HC Deb 16 November 1852 vol 123 cc205-7

begged to move for leave to bring in a Bill to restrict the duration of polling for County Elections in England and Wales. It would be in the recollection of the House that at the close of the last Parliament he had moved for leave to bring in a Bill to restrict the days of polling in Counties from two days to one, and that Bill had obtained a first and second reading, and had passed through Committee. The Government, however, had thrown out the measure on the third reading, not because they objected to the principle of it, but because it was contended that the time intervening before the general election was so short that opportunity could not be afforded for the new arrangements. He now moved for leave to bring in a similar Bill, not anticipating any objection on the part of the Government; but he might observe that he intended to carry restriction and reform a little further than in the previous measure. He proposed to reduce the days of polling from two days to one, and the period that elapsed between the nomination and the day of polling from two to one. He proposed also that the declaration of the poll should take place one day after the polling.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That leave be given to bring in the Bill."


did not rise to oppose the Motion, but he would observe that there was a considerable difference between this Bill and the one of last year. He acquiesced in the Bill of last year with some degree of doubt. He had had some little experience of county elections, and was very much inclined to think that it would be undesirable to adopt the proposition of the noble Lord. At times it would be exceedingly inconvenient to pin down the electors to one day. He would give an instance in his own county, where a poll was demanded without any one expecting it, and it happened that on one of the polling-days an important fair was held in the neighbourhood, which many of the voters were very anxious to attend, and consequently were incapacitated from performing their electoral duties. He had conversed with many of the electors on this subject, and they were of opinion that the change might be attended with considerable inconvenience.


would say, that the cases mentioned by the hon. Gentleman might easily be provided for by the sheriffs not fixing upon inconvenient days. The sheriffs ought to know when fairs took place, and not fix such days for polling.


said, he thought that, seeing leave was given by the last Parliament to bring in a Bill somewhat similar to this, and that it even went to the third reading, it would be ungracious towards the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex to refuse him leave to bring in the present Bill. There were two points, however, he wished the House to bear in mind: the first was, that the objection taken on the part of the Government to the Bill of last Session was, that a sufficient opportunity was not given to Counties to provide polling places, so that every voter should have an opportunity of recording his vote. It was a matter of great importance that provision should be made for enabling all the votes in every County to be taken. The other point was, that the noble Lord was now going to add to the Bill a new provision, namely, that the period between the nomination and the day of the polling should be reduced from two days to one. He thought that was a matter which would require great consideration. They must remember that there was a great difference between boroughs and counties in that respect. In the boroughs the voters were all living either within the bounds or in the neighbourhood; but in counties the voters had their residence sometimes at a great distance, and assuredly every portion of a County ought to have an opportunity of knowing whether more than one candidate had been put up on the day of nomination, in order that the voters might have an opportunity of coming up and recording their votes. He only pointed out these things in order that the noble Lord might have no reason to complain, should he find the Government opposing the Bill when it was brought forward.


said, that he thought that, whenever the discussion came on, he should be able to satisfy the House that the further changes he proposed were necessary.

Leave given.