HC Deb 21 February 1887 vol 311 cc156-7
MR. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention had been called to the case of Henry Holder, Conservative Registration Agent at Stafford, who was tried at the Stafford Autumn Assizes, when it was proved and admitted that he had deliberately signed a declaration that a lodger claim was correct, and that he had witnessed the claimant's signature, the claim being actually false, and having been signed in Mr. Holder's own office, and in his presence, by a third party, in the absence of the claimant, the proceeding being a violation of section 25 of "The Parliamentary Registration Act, 1878;" whether the learned Judge who tried the case directed an acquittal, on the ground that it was not sufficient to prove that the defendant had made a statutory declaration which was false in fact unless it was proved that the declaration was "falsely and fraudulently made;" whether a similar ruling was given in another case tried on 13th November last at the Yorkshire Assizes by Mr. Justice Hawkins; and, whether, having regard to the fact that these rulings render it now impossible to procure a conviction for offences under the lodgers' clauses of the Act of 1878, he will propose such an amendment of the Law as shall put an effectual stop to the practices which the Act of 1878 prohibits, and which those prosecutions were intended to punish?


My attention has not been called to the prosecutions referred to by the hon. Member, and I have had no opportunity of seeing any reports of the cases, or of ascertaining what directions were given by the learned Judge referred to, or upon what evidence those directions were based. The words of the statute appear to me to have been very carefully framed, and I do not at present see that any amendment is required.