HC Deb 01 July 1880 vol 253 cc1243-4

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been directed to the following remarks of the learned Judge in the judgment given in the case of the Plymouth Election Petition, viz.:— I have never unseated an innocent Member for the Acts of his agent without feeling that the law which so punishes both of the Member and the constituency for the single act of an agent is unduly severe; and, whether he will take the matter into consideration before the introduction of a new Ballot Act?


My attention has not been called to the judgment of the learned Judge except by the Question of the hon. Member; but, assuming that his words are correctly stated, I must express my entire dissent from the view of the learned Judge. I believe every man in this House to be innocent; but I cannot think it would be safe to hold that a Member, or a candidate, should not be responsible for the action of his agent. It is perfectly plain that an agent by a single act might corrupt a whole constituency; and, therefore, I cannot promise that in a new Ballot Act I will propose to repeal the old law by which the responsibility is thrown upon a Member or a candidate.