HC Deb 30 April 1883 vol 278 cc1412-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Whether his attention has been called to the recent Poor Law election for the division of Ballyrnacwilbain, in the Edenderry Union, when Mr. Barnard Ennis, the National candidate, received the votes of 23 ratepayers, while his Conservative opponent received the votes of only 9 persons; yet, in consequence of the system of multiple voting, the return actually made by the returning officer was, Reddy 84 votes; Ennis 50 votes; whether he is aware that, in another division of the same Union, Mr. Eustace, the National candidate, obtained the votes of 31 ratepayers against 9 ratepayers who supported the Conservative candidate, Mr. Kerr; and that, nevertheless, the candidate of the minority was declared elected by 105 votes to 50; whether it is the case that Mr. Raite Kerr, J.P. gave a number of votes in favour of Mr. Reddy, largely in excess of the 18 votes laid down by the Local Government Board as the maximum of votes inherent in any one ratepayer; whether Mr. David Kerr, the successful candidate in the second instance above referred to, was allowed to cast 36 votes in his own favour, and whether the remainder of his majority was made up of 45 votes cast by three magistrates, and 12 votes given by a non-resident lady; whether the ascertainment of the facts was impeded by the refusal of the returning officer to permit Mr. Ennis, one of the candidates, to take a note of the number of multiple votes admitted in each case; and, whether, if the facts be as stated, he, in any forthcoming legislation with respect to Poor Law elections, will make provision further to define the powers and qualifications of returning officers to determine the Law with respect to the votes of tithe-owners and immediate lessors, and to curtail the enormous disproportion which exists between the numbers and the voting strength of the landlord class in Ireland?


Sir, I have received a Report from the Returning Officer, which shows that the hon. Member has been greatly misinformed as to the facts of this election. The numbers of votes given are quoted with tolerable accuracy; but the number of ratepayers who voted for Messrs. Ennis and Reddy respectively were 18 and 20—not 23 and 9, as stated. In the other division referred to, Messrs. Eustace and Kerr received respectively the votes of 24 and 21 ratepayers, not 31 and 9, as stated. The allegations as to excess voting by Mr. Raite Kerr, and as to the votes given by and for Mr. David Kerr are without foundation. Both these gentlemen held proxies for a number of ratepayers which were duly registered. The Returning Officer denies that he objected to Mr. Ennis taking a note of the multiple votes admitted, or that he asked for this information. I see nothing in this case which suggests the necessity for legislation as to the powers and qualifications of Returning Officers.