HC Deb 09 February 1860 vol 156 cc796-7

said, he rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill to prohibit the payment of the expenses of conveying voters to the poll, and to facilitate polling at elections. The provisions of the Bill he proposed to introduce were the same as those of the measure he had brought in last Session, and as that Bill had been read a second time in the last Parliament by a large majority, it was not necessary for him to make a long statement to the House. The state of the law on the subject was that it was lawful to convey a voter to the poll, but it was bribery if money was given for his conveyance. This state of things was clearly absurd, and it was clear that they must either make the payment of these travelling expenses, including the conveyance of voters to the poll, absolutely legal or illegal. He trusted the House would permit him to introduce the Bill and to proceed with it at no distant period. He believed it would have a tendency to insure the purity of elections, or, at all events, do away with some clear and manifest evils of which everybody complained.


said, he did not rise to oppose the introduction of the Bill, but to deny the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman that the payment to voters themselves of the expense of their conveyance to the poll was bribery under the Corrupt Practices Act. The Huddersfield Committee decided last Session that such payment, though it might be a misdemeanour, was not bribery within the meaning of the statute. He should oppose the second reading of the Bill.


said, that to prohibit candidates in counties from conveying voters to the poll would practically disfranchise many poor electors in outlying districts. He hoped, therefore, that the Bill would be narrowly watched by county Members.


remarked, that whatever the decision of the Huddersfield Committee might have been, the Courts at Westminster had declared that to pay the voters themselves the expense of their conveyance to the poll was bribery.


said, he had a great respect for the Courts at Westminster, but their decisions could not affect what was the end and object of bribery—a seat in that House The decision of the Huddersfield Committee on the contrary. was one of a practical character, and, therefore, entitled to considerable weight.


expressed the hope that candidates in counties would not be prevented from conveying voters to the poll.


suggested that some provision should be made for multiplying polling places.


stated that a clause to that effect formed part of the Bill.


said, that this was the third measure for reform of the representation in one shape or another that had been introduced that evening by private Members; and he doubted whether, seeing that the Government were about to introduce a general measure of Parliamentary Reform, the former exercised a wise discretion in bringing forward Bills dealing with small parts of the subject.

Leave given.

Bill to prohibit the payment of the Expenses of conveying Voters to the Poll, and to facilitate polling at Elections, ordered to be brought in by Mr. COLLIER, Mr. MELLOR, and Mr. BAINES.