§ MR. D. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—(1) whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the number of electors in North Galway exceeds by 325 the number of inhabited houses in the constituency according to the last census, while there are only 15 freeholders and leaseholders and rent-chargers on the register; (2) whether he will inquire as to the causes of the extraordinary increase of the electors from the poor law and county officials responsible for the production of the lists; (3) whether any Irish constituency exhibits a corresponding increase in its electorate; and (4) whether, seeing that the addition of nearly 3,000 names from 1891 to 1895 adds to the amount of the candidate's security to the sheriff at a Parliamentary election from £400 to £700, strict inquiry will be made as to what officials are responsible for this addition to the electoral strength of the constituency in a county in which the population has been steadily decreasing in recent years?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
It appears from a Parliamentary Return recently issued that the facts are as stated in the first paragraph. The persons responsible for the preparation of the Voters Lists are the Clerks of Unions and the Clerk of the Peace. The latter official cannot state to what the increase of electors in the constituency is due. The Clerk of one of the Unions comprised in the constituency states that, prior to 1891 there was no interest taken by the people to have their votes registered, and that they did not return the Requisition Form served upon them, but that, after the Election of 1892, a considerable number of claims were made, and in some instances there were two and three names returned from one house. But whatever may be the reasons for the increase in North Galway or elsewhere, I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that in the preparation of these Lists of Voters, or Parliamentary Registers, the Government exercises no jurisdiction and is in no way responsible, nor has the Local Government Board any jurisdiction over Clerks of Unions in the discharge of their duties under the Franchise Acts.