HC Deb 21 May 1847 vol 92 cc1168-9

asked the Solicitor General for Ireland, whether the fact of having received relief under the Poor Law Act since the registering disfranchised the voter?


observed, that nothing was more difficult to answer than questions respecting electoral qualifications, as, formerly, Committees in that House—not being bound by precedent—gave the most conflicting decisions on the same points. Before the passing of the English Reform Act, some doubt existed as to whether persons receiving relief were disfranchised as electors in England; but he rather thought that if a man retained a bonâ fide freehold he was not disfranchised from voting because of receiving relief. In the English Reform Act, a distinction was taken between county and borough voters in this respect, for that Act expressly enacted, that no person should be entitled to register as a voter in a city or borough who should have received relief within twelve months previously to the registration; while there was no such enactment in the Act with respect to counties. In regard to Ireland, it had never been de- cided that the fact of a voter receiving relief disfranchised him; and this might be accounted for by the circumstance of there having been no Poor Law in Ireland. However, there were general charities of a certain description, and the receipt of relief from them had never been considered sufficient to disfranchise a voter in Ireland. Therefore, as to county constituencies, it was perfectly clear that the fact of a person receiving relief did not disfranchise him, if he retained a bonâ fide freehold; and with respect to borough constituencies, there was no provision in the Irish Reform Act which disfranchised a voter for receiving relief.