§ Maximum Scale.
§ MR. RAIKES
said, they had now reached a point upon which there would be little difference of opinion, as to which there would be a general desire to curtail expenses so far as they could reasonably be curtailed. He rather differed from the Attorney General as to the precise estimate which should be agreed to as to the proper amount of the expenses, and he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would forgive him. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed that where the number of electors on the register did not exceed 2,000, the maximum expenditure should be £350, and where the number of electors exceeded 2,000, the maximum should be £380, and an additional £30 for every 1,000 electors above 2,000. Well, he (Mr. Raikes) proposed that if the number of electors on the register did not exceed 1,000 the maximum should be £300, and where it exceeded £2,000 it should be £500. His proposal he would rather contrast with that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis). The hon. Member was not in his place to-night, he was sorry to say; but there was very little difference between their two schemes. His (Mr. Raikes's) proposal did not descend to such close 1428 particulars as the hon. and learned Member's, his wish being merely to fix an initial limit in the first instance. The Attorney General was prepared to allow £350 to be spent in a constituency which did not number more than 1,000; but, to his (Mr. Raikes's) mind, it would be possible in very small constituencies of less than 1,000 electsrs—of which there were still some in the country—to conduct an election for less than £350; and he, therefore, proposed that they should start with a constituency of less than 1,000 electors, and there fix the maximum expenditure at £300. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Londonderry was prepared to put the maximum of £350 for such constituency. The hon. Member proposed that where the number of electors did not exceed 500, the maximum should be £200; where it did not exceed 1,000, £350; 1,500, £400; 2,000, £500; and an additional £40 for every 1,000 electors above 2,000. They had to consider this matter not in connection with small constituencies only, but as being the initial figure in all constituencies. They must be careful that they did not fix such a sum that, even with the accumulating amount for each increasing 1,000 electors, they might have too little for the proper conduct of an election in a large constituency. He (Mr. Raikes), in his proposal, rather proposed to reduce the expenditure where the number of electors was less than 1,000, and to increase it where the constituency ranged from 1,000 to 2,000. He did not believe that a sum of £380, where the number of electors did not exceed 2,000, with an additional £30 for every 1,000 electors, above 2,000 was an adequate amount. He had had rather a wide experience of constituencies and of elections, and he should not be following a right course if he did not endeavour to turn to some account such experience as he had gained on this particular question. He had had the honour to be four times a candidate for the City of Chester, which was a borough containing about 6,000 electors, and on each occasion the amount of the expenses had been different. The cheapest election of which he had had experience was that in which the expenses of both candidates amounted to about £8,500, and that election only lasted five days. So far as he was concerned, it was an exceptionally economical election, for his prin- 1429 cipal agent declined to receive a fee for his services, and besides that the election was as economically carried on as any election could be. Whereas, on other occasions, his principal agent had taken £200 for his services, on the occasion he was referring to nothing was taken. He had no reason to think that his opponents spent money improperly, and he did not think the total was an unreasonable expenditure in a constituency of 6,000 electors. The Bill, as it at present stood, would give £380 for 2,000 electors, and £120 for the additional 4,000 electors, which would be £500 altogether. He was bound to say that, with all their wish to see elections conducted as economically as possible, he very much doubted whether it would be possible to conduct one in such a constituency as that for £500. Let them take the case of a larger constituency with which he was familiar—one containing 13,000 electors. He found that the expenditure that they would be allowed to incur there would be £380 for 2,000, and an addition of £830, representing £30 per 1,000, above 2,000. That would entitle them to spend in that borough over £700 during an election. Well, he was inclined to think it would not be practicable to conduct an election in a borough of that size for the sum of £700, if it extended beyond a day or two. He did not himself see how it would be possible. He wished to put it to the Committee, and to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General—and he did not wish to see a single shilling more than was necessary taken from the pockets of the candidates—that there would be a danger of falsification of accounts, if they were going to put on election agents a rule which was not to be exceeded, and were going to say that a man who represented 13,000 electors was not, under any circumstances, to spend more than £700. Although the Attorney General had acceded to an Amendment permitting a larger expenditure under the head of Part III., miscellaneous expenditure was included in the maximum scale of Part IV. He did not make any objection to that; but he did not want the Committee to run away with the idea that the sum to be spent under Part III. was to be in excess of the amount to be spent under Part IV. Whatever unforeseen emergency might arise, the total expenditure 1430 in a constituency of 13,000 would be limited to £700. If the Committee in its wisdom thought it right to impose such a limitation, he had no doubt the candidates, and, he hoped, the election agents, would be as careful as possible to observe it; but he felt they must not shut their eyes to the very great temptation which would be afforded to persons connected with electioneering to cook the accounts, so as to bring the total expenditure within these limits. If they set a man to do a task which he believed to be practically impossible, they would expose all persons connected with the accounts to the temptation of breaking the law. He was afraid there was a good deal of account-cooking at the present time under the existing system. The matter was one well deserving the attention of Parliament. He remembered being engaged in an election, some time ago, in which there was a good deal of advertising done—in which advertising was largely resorted to by both sides. The other side, he thought, had advertised rather more than the side upon which he was engaged. Well, the whole expenses on the other side were returned at a less sum than, he believed, the advertising alone could possibly have been done for, leaving an absolute "nil" to represent the whole of the other expenses of the election. He should be sorry to believe that either the candidates or the persons directly connected with the management of the election were parties to any misrepresentation of the facts. He should be the last person to insinuate such a thing; but he was sure that, though the accounts might have been made up on some principles that commended themselves to some of the persons engaged in the making up, they were not principles which would pass muster in an ordinary commercial audit. If they were going to draw an extremely tight line, they would be exposing persons engaged in elections to the temptation to take special and peculiar views as to the figures they had to submit when they published election accounts. He did not at all wish to detain the Committee with any unnecessary observations on the subject; and he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General would acquit him of a desire to unreasonably extend election expenses. In the scale he had submitted he had endeavoured 1431 to approximate to the absolute necessities of the case; and he thought that if they adopted a scale at variance with the facts and experience of most hon. Members in the House, they would be likely to open the door to fresh and aggravated evils much in excess of the scandalous corruption which disgraced the last General Election. He begged to move the Amendment which stood in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 44, line 26, leave out "2,000—£350," and insert "1,000—£300; 2,000—£500."—(Mr. Raikes.)
§ Question proposed, "That 2,000 stand part of the Schedule."
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he believed that more than half the quarrels which took place in the world, in other matters besides politics, arose from the fact that people did not understand one another—did not thoroughly understand the words they discussed. He had risen to, if possible, make it clear what it was they were talking about. He agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down said as to the figures in the Schedule; but he wished there to be a definite understanding as to what those figures meant. "Was it meant that the figure for a single or bye-election was to be the same for a double or General Election? When there were only two candidates standing against each other there might be no difficulty at all; but when they were discussing this maximum expenditure in the Schedule, let them understand what it meant. If the cost to each candidate at an election was to be allowed to be £350 for 2,000 electors, two candidates on the same side might spend £700. If an election could be conducted properly for £350, it was clear they could not conduct it properly if they were to spend £700; and, on the other hand, if only £350 were to be spent on two candidates on the same side at a General Election, at a bye-election, if the single candidate was only allowed to spend half that sum, he would not have enough for his constituency. What was it they meant, when they put such a sum as this down? He had considered the matter very carefully, and had only been able to arrive at a rough calculation; but as the result of that calculation he would suggest that whatever sum they put down 1432 in the Schedule, either for counties or boroughs, should be the sum which a single candidate should spend at a single election. When they came to a double election, it was clear that two candidates joining together would not require to spend double the amount allowed to a single candidate, because there would be a number of expenses that could be curtailed or cut off; but, at the same time, the two candidates would require to spend more than one candidate. He would propose, therefore, that at a double election two candidates together should be able to spend half as much again as a single candidate. Let them find out what was to be the starting point, or initial expense, for an election in a constituency where, for instance, there was only one Member to be elected. Having fixed that sum, let them provide that two candidates putting up together in a constituency returning two Members could spend half as much again as the one candidate. If they agreed upon that they would know where they were. Let them now discuss what a single candidate might spend, and then, when they came to candidatures, they could put in another figure.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
begged to thank the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Assheton Cross) for drawing attention to this matter, and to ask the indulgence of the Committee for a few moments whilst he made a statement as to these expenses, which might travel a little beyond the Amendment which had been moved. He wished to make the statement now, as it might affect some other Amendments. They had now come to a part of the Bill where they were no longer dealing with penalties and controversial matters—they had come to a part in which they could all use their best endeavours to economize expenditure. As far as he could discover, the cost of the last General Election amounted to £2,500,000, and he believed that to be a low estimate, for allowance must be made for a considerable sum for expenses which were never intended to be returned for the cases in which no return had been made. His view was that a very large proportion of that sum went into the pockets of very undeserving people; and it was to be sincerely hoped it went out of the pockets of very deserving people. If they accepted the maximum as it was now framed in the 1433 Bill for boroughs, and that for counties with a slight extension, they would reduce the expenditure from £2,500,000 to £800,000, or one-third. He was certain, from the experience they had of the Returns, that a General Election in the future could be conducted for that sum. He could give instance after instance of elections which had been conducted at a cost much below the maximum contained in the Bill. In the case of Peterborough, where a maximum of £410 would be allowed under the Bill, only £332 had, at the election held a few weeks ago, been expended. He could also give instances where, in county elections, less had been spent than would be allowed under the Bill, and his opinion was that what could be done in one constituency could be done in another. Certainly, £800,000 was sufficient to be spent on electioneering at a General Election. The expenses returned relating to English county elections—entirely irrespective of Returning Officers' expenses, and of some counties where there was no Return made, and of all the expenditure beyond that returned—amounted to £615,800. Under the Bill, that amount would be reduced to £200,000 or one-third. He hoped, in this respect, the Bill would be regarded as a relief to the agricultural interest. As to English boroughs, the expenditure returned at the last General Election amounted to £595,424; but under the Bill it would only be £209,000 or, again, one-third. He would point out that, although the general reduction would be two-thirds, in individual cases it would be very unequal. In the county of Durham, the expenditure returned had amounted to £46,000; but under the Bill it would be £6,500. In Lancashire, it had amounted to £76,600; but under the Bill the amount would only be £23,000. He could not leave Wales entirely without a word. The election expenses in one county of that Principality—as to the purity of which so much had been said—had amounted to £20,100, although the number of electors was only 5,200. He had much pleasure in stating—and he was sure the Representative of the county would share that pleasure—that under the Bill in future the expenditure would not be more than £1,700. He could give instances where the expenditure would full below what he was 1434 about to propose; and he asked the indulgence of the Chairman and the Committee whilst, in dealing with this Amendment, he referred to both counties and boroughs. He had dealt with boroughs with more confidence than with counties, because he had more knowledge and experience of them. In dealing with boroughs he had calculated and put down in the Bill what he thought would be sufficient for a single election. The maximum he had adopted had been calculated for a single election—that was to say, where two candidates fought one against the other. He had adopted the figure after careful consideration, and after taking the best advice on the matter. He had looked at the Returns of many boroughs of different sizes; and he felt confident that, by striking off the use of conveyances and by the non-employment of paid assistants, the amount mentioned for boroughs was amply sufficient. The arguments brought to bear in the matter would have to be strong before he should be convinced that additional expenditure would be required in boroughs. As regarded counties, however, he had always to consult county Members. He had nothing to guide him in respect to counties as he had in respect to boroughs; therefore, he had consulted county Members on both sides of the House, who, he was certain, desired to have no unnecessary expenditure. He believed that the maximum in the Bill in regard to counties might be safely increased; and he was inclined to think that if the suggestion of the right hon. Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) were adopted, the expenditure in counties would still be an economical one. The right hon. Gentleman proposed that the amount allowed for counties should be £60 instead of £40 per 1,000 electors. He (the Attorney General) wished to adhere to the maximum expenditure, as stated in the Bill, in respect to borough elections—which amount was sufficient for a single contest—and he wished, also, if the Committee would allow him to do so, to meet the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Assheton Cross) in respect to the scale for counties. In this matter they had some difficulty to face, particularly in regard to joint candidatures; and he had waited to see if any solution would be proposed. Well, a solution had been 1435 proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Gross) and by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Harcourt) in a direction which, after full consideration, he was inclined to agree to. If they had sought in any way to increase the expenditure, he should have very much objected to it; but they had sought to diminish it. He was perfectly willing to diminish it, and to say that where there were two candidates who wished to have joint committee rooms, and to contest the election together in all respects, they should have the amount they were allowed to spend increased by one-half above the amount a single candidate would be allowed to spend. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that where there was a joint candidature they should take off a quarter of the expenditure allowed to each, which was a quarter of the gross expenditure. The result of this would be, if they would allow him to give an instance, that if the expenditure allowed in the case of a single candidate was £500, they might take a quarter off, if the candidates united, leaving the gross amount £750 for a joint candidature. That was the suggestion which came from the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman opposite. He had considered this matter very fully, with the assistance of others; and the result was that he was diminishing the expenditure in regard to joint candidature in boroughs—he would ask hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway to remember that—and he had accepted the increased expenditure of the right hon. Gentleman as he had suggested it, and, practically, as it was suggested by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis). He did hope this would be considered a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. He had endeavoured to satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite, and to economize as much as possible. He had reduced the borough expenditure by a quarter wherever there was a double candidature; and although there was an increase in respect of single candidatures in counties, yet the increase of expenditure there was counterbalanced by the reduction which would take place when there were two candidates, as he had mentioned, when a reduction of one-fourth would be made. In cases where there were three candidates he thought 1436 there should be a still further reduction, and he proposed to take off one-third instead of one-fourth from the amount they would otherwise be legally entitled to spend. If they were entitled to spend £500 each—that was, £1,500 between them—the three would be allowed to spend two-thirds of that amount, or £1,000. That was the scale he now presented to the Committee, after listening to what had been said, and obtaining what information he could from various sources. He believed this proposal would bring the working of their electoral machinery into perfect order, and would save no less a sum than £1,700,000 in a General Election. There had been two or three matters to provide for under the circumstances of accepting this joint candidature. It was not at all an easy matter to deal with, because they had to determine what a joint candidature was. He had done his best to frame a definition, and that definition they would have to put in the Bill. There were two or throe copies of this definition in print. He would not ask them to consider the clause at present; but it would be introduced into the Bill and brought up on Report. The clause would be an elastic one; and it seemed to him he had done all he could to meet this expenditure of joint candidates. He would not discuss the provision he proposed; and, apologizing for having wandered away from the Question before the Committee, he would ask them to go back to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes).
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he could not but think that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had met the case of the counties very fairly, and had very properly modified the scale in the case of joint candidates; for doing which, it seemed to him, there had been very substantial ground. Joint candidatures generally took place at the time of a General Election. A bye-election was an isolated case, and a candidate found little difficulty in obtaining what assistance he required. At a General Election, on the other hand, the services of agents, managers, and so on, were not so easily procured; and there was, therefore, ground for increasing the maximum. He was happy the hon. and 1437 learned Gentleman had made a concession in this respect. As to the clause the hon. and learned Gentleman intended to bring up on Report dealing with joint candidatures, he hoped that where candidates had separate agents, but joint committee rooms, they might be looked upon as joint candidates.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he knew more about boroughs than counties; and on behalf of those he thanked the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for the concession he had made. The scale the hon. and learned Gentleman had proposed was quite satisfactory; and he (Mr. Anderson) hoped, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Raikes) would not now press his Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman, in moving his Amendment, omitted, in the details of his speech, to say that the sum in the Schedule did not include the Returning Officer's expenses. Those were all additional, and, in reality, those expenses in a borough ought to be the principal part of the cost of an election. They were expenses which a candidate could not control. It was in the power of a candidate to control, more or less, all other expenses; and he ought to be able to control them and easily keep them within the scale of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of advertising as being a great source of expenditure. It was carried on to excess everywhere; let them cut it down, and they would get rid of a great part of the expense. Advertising was simply a mode of bribing the Press, and was one of the most nefarious expenses connected with elections. If they could cut it down it would be bettor for everybody, and elections would be much more pure. One thing he did not understand—namely, that nothing was said in the Schedule as to cases where no contest at all took place; and it was quite certain that an electorate might be considerably corrupted by gross and excessive expenditure in cases where contests did not take place. In the very last Return presented to the House there were some glaring cases of gross expenditure at elections of this kind. He would rather not name the instances, although he could do so if necessary.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he merely rose at this moment on a point of convenience. This Part IV. was divided into two sub-sections—No. 1 1438 applying to boroughs; and No. 2 to counties. He wished to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General whether it would not be more convenient to discuss the case of the boroughs first, and that of the counties afterwards? If they did this, the proposal affecting counties would remain over for future consideration.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, he hoped the Committee would confine itself now to the case of the boroughs.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he was obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for what he had said about the counties. The course the Government intended to take was a wise and proper one; but the question of the counties was not now before the Committee; therefore he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) would not go into it. As to the boroughs, for the life of him he could not see where there was anything in the Bill to intimate that the maximum was not intended to apply to each candidate—quite the reverse. As the Bill was drawn, it was clear each candidate could spend the amount put down for the election; and that where there was a double election, and two Members to be elected, the two might spend double the amount of one; and that where there were three Members to be elected—as in Glasgow and Birmingham—they might spend three times the amount. If the Amendment—with which he entirely agreed—were to be proposed, and if it was clear that two candidates putting up together would not want to spend as much as two candidates who put up independently, it was equally clear that the amount in the Schedule for both boroughs and counties would have to be increased for single elections. There could be no doubt that, as the Bill was presented, the maximum was intended to be the sum that each candidate might spend in both counties and boroughs; and that was why he had said they should not allow themselves to get into a difficulty as to the meaning of words. As the Bill stood, each candidate might spend exactly what was in the Schedule; and now that they were going to say that if two candidates stood together they need not spend so much as double the amount, it was clear it was an open question whether the amount in the Schedule ought not to be increased for single candidates.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, the calculation in regard to boroughs was made with reference to single elections; and it would be far too much simply to double that for joint candidates. Whilst he admitted the incongruity to which attention had been drawn, he would point out that candidates need not unite unless they liked. If they chose they could remain separate, then each would have the benefit of the sum in the Schedule. Because they increased the amount in counties, in order to arrive at a right sum for single candidates, that was no reason why they should increase the amount allowed in the case of boroughs, if sufficient was allowed under existing circumstances. This was a matter for calculation. They had different circumstances to deal with in counties from what they had to deal with in boroughs. He had yielded to the right hon. Gentleman in regard to counties; but he could not yield to him "in regard to boroughs unless he showed that the amount allowed was not sufficient. The borough Members had not shown that the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman should be adopted.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said, he had been very much surprised indeed to see the change of front on the part of the hon. and learned Member to-night. Up to the present moment they had all believed that the amount in the Bill applied both to joint and several candidates. What had struck him (Mr. Whitley), and what, he thought, must have struck every Member of the Committee, was this—that by the change they had made they had raised great difficulty in the way of the proper carrying out of the Bill. Why should they expose candidates to additional penalties to those they had already placed on them? Why should they put before them the danger of being guilty of illegal practices? As had been said, it would be difficult to find conveyances in the case of one candidate; but in the case of two joint candidates that difficulty would be greatly enhanced. Each candidate would have his own agent, and each agent would have different sub-agents, for whose action both the candidates would be held responsible. It would be seen, therefore, that they were not only increasing the expenditure, but adding to the dangers and difficulties of a contest, by the arrangements they 1440 were now making without adequate reason. He was never more surprised in his life than he was to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman turn round and say that he had yielded to hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House. It was totally the reverse. The hon. and learned Gentleman had changed his ground for the first time, and had said the reason for it was that he understood he was acting in accordance with the views of Members on the Opposition Benches. He (Mr. Whitley) repudiated ever entertaining such a view. He had believed, and had been willing all along, that the maximum in the Schedule should apply not only to general, but to individual contests; and now the hon. and learned Gentleman turned round and accused him of having altered his views. The fact was, there had been a change of opinion on the part of the Government at the last moment, and it was highly unfair to bring this charge against Members of the Opposition. For his own part, he was satisfied that the change in the views of the Attorney General would cause very great consternation throughout the country; and he believed that they were so framing this Bill that it would be next to impossible to work elections under it. It was easy to say joint candidates might appoint different agents if they liked; but it would be easy for an agent or sub-agent employed by one candidate to invalidate the election of the other by doing work for him. Such a thing might be shown to be an illegal practice. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman told them they might have separate committee rooms; but let them take a case like his (Mr. Whitley's) own constituency—namely, Liverpool. He had an enormous number of committee rooms, and was that enormous number to be doubled? He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would not consider that he had yielded anything in this matter. He had yielded to himself, and hon. Members only wished him to carry out that which he had himself intended up to the present. The change which had taken place in the views of the hon. and learned Member at this moment was most inconvenient, and he (Mr. Whitley) should oppose it to the best of his ability.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, it was perfectly understood that this Bill was not framed on the ideas of advanced 1441 Radicals, nor would this maximum ever for a moment satisfy them. The Bill, it was well known, was brought in to please Conservatives and Liberals. Whenever a complaint had been made as to there being too many clerks employed at elections, and too many committee rooms used, the hon. and learned Gentleman had always drawn attention to the fixed maximum contained in the Bill, beyond which, he said, no one could go—he had said that if they spent more in one direction they would have to spend less in another. The hon. and learned Gentleman had given a pledge to the Committee—by which means he had very materially reduced the length of the debate—and it was to the effect that in no case would he increase the maximum scale without the universal consent of everyone in the House. Owing to this, so far as he understood it, they had not discussed many matters which otherwise might have been discussed. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, had explained that in one particular case—in the case of counties—he had, to a certain extent, agreed with the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite by raising the maximum in the Schedule; but, against that, he had, to a certain extent, reduced the maximum in the case of two candidates who stood together. It might, therefore, be said that the hon. and learned Gentleman had stood to his guns. He (Mr. Labouchere) had put down an Amendment for the purpose of reducing the maximum, for the reason that hon. Members on the other side had put down Amendments with the object of increasing it—he had thought his Amendment would pair off against the Amendments of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that it would keep the Attorney General steady to find that, if he yielded to the other side, he would have opposition to face on this side. The Amendment he (Mr. Labouchere) had put down, he was glad to say had had its effect, and the Schedule practically remained as it was. He himself was hardly satisfied yet, because he should like to see the maximum reduced by some 70 per cent. so as to put poor men in the same position as rich men in regard to elections, and in that manner to give constituencies a larger choice of Representatives. That, however, they could not obtain; therefore, they had to be content with what 1442 they could get for the present. Before sitting down, he wished to make a remark as to the singular ingratitude of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Whitley) displayed in his references to these Schedules. Under the Bill, the hon. Gentleman would have an immense amount to spend at an election. He (Mr. Labouchere) had been reckoning him up, and he found that he had a constituency of 60,000. [An hon. MEMBER: 63,000.] Well, 63,000; that only strengthened his argument. The hon. Member would be allowed, as a single candidate, to spend £2,120 on an election, and yet he came here asking for more. He could spend more than almost any hon. Member in the House, and yet he was the one who came here and complained that candidates would not be allowed to spend sufficient under the Bill. He (Mr. Labouchere) did not intend to move the Amendment standing in his name; and he hoped that, as the Attorney General had acted so fairly between both sides as to stand to his Schedules, there would not be a long discussion on this matter.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, that if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Raikes) went to a Division on this question, he should not vote with him. He agreed with the Attorney General, so far as his own experience went, as to boroughs; but he should like to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman one or two questions. Supposing there was no contest in a borough where there was only one, or where there were two Members to be elected. According to the Schedule, these gentlemen could spend up to the maximum, and, no doubt, they would, in order that they might have an advantage at the next election. Would that be right? It did appear to him to be absurd to say that if there was no contest the candidate should be allowed to spend exactly the same amount as if there was a contest. He would call attention to this further matter. Supposing there were four candidates at an election, two on each side, and that they started two joint candidatures. All might go well for a time, but a disagreement might take place during the contest, and the candidates might desire to work independently. How were they to break their joint candidature? The Committee were under great inconvenience in not having the proposed new clauses before 1443 them. This was one of the most vital points of the whole Bill, this question of expenditure; yet they had not got before them the clauses proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Raikes) had said he did not think the expenditure sufficient, and proposed to raise it; but, according to his (Mr. Onslow's) experience, when once they did away with conveyances, and with the heavy expenditure on printing, which all knew was a scandal, £350 would be quite enough to pay for the candidature of any gentleman who stood for a constituency below 2,000. He would also call the hon. and learned Gentleman's attention to this—that if they did not look out they would be, by the proposed clause, leaving a loop-hole for what he might call dishonest practices, for everyone would want to spend as much as he could. Candidates, although they might know they were fighting exactly the same cause, would not join—they would not let people know they were joint candidates, in order that they might spend a little more. In conclusion, he would again press on the attention of the Committee that if there were to be no contest at all, by this Schedule they would allow each candidate to spend quite as much as if there was a contest. It seemed to him that, under such circumstances, any amount of corrupt practices would be committed.
§ MR. WARTON
remarked, that he did not wish to say a word about the amount of the expenditure, but wished to point out that what had appeared to be a concession a short time ago—the substitution of £200 for £100—was really no concession at all. They had, in Part I., a certain number of persons to be employed, in Part II. certain legal expenses, and in Part III. provision for miscellaneous matters. All these expenses would have to be incurred, and there would be nothing for suddenly arising emergencies under the 3rd Part of the Schedule. The object of the 3rd Part was to make provision for any unforeseen contingency, and to permit any extra expense which might be found to be necessary. He wished to press on the hon. and learned Gentleman that, a priori, before they went into the matter of the amount of the maximum they ought to consider whether Part III. ought to be included 1444 or not. If there was £350 allowed for a borough election, and if, owing to some informality, or some unforeseen emergency, £200 of this had to be expended under Part III., it would leave only £150 for all the expenses under Parts I. and II. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman, before the Report, consider this important point? He would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to strike out Part III. altogether—it could be easily done if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Raikes) would withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General would see that considerable change had been introduced into this question by the statement he had just made. With regard to boroughs, the hon. and learned Gentleman said he had not only considered the matter very carefully himself in the light of considerable experience, but had referred it to those on whose opinion he most relied, and they had reported in favour of the scale in the Bill. But now a considerable change had been introduced, for the hon. and learned Gentleman told them that where two candidates stood jointly a quarter of the expense was to be taken off. He must say that gave Members on the Opposition side of the House a right to ask for some little time to consider whether or not the original scale ought not to be altered. The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman now before the Committee was not only to increase the scale, but, in one particular case, it was to reduce the amount in the case of a small constituency. Where there were more than 1,000 electors he proposed to increase it. He (Mr. E. Stanhope) did not say the scale of his right hon. Friend was a perfect one; but he maintained that they had a perfect right, after the change which had been introduced, to take time to consider whether or not the original scale ought not to be altered. That being so, he did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would desire to divide on the Amendment. He rather hoped he would do so to express his sense of the position in which the Committee was placed by the change which had taken place. But if he did not do so—or even if he did do so—he (Mr. E. Stanhope) claimed a right for hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House to consider the matter carefully, 1445 and have brought up before them on Report any proposal which might be thought necessary for dealing with the question.
§ MR. RAIKES
said, he was sorry he could not accede to the request made to him by the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton). He did not think it would serve a good purpose to withdraw the Amendment, in order to give an opportunity for re-opening the question on Part III. He regretted he should not have the support of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) on this occasion, and he regretted still more that he did not share the hon. Member's experience as to the economy with which an election could be conducted. No doubt, some hon. Members were more fortunate than others in the constituencies they had the honour to represent; and he did not think the experience of the hon. Member for Guildford was that which was general throughout the country. As to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson), he (Mr. Raikes) certainly should be one of the last persons to keep up the enormous and, he thought, extremely cruel charges for advertising. If this Bill had the effect of knocking on the head the system of enormous advertising, that, at all events, would be one good result derived from it. He hoped he had not given anyone to understand that he desired to keep up these charges. It had been pointed out that the effect of his Amendment would be to reduce the scale in very small boroughs. Well, he proposed to draw the line at 1,000 constituents, and to reduce the amount which might be actually expended within the limits of such a borough. His proposal seemed to him to be more comprehensive and elastic than that of the Government. He did not wish to trouble the Committee by recapitulating the particulars and instances he had referred to when he brought forward his Amendment; and he would only say that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had offered no arguments or facts in opposition to them. The sole fact the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to rely upon was that his scale would have the effect of causing the borough elections in the country for the future to cost one-third the amount they cost at the last General Election. That, he thought, was a result devoutly to be 1446 wished. With regard to candidates, he would merely say that it appeared to him it would have been more simple and more fair in the case of a single candidate standing against two candidates to have allowed him to spend as much as his opponents. Whether the amount each candidate who stood jointly might pay was 75 per cent. or any other proportion of the amount he would pay if he were alone, if a candidate opposed two gentlemen together singly, he should be allowed to spend as much as though he stood with another person. He wished to draw the attention of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General to the fact that there was nothing in the Schedule to deal with the City of London, where there were four Members. [An hon. MEMBER: Oh! Yes.] No; the hon. and learned Attorney General had made provision for three candidates, but not for four. He thought it was the right hon. Baronet the President of the Local Government Board who said there were cases where four candidates could have joined in the City of London.
§ MR. RAIKES
said, it might not be long before they saw four candidates standing in the same interest—in Birmingham, Glasgow, or the City of London, for instance. He would ask the Committee to divide on his Amendment, as he thought it desirable to make a protest against the scale of expenditure it was proposed to put in the Bill, which, if adopted, would only lead to an enormous aggravation of the evil of false accounts, which he believed to have been the most corrupt practice during the last General Election.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, they ought to come to some understanding upon this matter. The Attorney General must remember that this Bill had been sent down to every constituency in England, and every constituency, both county and borough, had argued the same way, and had read the Bill in the same light. The constituencies had understood that Schedule to prescribe the amount that each candidate might spend in his election. Now, if the Attorney General would consent to raise the sum of £30 to £40—["No, no!"] He heard hon. Gentlemen say "No, no!" but the 1447 Committee wanted to come to the end of the Bill; and he was afraid that unless they could arrive at some satisfactory arrangement on this matter, the debate might be prolonged for some nights. He (Sir R. Assheton Cross) had understood that if a candidate in a county were allowed to spend £1,000, two candidates would be allowed to spend £2,000. He had no desire to exceed the Attorney General's maximum of £2,000 in the case of a joint candidature; but what he did want was where there was a single candidate standing, he should be able to spend more than £1,000 if necessary. He had put upon the Paper a new clause, which, however, he meant to withdraw. Its object was that in boroughs two candidates standing together ought to be able to spend one-fourth less than they would if standing separately. What he now proposed was that, in the case of boroughs, they should alter the allowance of £30 for every 1,000 electors to £40; and he asked hon. Gentlemen to look at the practical result of the Schedule. If a candidate stood singly, he would be able to spend £1,000; but, in conjunction with another candidate, he would only be able to spend £1,500. [Mr. JESSE COLLINGS: No.] The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) dissented from that view; but he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) would ask the hon. Gentleman whether he himself did not believe that when this Bill went down to the country, everyone thought that the £350 put down in the Schedule to be spent in a constituency where there were less than 2,000 electors was the sum which each candidate might spend? There was not the slightest doubt that the Schedule had been understood in this way. The suggestion he now made he made in good humour, and apart from any desire to allow the expenditure of one farthing more than the maximum. If they took off one-fourth in the case of a joint candidature, and substituted £40 for £30, they would find a candidate was not allowed to spend one single farthing more than anyone thought he would be able to spend. Such was the principle he wanted to carry out, and he was persuaded the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General could not find any fault with it. If they were to have joint candidatures, they must be on the same ground in counties as in boroughs; other- 1448 wise they must stick to the Bill as originally drawn.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) had now departed from the course he had taken up throughout all this debate. He (the Attorney General) had given way to the right hon. Gentleman in almost every particular, and yet they were now told by him that they would have to continue the discussion for many nights more, unless he yielded on this point too. Now, he (the Attorney General) must ask the Committee—for he had to appeal still to their indulgence—to consider the position in which they were placed. Respecting the maximum allowed under the Bill, it had been pointed out by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis) that joint candidates would have a great advantage over a single candidate, and he (the Attorney General) at the time stated he would endeavour to meet the case. How had he endeavoured to meet it? There was now an Amendment on the Paper in these words—In the case of two candidates standing jointly, the expenditure authorized as a maximum expenditure allowable under this Schedule shall, for both candidates together, be only one-half greater than the amount stated as allowable to a candidate standing singly.Now, that was precisely his suggestion; yet that Amendment stood on the Paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross). That was applicable to counties and to boroughs, and he had accepted the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman in its very terms, and yet the right hon. Gentleman now came down to the House and said that if the Government persisted in taking such a course they would be required to spend many more nights in the discussion of the subject. He (the Attorney General) had raised the rate with regard to counties, because the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Assheton Cross) wished it; but he did not hesitate to say that in a Division, five out of every six borough Members would vote in favour of the rate of maximum for boroughs now proposed. Why did the right hon. Gentleman ask him to alter the rate for counties? Because he had altered it in regard to 1449 counties which required the alteration? No; he simply asked him to add an unnecessary Amendment, and an Amendment which was not required or wanted in respect to every single candidature, because they were going to take off elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman had distinctly said that, irrespective of the assumption whether £350 was a right sum to allow or not, they ought to increase it because in the case of double candidatures they decreased the expenditure allowed. There was certainly some rule of conduct in Parliamentary life, and he could not purchase immunity for the present protraction of the debate by any further concession to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Assheton Cross).
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, he was sorry the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, who really had borne a great many of their criticisms and comments with such good temper, should now, when they were approaching the end of their labours, introduce anything like heat into the discussion. There was really no occasion for it at all. Indeed, the hon. and learned Gentleman had misapprehended the point he had endeavoured to state. Without the smallest degree of heat, he (Mr. E. Stanhope) would put the Committee in possession of the difficulty which suggested itself to his (Mr. E. Stanhope's) and his hon. Friend's minds. A surprise had been sprung on the borough Members. Every borough Member, almost without exception, sitting on the Conservative side of the House, accepted a certain scale of expenditure imposed in the Bill. They had come down to the House to-night to be told that an Amendment was going to be proposed on Report, to the effect that in cases of joint candidature the expenditure was to be decreased by one-fourth. He was not surprised, under such circumstances, that many borough Members looked at this matter from a very different point of view, and insisted that the original scale should be revived.
§ MR. GRANTHAM
said, they must remember that some hon. Gentlemen had lived in the constituencies which they represented for a considerable portion of their lives. That was so in the case of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow), and the consequence was that he was so much re- 1450 spected in the town that it was not necessary for him to spend any great amount of money on his candidature. Parliament, however, could not legislate for one class of people alone. In many constituencies a man was put up who was a total stranger, and, therefore, he had not the same advantages as a local candidate would have. All along they had been discussing this Bill upon the assumption that they would be entitled to spend, if there were two candidates standing together, twice the amount prescribed by the Bill. It was, therefore, very hard that now, at the last moment, they should be told that, in the case of a joint candidature, they would be allowed to spend one-fourth less than two candidates acting singly would be permitted to spend. Personally, he considered that the same measure of justice should be meted out to boroughs as to counties. He was prepared to accept willingly and with satisfaction the concession which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General made respecting counties, but he could not think that boroughs had been treated as fairly as counties.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, that, as the Representative of a somewhat large borough, he should vote with his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes) if he went to a Division. It so happened that those Members who had expressed approval of this scale represented comparatively small boroughs. He, however, considered that £30 for every additional 1,000 electors was a very small addition upon the initial sum. The additional amount suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) would probably be necessary for the proper management of a borough election.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, the alteration, which they understood from the Attorney General was to be made in the Bill with reference to the Schedule, was most important. He (Lord George Hamilton) did not now speak in the interest of county Members, because he thought the concession which the Attorney General had made, so far as counties were concerned, was a a very important one. He had had the advantage of hearing the earlier part of the discussion of this Amendment, and he had taken the trouble to work out 1451 the result of his right hon. Friend's Amendment with reference to counties, and he hoped the Committee would bear in mind the facts he would now lay before them. The suggestion of his right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Lancashire increased the expenditure both of single as well as of double candidatures in counties—it considerably raised the amount which any candidate, standing alone, could spend, and it slightly increased the amount which two candidates, standing together, could spend. The Attorney General had adopted a certain portion of the Amendment of his right hon. Friend in regard to counties; but he had diminished the amount which could be spent by two candidates standing together in a borough. In point of fact, the Government had raised the expenditure in counties above the amount they had first considered necessary; but they had reduced the expenditure which, in their Schedule, they had considered necessary in boroughs. He on treated the Attorney General to consider whether he could not treat boroughs somewhat in the same way in which his right hon. Friend (Sir R. Assheton Cross) proposed to treat counties. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL: No.] No! Why not? [Hon. MEMBERS: We do not want it.] Why not? He was not so sure on that point. Certainly, there were many Members who, representing very large towns, were afraid that if the expenditure of a joint candidature were lessened by one-fourth, it would not be possible to conduct their election properly without exceeding the scale laid down in the Schedule. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL: Oh, oh!] The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General exclaimed "Oh, oh!" but the hon. and learned Gentleman only represented a small borough. Those who represented large boroughs—and there were a good many sitting on the Opposition side of the House—were of opinion that if the Government cut off one-fourth of the expenditure which, in the Bill as originally drawn, they were allowed to incur, they would not have sufficient means of conducting their election. He (Lord George Hamilton) should, therefore, support the Amendment of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes). Whether they were successful or not in carrying the Amendment, he earnestly hoped that the At- 1452 torney General would listen to the appeal now made to him. The hon. and learned Gentleman had, as had been frequently admitted, shown singular tact and good temper in meeting the various criticisms which naturally must be showered on anyone who had the management of a Bill which peculiarly affected every individual Member of the House, and all they now asked was that he would exercise a little more of his ingenuity and ability in order to apply the same system to borough as well as to county Members. If the hon. and learned Gentleman could do this, he (Lord George Hamilton) was perfectly certain he would find that any appeal to the Opposition would meet with a most favourable reception.
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
said, he considered that, as a Representative of a very large borough constituency, he was entitled to make a few observations upon this matter. The main principle which had guided the Government all through this Bill was that expenditure at elections should, as far as possible, be diminished. He could not, however, conceive how it could be considered that this object would be attained by the proposed alteration, because if they diminished the expenditure of two candidates standing jointly, they must inevitably produce the result that two candidates standing on the same side would stand separately with a view of preventing their expenditure being decreased. He certainly could not understand the logic of the proposed alteration; and objecting, as he did, to candidates being left to the discretion of the Judge in this matter, he should oppose the amended clause.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, the appeal he had made to the Attorney General was very simple. He would undertake to say there was not a single constituency from one end of England to the other that did not believe, until half-an-hour ago, that each candidate, whether standing jointly or separately, might spend the maximum allowed by the Schedule. ["Divide, divide!"] He supposed he might be allowed to express his views upon this matter; but if hon. Members would not listen to an appeal, or to any argument at all, of course he would have no other course open to him but to move to report Progress at once. He re-asserted that there 1453 was not a single Member, or a single borough constituency in England, Wales, and Scotland, that did not believe, when the Bill was sent down to them, that each candidate in a constituency, in which there were not more than 2,000 electors, might spend £350, if he liked. And all the recommendations that had come up to Members had been on the supposition that if two candidates stood together they might spend £700. Now they were told, for the first time, that in regard to boroughs the Schedule was to have a different meaning from what it had in respect to counties. He thought the Attorney General had met the case of counties very fairly, but that he had not acted with equal justice in the case of boroughs. In the case of boroughs, the Schedule allowed that for every additional 1,000 electors, a candidate might incur an additional expenditure of £30. Now, if the Attorney General would change that £30 into £40, the result would be that if two candidates stood together they would only spend the precise amount every elector in every constituency of the country had believed they would be allowed to spend. He (Sir R. Assheton Cross) did not wish to increase the expenditure by one farthing; but he did not think it fair that, at the last moment, this proposition should be started upon the Committee.
§ MR. INCE
said, the Government had in this Bill specified the sums which they thought fit and proper to be expended in elections. It was manifest that if £350 was a sufficient and proper sum to be expended when there was only one candidate in the field, twice the amount ought not to be permitted when two candidates were standing together. Only the same printing would be required for two candidates acting jointly as for one standing singly. Only the same number of committee rooms would be required; and, indeed, hon. Members who had had a larger experience than he had must know that the cost of a joint candidature would very slightly exceed that of a single candidature. He was inclined to think that if the Attorney General had made an error at all, it had been in not making a larger reduction in the case of a joint candidature.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, they had understood up to this that the proposition with regard to maximum expen- 1454 diture was final. He had been puzzled to know how, under the Schedule, he could conduct his election; but now he found that even the very moderate amount allowed by the Schedule was to be decreased. Personally, he did not fear the result if a Dissolution were announced next week, because he would simply have to go to his constituents, and, in order to secure his return, announce his determination to oppose Her Majesty's Government. Let them take, however, the case of an ordinary election, where there was a good deal to be said on each side. In such a case, he was particularly desirous of knowing how it was possible, in view of the great expenditure which had to be incurred in committee rooms in the City of London, and "Westminster, and other parts of the Metropolis, and in view of the great expense of advertising in the daily papers, to conduct an election even on the original terms proposed? He hoped his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes) would go to a Division, because it was their duty to protest most strongly against this alteration being sprung on the Committee.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FARRER HERSCHELL)
said, he must deny that this proposal had been sprung on the Committee, and to support his views he need only remind the Committee of what really had occurred. When this matter came before the House on the second reading of the Bill, it was pointed out that the amounts fixed in the Schedule were for single candidatures, and it was said that, if that were so, they were allowing too much in the case of a joint candidature. That was really pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) and by several other hon. Members. No complaints were made that the maximum was too little for a single candidature; but complaints certainly were made that it was too large in the case of two candidates standing together. He (the Solicitor General) could not understand the position taken up by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Whitley). Did the hon. Gentleman mean to say he was perfectly content the maximum should be a great deal too low in the case of a single candidature, but that he was not content 1455 it should be proportionately increased if two or three candidates stood together at a General Election? The hon. Member moved no Amendment to the Schedule, and had given no Notice of any Amendment. As a matter of fact, the two last elections at Liverpool had been single elections, so that it was evident the hon. Gentleman was quite content that in the case of single elections the maximum should be fixed at an amount at which, in his opinion, it was impossible to fight an election. Surely that was a logical conclusion to draw from the remarks of the hon. Gentleman. It must be remembered that this Schedule applied to a vast number of cases where there could not be joint candidatures; indeed, one-half of the constituencies in England only returned one Member. In the case of those boroughs, no objection had been raised that the maximum was too small, and no one had proposed to raise it. It had, however, been said that it was a blot upon the Bill that too much was allowed for two candidates who were fighting together, in comparison with what was allowed for a single candidate. The Government had said they would try to remedy that state of things, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) had put an Amendment on the Paper with the view of meeting that blot, and to provide that in the case of boroughs, and counties as well, where there was a joint candidature, there should be a reduction in the expenditure, in order to put things on a proper basis. The right hon. Gentleman, it was true, moved some increase on the county expenditure, but did not move that increase in respect of boroughs. It, therefore, could not be said that the Government had taken the Committtee by surprise, because, as a matter of fact, they had only, in this matter, endeavoured to meet objections raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Assheton Cross) himself would admit that the clause he had put down on the Paper needed a great deal of qualification. They could not incorporate it in the Bill as it appeared on the Paper, and, therefore, they must bring up a new clause. They were prepared to accept what was suggested by the other side, and proposed to carry it out by a new clause on Report. What 1456 he submitted to hon. Gentlemen now was that, inasmuch as this matter could not be finally dealt with until the Report, they should now be allowed to proceed with the Bill. It was unfortunate that, in his anxiety to meet the views of hon. Members opposite, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General should have told them beforehand which of the Amendments he would accept. If he had not done that, probably by this time the Committee would have got through the Bill. What had happened would certainly be a lesson to the Government in the future.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he protested against the statement just made by the hon. and learned Solicitor General, that no one on the Opposition side of the House had objected to the scale for boroughs. He (Mr. Warton) distinctly objected to this clause when he moved the rejection of the Second Reading of the Bill. On that occasion he pointed out that, under this ridiculously low scale, there was not even enough to pay an agent. He had stated, on a previous occasion, that the maximum of expenses was absurdly low, and, therefore, it was not the case that no such objection was made. As the matter stood, it seemed to him to have been very carefully contrived for the purpose of catching Conservative candidates, because it had this effect, that if a joint address were issued, or a joint committee room engaged, or anything whatever done conjointly, they became at once joint candidates; and they knew perfectly well that in counties nearly all the candidates would be joint candidates. There were many boroughs which had only a single Representative; but in all the counties, with the exception of a very few which were triangular, there was a double election. It was, therefore, quite clear what was the object of the Government; it was to catch the Conservative candidates.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, Schedule 1, page 44, line 26, leave out "2,000 .. £350," and insert "1,000 . . £300," "2,000 . . £500."—(Mr. Raikes.)
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 128; Noes 67: Majority 61.—(Div. List, No. 202.)
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that as the hon. Member for Londonderry 1457 was not now in his place, he rose to move the Amendment standing in that hon. Gentleman's name. Nobody wished to prolong this Committee beyond to-night; but he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) was bound to say that the constituencies would be very much shocked if they found that they were to be cut off suddenly, quite against their expectations, by the provision in the Schedule which he confessed he had never thought would cut them off. He thought that both sides were quite agreed about the counties—there was no difficulty about them at all—because they had all come to the conclusion that by increasing the initial sum and cutting off one-fourth they would arrive at the same result as was contained in the Schedule. However, the Attorney General had promised to deal with that afterwards; but in the case of the boroughs it was different. No doubt, the Government would be able to find out the whole state of the case before the Report; and he suggested that the whole thing had better stand over until the Report in order that they might then deal with it completely. He made this suggestion in the interests of the Bill; and he understood, from the speech of the Solicitor General, that the Government would not be unwilling to consider the whole question. He quite admitted that these were matters which could not be decided straight off; for, with regard to boroughs, they would have to provide for the case of single-Member constituencies, which would not be met by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Londonderry. As a matter of form he would move the Amendment which stood in the name of the hon. Member for Londonderry.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 44, Part IV., leave outlines 26 to 29, and insert—
|"If the number of electors on the register||The maximum amount shall be|
|Does not exceed||500||£200|
|Does not exceed||1,000||£350|
|Does not exceed||1,500||£400|
|Does not exceed||2,000||£500, and an additional £40 for every 1,000 electors above 2,000|
§ Provided that such maximum shall in no ease exceed £2,000."—(Sir R. Assheton Cross.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."1458
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, he was quite willing to accept the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and leave the whole matter to be considered on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. GRANTHAM
said, he hoped his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General intended to keep to the arrangement proposed.
MR. WARTON moved the insertion, in page 44, line 29, of these words—
The person returned as election agent shall be paid for his services by salary in addition to the maximum expenses.
He said he regarded this proposal as one of considerable importance, because where the maximum was fixed at so low a sum it would be impossible to engage respectable agents if their emoluments were to be included in the maximum. A great deal had been said about voluntary efforts, and no doubt it might be found in many constituencies that men would come forward and work for nothing; but they ought not to expect that as a principle. The labourer was worthy of his hire, and if they wanted to have a respectable labourer they must pay him a decent wage. Such men expected to be engaged, and they expected to be well paid when they were engaged. They were worth being well paid, for they worked well, and they ought to be amply remunnerated. In a borough where £350 was the maximum, there was not enough to pay a respectable solicitor for becoming an agent, A respectable solicitor ought to be properly paid, and a large part of the £350 was not too much to give him. He hoped the Attorney General would give his serious attention to this proposal. It was a most important point, because if respectable agents were not appointed it would be impossible to conduct the elections properly, and all sorts of illegal and corrupt practices would creep in. Such men as were to be found in the
ranks of the Legal Profession ought to be well paid.
In page 44, line 29, insert—"The person returned as election agent shall he paid for his services by salary in addition to the maximum expenses."—(Mr. Warton)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Question put, and negatived.
On the Motion of The ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir Henry James), Amendment made, in page 45, line 5, by leaving out "each part," and inserting "Parts II., III., and IV.; "in page 45, line 6, after "county," by inserting—
And in a district borough not divided into polling districts, each contributory place shall be deemed, for the purposes of the said parts of this Schedule, to be a polling district.
§ Schedule, as amended, agreed, to.