§ MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to alleged irregularities and frauds in connection with the last election of the Birkdale Local Board; whether, in one instance, the voting paper of a Mr. Taylor was filled up and signed after he had left the town, and that he has since declared the signature to be a forgery; whether, in other cases, the names of persons who had sold their property or were dead were retained on the owners' register, in spite of such person having been objected to; and whether the voting papers for such persons were filled up and returned, and in some instances the votes counted, in spite of the written protest of a ratepayer, Mr. Alfred Smith, of 95, Eastbourne Road, and notwithstanding new claims having been allowed (in some instances) for the rightful owners of the same property; and whether the Local Government Board can take any action in the matter, or can communicate with the Local Board, with a view to an inquiry being held; and, if not, who is the proper 676 person to appeal to in the matter in the event of the Local Board refusing to examine into the matter.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE,) Tower Hamlets, St. George's
I have communicated with the Clerk to the Local Board, and am informed that Mr. Taylor has written stating that no voting paper was signed by him, although a voting paper had been filled up in his name. I am also informed that Mr. Alfred Smith made a protest against the votes of certain owners of property being recorded on the ground that the names should have been removed from the owners' register. The protest applied to 11 persons, of whom four only voted. Whether the names of those who voted were properly retained on the register after revision is a question upon which I can, of course, express no opinion. The Local Government Board have no authority whatever under which they can interfere in connection with the election of the members of a Local Board. As regards the alleged forgery of a voting paper, this is a penal offence, for which a person is liable to fine or imprisonment. If it is alleged that there are other irregularities affecting the validity of the election, the means of determining the question are provided by the Municipal Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Act, which provides, in the case of a Petition, for an inquiry by an Election Commissioner.