§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is an indictable offence for a Sheriff to exact anything beyond the statutory fees for the execution of his duty as Sheriff; whether any statutory fee is payable in connection with the appointment of Returning Officer in any division of a shire; whether it has been brought to his notice that Mr. Rose Innes, Under Sheriff of Middlesex, has by letter and verbal message to Mr. William Miller, now Returning Officer for the Chelsea Division of Middlesex, demanded from that gentleman the sum of two guineas in connection with his appointment as Returning Officer; whether a Sheriff holds his office on condition of "good behaviour;" and, whether it is the duty of the Home Secretary to decide as to the behaviour of a Sheriff in case of complaint; and, if so, whether he will take steps to put a stop to such demands as have been made on Mr. Miller by the Sheriff of Middlesex?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
The Question in the first paragraph raises a point of law which I could not undertake to solve in answer to a Question. As far as I am aware, the answer to the second paragraph is in the negative. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury has already stated to the House the circumstances under which the fee of two guineas was demanded of Mr. Miller. The warrant of appointment of Sheriffs named by the Queen is during Her Majesty's pleasure, and there is a statutory provision that the nomination is only for one year. The Sheriffs of Middlesex are appointed by the Liverymen of the City Companies. The law does not impose on the Home Secretary the duty of deciding as to a Sheriff's behaviour. In this particular case I have received a letter from the Under Sheriffs stating that they have of their own accord sent back to each of the Returning Officers the amount of the fee, which had been already paid by them. A demand such as that made on Mr. Miller is not likely to be repeated.