§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for the Holmfirth Division (Mr. H. J. Wilson), I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to an alleged illegal practice which took place at the polling station at Hathersage in connection with the recent Derbyshire County Council election, held on the 2nd of March; whether he is aware that Charles Eyre Bradshaw Bowles, of Abney, near Hathersage, who is registered as the owner of a certain freehold estate there, applied at the polling station at Hathersage, in contravention of the Ballot and Corrupt Practices Prevention Act, for a ballot paper in the name of Arthur Humphrey Bowles, who is registered and entitled to vote at such election in respect of his occupation of the said estate; that C. E. B. Bowles on the 2nd of March entered the polling station and applied for a ballot paper, and that the officer or clerk in charge of the ballot papers in the station read from the list of persons entitled to vote at such election the name of Arthur Humphrey Bowles, and also his description, 1922 to which question C. E. B. Bowles replied that he was the person therein mentioned; that the officer or clerk thereupon supplied C. E. B. Bowles with a ballot paper, which was afterwards spoilt and given up to the presiding officer; and whether C. E. B. Bowles applied for and obtained a second ballot paper, and afterwards placed the same in the ballot box in the usual way; and if he is satisfied that C. E. B. Bowles acted in the manner above mentioned he intends to take any and what steps in connection therewith?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question He has received from the Returning Officer of the Derbyshire County Council the following explanation of the circumstances referred to in the question. Mr. Charles Eyre Bradshaw Bowles, of Abney, is owner of a freehold estate there, and his name is upon the Parliamentary register, but by some oversight his name was omitted from the County Council register. During the polling hours he entered the polling station, and on being asked his name by the presiding officer he replied "Mr. Bowles." The officer appears then to have read the name of Mr. Arthur Humphrey Bowles. Mr. Bowles, who is stated to be rather deaf, made no reply, and the officer states that he thinks Mr. Bowles did not hear his brother's name read. A paper was then handed to Mr. Bowles, who appears accidentally to have spoiled it and to have applied for another, which he placed in the ballot-box. The matter was brought to the attention of the Returning Officer some days after the election, and he then made full inquiry into the matter. He further states that, as Mr. Bowles is well known in the neighbourhood, holding the position he does and knowing himself to be on the Parliamentary register, he naturally assumed his name was on the Council register, or it is not likely that he would have openly acted in the way he did. The Returning Officer, on consideration of the whole matter, did not think it his duty to take any 1923 proceedings which he did not think would be successful; and my right hon. Friend does not think it is necessary, after the time which has elapsed, to interfere with his decision.