§ MR. HIBBERT
(for Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL) rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill, which stood in his hon. and learned Friend's name, "to provide for 577 the formation of one Register for Parliamentary and Municipal Electors, and for making the changes necessary in consequence in the Law relating to Parliamentary Electors and Burgesses, and for the better prevention of frivolous objections." The Bill did not make any change either in the Parliamentary or in the municipal franchise, but it proposed that there should be two columns on the register, the one showing a list of Parliamentary, and the other a list of municipal, voters. To meet the difficulty which would arise owing to the municipal elections occurring on the 1st of November in each year, whereas the Parliamentary list did not come into operation till the 1st of January, his hon. and learned Friend had been obliged to put forward the preparation of the register 37 days in every particular, and the rates would have to be paid 37 days earlier. If that were carried out, the municipal elections would be held, as at present, on the 1st of November, and the Parliamentary list would also come into operation on the 1st of November in each year. In fact, both lists would come into operation at the same time. For the better prevention of frivolous objections, the Bill sought to apply the same principle as was now applied to the county register—that was to say, when an objection was taken to a voter, the ground of the objection would have to be stated. Another alteration proposed by the Bill was that if the person raising an objection failed to make it good he would be compelled to pay a certain amount of costs. The desire of the Government was to improve and economize the preparation of the Parliamentary and municipal register, and to make the position of a voter in large towns much more agreeable than it had been for many years past. He begged to move for leave to bring in the Bill.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
thought the part of the Bill which dealt with frivolous objections might be very good, but that there was not the slightest advantage in putting forward the dates in the Acts relating to the Parliamentary franchise 37 days, in order to make the calendar for the Parliamentary and the municipal register tally if he did not also alter the county register,—as he presumed, from the title of the Bill, was not to be done. He thought that it was a 578 mistake to make the dates for the Parliamentary register in boroughs and counties to become different. He suggested also that the Attorney General should by his Bill make one register serve not only for Parliamentary and municipal voters, but also for Poor Law union voters. He could not help thinking that the franchise would be more or less affected by the proposed alteration in the law, and he hoped to have some explanation upon that point. For example, it had been enacted that when a person has a property which gives a qualification for both the county and borough franchise, then he shall only have the borough vote. Now, suppose that, in consequence of putting the dates earlier in a borough, such a person had not been in occupation long enough to gain the borough vote, but yet long enough to be put on the county register, (which is 37 days later); then that person would have the county vote in one year, and the borough vote every year after. He must remark, also, another blot; women, having the municipal franchise, would appear on the register with Parliamentary voters. This would give the women's suffrage agitators a great advantage.
said, he knew one large borough where 3,000 objections to voters had been withdrawn; and Parliament having given the working classes the right to the franchise, every opportunity should be afforded them of exercising their right, without unnecessary obstacles being allowed to stand in their way.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he could not answer the noble Lord, owing to his not having been provided with the necessary papers. The question of providing a list for Parliamentary, union, and municipal voting had been maturely considered; but great difficulty was found in the way to accomplish this object, which difficulty, he thought, would not apply to the list which this Bill advocated. Every facility would be given for amending the Bill in Committee.
Motion agreed to.
Bill to provide for the formation of one Register for Parliamentary and Municipal Electors, and for making the changes necessary in consequence in the Law relating to Parliamentary Electors and Burgesses, and for the better prevention of frivolous objections, ordered to be brought in by Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL and Mr. HIBBERT.
§ Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 66.]