HC Deb 26 June 1861 vol 163 cc1633-5

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he would move the Second Reading of the Bill. It was in accordance with the recommendations of a Committee and the views of the law officers. It provided that a vote given in good faith for a candidate, who had been guilty of bribery, should not be held to have been thrown away, so that under its operation a candidate who had not really obtained a majority of votes in his favour could not be held to be entitled to a seat in that House.

Motion made, and Question proposed. That the Bill be now read a second time.


said, he hoped the right bon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would give his opinion upon the Bill before it passed through another stage. The questions which it proposed to settle were nu- merous, and had very much perplexed election Committees, and the consequence was that conflicting decisions had been arrived at. If voters were to be disqualified there would be a great inducement to petition against the return of Members. He hoped there would be a distinct declaration as to how the law now stood. If read a second time the Bill ought to be referred to a Select Committee, and it ought to be considered in reference to the question of bribery.


said, he believed that those most conversant with election law would admit that the rule generally acted upon was that the disqualification to be fatal must be a disqualification founded upon the fact that the public had knowledge that the candidate had been guilty of bribery. As, however, there appeared to be some uncertainty in the law with respect to the validity of these votes, he thought it would be well if the House would assent to the second reading of the Bill. He was, however, of opinion, that its operation should be limited to cases in which the voter could be proved to have willingly and knowingly given his vote in favour of a disqualified candidate.


said, he thought if they meant to put down bribery they should make the exercise of it as dangerous as possible. The law ought to be clearly and distinctly declared, as at present the decisions in the books of election Committees were strongly opposed to one another.


said, he was opposed to the present course of proceeding. If they desired to put down bribery, the man who bribed should lose his seat, and the man who did not should have it. That measure was piecemeal legislation, anticipating the other Bill which was before the House, and it ought to be dealt with at once and postponed for a fortnight. He should move an Amendment to that effect.


said, the Bill introduced by him did not contain any clause on the subject, which he thought it was desirable to have settled. He thought the principle of the Bill was right, and, therefore, he was in favour of reading the Bill a second time. All the objections could be satisfactorily disposed of in Committee.


said, he objected to the Bill. The 3rd Clause would exempt candidates from all fear of the result of committing bribery; and fur- ther time ought to be given to consider such a measure.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.

House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.