§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS) (Kent, St. Augustine's)
, moved that a new Writ be issued in the room of the late Major Ross the Member for Maidstone.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
said, he hoped what he had said would commend itself to the House. He thought a distinct injustice would be done if the election took place on the old register. There had been no less than 3,000 removals, so that, practically, there would be this number of now voters in January. It was so short a period that he did not think there could be any objection; more especially as the new Member could not be expected to take his seat in the Autumn Session. He thought the proper course would be to move the Adjournment of the Debate; but he preferred first to hear the answer of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I have listened with great attention and respect to the remarks of the hon. and learned Member. It may be perfectly true that there is a number of persons who will be qualified to vote in January who are not now qualified or entitled to vote; but, on the other hand, there are persons now qualified to vote who will be disqualified in January. The hon. and learned Member asked the Government to exercise their discretion in the matter. 1426 I think no worse thing could happen than that the Government should at any time exercise their discretion on a question of this kind. It is always a question of degree, for the hon. and learned Member who objects to the issue of the Writ on the 7th of December might object to it at the end of November or the end of October. The best plan is to adhere to the plain direction of the Statute, and to follow the usage and practice of Parliament when an event which we deplore happens. There is no doubt that if this unfortunate death had occurred in the Recess, the Speaker would have issued a Writ that would have brought about an election before the end of the year. Under all these circumstances, I trust the hon. and learned Member will refrain from calling on us to exercise a power which it would be most undesirable we should exercise in the public interests intrusted to us.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
asked, whether there was any precedent for issuing a new Writ before the late Member was buried?
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said, the interment of the late Member had already taken place. The ordinary course had been followed in regard to the proposed issue of the Writ. He had given the usual notice to the Opposition Whip, who had made no objection to the action he was taking.
§ Motion agreed to.