Statutes

Publication Date01 Jul 1950
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1950.tb00172.x
S
TAT
U
T
E
S
REPBESENTATION
OF
THE
PEOPLE
Am,
1949
THIS
is
a
consolidating measure. Part
I
deals with Parliamentary
and Local Government Franchise
;
Part
I1
with the Election Cam-
paign (election agent, election expenses, propaganda, meetings,
conveyance
of
voters
to
and from the poll and various illegal prac-
tices)
;
Part
III
with Legal Proceedings (including election petitions
and prosecutions for corrupt and illegal practices)
;
Part
IV
with
certain special provisions
as
to certain
local
elections; Part
V
with
interpretation and application. The Schedules include detailed rules
for the conduct of parliamentary and local elections and various
other matters.
The most important changes are those which were contained
in
the
1948
Act of the same name. These include the abolition of
the business premises and university votes, the increase in the
num-
ber
of polling stations, the extension of polling hours, the decision
of tied votes by lot instead of the returning officer’s casting vote,
the restriction
on
election expenses and on the use of motor vehicles
for taking voters to and from the poll. The Act provided that
registers were to be compiled twice
in
each year but, as an economy
measure, this has been reduced to once in each year.
The
1949
Act has the great advantage of drawing together in
one
statute almost all the provisions relating to representation
and
to
elections. Some of its provisions were the subject of severe
criticism when they were before Parliament in the
1948
Bill. Dis-
agreement particularly centred around the abolition of plural voting
and the use of motor-cars. The Opposition saw this part of the Bill
as the sharp and not over-thin edge of totalitarianism
;
or,
alterna-
tively,
in
the words of their leader as
a
‘small, minor, pinching
piece of chicanery’. The Government looked on them as fair
measures designed to establish the principle of ‘one man, one
vote
’,
one vote, one value
’,
and equality of opportunity in the
physical transportation of the hand which made the cross. Subjec-
tive emotions
on
both sides paraded rather self-consciously as objec-
tive rationalisations.
Recent events have put its parliamentary proceedings to the
test.
On
the whole, it has passed with colours
at
half-mast. We
are not suggesting that the equality of opportunity in the Act was
the cause of the equality in result.
4
The half-mast reflects both
mourning and indecision since, although the conduct of the recent
election was no doubt as satisfactory as any in this century, cer-
tain
parts
of the Act which were supposed
to
be half-shut gates
348

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