In the House of Commons, on Thursday, Sir Henry James
made the most telling speech on the Registration Bill yet -delivered from the Unionist aide. The Bill, he declared, was an election agents' Bill, and would throw an enormous extra amount of influence into their hands. It will increase the sums paid to election agents, and it will give them the power to manipulate the "floating voters "—i.e., the voters with the right to choose for which of two or more qualifications they will vote. The independent registration officer was a feature of the last Bill. That feature had now disappeared. "I tell the Government that they received representations from -election agents forbidding procedure which should set up an independent superintendent and produce a self-acting registration, because then the occupation of the registration agent was gone." Why had the easier method of enfran- chising lodgers disappeared from the present Bill? Because the election agents told the Government that the lodger vote was a Conservative vote. A similar explanation was to be found for the fact that the double revision condemned by the Government last year was proposed by the present Bill. The election agents would profit by a double revision. Mr. Fowler, who replied, argued strongly in favour of all elections on one day. It was nonsense to say that if the polls were all to be taken on one day, that day, as in France, must be a Sunday. In the United States the elections were all on one day, and that day was not a Sunday. The general -effect of the debate has been injurious to the Registration Bill. It is felt that the increased expense is a serious blemish, -and the refusal to give the lodgers greater facilities for getting on the Register creates an impression of partiality.