HC Deb 10 February 1882 vol 266 cc470-2

said, that his Motion involved a question of Privilege, which had precedence over all other Motions, and might be moved at any hour of the day or night. He was sure the House would not in any case wish that a new Writ should issue for a seat declared vacant on the ground of bribery without proper Notice. He therefore begged to move the first portion of the Motion standing in his name.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That in all cases where the Seat of any Member has been declared void on the ground of Bribery, no Motion for the issue of a new Writ shall be made without two days' previous Notice with the Votes, and that such Notice be considered before Orders of the Day and Notices of Motions."—(Mr. Thomas Collins.)


wished to ask the hon. and learned Attorney General a question which, if not that evening, he would probably answer at an early period of the Session—namely, what were the intentions of the Government with reference to Gloucester, Sandwich, and other boroughs which had been reported upon by the Commissioners? because if Her Majesty's Government announced their intention of disfranchising them, he did not think any hon. Member would desire to move Writs for them, or in any way discuss the matter until the Government proposal was made. But if the Government did not propose any legislation on the subject, it would be the duty of any Member, zealous for the rights of the electors of the boroughs in question, to take the sense of the House as to whether new Writs should not issue; because in every case in which representation was suspended it was in virtue of law passed by Parliament, and it was only in accordance with actual law so passed that the representation of any borough or place could be properly suspended which returned a Member to Parliament.


said, he quite agreed with his hon. and learned Friend opposite that it would not be right to disenfranchise any boroughs or places without the sanction of Parliament. With regard to the seven boroughs, legislation must undoubtedly take place, and that very shortly; and although the House would probably not wish him to enter into details, he believed he should be doing all that his hon. and learned Friend required by stating that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a Bill dealing with the boroughs in question.


hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would have no difficulty in stating when it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to bring in the Bill.


said, he was not in a position to name the exact date at which the Bill would be introduced.


said, he had one or two words to say upon the intimation of the hon. and learned Attorney General with regard to the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to deal with the seven boroughs. As far as he was concerned, he felt it would be his duty to offer as much opposition as possible to that Bill, not that he differed from the Government as to the propriety of putting down impure and corrupt practices at elections, but because he looked upon the revelations made with reference to the boroughs in question as an accidental illustration of the general condition of the electoral system of this country. There were, no doubt, 50 boroughs concerning which similar revelations might have been made, had not things been, so to speak, squared. While the present system prevailed—so long as the present expenditure in elections continued, and £8,000 or £10,000 was not regarded as an improper sum to be spent on those occasions—it would be impossible to draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate expenditure. The whole of the existing system was an encouragement to bribery; and he objected to making martyrs of the seven boroughs which, by pure accident only, had their shortcomings revealed to Parliament.


asked the hon. and learned Attorney General whether it was the intention of the Government again to move for a Commission in the case of Wigan, which, he considered, had been somewhat unfairly treated?


was understood to signify dissent.

Question put, and agreed to.

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