party feel that they do not like to have window displays. There is quite a large number of people who object and feel that they do not like to use their colours in that way, and I think that the Socialist party will admit that they have quite an advantage in that respect.
I want to examine Sub-section (2) of Clause 5, because I feel that it is quite unworkable. It says in effect that any person who so desires may register his vehicle with the returning officer, that any vehicle so registered shall be allotted by the returning officer for use in such manner as he thinks desirable, and that any vehicles so allotted shall be used for the purposes to which they are allotted. What would happen? First of all, there would be a squabble between the election agent and the returning officer, because one agent would say, "Why should that agent have a Rolls-Royce and I have only a Ford? Why should you allocate that particular car to his part of the constituency and only give me a smaller car?" But that is not the main objection, which is that these cars, according to this Subsection, have to be allocated to special duties.
Take my own constituency, for an example. I might have a car allocated for a duty some 20 or 30 miles from my biggest town, and I might have another car allocated for duty in one town which was three miles from another town. What is going to happen if the car which is allocated to a certain area gets into another area? It is quite possible in a large constituency that cars might have to take people from one part of the constituency to another, and I do not think it will be possible to enforce the suggestions contained in this Sub-section. It would be practically impossible to make 2257 absolutely certain that the cars which were allocated to one particular series of streets, we will say, in a borough did not go into another series of streets in the same borough, because the returning officer is the person who is to allocate them to a specific area, and if cars go out of that area, which they might very easily do, and do duty in another area, there is an offence committed against this Subsection. There would be endless prosecutions as a result of that kind of thing.
I think the suggestion which has been made in the Amendment is far better. If you are going to have the cars for election purposes, it is very much better that those cars should be allocated to the actual political agents in the areas, who should be allowed to do what they like with them. If you give the cars to an agent, he can allocate his number of cars to the places where he thinks it necessary to have them, but if the returning officer has to do that and to say, "You must put a car in one place and another car in another place," and so on, it seems to me absolutely impossible, because you can never enforce it. I think that the Amendment which has been suggested by my Noble Friend is a very much better one, because it actually hands over the control, as it were, of the cars to the agent instead of leaving it in the hands of the returning officer, and at the same time they are allocated in numbers according to the polling districts. That is much fairer than allocating them purely according to population, because the bigger and the more widely spread the population, the bigger the number of polling booths, and consequently the greater the necessity for a larger number of cars.
The real object of all these suggestions of the Government is quite easy to see. It is that the numbers of voters who are taken to the poll in the agricultural areas shall be cut down. In the towns it does not matter, because there it is considered that the Socialist party have a preponderating poll. Consequently the voters can go to the poll on foot, but in the agricultural areas, where it is considered that the Conservative party have a certain strength, it is suggested that very few cars shall be available, so as to cry to disfranchise as many as possible of the Conservative electors as against the Socialist electors. I do not think anybody could deny that that is the object 2258 of this Clause. It is so palpable that everybody can see it. Everybody realises that the big, wide areas are the areas where the cars are required, and those are just the areas where the cars will not be available, if this Clause is carried.
The suggestion that anybody who wanted to give a car for election purposes should put his car into a pool of cars and that those cars should be used, not on party lines at all, but should be allocated, as in this Clause, by the returning officer, means that there will hardly be any motor cars at all at the election, because people will not give their cars to be allocated to their opponents. Certainly I should not give mine to my Socialist opponents—I should not dream of it—and that is what the answer would be and that is what the Government want. The Government want the number of cars to be restricted. They want the number of the electors going to the poll to be reduced, because they are frightened of the electors, and they do not want these people to exercise this franchise. It is obvious what their object is. They want to restrict and prevent the electors from having au opportunity of exercising the franchise against themselves, and that is why they have brought in this Clause. I hope that when the time comes for the Division, we shall have the support not only of our own party, but of the Liberal party as well.
§ Sir JAMES SEXTON
I do not intend to detain the House very long in what I have to say in a few, I hope, on the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, well chosen words. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite do not seem to have chosen their words very well. What are their arguments'? First of all, there is the point raised about long distances and the necessity of bringing the lame, the blind, and the halt to the poll. I have no objection to that. It is a very necessary element in an election, but that is not our complaint. I think the case was very pertinently put by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Lang). It is the use of a fleet of cars, during a by-election particularly, when they continue to wander up and down the street. In fact, they park their cars in the streets the whole day of the election, using what I would call not peaceful 2259 peruasion but peaceful intimidation. I speak from painful personal experience. It is not a question of the lame, the halt and the blind so much as one of pestering people in their houses, with the ears at the doorstep, who sometimes do not need cars but in desperation to be rid of the nuisance at last consent to take a ride.
The last speaker said that our only interest is to prevent people going to the poll to vote against ourselves. I want to be perfectly frank and candid and to remind him and those who think with him that it does not always turn out as they anticipate, because I have known instances where electors have taken the car and voted for the other fellow, so that I warn hon. and right hon. Members opposite on that score that their alleged generosity is wasted on the political desert air.
There is one point to which I wish to call attention with regret. While I am certainly prepared to give support to this Bill in all its particulars, to me there is one weakness in it, and that is, first of all, that it is locking the garage door when the car has gone by fixing the penalty after the deed is done. Speaking from my own experience—and I have had in my time a good many of what in the Labour movement we used to call moral victories—it is open to any party or party agent, even under the existing law, to hire vehicles ad lib. As a matter of fact—open confession is good for the soul—I have done it myself in one Liverpool election. I was not caught at it, of course, but I have done it, and it can be done to-day. Not very long ago in Liverpool during an election that I fought, chars-a-banc and motor omnibuses were hired by my opponent—
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Sir J. SEXTON
No. I assume, after the manner of most political aspirants, that that item was conveniently left out. I complained on the spot, but the only satisfaction I got was that the returning officer shrugged his shoulders and said, "I admit that it is against the law, but you must take the initiative yourself, and you must issue your complaint after the election is over. It cannot be stopped 2260 except by a court of summary jurisdiction." That is the weak point in legislation of this kind. You allow a fellow to commit a crime, and you summon him after he has done it.
§ Mr. GRANVILLE GIBSON
Does the hon. Member suggest that the proceedings should be taken before the man has committed the crime?
§ Sir J. SEXTON
No, but when he is doing it you cannot stop him and proceedings are not taken until the election is over. Prevention is better than cure. That is my point. The penalties under this Bill are so infinitesimal, that I can very well imagine a candidate, particularly a Conservative candidate with plenty of cars, defying the law and paying the penalties after the election is over. In such case we are no better off than before.
§ Lord ERSKINE
I do not think that anybody could devise a way whereby you could prosecute a man before he has committed a crime, particularly in election law, because there are a multitude of offences against the law at elections which cannot possibly be brought home to the man who committed them until after the polling day. Therefore, I do not think that the suggestion of the hon. Member for St. Helens (Sir J. Sexton) was very practicable. I would like to deal with the remarks of the Solicitor-General. The hon. and learned Gentleman appears to be the maid-of-all-work for the Government. He always turns up when there is any difficulty, and we on this side think that on the whole he does extremely well. I do not think that his efforts to-day, however, were really equal to the occasion. He started his speech by remarking that he knew that there were great distances in the country, that he lived in the country himself, and that he knew of a great many people in villages who were quite accustomed to walking four or five miles. He practically said, why should they not do it if they want to vote at elections? Is it really the intention of hon. Members opposite to make people walk when there are conveyances which can take them? If that really be their contention, this Clause will not be very well received in the country districts.
The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lang) said that the whole situation had 2261 been completely changed because there were now omnibuses. I would like to remind the hon. Member that omnibuses do not take the people along the roads free, that in the agricultural areas wages unfortunately are very low and of late have been getting lower, and that people in the villages think two or three times before they spend money on omnibuses at election or any other time. Why you should force an agricultural labourer and his wife to pay for an omnibus when they may be fetched free, I do not really understand. The Solicitor-General made some remarks about hiring, and he was dealt with very truly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare). In the days when the hiring of commercial vehicles was prohibited, it was not because one individual got more help by hiring as against another, but the electorate was very much smaller and a candidate got a real advantage if he hired all the cabs in the town, probably at a very exorbitant price, and covered them with ribbons and other things. The Solicitor-General will agree with me that the reason cabs were prohibited was not that they gave an unfair advantage to the individual hiring them, from the point of view of taking voters to the poll, but because they gave a corrupt advantage in that the particular candidate was able to get the votes of the cabbies and to cover the town with a large amount of blue or red colours. The Solicitor-General will agree that the arguments he used in that connection were not on all fours with the arguments put forward against motor cars.
I understand that it will be a corrupt practice if any illegality is committed under this Clause. Undoubtedly, a large number of illegalities will quite unwittingly be committed on every side by every party and in every constituency if this Clause goes through. People get lifts from one place to another every day, and they will get lifts from one place to another on polling day, and nothing that this House can do will stop it. But suppose a person gets a lift to the polling station, a technical illegality will have been committed. It is not an illegality over which any candidate can have control, and I suppose that to get a conviction and to unseat a candidate under this Clause it will be necessary to prove that the candidate knew and 2262 encouraged the individual who picked the voter up to take him to the polling station. If that is not the case, every Member who is returned will be liable to be unseated.
The hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) gave a great many reasons in regard to removals to show that it would be much more difficult in future to get voters to the poll if this Clause were passed. He said that owing to the vote being given to the younger women, there are very many more removals than there were before, and that in his experience, even before a new register had come into force, the removals in his constituency were something like 10 per cent. He hesitated to think how large a number it would be if an election occurred at this time of the year. That is an argument which has not up to now been brought forward in these debates, and it reinforces our demand that we should be able to convey voters to the poll, because the main purpose of an election is to get the population to vote. The hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass) said he got 91 per cent. of his electors. That is really all the available people who can vote after allowing for voters who have died or are ill. I am certain that if this Clause were to pass. I should get 20 per cent. fewer people in my division to go to the poll than I get now. No one can say that that is a good thing, and I am sure that if we have a provision like this, we shall have to enact some form of compulsory vote.
I would like to reinforce some of the examples given by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford of the great distances that have to be covered in the countryside. I would like to take an instance from the county of Somerset, because, although it is not my Division, it is very near to it. In the Taunton Division of Somerset is the polling district Brompton Regis, which has an area of 9,029 acres, and, as the crow flies, you can take a straight line of six miles across the parish. There are 400 electors. Some of the electors would have to walk four or four and a-half miles to record their votes. Many of them from the hamlet of Bury would have to climb up the hill the better part of three miles. My informant says that he expects that only about half of the population would vote 2263 if somebody was not able to fetch them in a vehicle.
The hon. Member for Oldham said that the answer to the proposal was to have more polling districts. Various people have tried to get more polling districts; I have tried myself, but what is the answer of the county councils? They say that it will incur a great deal of expense, that they are responsible for the ratepayers' money, and that they do not believe that additional polling stations are necessary. I have here a case from the polling district of Topsham, in the Tiverton Division of Devonshire. In that case, a demand was made some time ago, signed by 200 electors, for a separate polling station in Countess Wear, as it was three and a-half miles from some parts of Countess Wear to the polling station at Topsham. The answer of the county council was to the effect that all elections taking place on one day, it was very difficult to find competent officials to man the present polling stations, and also that each polling district cost a good deal of money for officials, fees and fittings; and that the county council had been so pressed for economy that they did not see their way to spend more money on additional polling stations.
One could go through a great list of cases, which are not at all rare, of distances all over the countryside where, if this Clause goes through, a large proportion of the population in those areas will not be able to vote. I am sure that that is not a good thing. We should not encourage the people of this country not to vote; indeed, we should do everything in our power to sec that they exercise their franchise. This has been a very different type of Debate from those we had on the Committee stage, and to some extent on Second Reading. Hon. Members on the other side of the House, as they mostly represent borough constituencies, at that time did not appear to have very much idea of the difficulties in the counties. It seems that to-day we have been able to convince hon. Members that this proposition is not so easy as it seems. Even the Government have come off their original high horse, and have produced an Amendment which goes some way to meet our views, although the number of cars which are there allowed is totally inadequate. I ask the 2264 Government to go one step further. They have already said that their first proposals were quite unworkable, and they have gone some way to meet ours. The right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) has put down an Amendment that this Clause shall not apply to constituencies of over 400 square miles. I do not know how many divisions in the country will be over 400 square miles—
§ Lord ERSKINE
Even then it would be a very arbitrary distinction. There are a number which are just under and which have the same kind of difficulties, and the right hon. Gentleman's proposal would be unfair to other divisions. I hope that before the Debate finishes we shall be able to show to the House that this Clause is unworkable. You cannot really fly into the face of progress. Motor cars are becoming more spread among the whole population. I wonder whether hon. Members realise what they are doing by this Amendment. They will allow everyone who has a car to ride in it to the poll and to take the members of his household, but what about the farmer, who up to now has taken his farm labourers and their wives to the poll? They do not live with him, they live in cottages some way off. We shall allow the farmer, his wife and daughter, and perhaps the maid, to go in the car to the poll but the farm labourers and their wives will have to walk. If that is their idea of helping the Socialist vote I do not think the party opposite will have much chance in the agricultural areas.
I hope that it will be proved that this Clause is unworkable. It has been brought forward, as has been said by every Member on this side, in a sort of punitive expedition against the Tory party. All parties have some advantages inherent in their constitutions. It may be said that we have an advantage in motor cars; the Socialist party have an advantage in the trade unions; and in the old days the Liberal party had an advantage in the chapels—I do not say that offensively. Probably every party has had and will have advantages and disadvantages of that kind. We cannot legislate against all inequalities, any more than we can make all men equal. In the past when one party got into 2265 power they cut off the heads of their opponents. Afterwards, when we became more civilised, it was the fashion for the successful party to impeach the leaders of the other party. By long experience the Liberal party and ourselves have come to the conclusion that that game is not worth the candle, and we have dropped it for a long time. Now it has been revived by the Labour party. This Bill is purely a punitive expedition, a revival of practices which have long been proved to hit both sides. Hon. Members opposite do not suppose that they tan keep us out of power for ever, any more than we suppose that we can keep them out for ever, and if they are going to start this kind of punitive expedition they must remember that there are many things we in turn can do to them.
§ Captain CAZALET
The hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) put forward an extraordinary and fantastic argument against this Amendment He said, "Here are the Tories once again claiming their privileges." We learn for the first time that it is presumed to be a privilege for one to vote for the Conservatives, though, no doubt, it is regarded as one's bounden duty to vote for the Socialist party. We believe it to be the duty of every citizen to record his vote in whatever way may seem right to him, and that we ought to do everything we can to provide every opportunity and every convenience for voting. Whereas in Australia they have under consideration proposals to impose a penalty upon people who do not vote, in this country a Measure is brought forward by the Socialist Government which is going to prevent people from recording their votes. I do not want to join issue with the Solicitor-General on the question of what is or is not logic, but he claimed that this Amendment was not logical.
§ Captain CAZALET
He used the word "logical," now he substitutes the word "sensible." It does not follow that because a thing is not sensible it cannot be logical. He has missed the point. I thought the illustration he gave showed how logical and sensible the 2266 Amendment. This Amendment proposes to bring into relation the number of motor cars that may be made available with the number of polling stations provided. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted the case of Leicester, and said that in one area there were only three or four polling stations and in another area 20 or 30. Surely it is the case that the area where there are few polling stations is a congested area and people have not far to go to the poll, and that in the case where the polling stations are more numerous the population is scattered over large distances. Therefore, the Amendment of my Noble Friend is not only a very sensible one but a very logical one.
I have never been able to understand the attitude of the Government upon this Clause and upon this Amendment. If they believe in democracy, about which they talk so much, they would surely support any proposal which would assist individuals to exercise the vote. I do not believe that any really conscientious Socialist would like to be returned to this House if he felt that his success were due to the inability of certain of his opponents to get to the poll. I can almost imagine a really high-minded Socialist who was returned by a narrow majority, and heard afterwards that certain of his opponents in his constituency could not record their votes because there were not motor cars, resigning his seat and offering to fight again. If, as an hon. Member opposite said, what they really object to is a fleet of cars touring a constituency to exercise a psychological effect on the way people will vote, why have they not brought forward a Clause to prevent that particular thing? I do not think I should object to that. A car which is lent for such a parade nearly always gets damaged, and I would not oppose any suggestion to make processions of motor cars touring a constituency illegal. But, of course, the objection to this Amendment is not a high moral one, it is a low, unmoral one. I will not say an immoral one, because I do not wish to accuse hon. Members opposite of immorality. I will say it is a non-moral one. It only carries out the basic principle of every Clause in the Bill, and that is an attempt to "do in" the Tories.
§ Captain CAZALET
I am very glad to have that added confirmation of our suspicions. We ought to thank the hon. Member opposite who let us know for certain that many Conservative cars have in the past carried Socialist voters to the poll. We had suspected it on many occasions, and we are glad to get the confirmation. In addition to this being a non-moral principle I would warn hon. Members that it is a, dangerous principle, and that it may be made to work both ways. At some future time some high-spirited Members on these benches, who may then be sitting on the opposite side of the House, will urge Measures of a similar character to this directed against the other side, and though, of course, the Conservative party as a whole would never agree to them, it is a principle that can be made to apply both ways. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Trade Disputes Bill?"] I do not think I should be in order in discussing that now, but in our view no suggestions of party bias on our part could be founded upon that Measure.
My own objection to this Clause is that it increases the opportunity for committing offences. Already, if the law were applied strictly at election times almost every Member in this House would be unseated. Further, it is impossible to check all the individual actions of one's constituents. How is one to be responsible for the actions of every constituent who owns a car? As the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) said, this Clause will penalise out-voters, will disfranchise them. I think every Member must recollect how often he is told when visiting houses in his constituency that one member of the household will be outside the district on polling day. The number of people who have to be fetched from outlying districts is surprising. Then there is the point that people will not know the law in this matter; though, of course, ignorance of the law is no excuse. There will be a large number of people who will send their cars for individuals in order that they may vote at a certain polling booth. How is one to judge what is the primary object of a visit? What can prevent me from Bending my car to fetch a daughter to see her mother? Surely that would be a worthy object. It may happen that the day of the visit 2268 coincides with the day on which an election is taking place. How can one say what is the primary object of the visit? The car may not drive right up to the polling booth, but stop a little way away. Who can tell whether the individual who comes out of the car and records his or her vote is or is not a relation of the person who owns the car, lives in his house, or belongs to the household? Of course, one cannot tell; and it would be especially difficult to tell if it were someone living outside the district and not known to local people. Then there is this further difficulty: how can one say which way that individual has voted? I can foresee that there will be innumerable difficulties for the returning officer, the magistrates or whoever has to decide who is in the right or wrong. I am perfectly certain that when hon. Members opposite fully realise the low motives which inspire this Clause and the futility of it in practice they will regret opposing the Amendment and supporting the Clause.
§ Sir ERNEST SHEPPERSON
I should not have risen but for the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford City (Captain Bourne). In that excellent speech he referred to a part of the country in which he spent a great deal of his time, and with the difficulties of voters in that area getting to the poll. I happen to represent that area, and I desire to say that I support to the full every word he said on that point. A certain Member of Parliament came into the constituency to speak for me. He was met at Hereford and driven to the place where the particular function was taking place, and he congratulated me, through the driver, on the fact that there were so few people and no villages in my constituency. The driver said "But you have already passed through three of them." What he had seen is typical of many country villages—the houses are so scattered that one does not realise that it is a village.
The issue in this Amendment is a very simple one. The question is whether the number of cars should be allotted in proportion to the number of voters on the register or in proportion to the number of polling stations. I would like the Home Secretary to take note of a typical case among rural areas. I have in my 2269 own constituency 90 polling stations, and 140 parishes and villages. Under the scheme proposed in the Bill I shall be allotted 31 cars, or about one car for every three polling stations. The agricultural worker is at work from the early hours in the morning until six o'clock in the evening, and the only time he is able to vote is between six and eight o'clock in the evening. As a rule he lives four or five miles away from the polling station. How is it possible that one car for every three polling districts will be able to convey the electors in those districts to the poll? It is absolutely impossible, and I make a very earnest appeal to the Home Secretary to accept the number provided for in the Amendment, and to allot the cars in proportion to the polling stations instead of in proportion to the electors on the register.
The effect of the Bill will be to disfranchise agricultural areas to a large extent, and it will chiefly disfranchise the older men and women. Many of the young people have motor cycles and bicycles, and they may overcome the difficulty of getting to the poll, but the older ones are not in that position. This proposal is supported by hon. Members opposite in order to disfranchise the people. It is said that every boy and girl under the age of 20 who was not a Socialist has no heart. Let them bear in mind if that is true it is also true that every man and woman above the age of 25 or 30 has no head if he still remains a Socialist. Hon. Members opposite by this proposal are disfranchising the older people, and depriving those who have the wisdom which age gives them of the right to record their vote. I appeal to the Home Secretary to consider the rural areas, and to consider the old people and let us have a definite number of cars in proportion to the polling stations.
§ Mr. MANDER
Some Members of the Opposition who have spoken in this Debate have tried to intimidate us by the terrible revenge which they threaten to carry out when they are returned to power. That is a contingency so remote that it is hardly worth taking into consideration, and it may well be that the present generation will pass away before we have the advantages of another Conservative Administration. I will devote myself to the principle which is involved and surely it is no new 2270 principle. We are simply endeavouring to see that no undue advantages accrue to wealth in the exercise of the franchise and the electoral law. We have already removed the last vestige of plural voting. We have tried to prevent bribery which was an advantage to wealth, and we have done that with general consent. It is well known that it is illegal to make use of wealth to provide all the motor cars that can be hired. Motor cars cannot be hired for election purposes; otherwise, there would be great advantages accruing to the people who have the money. By this Bill we are only taking steps to go a little further along the same path by limiting the advantages which wealth gives in the transport of electors to the poll.
It may well be that there will be great difficulties in carrying this Clause into effect during the General Election, but that is no reason why we should not adopt it, and even if it is only a deterrent, making people feel that the law is there and that they will disobey it at their peril, it is bound to have a very considerable effect. When we come to the actual method by which this new idea is being carried out, I agree that there are many possible ways of dealing with it. Personally, I think the Amendment before the House goes too far, and allows far too many motor cars for industrial and county constituencies. The Amendment of the Home Secretary allows far too many cars in industrial constituencies. I think this is a perfectly sound Clause to put into the Bill and will do something to give greater equality of opportunity to the electors whether they are rich or poor.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I desire to point out the very serious results which this Clause will have—I know it will be a very serious matter—in a Highland constituency such as I have the honour to represent. In the first place, the distances from the polling stations in the Highlands are very much greater than in other constituencies. I know one instance where the polling station is eight, nine, and even 15 miles from the residences of voters, and there are no motor omnibuses on the roads along which many of these people have to travel. I know another instance where voters have to go 16 miles to the polling station, and there is no motor omnibus 2271 between those voters' residences and the polling station. I think those instances show what a very serious question is raised by these proposals in scattered Highland constituencies.
We have heard something about the special disability which will be imposed on old people in scattered outlying districts, although the young people with motor bicycles and bicyles will not be inconvenienced in this respect. May I point out that in the Highlands the situation is worse, because there are very few young people, and the population, particularly in the more isolated rural districts in the Highlands, consists largely of old people. In those districts, very often the land is very poor and the young people go to work in the towns, or probably they have gone to one of our Dominions. There are innumerable cases of old people living on a little farm or in a little cottage, and these are the people who will be faced with an extreme difficulty in getting to the poll unless they can be taken there by a friend who possesses a motor car. There are few omnibuses running along the roads which these people have to travel, and, if a private car cannot fetch them, it will be impossible for them to record their votes. Therefore, this Clause means the disfranchisement of a very large proportion of the rural voters in the Highlands.
With regard to the number of cars that are needed at an election, I have 42 polling districts in my constituency. I have been advised that about five cars to a polling station is the least number with which one can hope to bring a substantial number of my supporters to the poll. I have been fortunate in having a considerably larger number of cars than that, and the number which has been mentioned by my Noble Friend is not more than will be necessary for a constituency like mine for a candidate who has to rely very largely for support from the rural areas. If a large majority of those areas are represented by one party it means that that party is supported by a considerable number of people in the outlying districts, and therefore it needs cars because people cannot get to the poll unless motor cars are available.
A man offers his car because he knows there are many people in the outlying districts who would not get to the poll at 2272 all unless he sends his car. I do not suggest that the people who lend their cars refuse to bring anybody but their own supporters to the poll. No election in which I have taken part has passed without my being told that many people who have supported my opponents have been brought to the poll in cars which had been lent to me. There is a great deal of give and take in that matter. I say emphatically that I want to see every possible voter brought to the poll. I do not care how he votes. Naturally, I want to see people brought to the poll in the first instance on whose support I can count, but I want to feel that everyone has an opportunity of recording his vote, and it is intolerable to me to think that, after 100 years during which the franchise has been steadily extended, after 40 years during which the rural worker has had the benefit of the franchise, and after 12 years during which women have been admitted to the vote, we have to-day in a Bill this Clause which will largely disfranchise the rural voter, and particularly the old voter.
It is very gratifying to-day to find the increasing interest in public affairs that is being taken by women all over the country. It is a matter of extraordinary interest to anyone whose lot it is to address political meetings to find that a steadily growing interest in public matters is being taken by women who a few years ago were not interesting themselves in these matters, and, in particular, by the older women; and it seems to me to be nothing short of cruel, when this great new interest, this great new responsibility has been given to the women of the country, that a Government Bill should now be brought forward to dash the cup from their lips and make it practically impossible for a very large proportion of them ever to record their votes.
Finally, I would point out that the organising of cars in a big constituency is a very difficult matter. I am advised that, next to what the candidate can do, the organisation of cars is the most important matter. It is a matter for which I always try to select the most expert supporters that I can find, and some of them do it in a way in which I could never hope to do it myself. I do not think that the same efficient organisation is possible if it is done by a returning officer; you want someone 2273 rather in the nature of a staff officer, accustomed to organising things on a fairly big scale. It is work which not even an election agent need do very efficiently. If the organisation of cars in a big constituency is to be in the hands of a returning officer, it seems to me to be very doubtful if it can be done as efficiently as it would be if the different candidates were at liberty to select the most efficient and suitable person for the purpose.
Therefore, I say that this Clause really means the wiping out of political interest and of the discharge of political responsibility in the rural areas, and more particularly in areas such as that which I represent. Accordingly, I am glad to support the Amendment of my Noble Friend, because from my own experience I think that the number of cars which he suggests for each polling district is not a bit too much, and because it offers a chance for the organisation of cars to be efficient, and puts forward the very important principle of allotting cars by polling districts and not merely according to number of population. Owing to the distribution of the population, that is an all-important point. If cars were to be allotted on the basis of population, I should not be entitled to more than 34 in my constituency, whereas, as I have said, 200 is comething like a minimum requirement. This Clause really seems to me to be cruel, in that it takes away a right and privilege that is increasingly appreciated and increasingly exercised, and, therefore, I strongly support the Amendment.
§ Mr. McKINLAY
There is one point that seems to have escaped the attention of hon. Members opposite. I am quite ready to admit that there may be something to be said for this Amendment. Nobody on this side of the House desires to prevent aged people from going to the poll, nor do we desire to impose a hardship on people who live in the countryside; but I want to repudiate the suggestion which is made from the other side that, because most Members on this side represent industrial constituencies, we are callously ignorant of what the countryside really means, and of what it is to move and have one's being in the countryside. One question that I have not heard mentioned is, not so much the use of the motor car, but the log- 2274 rolling interests that supply constituencies with motor cars for the purpose of sinking the chances of a particular candidate. Although I am not a betting man, I am willing to lay a bet that in my constituency the liquor trade will supply all the cars necessary to my Tory opponent at the next General Election, simply because we make war on that particular interest.
The Leader of the Opposition gave an example of log-rolling in North Padding-ton. Just imagine what happens in industrial, not to mention rural, constituencies. You have the Fellowship of Freedom and Reform; you have the True Temperance League; you have all the affiliated and subsidised organisations of the liquor trade, quite disinterestedly and on behalf of the umpire, lending motor cars to support the candidate who will best represent that interest in the House of Commons. It is useless at this time of day for anyone to suggest that the primary motive of having motor cars in elections is to secure that every possible elector will go to the poll.
Every measure suggested from this side of the House is a punitive expedition against the Tory party, but everything which comes from hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they sit on this side of the House, is for the benefit of an erring democracy. They desire to do everything for our good. But take the case of the Labour candidate who contested Inverness at the last election. He was faced with a fleet of 300 cars supplied by a Tory organisation on behalf of the Liberal candidate in a constituency covering hundreds of square miles, while his total muster was 10. Most of those cars which were opposed to him were supplied by interests opposed to the Labour party, and, while we on this side of the House have no desire to prevent the legitimate use of conveyances, either in rural or in industrial areas, for people who cannot otherwise go to the poll, surely it is a satire on that enthusiasm for the development of the Empire which hon. Members opposite are continually telling us is the drive behind the Conservative party, that even an Empire Crusader will not walk two miles to the poll. Consequently, I am more concerned about the interests behind the supply of these cars.
2275 Let me give an illustration which tells against my own party, because I want to be perfectly fair. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will remember the North Lanark by-election, where the bookmakers all over Scotland concentrated and sent motor cars into the constituency for the purpose of showing that they resented something which the Tory Government had done. The same thing happened in North Midlothian, and also in North Paddington, where there was a battle of wealth as to which side could supply the most motor cars—on behalf of particular interests, not on behalf of the electors. I suggest that the Noble Lord should withdraw his Amendment and frame an Amendment which would meet with acceptance on both sides of the House.
I want it to be clearly understood that the rank and file of the Labour party are not opposed to supplying reasonable means of conveyance to people who otherwise cannot get to the poll because of age or infirmity, but I certainly repudiate the suggestion of the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) that for the people who reside in Perthshire five cars are necessary for each of 42 polling stations. I think that it is a satire on the intelligence and enthusiasm of Scottish people to suggest that they will not support their candidate with sufficient enthusiasm to walk to the poll.
Duchess of ATHOLL
May I ask the hon. Member, is he willing to see an old lady walk eight, nine, 15 or 16 miles to the poll?
§ Mr. McKINLAY
No; I have already said so. But the Noble Lady cannot convince me that a reasonable percentage of those who want to be conveyed to the poll belong to that category.
§ Sir THOMAS INSKIP
At what age does the hon. Gentleman call a person an old lady? When would he compel her to walk?
§ Mr. McKINLAY
I say quite frankly that sometimes it is very difficult to recognise an old lady, even by her dress. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. McKINLAY
That is the answer. I will give a further illustration, which happened in Glasgow at the last General 2276 Election. We have already disposed of the question of plural voting, which was a punitive expedition against the Labour party, but on that occasion a fleet of motor cars was delivering the same voters in three or four different constituencies in Glasgow, and bringing them a distance of 25 miles—young, able-bodied people. In fact, an allegation was made that the only living things that did not vote in Glasgow on that occasion were the saithes round about Helensburgh Pier. Motor cars were used to bring in all those plural voters. I hope that the Government will stick to the Clause, and I suggest that the Noble Lord should withdraw his Amendment and frame one which will meet with acceptance on both sides.
§ Mr. OLIVER STANLEY
The House has listened with some pleasure to the frank speech of the hon. Member for Par-tick (Mr. McKinlay). He alluded to the case in which bookmakers joined with the party opposite in an association which I think it is only right to say was equally painful for them and for the bookmakers, but I do not think that hon. Members on this side, in the Amendments that they move and in the stand that they take in regard to this Bill, have any desire to perpetuate a system whereby outside interests may, on behalf of one party or another, bring an enormous fleet of motors into a constituency, as was done on that occasion. We are, however, anxious that no hardships or difficulties should be put in the way of men or women in the matter or recording their votes. The cheap jest that there cannot be much enthusiasm behind the Members of a party who cannot walk two miles to the poll and two miles back does not really add much to the arguments on the Bill. To start with, why should a man be made to walk four miles to prove his allegiance to a political party? Are the depths of a man's political allegiance to be tested by a certain number of athletic performances? Has every man to run 100 yards or jump 20 feet before he can be said to be fit morally or intellectually to record his vote?
It is not only the distance to which we object, although the distances in the case of my constituency are far greater than two miles there and two miles back. It is the time that is occupied in the journey. All of us who are acquainted 2277 with country districts—and no doubt it is the same in towns—know quite well that it is the habit among the working class for the wife, although it would be perfectly possible for her to vote during the day, to wait until the evening, when her husband comes back from work. Then they go down together to record their votes. In my constituency, without motor cars, it is quite possible that a great number of people may have to walk four or five miles there and four or five miles back, over bad roads, up and down hill, and may have to leave their house, their children, and their domestic preparations for two or three hours in the evening. However sincere their convictions and their political thought, however much they may want to vote for a Conservative or a Socialist candidate, you are in fact putting them to an intolerable hardship when you demand that they should undertake that journey.
Really, I believe the grievance, under which hon. Members opposite suffer and which I fully understand, is not a justifiable one as far as the country constituencies are concerned. The hon. Member referred to an election in Inverness and to the enormous disparity between the number of care which were available for the Socialist candidate and for the Liberal candidate, who had all the advantages which that party enjoys. The hon. Member will agree with (me that in normal country constituencies—I cannot speak for Inverness—the part of the population, which is likely to vote Socialist, is much more closely concentrated round the place where the polling booths are found than the part of the population which votes Liberal or Conservative. In constituencies such as mine, the chief support for the Socialist candidate is to be found either in the small towns or in the villages among such people as the railway workers, who necessarily live in or near the village where the polling booth is situated. There is, therefore, not nearly so much need for a number of cars as in my case, in which a large number of my supporters are drawn from people who live in the fells at great distances from the villages.
With all the faults and fallacies in the argument of the hon. Member opposite, I prefer his speech to that of the hon. Member for East Wolverhamption (Mr. 2278 Mander). The hon. Member was frank and stripped the matter to bare bones; he did not dress it up with talk about equality. I was frankly impressed by his arguments and interested in his statements. I was interested when the hon. Member said that it would be many years, a generation perhaps, before hon. Members on this side of the House who uttered threats would have an opportunity of putting them into effect. I presume then that the hon. Member has had indicated to him the date of the next election. It is, therefore, interesting to know that the bill of lading is going to be very much out of date.
The argument that the matter we are discussing now, the use of motor cars in elections, is on all fours with the principle of one man one vote or universal suffrage, and that both are an attempt to sweep away electoral privileges given by wealth or education is ridiculous. Here every man has a vote, and it is simply a question of the facilities to exercise that vote. If you are going to say that a man who is allowed to use a car is being given an undue advantage over a man who is not, then you must say that a man who lives a 100 yards from a polling booth has an undue advantage over the man four miles away, and that you must do away with it. There is here no question of undue advantage at all, and, if principle there be, it is a principle, which has been clearly shown by hon. Members on these benches and far more by hon. Members opposite—
§ Mr. MANDER
Is the hon. Member therefore in favour of candidates being allowed to hire motor cars in order that everyone may have the opportunity of going to vote?
§ Mr. STANLEY
Frankly, one can only argue against that proposal on the ground that hiring a motor car in your constituency may act as some kind of inducement to the man from whom you hire it. If it were not for that, I should have no objection to it. The Noble Lord for Horsham (Earl Winterton) opened the Debate on his Amendment in a perfectly admirable speech. I quarrel with him in one respect only, and it is a complaint I have often to make about him. I am full of admiration and respect for his eloquence and his argument, but I do disagree with the undue meekness of his speeches and 2279 his over-readiness to take the motives of hon. Members opposite at their face value. I cannot agree with him when he says that he does not believe that the Solicitor-General is bringing this forward with the idea of dishing the Tory party.
I am exceedingly grateful to the hon. Member for his compliment. I did not put it quite like that. I said that we had no reason to believe.
§ Mr. STANLEY
I am very grateful to the Noble Lord. I have no doubt as to the motives which support this proposal, and we need not therefore discuss this principle. What we have to discuss is the difference between the Amendment of the Noble Lord and the Amendment of the Home Secretary and decide the number of cars to be given to the candidate. We all know they may have a number of cars irrespective of wealth. Under the Home Secretary's proposal, it will be possible for the Conservative party to have 40 cars and the Socialist party 20 cars, and the inequalities of wealth are to continue. We can only discuss now on what basis these inequalities are to be granted. I was unfortunately unable to be present when the Solicitor-General made his reply on that Amendment. I have no doubt that I would have heard not a convincing argument but an intellectual exhibition. He has, during his long years of practice at the Chancery Bar, learned the art of destructive criticism of the case of the other man. His argument is, "It is quite true that some people may live three or four miles from a polling booth. Let them walk." It is reminiscent of some of his friends and colleagues, who some years ago said, "Let London walk." Let us consider who are the people whom the Solicitor-General wants to walk. The poor man must walk and the man who has not a car or whose master will not give him a lift, but the rich man in his Rolls Royce, the man with a Ford, the man with the motor bicycle, they can all exercise the privilege which is always given to wealth in this country and save themselves the trouble and expense to which their poorer brothers will be put. That is hardly a convincing reply to our case.
The whole question is whether the flat rates proposed, which are laid down in the Home Secretary's Amendment, will 2280 really meet the special circumstances in each case, or whether they would not give to some constituencies many fewer cars than they require and to other constituencies many more. We contend that our basis, the basis of the polling district, gives a much fairer estimate of the requirements of the district. In my constituency, for instance, I have something like 45 polling stations and an area of over 800 square miles, so that there is between 15 and 20 square miles for each polling district, a large number of which are in a very hilly country on the borders of the lakes and difficult of access. Under the Home Secretary's proposal, I should receive 42 cars for 45 polling districts and I should be able to allocate rather under one car for every 15 square miles. Although it is quite true I might, with the use of those cars, be able to get the sick and old to the poll, I go further than that.
I do not base my case on the necessity of getting them. I say that your limit should be fixed so as to give everyone who lives a long distance from the poll the opportunity to come in, and I believe that the Amendment of the Noble Lord will give a very much fairer distribution of cars than is proposed by the Home Secretary. So much as to the principle—if principle there ever was in this Clause. Let them proceed on that to adopt the logical basis and find a formula which will deprive no one of the necessary facilities of travelling in a motor car and at the same time will put a stop to displays, such as those of which the hon. Member spoke, which it is not the desire of any party in this House to maintain.
§ Mr. TOOLE
As the hon. Member responsible for moving the Resolution referred to, I want to disabuse the minds of hon. Members opposite of any idea that it was moved with any intention of aiming at any particular party. What I aimed at was a more equitable distribution of cars. I pointed out that, during the last 25 years, during which the motor car has been developed for electioneering purposes, every party has done the same thing. It is not fair for this side of the House to assume that the advantages of motor cars are always with the other side of the House. In one by-election, in which an hon. Member said he was carrying the relics of the Labour movement, 2281 there were more motor cars produced than I have ever seen in any Tory by-election.
Of course, things have changed. No one would tell the House that he should have an advantage at the election because he is a rich man. In those days, 1925, five years ago, we allowed rich people to carry the relics of this party and to have a tremendous advantage over the rest of the candidates of the party. In ancient times, when they paraded their relics they used to place them on the back of an ass, and he used to walk through the main streets in the procession and people used to come out and salaam to the relics. The ass got the impression that he was the centre of at-traction, and he got so cocksure that the festival committee decided to change the ass. Still believing that he was the centre of attraction, he had a procession of his own, and was surprised to find that no one took the slightest notice of him and that wealth really did not count, but that what did count was the relics. In our ease what counted were the relics of a great party.
§ Mr. TOOLE
I did not really expect the hon. Member to know anything. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"] I am rather hard of hearing, and I intend to be until I finish. One of my first impressions when I visited London 25 years ago was a huge poster in Aldwych exhibited by Horatio Bottomley. It was a picture of the Derby race, and, with Bottomley's usual modesty, he was riding the winner. At the tail end of a long string of horses came Keir Hardie on a donkey marked Socialism. In order to get the donkey even to come in last, Keir Hardie was dangling a carrot over its head. Other people have held bunches of carrots over peoples' heads for many years. I only mention that to emphasise the change there has been since those days. Anyone would think, to hear the speeches from the other side, that we were trying to uproot the British Constitution.
I do not see any reason to waste all this time debating how many motor cars we shall have in elections. It is quite a simple matter. It is a fact, particularly in by-elections, that the man who has a 2282 great fleet of cars, especially on a wet day, has a tremendous advantage over a candidate who has not. This Clause is intended to equalise the advantage. I have not the slightest objection to the aged and infirm having the best facilities possible—that is why I moved my Motion—and we must all admit, because it is not a party question, that there is a distinct difference between agricultural and urban districts. I would make everyone who lives in a town or city who has two legs and is fit walk to the poll. We pamper people too much these days. I do not see any reason why people should expect, when they go to vote, to get a ride in a car. After all the vote costs a lot. [Interruption.] I can understand that you over there always think in terms of cash. I am speaking in terms of sacrifice. A vote is a very valuable thing, and a man ought to be only too proud to walk to use it. During the last 25 years, in my district in particular, people expect a ride before they go to vote, and invariably the man who gives them the ride is the man who gets the vote. There is such a great opinion of honesty among working folk that they do not generally use one person's car and vote for someone else. Between 10 in the morning and mid-day canvassers come to the committee rooms demanding cars and stating that Mrs. So and So will not vote unless she is brought in a car.
In the towns we could very well do with an arrangement, like they have in Oldham, to have no cars at all except for the sick and the infirm. In country districts it is different. There ought to be the very best facilities for people in agricultural districts getting to the poll, and I quite agree that they should have twice the facilities of those who live in the towns. The Home Secretary has provided for that in his Amendment. Taking a constituency with an average of 40,000 electors, which I think is a fair statement of the case, if the Amendment was carried, with 40 polling stations candidates could have 200 cars. That is far too many for anyone to have, and it would occur again that the rich candidate would have 200 cars and the poor one very few. In an urban district, on the basis of the Home Secretary's proposal, they would have 20 cars. That is plenty for anyone. It appears 2283 to me that that is a fair arrangement and distribution of cars.
Let us not assume that everyone who owns a car is delighted to send it to the candidate. If this is carried, there are thousands of people who own cars who would be only too glad to be relieved of the opportunity of sending them. I had a remarkable experience with the first car lent to me. A man lent me a Ford car. He brought it at eight o'clock in the morning, at five minutes past eight it ran into a wall, and at half-past 10 I got a bill for £5 for damages. That, however, is not the reason why I am against cars. This proposal is only made to equalise the distribution of cars. It is quite a modern development. There have been so many changes in the last quarter of a century that there ought to be a change in the use of motor cars. When I first went into politics, every public house was a Tory Committee room. That has been stopped. [Interruption.] I only look at them from the outside. I dare say the hon. Member has a knowledge of the inside. Voting was restricted to certain special sections of the community. That has been changed. Thanks to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin), everyone now has a vote at 21. The one crying evil which has been allowed to arise in our midst is the motor car evil. I look to that being changed to-night. You could not have a fairer proportion of cars than one for each 2,000 of the urban population and one for each thousand of the rural population, but what does it matter what the numbers are if they are equal all round, and why object if they are equal. No one gets an advantage over anyone else. Everyone has the same proportion. For these reasons, I support the Government Amendment.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
The House has enjoyed the hon. Member's speech, but I am sure it would have foregone the pleasure of hearing him if we could have induced someone on the Government Bench to defend their proposals after the criticisms that have been made upon them. The Solicitor-General has a capacity for courtesy which never fails him, but he must guard against his besetting sin of being a little perfunctory in his treatment of some of the questions that 2284 come before the House. After all, this is a somewhat serious question, and the only answer we have had from the Government—indeed, it was not an answer—was a speech of some 10 or 12 minutes from the hon. and learned Gentleman, in which, naturally, he was not eager to anticipate the criticisms which have been made by my hon. Friends behind me, and here, when we are altering an important part of electoral law, the Home Secretary has not even the courtesy to the House to attend our Debate during the very short time that we are allowed to discuss the Bill under the Guillotine. There might possibly be some excuse for his behaviour if we were working under a time-table which would strain his strength and patience to the utmost, but the Debate is bound to come to an end at an early hour. My hon. Friends behind me have put questions which the Solicitor-General is now, of course, powerless to answer, owing to the Rules of Debate. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department is here. Why should not he be unchained to answer some of these questions? I have seen his genial countenance looming above the table during the whole Debate. I think my efforts will not be altogether wasted if I have induced the Home Secretary to condescend to give a little attention to the discussion of a Bill which has been presented by him on a subject upon which he proposes to move a Clause in a few minutes.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Clynes)
Where have you been all the day?
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I have been in this House since a quarter to six. I have been here a great deal longer than the Home Secretary has. But I think he is a little wanting in his habitual courtesy when he suggests that even my absence is an excuse for his absence. It is not my Bill. Would he inform me what right he has to ask me where I have been? He will not succeed in riding off with a taunt of that character, and the House will expect him, I think properly, to be here to defend the proposals contained in his own Bill even if any Member of the Opposition finds it necessary to be absent during part, or even the whole, of the Debate. The right hon. Gentleman's absence has been matched by the torpidity of the benches behind.
2285 The hon. Member for Partick (Mr. McKinlay) made some observations chiefly devoted to the suggestion that the liquor traffic supports a party on this side of the House. [Interruption.] The hon. Member reminds me that we have not a monopoly of the liquor traffic even on this side. I resent with all the fervour at my command the suggestion that we have any particular privileges in connection with motor cars because of the liquor trade. If I may speak for myself—I believe I am much in the same position as others on this side of the House—my opinions on some questions connected with that traffic deprive me of whatever support it might have been able to give me. I say that not in any derogation of the rights, or powers, or opinions of any Member on this side of the House. It is a sheer piece of hypocrisy for hon. Members opposite to pretend that they are the only righteous and temperate people in the world. If it comes to making accusations of that sort, I see one or two hon. Members on the opposite side of the House who know a great deal more about the liquor traffic than I do.
Let us try and understand the basis upon which this calculation of the Home Secretary, to which we shall come later is based, and which, I understand, I shall be in order in discussing in passing. We are told by the hon. Gentleman opposite that one car for every thousand in the country constituencies is quite enough for everybody. I should like to know—perhaps the Home Secretary now that he is here can answer this question, if he is good enough to make a reply—if this calculation is based upon the needs of the electors, or upon the present-day capacity of the Socialist party to produce motor cars? I will put it in another way is the calculation of one car per thousand intended to produce equality as between political parties, or is it designed in the interests of electors, as it is supposed to be—to get all the electors who want to vote to the poll! That what we should like to ask. As the Labour party secures the support of the wealthy people who are rapidly being attracted the longer the Labour Government remains in power to its ranks, we may assume, I suppose, if equality is the objective of the Home Secretary's Clause, that one car per 2286 thousand will be increased to two cars per thousand, because in order to produce equality it will only be necessary to limit cars to that extent. But really if you approach this question from the point of view of the equality of political parties you are degrading this House and political parties altogether.
The object of this House ought not to be to make parties equal as if we were playing a game in regard to which we ought to make rules in order to make it a sporting contest, but our efforts, surely, ought to be directed towards getting as many people as possible to the poll. It is not equality that is wanted in this contest; it is efficiency that is wanted. Instead of forbidding wealth to assist in getting people to the poll, instead of making it difficult for wealth to get people to the poll, you ought to beg wealth and enlist wealth to get people to the poll. It is possible that if the Government, instead of baldheadedly trying to deprive the Conservative party of some advantage which we frankly admit we possess, were anxious, on the other hand, to get the electors to the poll, they might have coupled their proposals with some relaxation of the power of hiring vehicles. They might, for instance, have made it possible in these days of large motor vehicles to arrange for some system under which it would be possible to provide transport to the poll on a large, scale for the electors from distant places.
The right hon. Gentleman has not gone as far as that. No, his object is not to get people to the poll. His object is to prevent people from going to the poll on one condition—if they are likely to vote Conservative. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last exhibited a characteristic disdain for the people whom hon. Gentlemen opposite are fond of claiming that they particularly represent. I wonder whether the working-class will relish the slander which was passed upon them this evening when it was said that they are content to vote and will only vote for the people who give them a ride. Is there anything quite so discreditable as that belief of hon. Members opposite? Do they really tell this House and the country that the working classes are so shallow in their convictions and so elastic in their attachment to convictions that because somebody offers them a ride in large numbers to the poll they will 2287 vote for the Conservative party? Are the convictions of our great working class of this country so shallow as to make it possible to change their political convictions by five minutes in a vehicle which is no longer a novelty or even a luxury. Let it be said at the next General Election when hon. Members are addressing large public meetings that they have told you, Mr. Speaker, and the country, through the House of Commons, that if you talk of convictions, they have not any because they are prepared to surrender their convictions for a ride in a motor car for five minutes.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
I am quite content to leave the hon. Gentleman to correct his recollection by the OFFICIAL EEPOKT to-morrow, but let me say this, in criticism of his correction, that, if he only said that, and he meant that it was an insignificant minority of the working class, the observation was not worth making.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
We heard it, and my recollection is at least as good as the hon. Member's recollection of what he said. It really does not matter, because the opinion which the hon. Member, I think, did express in the terms I have stated, is really that which underlies the proposal of the Government to limit the use of motor cars. It depends upon the theory that there is in some way an unfair advantage because of the Conservative party are likely to have more motor cars at their disposal than other people. If it is an unfair advantage, it can only be unfair for one of two reasons. One reason is because the people who get the rides in the Conservative motor cars will vote Conservative. I believe that to be a slander of the working class and of the people of this country, and I am astonished that anybody should even think of it for a moment, let alone ex- 2288 press it in the House of Commons. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh. It is their customary resort. They are not fond of producing arguments, but they are fond of laughing. The only other advantage which can be obtained by the use of motor cars is the fact that those who want to vote Conservative can be got to the poll in larger numbers than those who want to vote Socialist. I should think that if that is the criticism—I agree to some extent it may be properly considered—the real objective of the right hon. Gentleman should not have been to make it difficult for Conservatives to get to the poll—the Conservatives with convictions—but to make it easy for the Socialists with convictions to get to the poll. Then you would produce a real equality.
This sterilising of the voters in order to produce supposed equality between political parties comes very late indeed in the development of modern democracy. I do not believe that, if this Clause gets into an Act of Parliament, it will long be tolerated. It will either become a dead letter for the reason mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine) that you cannot prevent people from getting lifts, or else it will be repealed by some Government, and I should not be surprised if it was a Socialist Government. [Interruption.] Yes, I should not be surprised if it was a Socialist Government that repealed this Clause if it gets into the Bill in the form in which it is suggested by the Home Secretary. We are told by hon. Members who have spoken that there is no reason at all why everybody should not go to the poll walking. If they have opinions worth mentioning, we are told that they will walk and that they ought to walk and should be made to walk. If that is so with all Socialist voters, what is the harm in letting some of them ride? Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. If they tell us everybody can quite properly walk to the poll except the very aged or very infirm, we are not seeking to deprive any Socialist of that which hon. Members tell us they can do arid will do. They can walk to the poll. What is the harm in saying that some people should be offered rides to the poll? If the right hon. Gentleman and the Solicitor-General will give a little more 2289 attention to these proposals, I venture to think that, instead of the perfunctory and the shallow idea that you have improved your democracy by making it difficult for people to vote, they will come to the conclusion that they ought to withdraw this Clause and go back and think again and not make it more difficult for Conservatives to vote, but devise some means to make it easier for Socialists to match the enthusiasm of hon. Members on this side of the House.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I think that it is almost incredible that the Secretary of State for the Home Department is not going to make any reply. We have had innumerable speeches from this side of the House, powerful, lucid and cogent speeches filled with devastating arguments, to which no attempt has been made to reply on the other side of the House. The Secretary of State for the Home Department has thought fit to be absent for the greater part of the Debate although we are discussing a crucial Clause which he himself has presented to the House. He came into the Chamber, I think, largely owing to certain pressure from this side of the House. He has listened to an extremely able denunciation of his Amendment and Clause by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip), and he sits there as if he is prepared to allow the Question to be put without making any attempt to reply for the Government.
§ Mr. CLYNES
My momentary absence—[HON. MEMBERS: "Momentary!"]—appears to be a matter of interest to some who are now present. May I, therefore, state that I have been in the House since half-past two, and for nearly the whole of that time I have been in the Chamber? I was here until 10 minutes to seven. A man must live, even a Home Secretary. With the exception of some 15 minutes for Departmental work, I have not been absent from the Chamber, and I have listened attentively to all the speeches. My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General stated the case for the Government on the subject of the Amendment, and I intended to speak, as I hope I shall, a little later on the new Clause on the Paper in my name. Frankly, apart from the explanation given about my absence, I cannot think of anything in the speech 2290 of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down to which I need reply.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
Everybody is prepared to make allowances for the temporary absence of the right hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] I made no attack. What I am complaining about is not that the right hon. Gentleman went away for a short time, but that we are deprived of hearing the views of the right hon. Gentleman upon this very important Amendment. I expected, after listening to the speeches from this side of the House, that the right hon. Gentleman would at once have got up and accepted the Amendment. We have heard no arguments against the Amendment, and every speech to which I have listened—and I have been here for a long time—has been a very strong argument in favour of the Amendment. All that we want from the right hon. Gentleman—and I think it is a very justifiable request—is, if he is not going to accept the Amendment, that he should state the reasons of the Government for not doing so. The Solicitor-General stated the views of the Government before the very large number of speeches were delivered from this side of the House. Surely, it makes a mockery of Debate. This House is held in sufficient contempt at the present time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, and it is the fault primarily of hon. and right hon. Members opposite, who have brought forward Bill after Bill for the last two years designed solely to waste the time of the House of Commons and to prevent us from doing the business that we ought to be doing, trying to solve problems of importance. We waste our time day after day and week after week on a Measure which everyone knows perfectly well is never going to become an Act of Parliament.
As the Home Secretary does not intend to reply, I should like to say a few words in support of what was said by the hon. Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl) regarding the rural areas of Scotland, which have not been dealt with particularly in relation to the Clause or the Amendment. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman what steps he is going to take or what steps the Government are going to take to see that voters in Inverness-shire, the Western Isles, and Orkney and Shetland in particular, get to the polling stations. I stood as a 2291 candidate for Orkney and Shetland in 1923 and I have some personal experience of the enormous difficulty which the voters have in getting to the poll in these Highland and Island constituencies. There are not any trains and but very few motor cars are available. It is necessary to get every possible means of transport. It does not matter which party produces them, so long as they are produced, if the people in these areas are not to be disfranchised.
The hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Toole) denies that he made the statement, but he did say, I listened very carefully, that some voters would only vote if they got a ride. He developed his argument and said that out of a sense of honesty they felt bound to vote for the party that gave them the ride. I am sure that that statement will be found in the OFFICIAL KEPORT tomorrow. I do not know much about the voters in England, but that is not the Scottish conception. The working classes of Scotland hold quite different views. They are very independent. They vote as they think right, but they do not necessarily tell you how they are going to vote and they do not necessarily vote for the man whose car takes them to the poll. I have noticed that in my constituency, at any rate on two occasions, on polling day. There was a very celebrated Aberdeenshire bridegroom who became very uneasy as the bride was being led up the aisle. The best man said to him: "What is the matter, Sandy? Have you lost the wedding ring?" "No," said Sandy, "but I seem to have lost my enthusiasm." I have noticed in regard to some people whom I assumed confidently to be my supporters, that when they approached the polling booth in my car their enthusiasm for the Unionist cause diminished. I am by no means confident that they voted for the party to which I belong. But I did not care, so long as they got there. The point is to get everybody to the poll.
If the Home Secretary had come to the House with a proposal to get more potential Labour voters to the poll, so long as it was a practicable proposition, even if it involved hiring a charabanc or some other vehicle of that kind, we should have listened very sympathetically to it. We have no objection to people 2292 going to the poll or being brought to the poll, but we do object to people being stopped from going to the poll. That is our fundamental objection to the Clause, and the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. Hon. Members opposite have said that such and such a number of cars is far too many. That is the expression they use in arguing in favour of the Clause. How can you have far too many cars at an election? You cannot get enough cars. Our objection to the Clause and the Amendment is (1) the practical one that it will not work and (2) the question of principle, that it is designed to prevent a certain number of people from going to the poll or having facilities of going to the poll, with the clearly vindictive motive that they would be likely to vote for the Conservative party as against the Labour party. The ironical fact is that it will not prevent a single well-to-do, rich, comfortably-off person from going to the poll in his own car, any distance, in ease and comfort, but it will prevent the aged, the sick, the poorest of the poor who cannot be expected, especially in the conditions under which they are living, to walk eight, 10 or 15 miles to the poll, and back.
§ Mr. SULLIVAN
I rise to protest against the statement of the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Boothby), deriding his own countrymen. He seems to have a penchant for running down his countrymen. He stated to the House, amidst the cheers of his supporters, that the Scottish idea of honesty is to go in one man's motor car to the poll and to vote for someone else. I sincerely hope that the hon. Member will make that statement when he goes back to Scotland. It is not the first time that he has made a statement of that kind, deriding his countrymen.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I venture to say that it is generally understood in rural constituencies in Scotland that any voter is perfectly entitled to vote as he chooses when he gets to the polling booth. We always make that perfectly plain. Send cars for your own voters, if you can, but there is no obligation on a voter to vote for the party that takes him to the poll.
§ Mr. SULLIVAN
The hon. Member has not withdrawn the statement reflecting upon his own countrymen. I once 2293 stood as candidate in a country area, and all the cars that I could get on any day numbered three. My opponent could get 200 or 300 cars. I know of one case of a man, 74 years of age, who was going to be sent in a Conservative car, but he said that he had altered his mind and, although he was a lifelong Conservative, he was going to vote Labour. He walked four miles each way to and from the polling station to record his vote against the Tory. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire seems to think that it is a good thing to make cheap jokes at the expense of his fellow countrymen. [Interruption.] I do not want to run counter to the feelings of hon. Members opposite, but I would remind them that they can read the speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow. I protest against it on behalf of the Scottish people, and I hope that he will repeat it when he goes to Scotland.
§ Mr. J. JONES
To-night we have had one of the most magnificent exhibitions of hypocrisy that I have ever seen in this House. Hon. Members on the Conservative benches, almost with tears in their voices, have been expressing their anxiety to see people recording their votes. The whole history of politics in this country is proof that whenever any attempt has been made to give the people the right to have a vote, the party opposite have voted against it. Now, knowing that the workers have the vote, their game is to see how they can wangle so that they may get their votes. Motor cars play a very important part in an election. They send motor cars down to my constituency, and I use them. I am not worrying my head about motor cars because, frankly, I tell my supporters to go in the Tory car, but vote Labour. I am not one of those high falutin' people who talk morality, knowing that the other fellow is practising the other thing. Hon. Members opposite have been practising the other thing all their political lives, from father to son, exercising every possible influence and intimidation to prevent people from voting. [Interruption.] Yes, and throwing people out of their jobs. Now they tell us that they are the Simon Pures of politics, and that their only interest is to get people to the poll. Yes, and to put them up the pole!
2294 We want a square deal, even in the use of vehicles. I would like to see the day when the cost of vehicles at election times is made a public charge, in order to get every section of the electorate to the poll. That would be an easier way out of the difficulty. Our people in many cases will not walk to the poll but will have a ride, because it is the only time that they can get a ride at the expense of the other side. The dock labourers of Silvertown will go in the motor car of the other side, and they will cheer the Labour candidate as they are going to the polling station. I wish the electors in all parts of the country would do the same thing, and then hon. Members opposite would stop providing motor cars. When they know that they are not going to get the reward of the working man's vote, they will stop providing motor cars for him. I hope that some day motor cars will be provided under the public authority and that all parties will have to pay an equal share towards the cost of cars for the election day. Then, all parties will stand on terms of equality, and the present system of a party using its wealth to get electors to the poll will die, as it ought to have died years ago.
Virtuous indignation about the action of the Government, coming from gentlemen who have lived the vice in this particular respect all their lives and who, according to their speeches, will do it in the future, and all this pretended morality, leaves me cold. I fear the Greeks when they bring gifts. The party opposite have voted against every democratic proposal and against every extension of the franchise, until they have discovered that they could not hold back any longer. They have sometimes failed to learn the lesson until after the revolution has begun, and then they have surrendered when they could not do otherwise. They are trying to do the same thing now. I hope that the Home Secretary will stick to his guns, and we will go into the Lobby behind him. We want some little sense of equality in these matters. We intend that the poorer candidate shall not be handicapped. Some rich men have come into our party, and some of them will go out as quickly as they have come in. They cannot come into our party and buy it. If we discover that they are trying that game, out they will go, and we shall not be cere- 2295 monious in our methods. Members of the Conservative party to-day are simply trying to cover their past misdeeds by their pretence of virtue.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'persons' in line 38, stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 236; Noes, 152.2297
|Division No. 260.]||AYES.||[8.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Harbord, A.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hardie, George D.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Harris, Percy A.||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Haycock, A. W.||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hayday, Arthur||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Hayes, John Henry||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Arnott, John||Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S.)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Palin, John Henry.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Herriotts, J.||Palmer, E. T.|
|Barr, James||Hoffman, P. C.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Hopkin, Daniel||Perry, S. F.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Benson, G.||Jenkins, Sir William||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, Llewellyn-, F.||Potts, John S.|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Price, M. P.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Bowen, J. W.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kelly, W. T.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Bromley, J.||Kinley, J.||Raynes, W. R.|
|Brooke, W.||Kirkwood, D.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Brothers, M.||Lang, Gordon||Ritson, J.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Romeril, H. G.|
|Buchanan, G.||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Rowson, Guy|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Eiland)||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Caine, Hall-, Derwent||Leach, W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cameron, A. G||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cape, Thomas||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Lees, J.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Chater, Daniel||Leonard, W.||Sandham, E.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Lindley, Fred W.||Scott James|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Scurr, John|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Longbottom, A. W.||Sexton, Sir James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Longden, F.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Cove, William G.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lunn, William||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Daggar, George||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Shinwell, E.|
|Dallas, George||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Dalton, Hugh||McElwee, A.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||McEntee, V. L.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||McKinlay, A.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||MacLaren, Andrew||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Duncan, Charles||McShane, John James||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Malone, C. L Estrange (N'thampton)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Edge, Sir William||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Manning, E. L.||Sorensen, R.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mansfield, W.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||March, S.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Elmley, Viscount||Marcus, M.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Foot, Isaac||Markham, S. F.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Marley, J.||Sullivan, J.|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Marshall, Fred||Sutton, J. E.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Mathers, George||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Matters, L. W.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Gill, T. H.||Messer, Fred||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Gossling, A. G.||Middleton, G.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Gould, F.||Millar, J. D.||Toole, Joseph|
|Gray, Milner||Mills, J. E.||Townend, A. E.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||Milner, Major J.||Vaughan, David|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Montague, Frederick||Viant, S. P.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Walker, J.|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Mort, D. L.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Muggeridge, H. T.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Murnin, Hugh||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|West, F. R.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Weitwood, Joseph||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|White, H. G.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Whiteley, William (Blaydon)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)||Mr. Thurtle and Mr. Charleton.|
|Wilkinson, Ellen C.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Albery, Irving James||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Penny, Sir George|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Party, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Atkinson, C.||Fielden, E. B.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Fison, F. G. Clavering||Renter, John R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y).|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Rothschild, J. de|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Gauit, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Sevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Gower, Sir Robert||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Savery, S. S.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Boyce, Leslie||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Bracken, B.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Broadbent, Colonel J.||Hurd, Percy A.||Somervilie, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Inksip, Sir Thomas||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Buchan, John||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Butler, R. A.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Thompson, Luke|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Thomson, Mitchell- Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt, R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Lymington, viscount||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.)||Macquisten, F. A.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyan|
|Christie, J. A.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Mailer, R. J.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Calville, Major D. J.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Mnnsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Muirhead, A. J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||O'Connor, T. J.||Major Sir George Hennessy and Sir Victor Warrender|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
Question, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move, in page 3, line 38, after the word "poll," to insert the words "on behalf of a candidate."
This is the first of two Amendments in my name, and I presume that the discussion will take place on both at the same time. I would remind the House that the discussion of this subject, the use of motor cars in elections, did not begin with the introduction of this Bill. In December of last year, on the Motion of a private Member, the House condemned what were called the abuses arising from the use of motor cars in elec- 2298 tions. There is the experience which some of us have had to endure in connection with the use of hundreds of motor cars placed at the service of certain candidates in the course of an election. The Motion to which I referred submitted that legislative steps should be taken to equalise the facilities which motor cars afford to the different candidates in Parliamentary elections. I recall that there was no strong opposition offered from any part of the House to the underlying principle of that Motion. There was a great deal of argument to the effect that it would be difficult to 2299 work, that it could not be done, that it would impose upon those responsible for the conduct of elections obligations which they could not effectively discharge. In the main, however, there was no very strong hostility shown by the House to the idea that, if possible, steps should be taken to equalise facilities in the use of motor cars in Parliamentary contests.
In the course of the Committee stage of this Bill I spoke on more than one occasion on this theme, and it has afforded opportunities for many speeches in different quarters of the House. As (my first point I submit now that the Amendment ought to commend itself to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, because it is to a very great extent an Amendment lifted from the terms of proposals of their own during the Committee stage. They suggested to us, in an Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) and other hon. Members, that the principle on which we should proceed was that of fixing the number of motor cars in relation to the number of electors. Our plan, as the House may recall, was the different plan of requiring the returning officer to pool the cars which people were disposed to loan for the purpose of conveying electors to the poll. It is commonly said that the Committee stage of a Bill is the stage at which in detail we exchange ideas as to the best course to take, and that so long as no violence is done to the principles which we are seeking to pursue, it is wise and proper for an Opposition to urge its views upon the Government and for the Government to try to meet those views as far as possible. It is in that mood that I am seeking to incorporate in the Bill what I understood to be the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite during the course of our Debates. Accordingly the Amendment should commend itself to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
It is an attempt to equalise the facilities which motor cars may afford to candidates. It is an Amendment which, in relation to this particular part of our election law, proceeds upon principles endorsed and approved by Parliament for the last 100 years. In that time we have had recurring efforts to improve and extend franchise facilities, and, generally 2300 speaking, to equalise the contest as between candidate and candidate. Hon. Members opposite object on the ground that, so far as they have an advantage by their possession of motor cars, it is not an unfair advantage. That is a legal subtlety which does not move me at all. They allege that if they have advantages they are not unfair advantages. My idea of fairness in a Parliamentary contest is to have the conditions of the fight as equal as possible. Hon. Members opposite are known in our country for their love of sport and their recognition of the general principles which govern contests of a sporting character, and I say to them that it is not sporting of them, it is not, indeed, in accordance with British notions of fair play, that they should persist in trying to retain for themselves conditions of motor car service, of money and of property, in order to be able to exercise an advantage, or acquire an advantage, over their political opponents. The law has gone to the length of declaring that as between rich and poor there must be equality; it has gone to the length of declaring that as between the poor candidate and the rich candidate there must be only the same expenditure so much per elector—
§ Mr. CLYNES
Yes, and that is precisely what we are proposing in the case of motor cars. This proposal follows exactly the same principle and is on the same line in a search for equality as between one candidate and another, no matter to what party he may belong. I feel convinced, however, that do what we will the advantage is likely to lie less with the Labour candidates and less with the Liberal candidates than with the Conservative candidates. The conditions are such that they must frequently be in a position of advantage as compared with their political opponents. It has been said that this proposal is a benighted and futile one. Why should a proposal like this, when it is submitted from the other side of the House, be regarded as the essence of wisdom and righteousness but when it is submitted from this side of the House denounced as futile and benighted?
§ Mr. CLYNES
If we are to take it as not meant seriously I shall know in future the mood of hon. Members opposite. What is it that we are proposing? What will be the position in any Parliamentary contest under the terms of the Amendment? It will be this. Taking the figure of 50,000 electors as the average for a constituency the Amendment will mean that in the case of a County Division each candidate will be allowed a maximum of 50 cars and in the case of a borough constituency each candidate will be allowed a maximum of 25 cars, which is more than double the number I ever had in my election contests. We have fixed on these figures not according to any theory or plan of Labour opportunities or chances, but in order that the party opposite should have no grievance and will be able to avail themselves of as large a fleet of cars as their numerous friends will be able to place at their disposal. I suggest that this plan has the advantage of being simple in its range of administrative duties and obligations. The original plan as we put it to the Committee would, I confess, have involved returning officers in some difficulty. No doubt they would have overcome them. It would also have involved candidates and their agents in conditions of some stress and difficulty, but this plan is a simple one of requiring cars to be registered and to limit the maximum number of those registered cars, leaving the candidates and their agents with the free use of these cars according to the interests of the electors in the constituency. I submit, therefore, that the House should accept the proposal.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
We have just had an example of what leadership of the House is under the Guillotine. The other day I was giving evidence before the Select Committee of this House and I suggested that the difficulty in regard to the Guillotine was that is absolved Ministers of the Crown from the ordinary performance of courtesy and intelligibility, and the Home Secretary has moved this Amendment in a tone which would be fatal to the conduct of any Bill if it were not for the Guillotine—[Interruption]—and he is ably supported by hon. Members behind him. The Home Secretary began by a passage which 2302 obviously betrayed the fact that he was not in the House when the hon. and learned Member for Fareham (Sir T. Inskip) made his speech ridiculing the proposal of the Government. The Home Secretary has said that we must be sporting; that we must have equality, a fair fight; we must equalise. This apparently is not to be part of the Government of the country; it is to be the subject of an elaborate and careful handicapping by a committee, who are to make rules; that is the Home Secretary's idea as to how these contests should be conducted.
The Home Secretary says that it is an attempt to meet the views of hon. Members on this side of the House, and that as we put down an Amendment of this kind in Committee stage why are not we prepared to accept his Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well the difference between his Amendment and ours. He knows very well that we can afford to ignore the difference in counties if you fix a high enough maximum of motor cars. We fixed a high maximum, perhaps too high, but he has fixed a maximum which no one will deny is very low, and one which while it may suit the necessities of some counties clearly will not meet the needs of others. He has been asked over and over again in the course of these Debates to justify the fixing of so low a maximum for counties with scattered populations, like Worcester, but he has not deigned to give to the House the slightest reply to that argument. He thinks apparently that the way to conduct a Bill in this House under the Guillotine is to avoid answering any questions which are put to him. But this is a fair question and one which must have occurred to the Home Secretary himself. If 40 or 50 cars are enough for a comparatively crowded county constituency, like some in Lancashire and Yorkshire and the Midlands, how can that number be a sufficient maximum for counties like Worcester? How can the distinction between the borough constituency and the county constituency be the proper line of division? What sense is there in that line of division? That is a question which has been put to the Home Secretary and which he has utterly ignored. I leave the further discussion of this subject to my hon. Friends behind me, but I think it right that we should again protest 2303 against the extraordinary tone and manner in which the Home Secretary thinks fit to conduct a Debate of this kind.
§ Captain BOURNE
The Home Secretary in introducing the Amendment referred to a Motion which I think was moved by the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Toole) earlier this Session, but he omitted to inform the House that he himself, in the course of that Debate, said that the Government would be introducing a Bill to deal with electoral reform, and that the subject-matter of the hon. Member's Motion would be considered, and some provisions to deal with it incorporated in that Bill. I remember that, after the right hon. Gentleman's intervention, it was obviously useless to carry on an academic discussion, when the decision of the Government was not known with certainty, and that the right hon. Gentleman's speech on that occasion robbed that Debate of all reality.
The right hon. Gentleman this evening has defended his Amendment particularly on the ground that it follows the lines of an Amendment which was on the Paper in my name during the Committee stage but which was not reached. I must agree with the right hon. Gentleman that if this Amendment were accepted by the House, Sub-section (2) of this Clause would be a great deal less nonsensical than it is in its present form. At any rate this Amendment does permit the different parties to make use of such cars as they can get, according to their own judgment of what they believe to be the necessities of the case. That is a great improvement on the original suggestion that motor cars should be registered with the returning officer and then apparently allotted by him, for what purposes nobody could make out, to be used, under whose control nobody could make out—whether under the control of the registration officer or of somebody else was not stated. At any rate this proposal ensures that the cars will be made use of by the people who know where they are most wanted, and, to that extent, I regard the Amendment as a distinct improvement on the original Clause. What mystifies me is that the right hon. Gentleman should ever have drafted such a purely nonsensical Clause as that which he originally put down and I am glad 2304 that after the discussion in the Committee stage he has, at least, seen part of the error of his ways and is bringing forward a proposal which, if not entirely acceptable, is at least better than his original proposal.
The main objection to this Amendment is that already raised by my Noble Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). I regard the total allocation of cars as ridiculously small in many cases. I do not wish to develop that point now because there are Amendments to the Amendment on which the question of the number can be discussed. There was, however, one argument which ran through the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and which was also used earlier by the Solicitor-General. It was that in carrying out this limitation, the Government were merely following the precedent of previous reforms of the electoral law over a great many years. Earlier the Solicitor-General instanced the case of the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883, under which it was made illegal for any candidate for Parliament to hire a hackney vehicle for use in conveying voters to the poll. The Solicitor-General took the view, and the right hon. Gentleman rather supported him in it; that the object of that amendment of the law was to prevent the undue use of vehicles on behalf of the candidates, but I cannot help thinking that they have both overlooked the real reason for that change in the law. It was not a question of the use of vehicles for conveying voters to the poll because those vehicles which were not hackney carriages were left undisturbed and vehicles of all sorts were in use in great numbers in the elections of that time.
I do not think that there is any evidence to show that the limitation of the use of vehicles for the conveyance of voters was the intention of the Corrupt Practices Act. I believe that the reason why that limitation was introduced was this. In the old days the electorates were very small and the drivers of these vehicles, the cabmen, were often quite a considerable proportion of an electorate, and, obviously, if these men were offered very high prices for the hire of their cabs on the day of an election, it would have had a considerable influence in inducing them to vote for the candidate who hired them. Therefore, I 2305 believe that the object of this limitation was the prevention of corruption, in the sense of using money to obtain votes, and that it was not in the least intended to limit the number of vehicles used for the conveyance of the voters. I cannot help thinking that in pursuing that argument the right hon. Gentleman is following the wrong trail.
We live in a time of vastly extended electorates, when there are far more people on the register, and when the general desire of all parties—though I must admit that in view of the cordial support of this Clause by hon. Members opposite I am very doubtful whether that desire is genuine on their part—is to have the largest possible number of votes given at elections. As far as the other parties are concerned, at any rate, that is their desire. As we have larger electorates, we have, consequently, a greater number of removals, and more people living at remote distances from polling places. There are many people who in 1883 would not have had votes; therefore their remoteness from a polling station would have been a matter of indifference as regards elections in those days. But to-day we must give facilities for people who are living in remote places to record their votes. Therefore, even though the suggestion in the Amendment is to some extent an improvement on the right hon. Gentleman's original suggestion, still I regard the Amendment as hopelessly inadequate to meet the case, and as likely to result in a heavy drop in the polling in rural districts, and for these reasons I could not possibly accept it.
§ Mr. TINKER
I want to support the Home Secretary in this Amendment, because the last time we were discussing this part of the Bill I joined with the other side in objecting to what was in the Bill. I then argued that the time had not yet arrived when we could get public-spirited men who would put motor cars at the disposal of the returning officer for the general use of everybody, and therefore I said that there was no use following those lines for getting motor cars. I argued that there was some need for motor cars to bring up certain classes of the electors. I made the remark that I thought we ought to lay down a scale, and I suggested one for every 5,000 voters. During the discussion afterwards on what had been 2306 said, one hon. Member opposite said to me that he agreed somewhat with me, but he thought the figure of one car for every 5,000 electors was rather too narrow, but that if the Home Secretary would bring in something different but on those lines, he thought it would be agreeable to them.
Now, the Home Secretary has tried to get the opinion of the House. He said he wanted to find out what was the desire of everybody, and I thought at that time that the desire was somewhat on the lines suggested in his Amendment to-day, that we should try to regulate it so as to get everybody to the poll. The Amendment allows one car for every 1,000 electors in a county division and one for every 2,000 electors in a borough. That will give a fair number of motor cars for each candidate, and if they devote themselves to those electors who cannot very well get to the poll otherwise—I am speaking of those who are old, and some who are ill, but not too ill to be called bedfast, but too old to walk any distance to the poll—I think the Amendment fulfils all that anybody could desire.
I would ask the other side at least to be reasonable in this matter. They have argued that they want some restriction of motor cars and that they do not want an altogether unlimited use of cars, and I think the Home Secretary has brought in a very fair Amendment which ought to meet with the approval of everybody who wants to do the proper thing by the electors. It will put us now in the position of saying at least that there is some restriction on the other side, and we cannot say, as we have said in the past, "There are 200 cars for the Conservative candidate, and we have only a handful of cars." It does away with that anomaly, and if hon. Members opposite want things to be equal, this Amendment enables them to say to the electors that this proposal is reasonable for everybody. I want to thank the Home Secretary for having brought in this Amendment, which is, I think, an expression of the views of the majority of this House in trying to arrive at a fair solution of what was a very great difficulty in the original Bill, which was unworkable in this respect. There are now the germs at any rate of an agreed thing that can be worked to the satisfaction of all.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Dunnico)
I do not know whether it would 2307 be for the convenience of the House if we dealt now with the first Amendment and got it out of the way, and then proceed with the second Amendment of the Home Secretary, which raises the substance of the Question under discussion. If it is the wish of the House, I will put the Question on the first Amendment now.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move, in page 4, line 1, to leave out from the word "registered" to the end of the Subsection, and to insert instead thereof the words:may, notwithstanding anything in Subsection (1) of this section, be used for the purpose of conveying electors to the poll on behalf of the candidate, subject as respects registration and use, respectively, to the following conditions and limitations:
- (a) The returning officer shall not permit the registration of any vehicle unless the consent in writing of the election agent of the candidate is produced to him at the time when application for registration is made;
- (b) The returning officer shall not permit the registration of vehicles for use on behalf of any one candidate in excess of the following scales, that is to say, in the case of an election for a county constituency, one vehicle for every one thousand electors on the register, and in the case of an election for borough constituency, one vehicle for every two thousand electors on the register; and
- (c) Vehicles, though registered, shall not be used as aforesaid unless they bear such registration mark or other means of identification as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State."
§ Lord E. PERCY
May I suggest, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you should put the Question that the words stand part of the Bill now, because until we have omitted the words proposed to be left out we cannot move the insertion of other words?
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 5, at the end, to insert the words:(a) Upon application for registration the owner of any vehicle shall signify to the 2308 returning officer whether it is his intention to use his vehicle during the whole of the day of the poll or within certain hours thereof only, and accordingly the returning officer shall register that vehicle for use during the whole of the day of the poll or within such hours as aforesaid only.The object of this Amendment and the two following Amendments on the Paper is very simple, and it is that a car which is only in use for part of the day should only come into the quota during that period of the day in which it is actually used for conveying voters to the poll, and that when it is withdrawn from that use, a candidate shall be entitled to substitute another car for it without exceeding the maximum number allowed under the Amendment. I should like to draw attention to the fact that under the existing law a poll is held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and it is open to any candidate to demand that it should be opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 9 p.m. This means, in other words, that you must have a 12-hour day and you may have a 13-hour day or a 14-hour day.
§ This is an Amendment which comes particularly within the province of the Home Secretary, because he is really responsible for the enforcement of law and order. To ask any individual to drive a car for 14 consecutive hours a day is to endanger the public safety, and therefore every step should be taken to discourage such a state of affairs. To expect any individual to drive a ear for 12 hours a day is to expect far too much, and therefore I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider my Amendment to the proposed Amendment merely from that point of view. As it stands at present under the proposed Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, as far as I can understand it, a car once registered cannot be changed. The registration remains with the car, and that in fact means that the driver of the car, if he is keen and willing to help, will have to remain at the wheel for 12 or 14 hours I admit that it can be argued by hon. Members opposite that, after all, somebody else could drive the car. The great majority of cars are driven by owner-drivers, who, in many cases, perhaps unreasonably, have a strong prejudice against anyone else handling their vehicles. I am not saying whether they are right or wrong; I am stating the fact, and the fact is that when a driver has 2309 driven sufficiently long, in his own estimation, and, what is far more important, sufficiently long for the safety of the public, he will go off duty and the car will go with him. The result will be that with the limited number of cars which the Home Secretary is proposing, there will be at the most only about half that number in use at any given hour.
§ It is my experience, and I gather from correspondence that it is the experience of most others, that people lend their cars for specific hours. You may have a car from 8 to 12; very likely the owner wants it himself in the afternoon; the car does a certain definite period of work, and it is then withdrawn. If the Home Secretary's Amendment is not amended somewhat on the lines I suggest, this will happen. You will write round to various people who might be willing to lend their cars asking them if they will lend them, and for what hours. You will get a list back. I understand that if the Home Secretary's proposals are carried out, I shall be entitled to 38 cars in my constituency; I might quite easily get offers for 50 or 60. I or my agent, or whoever is in charge of that department, will go through the list and will pick out the people who say that they are willing to lend their cars all day, and we shall ask these people, and these only, to lend us their cars. No doubt, so far as I am concerned, and so far as the conduct of the election is concerned, it will make very little difference to me, but I suggest to the House for serious consideration whether it is in the interests of the public that you should have people driving cars all day in an election. We know what election traffic is. People have have to drive many miles for "removals," very often the roads are not suitable, and the drivers are in a hurry, and it will be an advantage to the public that a car which has done so many hours should be withdrawn from the election, and that another car should be substituted for it. This is a point that requires the earnest consideration of the Government.
§ Lord ERSKINE
I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment. I have no doubt the Government will give consideration to the views that my hon. and gallant Friend has put forward. Another argument struck me while my hon. and gallant Friend was speaking. Hon. Members opposite have always 2310 been very keen on an eight-hour day. The poll will be open in many constituencies for 13 hours, and if this Amendment to the Amendment is not made, drivers will be on the road for that period. In the interests of public safety and of the drivers, the Government should give some consideration to my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment. Apparently, the intention of the Government is that candidates in a county division should have one car for each thousand electors, and I imagine that if that is their intention, their desire also is that these cars should be able to be run during the whole time the poll is open; otherwise, the concession they have made is not a valuable one. I do not think that the demand which we are making upon the Home Secretary is one that he need resist very strongly. It certainly will not make any great difference to his Clause. It will be quite easy to work, and I see no real reason why he should not accept it. In many cases it may even strengthen the concession which he has given us. I have no doubt that the Government's intention is that we should have the number of cars specified in the Amendment, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to cheat us out of the number that he is willing to allow. Therefore, it is not a very great thing that we are asking.
§ Mr. GEORGE OLIVER
The Home Secretary has been extremely generous in bringing forward his Amendment. Instead of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) being in such a ferocious temper with the right hon. Gentleman, he should have been the first to congratulate him and to accept the Amendment with open arms. What does the Home Secretary's Amendment concede? To understand its true value we must remember what the Amendment proposes to supersede. In my constituency, which is comparable to constituencies of hon. Members opposite, my opponent will be entitled to have 35 cars. What an amazing number! What benefit does that do to me? And yet the Government propose to say to my Tory opponent, "You may have 35." What is the Amendment conferring upon the party of the Government which has introduced the Bill? Absolutely nothing. Yet my right hon. Friend the Home 2311 Secretary is moving an Amendment which he knows confers nothing on his own people and everything on the Opposition. If he had stuck to the Bill as it was originally drafted, he would undoubtedly have conferred some benefit on his own party. In every other factor where expense is concerned some limit is imposed. I want to spend more money than I do, but I cannot because I have not got it. Many hon. Members opposite want to spend more money than they do, but cannot because the law has imposed a limit. When I think of the unfortunate Labour candidate who sits for West Perthshire—[HON. MEMBERS: "There never will be one!"]—I can see a Labour candidate getting in for West Perthshire—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I am afraid the hon. Member is now discussing the Amendment, and not the Amendment to the Amendment.
§ Mr. OLIVER
I thought we were discussing the Home Secretary's Amendment, and at the same time the Amendment to the Amendment, because very little discussion has taken place on the Home Secretary's Amendment. If your Ruling is as you have said, I shall be quite out of order.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is a Ruling that I must give. This is an Amendment to an Amendment, and until we have disposed of it we cannot discuss the original Amendment. I have allowed the discussion to range pretty widely over the subject on the previous Amendment.
§ Mr. OLIVER
Then my observations must be confined to whether the driving of a registered car is to be restricted to the actual hours for which it is being used for that purpose. I do not think there will be a great objection on the part of the Government to accepting an Amendment of that description. The only difficulty will be who is going to determine when these gentlemen clock on and clock off? There is no doubt in my opinion that those who have brought forward the Amendment know that if it were accepted it would provide the finest opportunity of extending the provisions of the Clause.
§ Lord ERSKINE
Surely there would be only one badge for each car and there would be no possibility of driving the car without the badge?
§ Mr. OLIVER
I have no doubt that the Noble Lord has fought as many elections as I have and I have fought five, and it would be all right to make statements of that sort at a Sunday school gathering; but those of us who have been associated with public life know full well that with a proviso of this kind it would be the easiest thing in the world to make it impossible to put a check on the number of cars and the time at which the cars are being used. If it were possible to put some time limit on the actual driving—and I do not know how far the Road Traffic Act applies to elections—then I think it would be a very good idea; but I fear that if the Government were to accept this particular proviso it would give too big a loophole, and would be absolutely unworkable in the general interests of fair dealing.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Sir S. HOARE
The hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. G. Oliver) made an interesting contribution to our Debates, and I am very sorry that he has not intervened in them more frequently. He blamed us for not keeping closely to the Bill. It is very difficult to keep closely to the Bill, because since it has been introduced almost every word of it has been altered. The Government have been scarcely able to stand upon a single word of the Bill from start to finish. And if I may say so without offence, the hon. Member for Ilkeston, in his speech, did not keep very closely to the words of his Amendment.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I was surprised by an observation he made about the difficulty of carrying out the provisions of this Amendment. His experience of politics and of electioneering seems to have been rather on the seamy side. I cannot understand why the proviso proposed by my hon. Friend should not be quite easily carried out. All that is necessary is that a pass should be given to the driver of a car; then the police would be able to stop and to prosecute everyone who has not got a pass. I should have thought such a proviso far more easy to carry out than 999 out of 1,000 other con- 2313 dtions within the four corners of this Bill. [Interruption.] The Solicitor -General says that there are not 1,000 conditions, and so I will say 99 out of 100. If some provision of this kind is not inserted one of two things will happen: either drivers will drive longer hours than they ought to drive, at great risk to themselves, to the occupants of the car and to people in the street, or, if they do not go on driving after they get tired, then a certain number of cars will be out of action. The result would be that the provision of cars arranged for in this Act will be totally inadequate.
We asked the Government earlier why they had selected these particular allowances of cars for the urban and rural constituencies respectively and we have not yet had an answer, but I imagine the answer would be that they calculated that the number of cars would be sufficient to carry to the poll the aged, the infirm and those who live at a distance. If a number of cars are out of action owing to the drivers being too tired to drive any longer—and 13 hours is much too long a spell for a driver—a number of voters will be deprived of the chance of going to the poll. If drivers are not to be expected to drive longer than seven or eight hours there ought to be many more cars, and I hope the Home Secretary will see that this is a reasonable proposal and that he ought to accept it. The hon. Member for Ilkeston said at the beginning of his speech that it was a very good provision.
§ Sir S. HOARE
So far no reason has been given to show why the Amendment to the Amendment is unworkable.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I appreciate the motives of the Mover of the Amendment to the Amendment, but I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) in his sweeping allusion to the changes which have been made in this Bill. Probably the right hon. Gentleman was not out of order in making that reference, but he was not within the usual range of accuracy. I regard an Amendment of the kind which has been moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) as wholly unworkable. This great consideration for the drivers who have to work such long hours seems to 2314 me to show a sympathy for labour which is not common on the opposite side of the House, and, so far as I know, it has found no expression in any of those Parliamentary contests which have taken place at by-elections, where we have heard nothing whatever of the sympathy hon. Members opposite have for those who have been driving cars for 12 or 14 hours a day.
The scheme proposed in the Amendment to the Amendment is quite unworkable. It provides no means of checking the number of cars available at any one time, and the most serious objection to it is that it would place obligations on the returning officer which it would be impossible for him to carry out. No returning officer could exercise such a ceaseless watchfulness in respect to the movement of cars, and the particular hours they should be in use, and it would not be fair to the returning officer to impose such duties upon him.
§ Captain BOURNE
Would it not be possible for the returning officer to make regulations under paragraph (c) of the Home Secretary's Amendment? I think that would put the matter to the test.
§ Mr. CLYNES
That might be possible, but it would be a very difficult thing to carry out. My Amendment provides three things. In the first place, it provides for registration of any vehicle; secondly, it provides one vehicle for for every 1,000 electors on the register in a county constituency and one for every 2,000 in a borough, and, generally speaking, by this arrangement things would find their own level. Thirdly, it provides means of identification. Consequently, the varying conditions which have been referred to would not apply. For these reasons, I think it is quite unnecessary to impose the very difficult task upon the returning officer which is provided in the Amendment to the Amendment, and I cannot see any advantage in adopting it.
§ Sir COOPER RAWSON
Would it not be possible to issue one licence for the morning and another licence for the afternoon? There might be transferable tickets issued with different colours for different politics, so that a man who was entitled to 10 tickets could change his registration over to different cars during the day. I think a system of that kind 2315 would be much fairer than asking a man to work for 12 or 14 hours a day, which is what the Government are doing under this Bill.
§ Sir A. LAMBERT WARD
The hon. Member for Ilkeston (Mr. G. Oliver) asked very naively what advantage to him would be motor cars which were lent to his opponents and he said, "Absolutely none." Let us carry that point a bit further. My opponent is a very able and accomplished speaker, whereas I am notoriously a bad speaker. Taking the same line of argument I might ask what use are my opponent's accomplishments to me? Absolutely no use. This Amendment which has been introduced by the Home Secretary is a great improvement on the Bill as it was originally drafted, but I maintain that the Amendment to the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) would still further improve the Bill. It seems to me to be the easiest thing in the world to provide that the proper number of cars shall be used and no more. It is the simplest thing in the world to issue a definite number of registration plates which could be transferred from one car to another. Never at any time during the day will the proper number to which the party is entitled be exceeded. If the Amendment to the Amendment be not accepted, either a driver will work far longer than is safe from the point of view of himself, his passengers, or the general public, or else when you select a car you will select one the owner of which does not object to it being driven by a substitute driver.
That means two things. First of all, these cars will not be the best cars, which means that their brakes and general equipment will not be in the best order. It means, also, that the substitute driver will not be as efficient a driver of the car as the original driver would be. It is essential, when you are driving a car, to know which is the brake pedal and which is the accelerator pedal. [Interruption.] A substitute driver may have been driving earlier in the day a car with the accelerator pedal between the clutch pedal and the brake pedal, and he may then be put on to a car whose accelerator pedal is on the right 2316 of the brake pedal. When you are driving in a crowded thoroughfare, or when you want to pull up at the polling station where there is a crowd of people waiting, it is essential to know which is the brake and which is the accelerator pedal. [Interruption.] Seriously, it seems to me that the objections raised by the Home Secretary will not hold water. A definite number of registration plates could be issued to each party, and they could be transferred, if and when necessary, from one car to another, so that there would not be at any time more than the specified number of cars on the road, cars would be available all the time, and no party would obtain the slightest advantage over any other.
§ Mr. VAUGHAN
I rise to resist the Amendment to the Home Secretary's Amendment, because I regard it as a subtle but deliberate attempt to double the number of Tory ears used at elections. Everyone who has had experience of elections knows that the Conservative candidates always have large reserves at hand. The hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) has referred to 50 being at his disposal, but I am sure he could have said 250, having regard to his personal qualities as well as to the party of which he is a member. I admit that I have no reserves, because my three or four cars, even if they work all day, will not be able to compete with the reserves that the Tory candidate will have. I resist the Amendment also because it is unnecessary. There has been a great deal of talk about drivers or owner-drivers working for 13 or 14 hours a day, but, however zealous a Conservative driver or owner-driver may be, or whatever pressure he may be able to put upon his chauffeur, everybody knows, and none better than the Noble Lord himself, who is such an enthusiastic motorist, that no driver can possibly stand the strain of driving for 13 or 14 hours, and that he will certainly go on strike long before even the eleventh or twelfth hour is approached. Those who during the War had to drive, under compulsion, for 11 or 12 hours a day, know that the physical and mental strain is so great that it cannot be done. I wish it were possible for the Home Secretary to cut the ground from under all the humbug that we have been hearing on this matter—[Interruption]—I refer to the humbug of those who are responsible for this Amendment—and 2317 to include a Clause by which the use of motor cars at elections would be limited to eight hours per day. That would solve the whole problem.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I cannot think that the Home Secretary is incapable of understanding an Amendment of this sort; it seems to me to be so simple. The last speaker told us that no one could drive a motor car for 13 hours, and we know that in the majority of cases nowadays an election day is one of 13 hours. It is proposed that a certain number of cars should be allotted to each party, presumably for 13 hours in the case of each car. If that be not the case, the original Amendment is absurd. The whole idea of the suggestion of the Home Secretary is that a car should be used for the whole day, and yet we are told that a poor innocent car cannot be driven for a certain number of hours, but that apparently it needs a rest. We do not think that the car needs a rest, but we do think that the drivers need a rest. In the majority of London elections I lend a car. My chauffeur takes the car, but, even though I might need him for other purposes later on, he would not allow anyone else to drive that car. He does not even allow me to drive it. If I am here late at the House of Commons, and suggest that I should drive myself home he says, "Nothing of the sort, Sir; I will come and drive my car home," and he comes here accordingly.
At the same time, we realise that on an election day, when there is a great deal of traffic, and when large numbers of people are going about, some regulations are required by which the drivers can be changed if necessary. It is suggested that each driver should display a badge, and I should have thought it was as easy as anything to issue so many badges in the morning. I do not know why it is suggested that someone should go up and down the roads to see if everyone has a badge, because, if 1,000 badges are given out, only 1,000 badges can be worn, whether they are worn by one person or by another. The last speaker suggested that the cars were all Tory cars, but I beg to point out that that is not so. At the last election that I fought, one of my opponents had a great 2318 many more ears than I had, and that is so in many cases.
§ Mr. VAUGHAN
I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish to misrepresent me. I never said that they were all Tory cars.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
The hon. Member certainly put the emphasis on Tory cars. I remember an election in North London only a few months ago, in which there were a great many more other cars than Tory cars. [HON. MEMBERS: "Beaver-brook!"] I am not here to tell the House, nor would it be in order for me to do so, where the various parties begin and end, but, however it is, I do not think that this question of badges on the cars or of driving for 13 hours per day has any reference to one particular party. I believe this to be a very good Amendment, which would give employment to other people for the other half of the day, and I think it ought to be accepted by the Government.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
The necessity or otherwise for this Amendment depends on the sufficiency of the number of cars allowed. If the number allowed under the Home Secretary's Amendment were amply sufficient, there would be no need for this Amendment, but, if not, it becomes very important to make the allotted number effective. As the matter stands, there can be no question that the number is not effective. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite jeer, but I do not know whether they have tried to drive a car for 12 or 14 hours. In my humble opinion it is wholly impossible.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
Take the case of one's own constituency, which one knows something about. I have 16 separate and distinct towns or villages in my constituency, and I think it covers one of the largest areas in the country. I have 70,000 electors, and I should be allowed 70 cars. That is just over four per town. Four is not sufficient for the smallest of those villages. The insufficiency must be patent to everybody. To make that number, small as it is, effective, the Amendment to the Amendment must be accepted. If it is not accepted, what it will mean to me is that I shall have about two cars per town on duty throughout the day. When I think of the distances they 2319 have to go and the number of people they have to collect, the absurdity of it is patent. The test in this matter should be the interest of the electors. Hon. Members on the other side never think of the electors. It has been perfectly obvious that they are thinking of the candidates, and thinking of it as a contest between A and B, and seeing that she conditions are equal.
That is a totally wrong point of view. Let the House remember that there is no point in this at all, unless somebody is going to be disfranchised. There is no purpose in having a great number of cars unless there are people waiting to be brought to the poll, and if you cut the numbers down, somebody is going to be deprived of the opportunity of voting. It is not going to do hon. Members on the other side any good to cut down the number of cars unless fewer people go to the poll. The whole purpose of the Measure is to disfranchise somebody, and, unless it does, there is no purpose in it. I know who will be disfranchised in my constituency. The strength of my opponent lies in the more thickly inhabited
§ towns, but throughout the country districts they are mainly Conservatives and can vote only after six o'clock in the evening, and they have in many places miles to go. We cannot got them to the poll as it is, and when it is nearly always wet, as it seems to be in that part of the world, on election days, the idea of getting people between six and eight o'clock in the evening is an absurdity with the numbers cut down to two, three or four cars per town. The point I want to emphasise is that the number allowed is wholly insufficient. The whole object behind this legislation is to disfranchise somebody. That somebody will always be the agricultural labourer, and, as has been pointed out, the older people living in the country many miles from the polling station. I think that if there is any honesty of purpose behind this legislation, the Amendment to the Amendment should be accepted without demur.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 107; Noes, 221.2321
|[Division No. 261.]||AYES.||[9.30 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Remer, John R.|
|Albery, Irving James||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Gower, Sir Robert||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.|
|Atkinson, C.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Haslam, Henry C.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Hurd, Percy A.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Boyce, Leslie||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Broadbent, Colonel J.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Thompson, Luke|
|Butler, R. A.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.)||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Tinne, J. A.|
|Christie, J. A.||Macquisten, F. A.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Marjoribanks, Edward||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Meller, R. J.||Vaugban-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Morrison, W. S, (Glos., Cirencester)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Muirhead, A. J.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Ramsbotham, H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Faile, Sir Bertram G.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Captain Sir George Bowyer and Sir George Penny.|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S. I.)||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Adamson, W. M. (Stall., Cannock)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Potts, John S.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Herriotts, J.||Price, M. P.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Hoffman, P. C.||Pybus, Percy John|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hopkin, Daniel||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Horrabin, J. F.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Arnott, John||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Raynes, W. R.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Jenkins, Sir William||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barr, James||Jones, Llewellyn., F.||Ritson, J.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Kelly, W. T.||Rowson, Guy|
|Benson, G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Kinley, J.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Kirkwood, D.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Sandham, E.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Scott James|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Scurr, John|
|Bromley, J.||Leach, W.||Sexton, Sir James|
|Brothers, M.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Lees, J.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Buchanan, G.||Leonard, W.||Shinwell, E.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Lindley, Fred W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Caine, Hall., Derwent||Lloyd, C. Eills||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Cameron, A. G||Longbottom, A. W.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cape, Thomas||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Lunn, William||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Chater, Daniel||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Church, Major A. G.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Clarke, J. S.||McElwee, A.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Cluse, W. S.||McEntee, V. L.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||McKinlay, A.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cove, William G.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||McShane, John James||Strauss, G. R.|
|Daggar, George||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Sullivan, J.|
|Dallas, George||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Daiton, Hugh||Manning, E. L.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||March, S.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Marcus, M.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Marley, J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Marshall, Fred||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Mathers, George||Townend, A. E.|
|Duncan, Charles||Matters, L. W.||Vaughan, David|
|Ede, James Chuter||Maxton, James||Viant. S. P.|
|Edge, Sir William||Messer, Fred||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Middleton, G.||Walker, J.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Mills, J. E.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Foot, Isaac||Milner, Major J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Montague, Frederick||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Gill, T. H.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||West, F. R.|
|Gossling, A. G.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Gould, F.||Mort, D. L.||White, H. G.|
|Gray, Milner||Muggeridge, H. T.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Murnin, Hugh||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Oldfield, J. R.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Palin, John Henry||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Harbord, A.||Paling, Wilfrid||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Hardie, George D.||Palmer, E. T.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hayday, Arthur||Perry, S. F.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Charleton.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 9, after the word "not," to insert the words: 2322except in the case of an election of a county constituency exceeding four hundred square miles in area.I hope this Amendment to the proposed Amendment, though perhaps it will only 2323 get a certain amount of reluctant acquiescence in some parts of the House, will meet with a good deal of general agreement. A point which was made by the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) earlier in the evening is distinctly appropriate to this Amendment. He said the original proposal of the Government had undergone a very marked change, and it was really now only a question of degree and not of principle. An Amendment has already been debated in the name of the Home Secretary moving away from the original proposal, and my Amendment to the proposed Amendment is only a further extension of it.
Lest it should be thought that I have made any particular measurement of my own constituency, or indeed of anyone else's, may I state the basis upon which the Amendment to the proposed Amendment in its detail comes before the House. At the Ullswater Conference on electoral reform, in the course of our discussions a scheme was propounded by my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). He emphasized, what is perfectly obvious, that there are some constituencies which, by reason of their size, were not suitable for proportional representation, and to those it was suggested that there should be applied the system of the Alternative Vote. Those constituencies were taken out. They number about 50. I think 54 is the correct number. A very considerable majority of them are of the political complexion of hon. Members above the Gangway. It is obvious that in such constituencies, if you are to get the voters to the poll at all, the limit suggested by the Government is quite inadequate. Since the subject has been so fully and freely debated to-day, and indirectly yesterday, I do not think I need say any more in support of it.
§ Sir GEORGE PENNY
I rise to support the Amendment because I feel it is both fair and reasonable to the large county constituencies. The Home Secretary just now stressed very heavily the question of equality. He wanted to see equality all round. I rather doubted whether he was not speaking with his tongue in his cheek, for we on this side think very differently from him in that direction. We hold the view that it is 2324 done for purely political purposes. The constituency of the Noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl) covers a huge area and under the Government proposals she will have only a small number of cars allowed her to bring electors to the poll. They know quite well on the opposite side of the House that most urban districts are Socialistic whereas the rural districts are not. The Noble Lady is being placed at a great disadvantage by only having a few cars to traverse that huge area, and I consider the Home Secretary should do something different as regards the allocation of cars for big areas in constituencies of this character. I also think that if we were to rely upon the tender mercies of the Home Secretary and the equality he wishes to give us we should see him bringing in a Bill absolutely forbidding any cars whatever for the Conservative party. I do not think that he would trouble much about the Liberal party, because he knows very well that they have already killed themselves by allying themselves to his party.
The Home Secretary seems to think that in claiming equality for elections it is a sort of football match, and that you must have equal teams. He does not seem to realise that people are sent here to represent the country and that it is not an ordinary sporting contest. We do not want equality in that sense, but we do want to see people brought to the poll so that they can determine what kind of Government they wish to have. The people of the country now realise the kind of Government we have at the present time and there is no doubt the Home Secretary is getting anxious and is doing all be can to see as many of his party brought to the poll next time as possible. If he wants to see equality, why does he only decide the number of cars? He does not tell us whether a car has to be a one-seater, a two-seater a Baby Austin or a chars-a-banc. If I may make a suggestion to the Noble Lady who sits for West Perth, I would have 30 or 40 friends who have chars-a-banc, and have them sent round the country to bring supporters to the poll.
Why does the Home Secretary not stipulate that we are to have equality regarding the candidates who stand? One constituency might like a man of stature like the Home Secretary, and a 2325 diminutive man like myself might be standing against him. What is he going to do to get equality in such cases? Or they might say, "We want a man with a jolly, happy nature, like that of the Home Secretary, and not an acid kind of nature like I have got." When they talk about equality in this way, we know very well that they are only talking about their own desires. I consider that the Bill and the Government's Amendment have been brought forward with the direct object of doing all they possibly can to harm the Conservative party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Those cheers make me think so more than ever. They know that the day of retribution is near at hand. The time will not be long coming before those on the opposite side of the House will not be governing this country.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I hope that in the few minutes I shall speak to the House upon this Amendment, the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Sir G. Penny) will be able to conclude that I shall make up for my lack of stature in an amplitude of reasonableness on this Amendment. This is, as indeed are many other features of the Bill, a distinctly nonparty feature of our proposal. When the point was touched upon in the Committee stage, I indicated a willingness on our part to consider and to discuss with the leaders of parties, questions that were outside matters of principle. The principle was limitation. I indicated as regards motor cars that I would be ready to discuss with others whether we could reach agreement on the point of numbers. There was no response to that suggestion, and I fixed a number which the House has by its decision approved. Outside that decision, there stands another point. It is the question of the exceptional area. We have provided for the county area and we have provided for the ordinary borough area, but there are other constituencies in Wales, in Devon, Cornwall, Yorkshire and Scotland, and perhaps elsewhere, which are exceptionally situated, vast, mountainous and difficult to cover. It is those particular constituencies which the Amendment of my right hon. Friend is designed to cover, and in the hope that there will be, at least on this matter in respect of exceptional constituencies, a unanimity of agreement, and a setting aside of ques- 2326 tions of ugly motives such as have found expression in many of our speeches, I would suggest to the House the wisdom of accepting the Amendment.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the conciliatory attitude which he has shown, and I congratulate still more the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean) for having achieved a very great success in having his Amendment accepted. I always like to see faithful services rewarded. In the discussions of this Bill, while the Government have scarcely maintained their position upon any of the Clauses from start to finish, the one thing which has always remained perfectly consistent is the support which they have received from certain right hon. and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. In view of that fact, it would have been extremely ungrateful on the part of the Home Secretary to have refused the request of the right hon. Member for North Cornwall.
The effect of the Amendment is to make it easier for certain hon. and right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway—[An HON. MEMBER: "And above!"] I am thinking particularly of certain right hon. and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who sit for scattered districts in the North of Scotland, and in Wales, who require a large number of motors to bring their electors to the poll. I congratulate them upon their success, but I think it is a little hard that they should not allow other constituencies with almost an equal claim for similar treatment to have the number of cars which they also require. I cannot claim, representing Chelsea, to have a constituency 400 miles square, but, in spite of the geographical difference between North Cornwall and Chelsea, I can say, without fear of contradition, that owing to the number of electors there are in my constituency, I have just as strong a claim in Chelsea for a larger number of cars required to take my voters to the poll as has the representative of any other constituency in this House.
Having said that, let me once again congratulate the Home Secretary on having kept the pact so extraordinarily well with hon. Members and right hon. Members below the Gangway. During the course of this discussion there have been only two Amendments, so far as I remember, accepted by the Government from any 2327 benches other than their own. One Amendment was moved by the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and the second Amendment has now been moved by the right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir D. Maclean). It shows that in this matter, at least, the pact is being well kept, the arrangement is being well carried out and, once again, the fact is clearly brought before the House and the country that this is not a serious Measure of constitutional reform but merely an electioneering dodge between hon. and right Members opposite and hon. and right hon. Members below the Gangway.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Miss WILKINSON
I am sorry to intervene in these harmonious relations between the representatives of the parties, but I think that the acceptance, the ready acceptance, by the Home Secretary of the Amendment will cause some very real searching of heart when it is read in the country districts to morrow. Something has been said from the opposite benches about equality as between one constituency and another. There is no such thing as equality between constituencies, rural or urban. The only equality of importance is the equality of chance of a candidate fighting in any one particular constituency. I would like to ask the Home Secretary whether the acceptance of the Amendment means that in a constituency of over 400 square miles the number of motor cars, as now, is to be unlimited, or does he intend to introduce at some later stage a higher limit? I would point out that even under the present unlimited conditions, when we were fighting a by-election at Tavistock, the Labour party in that enormous area had only one rather battered two-seater motor car. This is not only a question of funds; it depends also on whether the candidate has friends who have motor cars. It is horribly unfair to those who are fighting in scattered constituencies, which are poverty stricken, and who have not a trade union organisation behind them, leaving them to fight when there will be no limitation on the number of motor cars. I am terribly disappointed that the Home Secretary should have accepted the Amendment so lightly, because of the disappointment that will be caused in the country areas.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I have obtained a copy of the schedule of constituencies to which the Amendment applies, and I would point out that in regard to the county of Devon there is only one constituency, and it is represented by a Member of the Liberal party, the South Molton Division, which is exempt from the restriction on the use of motor cars.
§ Sir B. PETO
The hon. Member is correct, there are two, but the argument is the same. There is one county area in Devon represented by a Liberal which is exempt. Of the other four or five county constituencies which are represented by Members of my party only one, Tavistock, is exempt. It is curious to see the haphazard way in which the Amendment will work. Before I sat for the constituency which I now represent I sat for Devizes, the East Wilts division. I find that Devizes, although a perfectly compact, more or less square area, with no special difficulty of access, is exempt, whereas the constituency that I now represent is to be restricted in the use of motor cars, although it is infinitely more difficult to get voters to the poll in the North West Division of Devonshire than it is in the South Molton Division. North West Devon is a coastwise constituency, divided by two great rivers, with only two bridges within the area of the constituency by which access can be got across either of the rivers, and from one to the other. It is essentially a scattered constituency with a very long coastline, but by a mere accident it happens to come just below the 400 miles limit, whereas the hon. Member for South Molton (Mr. Lambert) who has a square, compact division without anything like the same difficulties as my own, is to have an unlimited use of motor cars. The Liberal party so far as Devon is concerned have not done badly. They have only one county representative and he is exempt, whereas of the four or five representatives of our party in the county we are all restricted except one. To tell me that that is a fair proposal and one that really meets the difficulty, is absurd.
I cannot help noting a terrible downfall of the whole consideration of these electoral questions as between the two great conferences that have occurred in recent 2329 years. I tad the privilege of being a member of the conference presided over in 1917 by Mr. Speaker's predecessor, Lord Ullswater. That was under the Coalition Government. The three parties were represented on that conference, as they were on the other conference of which I was a member. The difference of atmosphere in the way that this question was considered in the interval of 10 or 12 years between the one conference and the other, is perfectly amazing. In the conference of 1917 we tried to decide what was for the interest of the country and, under the able advice that we got, we made representations which were, on the whole, unanimous. We dealt with the great question of electoral reform. We recommended a vast extension of the franchise, balancing and compromising as between one party and the other, and we recommended all those proposals to the acceptance of the House on the grounds that I have stated.
§ Sir B. PETO
I agree, but I do not think that that has anything to do with the argument I am now addressing to the House. We recommended a trial of Proportional Representation and a trial of the Alternative Vote to see whether either of them was for the general advantage of the representation of the people. That is a totally different proposition from what was considered the other day. But I will take the point of the right hon. Gentleman. I cannot do more than refer to it briefly, as it has nothing to do with the Amendment. The interruption has nothing to do with the Amendment.
§ Sir B. PETO
I gladly obey your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. This shows the disadvantage of interruptions which have no relevance to the matter in hand. The only thing I wanted to point out was that this question of conveying voters to the poll was not a question on which we made any recommendation whatever. Why was this question brought up the other day? It was one of a number of questions which were made a condition by the party opposite of their acceptance of a proposal which they did not like 2330 and did not want, namely, the Alternative Vote, but it was one which was still more disliked below the Gangway and which the Liberals accepted only because they could not get the other method that they favoured. This proposal is brought into the Bill purely as a kind of party makeweight and without any regard for what is in the general interest of the people, which is that the greatest number of the people should have an opportunity of voting. It is an arbitrary proposal; it is a proposal which, on the whole, like all the other proposals that have emanated from that party, and indeed the whole spirit that underlies the Bill, is purely a party spirit, is one which has been put forward because those behind it think that on the whole they will benefit by it and that the party which I represent will get a very inadequate amount of benefit from it. The examples I have given from the county of Devon show quite clearly that it is a well thought out and carefully devised scheme to give them one small party advantage, if the proposal ever becomes law.
§ Mr. O. STANLEY
The Home Secretary has certainly given a certain amount of pleasure to some of my hon. Friends on this side. I know a number of them who, during their enforecd absence from this House in the Whitsuntide Recess, would have found time hanging heavily on their hands, but they will now no doubt pace the boundaries of their constituencies with measuring chains and anxiously await the result. I find myself in the strange position, for the first time in two years, of having to thank the Government for doing something. On several occasions I have had reason to administer gentle reproof, which I must say has had no effect. I have called the Government the most inefficient, the most cowardly, and the most incompetent set of Ministers who ever sat on the Treasury Bench. Their acceptance of the Amendment in no way alters my opinion. But I must admit now that they have a further quality, and that is the quality of good nature.
The acceptance of the Amendment has shocked the hon. Lady the Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson), because she has a logical mind. That is why she disagrees with the Government. Apparently she is unable to follow the 2331 high-sounding phrases which we have had from the Solicitor-General and from the Home Secretary, and which no doubt we would have had under more fortunate circumstances from the Parliamentary Secretary, as to the burning desire of many hon. Members opposite to remove every vestige of inequality in our electoral system, to see that no advantage whatever is given to wealth, and that men and women, whatever their position in life, have the same facilities for exercising the vote. The hon. Lady naturally asks why something which is an unjust and unrighteous privilege of the rich in an area of 399 square miles becomes a national interest in an area of 401 square miles. But we must be thankful for good things, whatever the reason may be which causes the offering. The proposal of the Government is so fantastic, it is based on principles so rotten, that we on this side welcome anything which pretends to whittle down its effect, which tends to destroy, the evil influence which it will have, and finally lessens the electoral advantage which hon. Members hope to get and which is their only object in supporting this proposal.
§ Major LLEWELLIN
I rise to protest against the rather haphazard way in which we are altering the electoral law. If one comes to look at the Amendment, first of all one asks who is going to determine whether a constituency consists of under 400 square miles or over 400 square miles. There is no provision in the Bill to say who is to lay down whether a constituency just exceeds that area or is below it. That is left completely in the air by the Amendment. If the Home Secretary was convinced by some of the arguments during the Committee stage in favour of this point, it would have been well that he should, after careful consideration, have made some distinction, not so haphazard as this, between those constituencies that are to be allowed an unlimited number of cars and those that are to be restricted to one car per 1,000 voters, because it is clear that in a constituency of under 400 square miles there must be quite a number of instances where the polling station may be further away from the elector than in constituencies that happen to have an area of over 400 square miles.
2332 It is time for someone to protest. It is not a question of who has most cars. It is often a question of the people who understand best how to drive cars. At the last election, in my constituency, I happened to notice a car which was conducting Labour supporters to the poll. The driver was such an enthusiastic supporter of the Labour party that he had a large placard of the present Prime Minister on the front of the radiator. It happened to be a baby Austin, and so hot did the car get that the picture of the Prime Minister completely put that small car out of action during the course of a hot election. Therefore, it seems to me that the Amendment is not making any logical distinction at all. The distinction which ought to be drawn is the distinction between villages and polling stations which have to serve these isolated parts of the country. The present Amendment draws no such distinction. Instead of altering our electoral law in this illogical way, we ought to do it only after careful consideration. This is put forward quite obviously in the interests of the party opposite. It is not right to legislate in this way, because it is a process which may tend to be perpetuated by means of the Alternative Vote, where one party which relies on the support of another immediately accepts any Amendment put forward by that party. This is a most illogical way of dealing with the situation.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
May I put a question which in all seriousness the House ought to consider? I have been looking at the maps of some constituencies which may illustrate the question as given in the Report of the Boundary Commission in 1917–18. Take my own constituency as an illustration, although it is not an illustration in an extreme form. It includes in its boundary two very large areas of water. [Interruption.] If hon. Members opposite cannot treat a serious question seriously, I hope the Solicitor-General will appreciate that this is a point of some importance. My constituency as measured by the Commission on the Redistribution of Seats in 1918 has an area very much larger than what one may call the landward part. Take a better illustration, the constituency of Northern Ayrshire represented by my hon. and gallant Friend. That includes a large area of water which extends to Bute, and if you 2333 measure that constituency in the proper way obviously it exceeds 400 square miles. I want to know whether that will come within the Amendment as now proposed or not. If so the more water you have the more motor cars you may have.
We are dealing with an Amendment which has been accepted as a result of political reactions, not because it has any particular merit on the ground of logic or from any other point of view, and we ought therefore to consider the consequences which may follow. I could mention half a dozen other constituencies. The seat which I once had the honour to represent is not a county constituency, and therefore does not come within the proposal, but it illustrates the sort of question which may arise. West Bristol includes the islands in the estuary of the Severn, and the boundary runs right down the River Avon and includes a considerable portion of the estuary of the Severn. It is certainly in excess of 400 square miles. Whether I am right or not, it illustrates the questions which will arise, and I hope that before we conclude the Solicitor-General will answer the question as to whether there will be a statutory Schedule of the constituencies made so that everyone will know whether a constituency is 400 square miles or not in extent, and, secondly, whether the measurement will include areas of water, or will it be a measurement only of the landward portions of the constituencies.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
As the hon. and learned Member is aware, a return was made to this House by the Home Office in 1919, at the request of the House, and that return sets out the area in statute acres of every constituency in the country. If I may take the example which the hon. and learned Member mentioned, that of North Ayrshire, the return shows that the area is 262,000 acres, and therefore, if my arithmetic is correct, it would be just over 400 square miles, which I think would be 256,000 acres.
§ Sir T. INSKIP
With the leave of the House I should like to put another question and I assure the hon. and learned 2334 Gentleman that I am not in the least seeking to put a pettifogging or quibbling point. The document to which the Solicitor-General has referred is, of course, one of authority coming from the Home Office but it has not statutory weight, and it would certainly not be an authoritative document if the facts had been incorrectly ascertained. The Solicitor-General will confirm me in saying that you cannot refer to a document unless it is a Schedule to or in some way identified with an Act of Parliament, and, authoritative though that document may be as a piece of evidence, it will only be a piece of evidence. What candidates will require to know when evidence is given in a court of law is what are the actual facts as ascertained by reference to an Act of Parliament.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
As far as the hon. and learned Member's point regarding the inclusion of water areas is concerned, it is quite clear from the terms of the Amendment that the whole area of the constituency is included whether it is water or land. Regarding the figures in this report the hon. and learned Member will appreciate that I cannot say how the gentleman who wrote down these figures made his measurements, but I presume that they do give, as they state, the total area of each constituency in statute acres. I notice now that column 2 of this document includes "inland water" and that I think answers the question. This return was made as a result of the redistribution of 1918; it was made in December, 1919, and I imagine most people would be prepared to accept these figures as prima facie correct. No doubt if the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) desires to spend his Whitsuntide holidays in the way he has suggested he will be able to see whether they are correct or not.
§ Sir B. PETO
By the leave of the House, I also wish to put a question. The constituency which I represent includes the island of Lundy, which lies a considerable distance off the coast, and I want to know whether the Severn sea is to be regarded as inland water or not? I want to be assured, not by any document such as that to which the Solicitor-General refers, but by a Schedule to this 2335 ill, what is the precise meaning of "inland water".
§ Mr. W. S. MORRISON
One result must follow from the acceptance by the Government of this Amendment. I think the House is grateful to the Solicitor-General for the answer which he gave to the question of my hon. and learned Friend when he told us that inland water would be included in the area of the Division. Obviously, no other definition could possibly be given, or else one would be forced to the necessity of estimating the surface area of mill ponds, duck ponds, and so on. As regards the second question put to him by my hon. and learned Friend, I doubt if the House will consider that his answer was quite so full or satisfactory. It is all very well to tell us that many people will accept as correct, and indeed as authoritative, the estimation of areas contained in the White Paper to which he has referred. No doubt people will accept it. But from the point of view of a Statute, which we are now considering, it is clear that if we are to have a workable and watertight scheme, we ought to have a Schedule to the Bill including those Divisions by name which are specifically exempted.
That brings me to a more important consideration. We are adopting the rough and ready test of divisions with a certain surface area, and the reason the Government have acceded to the request of my right hon. Friend is because they realise that in these large areas there is difficulty in voting, but if we are going to have a Schedule with the exempted divisions included in it, why should we not take the opportunity of going to the real principle at the back of the Amendment, which is not one merely of area, but that of difficulty of voting? I say, from my own experience, that there are divisions which are large in area but which yet present less diffi-
§ culty to the voter than many that are smaller in area.
§ Take the example of divisions in the North of Scotland, where there is a huge surface area, but where in fact the population is clustered in one or two, or it may be a dozen, settlements and the rest of the country is uninhabited. In those cases there is less difficulty in voting than there is in a division, say, in Derbyshire, where you might have only 300 square miles, but the whole population is split up into tiny hamlets separated by ranges of hills or roads that are very difficult to traverse. I suggest that the proper way of dealing with this matter now is not simply to confine ourselves to areas in this way, but to go through the matter thoroughly and to leave out those divisions which, in the opinion of this House—and we can all bring a wide experience to bear on this matter—present such difficulties to the ordinary voter in registering his vote that it is desirable in the public interest that he should have this assistance. I make that suggestion, that the Government should take effective steps to carry out to the full the proposal which they have accepted now, in the spirit as well as in the letter.
§ Sir DENNIS HERBERT
There is a point here of significance, which I am sure the Solicitor-General will realise. We are trying to settle the terms of a Statute, and if anybody—
§ It being half-past Ten of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 3rd March, to put forthwith the Questions on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That those words, as amended, be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 233; Noes, 205.2339
|Division No. 262.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Bowen, J. W.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Barnes, Alfred John||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Barr, James||Broad, Francis Alfred|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Bromley, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Brooke, W.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Brothers, M.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Benson, G.||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Buchanan, G.|
|Arnott, John||Birkett, W. Norman||Burgess, F. G.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Eiland)|
|Calne, Hall-, Derwent||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cape, Thomas||Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Law, A. (Rossondale)||Ritson, J.|
|Chater, Daniel||Lawrence, Susan||Romeril, H. G.|
|Church, Major A. G.||Leach, W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Rowson, Guy|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lees, J.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Leonard, W.||Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cove, William G.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lindley, Fred W.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Daggar, George||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Sandham, E.|
|Dallas, George||Longbottom, A. W.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Longden, F.||Scott, James|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Scurr, John|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lunn, William||Sexton, Sir James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Day, Harry||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||McElwee, A.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||McEntee, V. L.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Duncan, Charles||McKinlay, A.||Shinwell, E.|
|Ede, James Chuter||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Edge, Sir William||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||McShane, John James||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Foot, Isaac||Manning, E. L.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Mansfield, W.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||March, S.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Marcus, M.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gill, T. H.||Markham, S. F.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Gossling, A. G.||Marley, J.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Gould, F.||Marshall, Fred||Stephen, Campbell|
|Gray, Milner||Mathers, George||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Matters, L. W.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James||Sullivan, J.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Messer, Fred||Sutton, J. E.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Middleton, G.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Mills, J. E.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Milner, Major J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Montague, Frederick||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Townend, A. E.|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Vaughan, David|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Harbord, A.||Mort, D. L.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Hardie, George D.||Muggeridge, H. T.||Walker, J.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Murnin, Hugh||Wallace, H. W.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Nathan, Major H. L.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Naylor, T. E.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Hayes, John Henry||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr, (Cardiff, S.)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Oldfield, J. R.||West, F. R.|
|Herriotts, J.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Palin, John Henry||Wilkinton, Elien C.|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Paling, Wilfrid||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Palmer, E. T.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Isaacs, George||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Jenkins, Sir William||Perry, S. F.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Jones, Llewellyn., F.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Potts, John S.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Price, M. P.|
|Kinley, J.||Pybus, Percy John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Kirkwood, D.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. T. Henderson.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart|
|Albery, Irving James||Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Balniel, Lord||Boyce, Leslie|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bracken, B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Beaumont, M. W.||Brass, Captain Sir William|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Briscoe, Richard George|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Broadbent, Colonel J.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)|
|Atholl, Duchen of||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Brown, Ernest (Leith)|
|Atkinson, C.||Bird, Ernest Roy||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Boothby, R. J. G.||Buchan, John|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Butler, R. A.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Ramtbotham, H.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Remer, John R.|
|Cattle Stewart, Earl of||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Haslam, Henry C.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. Q.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbatton)||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Rothschild, J. de|
|Christie, J. A.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hurd, Percy A.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Inskip, Sir Thomas||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Savery, S. S.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Cranbourne, viscount||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Shepperton, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsay, Galnsbro)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Croom-Johnton, R. P.||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Lymington, Viscount||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Macquisten, F. A.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Thompson, Luke|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Marjoribanks, Edward||Tinne, J. A.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Meller, R. J||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Fielden, E. B.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Muirhead, A. J.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Galbraith, J. F. W||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)||Wolmer, Rt Hon. Viscount|
|Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||O'Connor, T. J.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Grace, John||Peake, Captain Osbert||Major Sir George Hennessy and Sir Frederick Thomson.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Penny, Sir George|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
Question, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded, successively, to put forthwith the Questions on any Amendments moved by the Government of which notice had been given.