HC Deb 09 July 1888 vol 328 cc736-7
SIR JOHN DORINGTON (Gloucester, Tewkesbury)

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether his attention has been drawn to the danger which owners of property, who are also occupiers, run of being excluded entirely from the Register of County Electors owing to the ambiguity of the supplemental precept and to the form of the heading of the occupiers' list issued to overseers, which latter directs that the occupiers' list, Shall not contain the names of any Parliamentary voters except those entitled in respect of a household or £10 occupation qualification, or of a £50 rental qualification, reserved by section 10 of the 'The Representation of the People Act, 1884,' whereas such persons, being also owners and appearing in the owners' list, have hitherto been excluded from appearing and being registered in the occupiers' list; and, whether he will direct some additional instructions to be issued to overseers, directing them to include such owners in the occupiers' list?

THE PRESIDENT (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)

The Local Government Board have received one letter, and one letter only, on the subject referred to in the Question; and it does not appear to them that there is any ambiguity, either in the supplemental precept or in the form of the heading of the occupiers' list, which would lead to the omission from the Register of County Electors of owners of property who are also occupiers. It is clear that persons who are duly qualified occupiers ought to be entered in the occupiers' list, although they may happen also to have an ownership qualification. If the overseers have hitherto excluded them, as suggested in the Question, they have exceeded their powers in so doing. It is the duty of the Revising Barrister, and not of the overseers, to deal with cases in which persons appear both in the occupiers' and owners' lists; and the County Electors Act has made provision for enabling the names of such persons to be retained in the occupiers' list for the purpose of voting at elections of County Councillors. If the hon. Baronet is aware of any cases in which the overseers are not fulfilling their duty in this respect it would probably be desirable for him to draw the attention of the Clerk of the Peace to the matter; and if there is any reason to suppose that the practice to which he refers is at all general in the county, the Clerk of the Peace will, no doubt, communicate with the overseers on the subject. The law casts on the Clerk of the Peace, not the Local Government Board, the duty of giving such instructions to the overseers as may be necessary.