HC Deb 24 February 1896 vol 37 cc912-3

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the heavy cost involved in the election for a Member to serve on a Board of Guardians at a bye-election? If he is aware that at one of these elections a few days ago, at Sunderland, the local authorities had to provide polling booths for every 500 voters in a total of 7,500, and that only 900 electors voted, at a cost to the ratepayers of £102? And, whether he will bring in a Bill to amend the Law for the purpose of avoiding the great expenditure of public funds under the existing system?


I have made enquiry as to the heavy expense of the election of Guardians in the case referred to, the expense being as stated, £102. The total number of persons entitled to vote was, it appears, 7,650. The regulations as to these elections do not prescribe the number of polling stations which should be provided, but fix as a maximum one polling station for each 500 parochial electors. I am informed that in this case it was considered necessary that 14 polling stations should be provided, as it was impossible to estimate beforehand what number of voters would poll. It devolved on the Council of the borough to prescribe the scale of expenses, and the charges in respect of the election in question were in accordance with that scale. I am not prepared to propose an alteration of the law, which would take out of the hands of County Councils and Councils of County Boroughs the power which is now vested in them under the Local Government Act, 1894, of prescribing the scale of expenses in elections under that Act.