§ MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
To ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether His Majesty's Government will obtain and issue as Command Papers, with the least possible delay, Reports from His Majesty's representatives at the several European courts as to the machinery and cost of contested elections to legislative assemblies at the present time in the several countries, and as to the proportion of the expenditure borne out of local or Imperial funds at the present time, similar to Reports on these subjects obtained in 1881 [Cd. 2987], 1882 [Cd. 3159], and 1893–4 [Cd. 6953], and Reports from the several Colonial Governments in the British Empire, giving the most recent facts as to the machinery and cost of elections, and how these costs are borne.
(Answered by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.) I quite appreciate the importance of obtaining the information which my hon. friend desires, and I have ascertained that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is willing to 1234 issue an instruction to His Majesty's diplomatic representatives calling for Reports upon the subject, and also that the Secretary of State for the Colonies will ask the governors to supply him with the particulars required. When these Returns are obtained, we shall have an accurate basis for estimating the relative cost of Parliamentary elections in this and other countries, together with a complete statement as to how these expenses are borne.