§ 20. Mr. Mander
asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the fact that Parliamentary by-elections covering considerable areas are permitted during the war, he will consider the advisability in connection with any extension of the Local Elections and Registered Electors (Temporary Provisions) Act of so amending it as to permit local government by-elections?
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I have further considered this question, but the fact that Parliamentary vacancies are filled by election and that many of these elections are contested is not, I think, a reason for holding that it would be right during the war to revive the peace-time practice of holding periodically elections all over the country for local authorities. The consideration must still be kept in mind that such a change would involve a serious diversion of time and attention from the war effort.
§ Mr. Mander
Can my right hon. Friend explain how it is that it is possible to 1057 have a Parliamentary by-election covering a wide area and impossible, apparently to have a local government by-election covering a very small area?
§ Mr. Morrison
It is not impossible, but I think, in view of the stresses to which local government officials are subjected, that it is undesirable. Moreover, there is the difficulty that some of the municipal wards have been so knocked about by the enemy that I am not sure how many electors are left in some cases.
§ Mr. Thorne
Does not my right hon. Friend think that if we had the municipal elections in November it would bring public questions before the notice of the people and in that way make for good citizenship?
§ Mr. Morrison
Yes, but if the municipal elections were held in November and other local government elections in March and April, including triennial county council elections, I think that would involve demands upon man-power which would be out of proportion to the necessities of the situation.