Volume 10 (1929) / Pages 503 - 504
I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that the best course is to appoint a small Committee to inquire into and report on the whole matter. This I propose to do, and it will be open to any person with any practical suggestion to make to come forward and given evidence.
Mr. DEVLIN: Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether this Committee that he proposes to set up will hold its meetings and issue its report in time for its decisions, if they are satisfactory, to be incorporated in the present Bill.
Sir DAWSON BATES: My hon. Friend, I think, will appreciate that if this Committee is to investigate this matter it must take a certain amount of time. This will largely depend upon to what extent hon. Members who have raised the point are prepared to come forward and make representations to that Committee. But I can assure my hon. Friend that no time will be lost by that Committee in making its Report.
Mr. DEVLIN: Will the Committee hold its meetings and will it issue its report in time to have satisfactory means incorporated in the Bill in view of the coming General Election? Otherwise what good will it do?
Sir DAWSON BATES: I think the hon. Member will appreciate the fact that it is absolutely impossible to have a Committee set up to hear the evidence and report in time to deal with matters germane to the present Bill.
Mr. BEATTIE: I would like to ask the Minister is he prepared in the composition of this Committee to consider all classes in the community? Is he prepared to take evidence from the representatives of organized bodies? If the Minister is prepared to do as I suggest on these lines I believe a solution of this great evil will be found.
Sir DAWSON BATES: I have already pointed out that the object of this Committee will be to hear evidence and suggestions from every class in the com
munity. In regard to the composition of the Committee I will take that into very careful consideration, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the position will not be lost sight of in forming the Committee.
Mr. WM. McMULLEN: Arising out of the very definite answer of the right hon. Gentleman, who no doubt speaks for the Government, I would like to know for what purpose the Committee is being set up?
Sir DAWSON BATES: Because certain hon. Members have suggested that the present law is inefficient. As I have already pointed out, I do not suggest for a moment that the law is not sufficient to deal with this matter. It is in order to allow my hon. Friends ample opportunity to put forward practical suggestions that I propose to set up this Committee.
Colonel WOODS: I would like to ask whether the terms of reference to this Committee would include the question of compulsory voting?
The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Mr. Pollock): No.
Mr. WM. McMULLEN: I would like to ask in view of the importance of this subject whether the Prime Minister is prepared to defer the general election until such times as the findings of this Committee are known, and whether if any drastic or revolutionary recommendations are made by this Committee they will be incorporated in the Bill which will pass through the House before the general election takes place so as to ensure that people will be returned by legitimate votes rather than votes personated by flying squads.?
Paper Presented to Parliament. Ministry of Home Affairs:
The Belfast Shops Early Closing Order (No. 12). Grocers' and Provision Dealers' Shops. (By Act).
ORDERS OF THE DAY. House of Commons (Method of Voting and Redistribution of Seats) Bill.
Order read for resuming.
Adjourned Debate on Question (5th March), " That the Bill be now read a Second time."â??(The Prime Minister).