HC Deb 21 April 1873 vol 215 cc793-6

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 3 (Alteration of dates).


said, he must take occasion again to object to the dates fixed in the Bill as inconvenient, and would move an Amendment to the effect that nothing in the clause should alter the date of any municipal election.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 9, to leave out from the word "Provided," to the end of the Clause.—(Mr. Charles Lewis.)


opposed the Amendment, on the ground that it would require the poll to be kept open after dark, and with the aid of artificial light.


also opposed it, because it involved a change that would be very inconvenient to every borough in this country. During the Vacation he had endeavoured to ascertain the opinions of the different boroughs with respect to such an alteration, and he found that they were almost unani- mously averse to it. The clause as it now stood would do away with much annoyance to voters, whose convenience ought to be consulted in preference to that of the Revising Barrister. The dates fixed by the Bill had been arranged after consultation with the representatives both of boroughs and counties, and the Bill ought to be tried as the Government had framed it. If it was not found to work satisfactorily, it could easily be amended in a future year.


wished to know what the inconvenience which the Amendment would cause really was. When he had suggested at a previous stage that the 1st of January should be substituted for the 1st of November, he was told that this would necessitate canvassing in Christmas week; but that objection would not apply to the 1st of December. There was a blind and bigoted prejudice on the part of the old Tories on the other side of the House in favour of the 1st of November; but, for his own part, he was not opposed to a change that was beneficial, as the one now proposed by his hon. Friend would be.


objected to the change proposed, believing the time fixed by the Bill the most convenient part of the year.


supported the Amendment, thinking that more time ought to be given for the completion of the registration, so as to render it as perfect as possible. He should prefer that the commencement of the process of making out the lists should be antedated, instead of deferred to a later period.


was one of those "Old Tories" who preferred to leave well alone, and not to make changes without good cause being shown for them. He hoped they would not throw the municipal elections a month later in the year, when the daylight was shorter.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 85; Noes 39: Majority 46.


said, he wished to remind the Committee that at present persons were allowed to the 1st of June to pay the rates due on the 1st of January. But this Bill required that the rates should be paid by the 25th of April. Unless a Proviso was introduced to pro- tect their interests, the effect of that alteration would be that a considerable number of electors would be disqualfied.


said, he must admit that there would be some inconvenience, but thought it was impossible to avoid inconvenience whenever an alteration in dates was made.


suggested that the best way to meet the objection of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Brand), would be to postpone the operation of the Bill for a year.


objected to any postponement.


remarked that, according to the Bill, if the rates were not paid by Friday next several voters would ipso facto be disfranchised. He suggested that Progress should be reported, in order that there might be time to consider what should be done.


opposed postponement, but thought that some means might be adopted to meet the difficulty.


said, if it were thought desirable to make special provision for the present year the Government would be prepared to do so on the Report.


in order to show that many persons would be affected by the change as now proposed, stated that he had not himself paid his rates as yet.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 (Preparation of lists by ever-seers).


moved an Am ndment, requiring the lists to be made out under streets, instead of alphabetically.


thought the question should be considered on the proposal of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone), which was to make street lists permissive. He thought it would not be possible to do this as the Amendment prescribed in the case of boroughs, which might be more properly described as rural districts.


said, that a good deal was to be said in favour of street lists, but in some boroughs it would not be possible to prepare the lists in that way. The Government had prepared a clause, which they would bring up on the Report, giving power to the local authorities to decide whether the lists should be alphabetical or by streets.


objected that some towns contained many streets of the same name, and, if lists were made out under streets, no elector would be able to discover whether his name was on the list or not.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


moved as an Amendment, in page 2, line 19, after "borough," to insert— But where a municipal borough is divided into polling districts for parliamentary purposes, pursuant to section seven of this Act, the overseers of every parish wholly or partly situate in any such borough or ward shall,, so far as practicable, make out the lists of such parish in polling districts, with a separate alphabetical arrangement for each such polling district.


said, he must express his surprise that the Metropolis and the City of London were entirely ignored in the Bill.

Amendment amended, and agreed to.


moved that the Chairman report Progress.

Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.