§ MR. BAGGALLAY (Lambeth, Brixton)
asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether he is aware that, by the byelaws of the vestry of St. Pancras (Part III. Rule 7), one of the duties of the vestry clerk and clerk to the directors of the poor to prepare the lists of voters and to attend at the revision of such lists, and that the vestry clerk received the sum of £10 10s. for doing one or both of such duties in 1885; whether it is any part of the duty of the overseers or their clerk to collect information as to lodgers' claims at the expense of the ratepayers; is he aware that Mr. George Harrison, chief clerk of the vestry, represented Mr. Gibb, the vestry clerk, at the revising barrister's court in 1885, and shortly afterwards issued the following Circular to the officers of the vestry—
§ "Dear Sir,—A meeting of the officers of the vestry and guardians will be held in the Board Rooms on Monday next at 5.30 p.m. to consider the steps to be taken to assist Mr. Gibb in his Parliamentary candidature. Your attendance is particularly requested.
§ "Yours faithfully,
§ "Alfred A. Millward,
§ "George Harrison;"
§ and, will he take steps to provide, by legislation or otherwise, that, in future, no official, whose duty it may be to prepare the lists of voters, take active part either as a candidate or active political partisan in any Parliamentary election within the district in which he is employed?
§ THE PRESIDENT (Mr. STANSFELD) (Halifax)
It appears that such a bye-law as that referred to in the first part of the Question was made more than 30 years ago; but I am informed that it is now, practically, obsolete. A sum of 10 guineas was paid to the Vestry Clerk as an acknowledgment of the assistance given to the Revising Barrister at the 8 evening sittings, the cost of the preparation of the list of voters being about £900. I understand that it is not the duty of the overseers of the parish to obtain information as to lodgers' claims at the expense of the rates, and that no expense was incurred by them under this head. Mr. Harrison did represent the Vestry Clerk at the Revising Barrister's Court in 1885, and the letter referred to in the Question was circulated among the officers of the Guardians and Vestry. As regards the concluding inquiry, which is of a general character, I can only say that if an officer who has duties in connection with the preparation of the list of voters is to be precluded from becoming a candidate in a Parliamentary election within the district in which he is employed, it can only be done by express legislation, and that this is a matter which may have to be considered in connection with any Registration Bill which may be introduced by the Government.
§ MR. BAGGALLAY
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to suggest that the question should be dealt with in such a Bill?
§ MR. STANSFELD
I am not prepared to make any suggestion; but I can promise the matter will have attention.