HC Deb 27 March 1885 vol 296 cc830-1

asked the Lord Advocate, Whether his attention has been called to the statements of The Cumnock News of March 20th, and The Cumnock Express of March 21st, to the effect that, at the New Cumnock School Board Election— The extent to which treating was carried was disgraceful," that "free tables laden with meat and strong drink were common and were largely patronised," and that "drunken men were to be seen in all directions; some staggering along, others lying by the roadside, while others were making election speeches, telling for whom they voted, and how much they received for it; and, whether, if these statements be well founded, and if it be competent under the existing law, he will take steps to bring to justice the guilty parties, or, if the law provides no remedy, whether he will consider the propriety of amending it?


I have seen the newspaper reports of the school board election at New Cumnock, which appears, if the reports are at all accurate, to have been accompanied by very discreditable scenes. The Corrupt Practices Act of 1883 does not apply to school board elections. By an Act passed last Session, it was made applicable in England to municipal and various other elections, including school board elections. When that Bill was before the Grand Committee, I prepared and put upon the Paper Amendments directed to apply its provisions to Scotland. Representations were, however, received from many quarters, and I think the general feeling of the Scotch Members on the Committee was that, instead of introducing such provisions into what was substantially an English Bill, it would be better to embody them in a measure for consolidating the whole law as to municipal elections in Scotland. Such a measure, which is much needed, is now in course of preparation. This matter will be dealt with in it.