HC Deb 18 April 1905 vol 145 cc454-5
MR. LYELL (Dorsetshire, E.)

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General whether his attention has been directed to a free entertainment given on February 24th last, in the Jubilee Hall, Weymouth, by Mr. T. J. Templeman, the Mayor of Weymouth, President of the South Branch of the Melcombe Regis Conservative Association, and Trustee of the Weymouth Conservative Club, at which entertainment political speeches were delivered by the Mayor, the Member of Parliament for South Dorset, and his election agent, and at which persons, other than Conservatives, were present; and to the fact that previous to the commencement of the entertainment tickets were distributed to those present which entitled the bearer to receive four pennyworth of refreshments during the evening at any licensed house in Weymouth, each ticket being signed by T. J. Templeman, with a note to the effect that it would be honoured if presented at his offices in Mitchell Street by February 27th, 1905; and whether, in view of the provisions of the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Acts, he will instruct the Director of Public Prosecutions to institute proceedings.


The 45th Section of the Corrupt Practices Act makes it the duty of the Director of Public Prosecutions to take the appropriate proceedings where information is given to him that corrupt or illegal practices have prevailed in reference to any election. It does not appear that any election was pending in the constituency at the time of the entertainment referred to in the Question, and I do not think that it would be proper for the Director of Public Prosecutions to appear to anticipate by any action on his part the effect which it might have on any subsequent election. I may add that while anything in the nature of treating in view of a future election is highly to be deprecated, the question whether proceedings should be taken must depend on the circumstances of each particular case.


How long before an election takes place may it be described as pending?


An election is pending when it is going on. It may be imminent before it is pending.