§ 20. Mr. Hugh Lawson
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps are 1723 being taken to record the number of men who are registering as Parliamentary voters at a Naval establishment of which he has been informed; and what percentage of men at this establishment have now registered.
Whilst it is not practicable to keep an exact record of the numbers of officers and men in the Navy who register as Service voters, I would refer to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend, the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) on 14th June. The inquiries which are being made will, I hope, enable me to give the House a general picture of the progress made.
§ Mr. Lawson
Is not the First Lord aware that this establishment, which is one of importance, does not keep a record of the number of men who actually fill in their cards? The cards are distributed and the men are left to post them to the registration officer concerned, so that it is quite impossible to get any record.
I have already stated that it is not practicable to keep an exact record of every man, but we are making inquiries as to what progress has been made.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is my right hon. Friend aware that at the time of the passing of the Act, an assurance was given to the House that all Service voters would be registered? Can he say whether that will be carried out?
Every effort is being made to secure that, but the House did not make it compulsory that every man should register.
§ Sir A. Southby
Would it not be much simpler if all the men in the Service were automatically registered by the naval authorities?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Would it not accord with my right hon. Friend's well known democratic opinions that men should be automatically registered, particularly in view of the difficulties which have been experienced? Have not the Government been playing about with the question all along, when it is obvious that the remedy was in their own hands?
That question, is not one which should be put to me. If there is any question of a complete change in the Act, then it should be put to the appropriate Department.