HC Deb 20 April 1883 vol 278 cc742-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it is the case that the Law relating to the Poor Law Franchise is at present involved in great doubt and confusion; whether there has ever been any authoritative decision as to the maximum number of votes for a poor law guardian for a particular electoral division or ward, which a properly qualified individual ratepayer may have; whether he is aware that the sections of the Poor Law Acts dealing with the matter appear as they stand to enable a single properly qualified ratepayer to have 36 votes in each electoral division or ward of a union, viz., 6 as occupier, 6 as occupier possessing a beneficial interest, 6 as landlord in receipt of a profit rent liable to deductions for poor-rates, 12 as landlord being the "immediate lessor" of premises rated at £4 or under, and 6 as being in receipt of tithe rent charge; whether it is the case that notwithstanding this returning officers do not as a rule allow a ratepayer so many votes; whether it is the case that some returning officers refuse to allow 6 votes in respect of tithe rent charge to a ratepayer who also claims 6 votes in respect of profit rent, and that others refuse to allow more than 6 votes to a ratepayer claiming as "immediate lessor;" whether he is aware that it is also contended that the true construction of the Acts is that a ratepayer cannot have more than 18 votes altogether; whether any uniform practice exists in Irish Unions as to the maximum number of votes which a properly qualified ratepayer may have; and, if so, what such practice is and what the view of the Local Government Board on the subject is; whether he thinks it is desirable that any single ratepayer should have so many as 36 or even 30 votes in a division or ward; and, whether the Government intend doing anything in their promised measure dealing with the Poor Laws to reduce the maximum number of property votes which a landlord ratepayer may have, or to remove the doubt and ambiguity which the existing state of the law gives rise to?


, in reply, said, the law relating to this matter was not involved in doubt and confusion, as the hon. Member alleged. It had been decided that a ratepayer might not, under any circumstances, give more than 18 votes in any one electoral division or ward. The Local Government Board believed that the Returning Officers generally understood the law as it was laid down, and they were always informed of the true construction of it whenever they required instruction. The Local Government Board were entirely opposed to the idea of a single ratepayer having 36 votes in one division, and he should be glad to answer any special case which the hon. Member might point out. This was but the substance of a more detailed answer, which he would communicate to the hon. Member by letter.