HC Deb 01 August 1842 vol 65 cc933-4
Mr. Hawes

, in the absence of the hon. Member war Liskeard, moved the further consideration of the report on the Bribery at Elections Bill.

Motion agreed to.

The hon. Member moved the addition of a clause to render treating more difficult.

Mr. Hardy

thought the proposed clause unnecessary, the existing law being sufficient. The clause merely declared that to be an offence which was already so by common law.

The Solicitor-General

approved of the clause, and thought it would be a very valuable addition to the bill. By the strict law it might be as his hon. Friend (Mr. Hardy) said, but it was not so in practice, which did not make treating an offence before the testing of the writ. He had known Members unseated war giving merely a little refreshment to out-voters after the testing of the writ, where no corrupt motive could be shown to have existed. This was an evil on the other side which the clause would remedy.

Mr. Aglionby

maintained that the giving refreshments to out-voters was, under any circumstances, objectionable It might be difficult to get rid of the practice, but in principle it was decidedly wrong.

Viscount Palmerston

said, as the clause now stood, it would be necessary to prove two things—firstly, that refreshments had been given; and, secondly, that it had been given with a corrupt motive. He thought it would be better to omit the word " corruptly," for to give at all for the purpose of influencing, a voter was to give with a view to corruptly influencing. The word, he thought, only tended to weaken the clause.

The Solicitor-General

said, the object was to put an end to the corrupt practices of keeping open the public-houses, and treating with corrupt motives. He apprehended they did not desire to prevent a Member of Parliament from asking his constituents to dinner, and yet the proposal of the noble Lord would have the effect of unseating any Member for so doing.

Clause agreed to.

Bill to be printed, and to be read a third time.

Adjourned at one o'clock.