HC Deb 22 July 1858 vol 151 cc1965-7

Order for Consideration read.


said, that this was merely a continuance Bill, and although it contained amendments of the law on three points, they by no means affected the general character of the measure.


said, he should move the omission of the first clause. He had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman had the same object as he himself, namely, to render the mode of election less corrupt; but the clause enabled a candidate to pay the travelling expenses of voters, and a more mischievous proposal could scarcely have been made to the House. Once let that principle be legalized and candidates at a contested election would no longer stand on an equality. The election would then simply turn on the question of which candidate had the longest purse. He had heard that at elections in this town cabmen even had been offered £1 for every voter they brought to the poll. Let the House imagine £1,000 spent in that way, and its effect upon a contested election. If this clause were omitted from the Bill he should move that candidates be recouped from the county rates the money expended by them in conveying voters to the poll. But he contended that it ought not to be paid at all. Voting was a public duty, for which one ought not to be paid. It would be the old story, "I have bought you, and I will sell you." A more mischievous Bill than this he had never seen, for it struck a deadly blow at all purity of election, by making a return to that House a mere matter of personal ambition and personal aggrandizement rather than of public duty.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman treated the matter as if the Bill went to introduce something new, but he would remind him that the payment of travelling expenses had never been declared illegal unless corruption could be connected with it. The case in which large sums were alleged to have been paid to cabmen at a metropolitan election had occurred under the existing law; and if corruption had been charged and proved against the candidate he would have been unseated.


remarked, that an Amendment which was proposed in the clause must be discussed before the question of adoption of the clause itself could be entertained. And, moreover, before that could be done, the new clauses proposed to be added to the Bill must be considered.


said, he would then move his Amendment, when


said, notice had been given to bring up several clauses, and they must be brought up first.


then rose to move the following new clause, namely:— That it shall not be lawful for the collector on rates and taxes of any borough, county, or city, or his partner or agent, to act as agent, clerk, or canvasser for, or to be employed on behalf of, any candidate for such borough, county, or city; and any such person who shall so offend shall for his said offence be liable to forfeit the sum of £50 to any person who shall sue for the same, together with full costs of suits. He meant to cast no reflection upon the collectors of rates and taxes in counties and boroughs by proposing this clause; nor did he wish to insinuate that as a class they were likely to be guilty of using any undue influence derivable from their office to coerce poor voters. But he thought it highly objectionable that tax collectors should act as agents for any candidate at an election; and such a practice must have a tendency to impair that purity and independence in political matters which they must all desire to preserve and encourage. The rate collector who went about to solicit votes with his canvassing book in one hand and his rate book in the other would naturally possess an unfair advantage over his rivals; and he ought, therefore, to be put in the same position as election auditors, police constables, and other local functionaries.

Clause brought up and read the first time.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the said clause be now read a second time."


said, he would move that the House do now adjourn. The hour was too late to proceed with such a Bill, and if Government did not consent to the omission of the clause, allowing payment of expenses, they would meet with the most determined opposition from that side of the House.


said, that the House had had ample opportunity of considering the Amendments. He would not, however, oppose the wish of the House, but would propose to consider the Amendments on Friday.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow at Twelve o'clock.

House resumed.

House adjourned at a Quarter before Two o'clock.