§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the attention of the Local Government Board for Ireland has been called to the decisions given by the Returning Officer of the Manorhamilton Union at two of the recent Poor Law elections in that Union; whether he is aware that the Returning Officer recorded votes in favour of the Nationalist 1241 candidates on informal statements of claim; whether he is aware that the Returning Officer omitted to issue voting papers to voters entitled to same, and, in the absence of the police, employed an inexperienced person to distribute and collect voting papers in the town of Manorhamilton, in consequence whereof voting papers were in some cases mislaid; and that the Returning Officer permitted certain persons interested in the elections to have access to the proxy papers, statements of claim, and other documents of a private nature lodged by various persons, without their first having obtained permission of the Board of Guardians in the usual way; and whether the Irish Local Government Board will, under the circumstances, declare the said elections void, and will, in the event of new elections being held, appoint an experienced Returning Officer?
§ MR. SEXTON
In connection with this question, before the right hon. Gentleman answers, I would ask him is it a fact that, after the elections were over, one of the defeated Conservative candidates moved, and his solicitor seconded, a vote of thanks to the Returning Officer for his conduct in this election, commending him in particular for his ability and impartiality in conducting the election?
§ MR. JACKSON
The hon. Member will see that it is quite impossible for me to answer that question. As regards the question on the Paper, the Local Government Board have received communications containing the objections to the return of Guardians for the Manorhamilton Union. The Returning Officer states that he did not act in the manner indicated in the second paragraph of the question; that he omitted to issue voting papers in four cases, but the persons subsequently claimed them, and duly voted. The services of the police not being available the Returning Officer was employed in accordance with the general instructions laid down in such cases. No voting paper was mislaid, nor did he permit persons interested to act as alleged. The objections made to the Local Government Board are still under consideration.