HC Deb 27 May 1884 vol 288 cc1466-7

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the Local Government Board in Ireland intends to hold an inquiry into the grave charges of misconduct brought against Mr. Joseph Bell, Returning Officer of the Newry Union, in relation to the late election of guardians for the Newry Division; whether such inquiry has been requested by the three outgoing guardians of the Newry Division, and by twelve other guardians of the union; and, whether the returning officer has made any application to have an opportunity of answering at an inquiry the charges publicly brought against him?


I understand that charges were made against the Returning Officer of improperly rejecting and accepting votes, and as to other matters connected with the conduct of the election. His explanations have been forwarded by the Local Government Board to the hon. Member. It does not appear that the return of Guardians would be affected by the votes claimed or objected to; and the complaints as to the Returning Officer's general course of action at the election do not at present appear to the Local Government Board to be sufficiently explicit or serious to render an investigation on oath necessary. However, the Board are quite willing, if cause is shown, to follow the matter up further; and if the hon. Member, or the gentlemen with whom he is acting, will name to the Board any further votes which they claim, or think should have been rejected, with the specific grounds in each case for the appeal against the Returning Officer's ruling, and will formulate distinct charges against the Returning Officer respecting his conduct in regard to matters which they think have not been satisfactorily explained, the Board will give the application for a sworn inquiry further consideration.