§ Mr. CAUTLEY
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he has made any estimate of the number of soldiers, sailors, and war workers who would be enfranchised and rendered capable of voting if the Special Register Bill, coupled with a Bill to alter the Ballot Act, became law?
§ Mr. LONG
The Special Register Bill restores to the register every soldier, sailor, and war worker whose qualification has lapsed during the War; and further, it provides machinery by which any man, who when he joined the forces or became engaged in war work had commenced the occupation of premises in such a way as to qualify, could be put on the register. Having regard to the fact that every soldier must have resided somewhere before enlistment, it is fair to assume, as Lord Lansdowne did yesterday, that 90 per cent. of men in the Army over twenty-one years of age would be registered under the Bill. In ordinary times some 60 per cent. of the males over twenty-one get on the register, but it is to be remembered that a very large number fail to be registered owing to their inability to complete the full period of qualification. The scheme of the Bill as above shown is far more generous, and236W enables the commencement of the qualification to suffice. I see that it is stated in one report that Lord Parmoor said yesterday that the Special Register Bill would disfranchise half the electorate. This is an entire misconception. In point of fact very many men, soldiers, sailors, and war workers, would be qualified under the Bill who it may be assumed could not have been registered in normal circumstances.