HC Deb 14 May 1970 vol 801 cc1430-1
9. Mr. Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, following his circular to returning officers on the matter, he will ascertain how many returning officers of cities, county boroughs and boroughs, who have previously had their count following a General Election on the same night, propose to follow this practice in the next General Election.

Mr. Callaghan

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which was given to a Question by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Waddington) on 7th May.—[Vol. 801, c. 170.]

Mr. Tilney

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that because in some boroughs and county boroughs returning officers will have an extra hour's checking of counterfoils, several are thinking of not starting until the following day? Will he call their attention to the effect that this will have on the trade and industry of the country, on the hotel industry and also on television programmes?

Mr. Callaghan

As regards television, some of the scenes that I have seen when television invades the returning officer's sanctum would lead to many people feeling glad if the cameras stayed outside. As to the other institutions, I do not think it will have a catastrophic effect.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is my right hon. Friend aware that by extending polling hours till 10 o'clock he has greatly widened democracy, by making it possible, or much easier, for shift workers and those on overtime to vote? As some of them are not aware of this, could he make it widely known so that no one misses the chance to vote?

Mr. Callaghan

With respect, it was not my decision; it was a decision of the House but I am very ready to take credit for it. The changing of practice in relation to hours of work, the shift system and night work means that the new hours are much more convenient to a number of people.