HC Deb 02 July 1880 vol 253 cc1395-6

moved that a new Writ be issued for the election of a Member for the borough of Evesham, in the room of Mr. Daniel Rowlinson Ratcliffe, whose election has been determined to be void.


said, that after the last division it would be useless to oppose this Motion. The matter, however, was one in which he took great interest. The Attorney General must be a sanguine man if he thought that many Members had read the evidence which was adduced at the trial of the Election Petition recently. It had only been in the hands of hon. Members two days, and as the evidence was voluminous, probably not one Member in a hundred had mastered it. He differed entirely from the Attorney General, who seemed to suggest that there was not the slightest suspicion of extensive corrupt practices attaching to the borough of Evesham. Whether corrupt practices had extensively prevailed or not, he had no doubt that the election was won by money. He did not know whether the money was given in charity or from corrupt motives; but his surprise as to a gentleman who dropped his sovereigns about so indiscriminately was that one-half the borough constituencies in England did not invite him to stand. He could not say whether it was the candidate or the constituency that had been corrupt. It was possible that the candidate gave his money without any corrupt motive; but the voters of Evesham appeared to be like the innocent little birds they had seen who opened their mouths whenever they thought anything was likely to fall into them. Either the House had a discretion in the matter or it had not. If the House had no discretion, then legislation was urgently required, because there was no public tribunal by which these corrupt practices were sifted. If the House had a discretion it ought to exercise it and appoint a Committee to make further inquiries. His individual opinion was against the Motion; but he would not divide the House on the subject. He hoped, however, that, in order to afford the necessary time for careful perusal of the evidence, the Motion for issuing the Writ would be postponed until next Monday.


supported the appeal for delay. This case was very different from that of Tewkesbury, as to which he voted with the Government. He appealed to the Government to give the House further time for reading the evidence taken at the time of the trial of the Evesham Election Petition. At the present time he would venture to say not a single Member had read the Paper now laid before the House, but which had not as yet been circulated to Members. He knew Evesham, and he ventured to say that no more corrupt constituency existed in the whole of England. A gentleman whom everybody would like to see in the House, not long ago visited the place, as he had been asked to contest the seat; but he was so horrified at what was expected of him, that he shook the dust from his feet, and would have nothing whatever to do with the place. It was a scandal that a borough of this kind should continue to be enfranchised, and he thought this was a case which the House ought to take up.


said, he could not understand what practical course was intended in asking for delay. Some Members had already read the evidence—among them the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, who made no Motion. Were they to appoint a Committee to review the decision of the Judges, who had reported that corrupt practices had not extensively prevailed? Having looked at the evidence, he believed there was no ground for delaying the issue of the Writ.


also thought it not unreasonable that the issuing of the Writ should be delayed until Monday, in order that hon. Members might have a further time to read the evidence taken. He had personally only had time to skim the evidence and the Report; but he could not help thinking, as the result of such perusal, that the facts disclosed showed a necessity for further inquiry. He was not going to move that the Writ should be suspended, because it was not improbable that before the Election Petitions were altogether disposed of some startling disclosures would be made, and he might then find it necessary to bring the whole matter before the House. He now submitted that sufficient time had not been allowed for the House to consider this subject.

Motion agreed to,

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