§ As amended, further considered.
§ Proceedings resumed upon the clause (Cases in which electors may apply to a court for leave to select a constituency), read a second time upon the 26th November:—
§ "(1) Where a Court, within the meaning of this section, is satisfied on the application of any person made in accordance with rules of Court—
- "(a) that he has been prevented by illness or absence beyond the seas from giving a notice of selection on or before the day required by this Act; or
- "(b) that, since the day on or before which a notice of selection is required to be given under this Act, he has become aware that he is registered in more than one constituency; or
- "(c) that he has given a notice of selection in a constituency in which his name is not upon the lists of voters, or in which his name has been struck off the lists of voters on revision or on appeal; or
- "(d) that he has given a notice of selection in manner required by this Act, and that his name has not been marked on the register in accordance with that selection; or
- "(e) that he has given a notice of selection, but that through inadvertence or ignorance he has given the notice in respect of the wrong constituency or to the wrong clerk; or
- "(f) that having been registered in one constituency only at the commencement of the calendar year, he is about to be registered or has become registered before the end of the calendar year in more than one
1452 constituency owing to the inclusion of his name in a Scottish Parliamentary register which comes into force on the first of November in that year; or
- "(g) that having selected a constituency in Scotland he has ceased or will cease before the end of the calendar year to be on the register of the selected constituency;
§ "and that there has been no unreasonable delay in making the application, the Court may by order allow the applicant to select for the purpose of this Act the constituency specified in the order.
§ "(2) The clerk of the county council or town clerk responsible for printing the Parliamentary register of the selected constituency shall act in accordance with any such order of the Court as if the order were a notice of selection given within the time required by this Act,. and if the register has come into force shall transmit a copy of the order to the sheriff or returning officer having the custody of the register, and the sheriff or returning officer shall make the necessary mark on the register.
§ "(3) For the purpose of this section 'court' means the High Court or a court of summary jurisdiction or county court having jurisdiction in the constituency which the applicant under this section. desires to select."—(Mr. Harcourt.)
§ * MR. NIELD (Middlesex, Ealing)
who bad given notice of the following Amendments—In line 27, to leave out from ' and,' to ' shall,' in line 34.In line 28, after ' may,' to insert ' upon ex parte application (unless for good and sufficient reason to be stated on the record, the court should otherwise determine, and thereupon notice to such person or persons and in such manner as the court shall direct).'stated that in view of the private assurance he had received from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, that it was the intention of the Government in framing it to require all applications under this clause to be made ex parte, he would not press the two Amendments standing in his name.
§ MR. HARMOOD-BANNER (Liverpool, Everton) moved an Amendment providing that the clerk to the county council, or the town clerk responsible 1453 for the printing of the Parliamentary register in a selected constituency "shall cause the necessary mark to be made in all copies of the register," and shall send a copy of the order to the sheriff and returning officers. It was a matter of form and would complete the arrangement. He hoped the tight hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM BULL (Hammersmith)
said it was the custom for the different political party agents to send for a number of copies of the register. Each party might require about a dozen copies at an election and the returning officer would want twenty or thirty copies. That meant that perhaps as many as sixty copies of the register would be required. He wanted to know how all the interlineations were going to be made in all the copies of the register. He was afraid the carrying out of that work would be very inconvenient, and he would like to know exactly how it was going to be done. He seconded the Amendment.
Amendment proposed to the Clause—
In line 34, after the word 'force,' to insert the words ' shall cause the necessary mark to be made in all copies of the register and then.'"—(Mr. Harmood-Banner.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Clause."
§ * MR. NIELD
said this operation had to be gone through every year and in regard to every new register. The sheriff or the returning officer in, practice never saw the register and had no cognisance or control over it until the election was announced. Moreover, the returning officer in a borough was not in many cases determined upon until the writ was sent from the Crown Office. In many cases, therefore—and, indeed, in all but the occasions when there were by-elections, these registers might require to be altered year after year for some four, five, or even six years without the sheriff or returning officer having any real or practical control over, or knowledge of, the contents of the register. Surely there must have been some oversight in drafting the clause.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. HARCOURT, Lancashire, Rossendale)
said he was not sure that the practice of interrupting a Minister when he rose to reply was a convenient one, although he had given way to the hon. Member for Baling. He wished to point out that the clerk to the county council or the town clerk was in charge of the register up to the end of December, but on the 31st of December he parted with it, and after the 1st of January it must be the person having the custody of the register who must make the necessary mark. If there was any inconvenience in this respect under the Bill there would be equal inconvenience under the Amendment. He did not think there would be many cases of the kind, and his opinion was that the number would be decreased to an infinitesimal total after the experience of a year or two. When the hon. Member spoke of such a large number of copies of the register being required he assumed that the whole of the register was required in each case. That was not so, because what was wanted in each case was only the part required for some particular district or polling station. As for interlineations, they occurred under the present law if a voter, after being struck off by the Revising Barrister, had his name placed on the list again on appeal. Under the proposal of this clause there would be no interlineations at all; there would simply be marginal marks.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
hoped the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would look a little more closely into this question, and not be quite so certain that the difficulty raised by his hon. friend was not a substantial one. The whole question was a technical one and must rest with those who had the best information. Under the circumstances he advised his hon. friend not to press his Amendment. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was a little severe on his hon. friend when he complained of his interrupting a Minister. He only asked leave to put a further point which was just as much for the convenience of the right hon. Gentleman as of anybody else. It was for the convenience of the Minister in charge of the Bill that he 1455 should hear the whole case before he replied.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
wished to raise a point which he thought could be met in the circular. The present practice was to purchase copies of the register at the beginning of the year and sometimes at Christmas. Many county clerks were in the habit of reprinting alterations and sending them round to those who had purchased copies of the register. He thought it would be well to provide in the circular that the marks made in the register should be communicated when they were made to those who had purchased copies. It was obviously desirable that all parties should know what marks had been made during the year.
§ MR. HARCOURT
replied that the question raised by the right hon. Baronet was one which could be dealt with by an Order in Council.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR WILLIAM BULL moved to extend the meaning of "court" by inserting, after the words "High Court or" the words "the Lord Mayor's Court in the city of London, the Court of Passage in the city of Liverpool, and the Palatine Courts in the counties of Lancashire and Durham." He felt that they ought to provide every possible facility for a man to get his vote. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had somewhat under-estimated the number of cases which would come before the court. For example, the case of the Brompton County Court, which would have to deal with the electors in a number of Parliamentary divisions, the time of the court was practically fully occupied from Mon-day to Friday and he thought there would be difficulty in getting time wherein the electors could ask that their votes should be corrected on the register. Did the right hon. Gentleman really think that the ordinary elector would take the trouble to go from any of the boroughs to Brompton County Court 1456 and hang about all day for the purpose of getting these corrections made? He was very much afraid that the majority of them would not do so, and the result would be that a number of persons who were entitled to vote would be disfranchised. A voter could go to the High Court, but the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that an originating summons could not be taken out there at a smaller fee than 10s., and no one without some knowledge of legal procedure would know how to act in the matter. It seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman should formulate by Order in Council a more simple moans of getting these matters put right. He should go further into the details of the machinery and see what would be the exact cost to voters when they applied to the courts in the first instance. The whole of the procedure must be cut and dried in the most detailed manner if the right hon. Gentleman wished the Act to be a success. Everyone who had had to do with elections knew perfectly well that electors, unless directed in the clearest manner, very often went wrong. It would be difficult for a voter to apply to the court without legal aid to get this matter put right. Contrary to the view of the right hon. Gentleman, he believed there would be a large number of cases, and that the work of each court would be considerably increased by the new duties thrown upon them by the Bill. He should not be surprised if the right hon. Gentleman heard from the judges and registrars that there was not time at present to do the work of the courts adequately, and that they could not properly undertake further work. He begged to move.
§ ME. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
, in seconding the Amendment, said every facility should be given to the electors to make these corrections. He understood from what the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that it was his intention that this new clause should be really effective, and that the right to make a selection should be easily exercisable. He therefore urged the acceptance of the Amendment, or something analogous to it, so that ample facilities might be given to have 1457 corrections made in an easy and reasonable manner.
Amendment proposed to the clause—
In line 37, after the word 'or,' to insert the words, 'the Lord Mayor's Court in the city of London, the Court of Passage in the city of Liverpool, and the Palatine Courts in the counties of Lancashire and Durham."—(Sir William Bull.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in ths clause."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said a most extraordinary misapprehension seemed to have arisen in the minds of hon. Members opposite on this matter. The hon. Member for Hammersmith had expressed great alarm as to the congestion which might be caused in the county courts. Voters would not bring their cases to the county courts at all except in rare instances where it would be a special convenience to do so. The hon. Member had not read the new clause or listened to his explanation. Voters could go to the High Court or to a court of summary jurisdiction. That meant that they could go to a public court or to a bench of magistrates sitting anywhere.
§ SIR WILLIAM BULL
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman suggested that voters could go to the various police courts around, say, Brompton County Court.
§ MR. HARCOURT
was understood to reply in the affirmative. He could not see that there was anything to be gained by including the Lord Mayor's Court in the city of London. There were two courts of summary jurisdiction sitting in the city every day in the year, and there were courts of summary jurisdiction in Liverpool more suitable and also cheaper than the. Court of Passage. The Palatine Courts were really local courts with Chancery jurisdiction, and they would not be suitable for this purpose, especially where the voter would be able to find courts of summary jurisdiction close at hand. The hon. Member for the Blackpool division of Lancashire had given notice of another Amendment to include the Tolzie Court in the City of Bristol. That was an inferior court of record 1458 for the trial of civil actions. As to these special courts generally, he was certain that in no case was it desirable that they should be mentioned in the clause, the wording of which was, he considered, already sufficiently wide.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (City of London)
said he was inclined to agree with the right hon. Gentleman than people who had omitted to make a claim or who desired to alter a claim, would go to the police court. That was only their opinion, and neither the right hon. Gentleman nor himself could know exactly what course these people would pursue. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that a very small number of people would go to court. He himself thought there would be a large number of cases, and the result would be that these unfortunate people who had committed no fault would have to go to the police courts and wait until the vaccination cases and the night charges had been disposed of, when their applications might possibly come on. If the object of the Bill was to put as much difficulty as possible in the way of plural voters in order to discourage them from voting at all in any place he thought the right hon. Gentleman would accomplish that object. If ordinary persons had to go to a police court in order to get their vote the chances were that very few people would take the trouble to apply. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment. It was not against the principle of the Bill. It was a very mild and modest Amendment, and the right hon. Gentleman might very well make the concession to the minority. It had been said that there were two courts of summary jurisdiction in the City of London; but he would point out that there were 30,000 voters in the City of London, 25,000 of whom were probably plural voters. Those two courts were always busy, and how could they deal with all those cases in addition to their other work? If the right hon. Gentleman accepted the addition of the Lord Mayor's Court it would only extend the facilities which voters would have of putting themselves on the register for the City of London.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
said he had listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. Baronet, from which he gathered that the hon. Gentleman admitted that the vast majority of his constituency were plural voters. He did not know whether, when this Bill became law, that great majority would select to vote in the City of London.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that that was a matter of speculation. The hon. Baronet had failed to observe that they were not dealing with the case of 25,000 voters, but only with those who failed to make a selection on account' of absence, illness, or any one of the other accidents and contingencies provided for in the Bill. Were these gentlemen to be excused from the ordinary duty of the plural voter, viz., to make their selection at the proper time? He must assume — the hon. Baronet's knowledge of these voters was more intimate than his—that the majority of them would perform their statutory duty and make their selection; and therefore they were here dealing with an insignificant minority. If that were so, could any provision be more adequate to meet the case of that minority than that proposed by his right hon. friend? When the Bill was in Committee the only demand made was that there should be an application to the High Court; but the right hon. Gentleman had gone beyond that demand and provided an appeal not only to the High Court but to the county court or any other court of summary jurisdiction. The Amendment was to add to these the Lord Mayor's Court in the City of London.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said it was a very respectable court, no doubt. It was a long time since he had practised in it, but he thought it only sat comparatively rarely, and his experience of it was that it was often congested with business. On the other hand, they had in the 1460 City of London the City of London Court, which was the proper county court for the City, and two courts of summary jurisdiction—one at the Guildhall and one at the Mansion House. To suggest that these three tribunals, each of which was open practically every week day and which were local, were insufficient and that more relief would be given by going to the Lord Mayor's Court was absurd. As he had said on the previous day, he thought the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had been over-generous in the concessions he had made.
§ MR. HARMOOD-BANNER
asked the mover and seconder to withdraw the Amendment, for it seemed to him that it was very desirable to have uniformity in dealing with these cases. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the police court was a relief court, but it was also the court where illegal voters would be punished.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. COURTHOPE moved an Amendment, the object of which was to give an applicant the option of applying to a court having jurisdiction either in the constituency he selects or in which he resides.
Amendment proposed to the clause—
In line 39, at end, to add the words, 'or in which he resides.'"—(Mr. Courthope.)
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle)
expressed his appreciation of the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to remedy the defects which had been pointed out in the previous stages of its consideration. The only fault he found was that in sub-section (b) the right hon. Gentleman did not go quite far enough. His object in moving the addition of a paragraph to the clause was to enable a statutory declaration to be made before the presiding officer of the polling station to which the voter was allotted in the constituency which he desired to select. That addition would remedy 1461 a defect which might operate very hardly against the most innocent of plural voters. He had already shown that it would be possible for an ordinary elector to have moved before 15th July into an adjoining division in the same county and the overseers who were anxious to keep him on the county council register might leave him on the old register, while at the same time he was placed on the register of his new constituency. He might not be aware of that fact until he received polling cards or election literature from the candidates in two constituencies when there was no time to make application to a court. He was quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman had no desire to exclude from the exercise of the franchise any voter who had been innocently or accidentally registered in two constituencies; and he hoped that he would extend his generosity by accepting the addition which he proposed. He begged to move.
Amendment proposed to the clause—
In line 39, at end, to add after the words last added, the words, ' (4) If any person becomes aware that he is registered in more than one constituency for the first time on the day of the poll or such a short time before that day that he has no reasonable opportunity of obtaining an order of a court under this section, he may make before the presiding officer of the polling station to which he is allotted in the constituency which he desires to select, a statutory declaration of selection in the form prescribed by order in council under this Act. A statutory declaration so made shall have the same effect as if the elector had given notice of his selection of the constituency in the manner required by this Act, and the presiding officer shall allow the elector to vote accordingly, and shall transmit any statutory declaration so made before him to the returning officer, and the returning officer shall cause the necessary mark to be made on the register.'"—(Mr. Arthur Henderson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be added to the clause."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said that the proposal of the hon. Member fulfilled to the letter the one unfulfilled promise he had made during the Committee Stage. It was left unfulfilled intentionally, because before he had completed his own clause he noticed that the hon. 1462 Member had ingeniously and sufficiently met the point. He did not think it was necessary to put it into his own clause, because he was prepared to accept the hon. Member's Amendment which adequately met the case. When declining a statutory declaration for general purposes he had guarded himself specifically with regard to the case of a man who had become acquainted with the fact that he was registered in more than one constituency only on the day of the poll or immediately before it, because that case required different treatment. He did not think so many people would be affected in this matter as had been re- presented. He, however, accepted the Amendment.
§ * MR. CLAVELL SALTER (Hants., Basingstoke)
suggested that the Amendment, admirable as it was, might be still further improved. The only difficulty which occurred to him in connection with the working of this new sub-section was that the relief was only to be applied when an election was taking place. Somebody would have to determine as to the rights of the voter other than the voter himself, and as the Amendment stood they would have voters arriving at the polling booth on the day of election and placing their cases, with or without assistance, before the presiding officer to the effect that they were plural voters, that they had only recently become aware of the fact, and had had no opportunity in the county court or in the court of petty sessions of making a selection. The presiding officer had many delicate duties to discharge during the polling, but he was not accustomed to exercise judicial duties of this kind. Some presiding officers would be more merciful and some more severe than others, and there would be no uniformity of treatment in such cases. It seemed to him that the duties of presiding officers should not be complicated by this somewhat important and judicial function at a moment's notice. He suggested that the difficulty could be got rid of by striking out the words "for the first time on the day of poll" in order to insert a short space of time before the poll. The time he ventured to suggest was fourteen days, but if a shorter time 1463 of ten or seven days were thought better he would be prepared to assent to it.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that yesterday the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had denounced at considerable length what he seemed to regard as a hideous suggestion that a statutory declaration should be sent to the clerk of the county council or the town clerk upon which they could act. Now, however, he had consented to an Amendment under which the presiding officer in the polling booth was to be called upon to do this task at a moment's notice, under pressure of work. Working men as a matter of convenience at election times voted either in the earlier or the later part of the day, and at those times the polling booth was crowded. How was the officer with the polling booth thus crowded to discharge this delicate duty? He found no fault with the right hon. Gentleman for accepting the Amendment, which tended in the direction which the Opposition had urged all along, but if he thought it was desirable to impose this duty upon the presiding officer in the polling booth he ought to have carried his power still further and enabled an honest man to make a declaration which if it were false would land him in penalties the presiding officer must, it appeared, accept that declaration, and therefore the whole thing came down to a question of the number of these pluralists. The Government flattered themselves that there were not going to be many, but they would find that there were a large number of men who had dual qualifications. Owing to the complexity of the electoral system these men would not know anything about their rights. The House ought not, he considered, to put obstacles in the way of a man obtaining and exercising a vote.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said that when he declined to accept the statutory declaration he particularly saved himself in regard to this particular case, and it was because he wanted to deal with the rare emergencies that he had accepted the proposal before the House, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have misunderstood the Amendment. The presiding officer would have no authority to enter into 1464 an inquiry, because the voter had made a statutory declaration, and any person who was or was likely to be aggrieved would have his remedy at law.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said another point had been lost sight of in the course of the discussion. During the late hours in the polling booth the demands on the attention of the presiding officer were very heavy, and it was important that some provision should be made for the case of a man who coming with a claim to vote did not bring his statutory declaration with him. Was the presiding officer to keep a form? If not, the provision would lead to fraud, intrigue, and chicanery to a serious extent.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
ridiculed the idea that the presiding officer would have no judicial function to exercise when the statutory declaration was handed to him. The proposal was that if any person became aware that he was registered in more than one constituency for the first time on the day of the poll, or such a short time before that day that he had no reasonable opportunity of obtaining an order of a court under this section, he might make a statutory declaration. It would therefore be necessary for the presiding officer to satisfy himself upon those points, and to that extent exercise judicial functions. There must be some check of this kind, otherwise difficulties must arise such as had been pointed out. The hon. Member for Hythe had an Amendment on the Paper in which he suggested that the application should be made to two justices of the peace, but that was not necessary. There would be no difficulty, however, in having one justice of the peace. There might be a justice of the peace kept ready for an emergency in one of the committee rooms, and the voter would go not into the polling booth at all, but into the committee room for a moment or two before the justice, and having satisfied him and gone through the necessary formalities, make a statutory declaration and hand it in to the presiding officer. He thought it would lead to confusion and chicanery if the declaration was made in the polling booth itself.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
congratulated the hon. Member for Barnard Castle upon his success with this Amendment. It, however, cast rather a curious light upon the proceedings. All who had sat through the debates on the Committee stage would remember that when hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House pointed out the evils that might arise they were received with the derisive laughter of hon. Members opposite and hon. Members below the gangway. So long as only the rich man was affected nobody cared whether he got his vote or not, but six weeks consideration had resulted in this Amendment. Hon. Members below the gangway were very anxious when it was thought that a working man might lose his franchise.
§ MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON
reminded the hon. Baronet that so far as he was concerned this Amendment had not been created in the Report stage. He had raised the question in the earliest stages of the Bill.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said he referred to hon. Members generally and not to any one in particular. the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had made the most extraordinary admission that the presiding officer was not to make any inquiries. the result of that would be that any man could go to the polling booth and inform the presiding officer that he was on two registers, but that until a few minutes before he was not aware of the fact, and claim to make a declaration and then vote. the presiding officer was to make no inquiries; in fact he would not have time. He would produce a form and it would be signed by, say, John Jones, who would then vote and go away. But who was to say that the statement of John Jones was correct. Supposing it was found that John Jones had made a false declaration, how was he to be caught? He had effected his object and gone. And if he were caught he could not be proceeded against without an inquiry. John Jones's vote might have decided the election. Without an inquiry the vote could not be challenged and the man could not be caught. It might be, as the hon. Member for Barnard Castle thought, that many of these voters would be 1466 people who moved about from one constituency to another and who therefore could not be traced. It might be that they acted quite honestly in signing a declaration which was not correct. He was sure the hon. and learned Member for Perth would endorse everything he said, because the hon. and learned Member did not believe in a declaration at all. Although he (Sir Frederick Banbury) was personally in favour of the Amendment, the hon. and learned Member for Perth would probably divide the House upon it. the hon. and learned Member was against declarations before the County Court Judge, who was capable of making every inquiry, and therefore he could not approve of a declaration made before a man who could not make any inquiry at all. He was inclined to think that a good many false statements must arise under this clause, and that, therefore, there ought to be some machinery beyond the declaration before the returning officer, and that the inquiry which was not made before the returning officer should be made afterwards by some one else.
§ * MR. R. PEARCE (Staffordshire, Leek)
said that, although it was suggested that these declarations should be made before the presiding officer, it seemed to have been overlooked that hardly a presiding officer in the whole of the country had the power to administer an oath. If the word "statutory" was left out and the word "written" inserted that would, he thought, get rid of all the difficulties of the Statutory Declarations Act.
§ * MR. GEORGE FABER (York)
agreed that one of the serious difficulties of statutory declarations was that the presiding officers in most cases had not the power to administer an oath. If, therefore, the doctor only made a declaration there would be no penalty; there would be no perjury if that declaration was false. Thus they fell between the two stools. the presiding officer could not administer an oath, and therefore the man could not take an oath. If he could not take an oath, then he could not be prosecuted for swearing to a false statement. All those who had fought contested elections knew that in the hurly burly of the polling booth it was impossible to ask the presiding officer to conduct an inquiry. It was impossible for him to carry out any 1467 judicial duties. They all wished to make this Bill work as smoothly as possible, and one way out a difficulty that had occurred to him was to make it part of the declaration itself that the man proposing to vote had only ascertained his disability on the day of the poll or within a short time prior to that date. It should not be left to the presiding officer to find that out.
§ MR. HARCOURT
thought he could clear up a misconception which seemed to have accidentally arisen in minds of hon. Members. The noble Lord appeared to think that the necessary facts were not to be stated in the statutory declaration. Of course they would be set out and the voter would have to come prepared to swear that he had not heard until that day, or that if he had heard before the time was so short that he had not had any reasonable opportunity of obtaining an order of the court. The presiding officer was not asked to make inquiries; he would accept the statement of the voter, which would be sworn. He could not say that he approved of the suggestion of the noble Lord that a justice of the peace should be present to accept not a statutory declaration, but a verbal declaration from voters. If the noble Lord meant a statutory declaration he did not see the object of it, because the voter could make the statutory declaration just as well to the presiding officer. If they got rid of the statutory declaration they would get rid of the penalties which accompanied it. He was not surprised at the point being raised as to whether a presiding officer was entitled to administer the oath. It was a point he had inquired into before accepting the hon. Member's Amendment, and he could state that the presiding officers would have power to administer the oath in these cases.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the one difficulty about the provision, although he was glad the Government had accepted it, was the danger of its being used to block the poll in certain circumstances. It was notorious that the illiterates were now used for that purpose. The difficulties raised by the hon. Baronet opposite and other hon. Members on the Opposition side were purely imaginary. The presiding officer was armed with the Bible at the present moment for the purpose of declarations which had to be made under 1468 the present law. As to the voter making a false declaration and disappearing, he could vote just as well without making any declaration at all. the voter would make this declaration in order to avoid penalties he would otherwise incur. the voter would have only just become aware, and other persons also, that he was a plural voter, otherwise one party or the other would have told him before. If he had not become aware of the fact he would vote without making the declaration. His right hon. friend had gone a little out of his way to assert that there were very few of these people; but he would produce to his right hon. friend or any Member of the House who was interested in the subject the registers which he had himself examined and which showed the enormous number of these persons. His right hon. friend thought there must be a great many people concerned in these men being on the register. That was not so. There were numerous cases in which men with double qualifications wore unaware of the fact. the difficulty arose because voters did not make their own claims. A large number of voters were placed on the register without there being aware that other persons had claimed for them. His right hon. friend thought that the two parties could clear the registers in these cases. In the first place their were very few constituencies where the parties went to the expense of making the immensely costly inquiries that were necessary to clear up all these cases, and in many instances where they knew the facts neither side would object because they did not know enough of the politics of the voters concerned, and so these persons remained on, although their qualifications, if carefully tested, would break down on account of "short time." In a slightly more substantial class of voters also the number of pluralists were very great. He was glad the case had been provided for, but one difficulty not provided for was that the provision might be used for blocking the poll.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
expressed his gratitude to the hon. Member for the Barnard Castle Division for the support he gave him when he raised this question in debate, and said he was now glad to support the hon. Member who had found a form of words that was acceptable to His Majesty's 1469 Government. But that form of words was not without objection. There was a real danger in the possibility to which the right hon. Baronet bad just alluded, that the provision would be used to block the poll, and the Government ought to give their serious attention to see whether they could devise a remedy for that. But, with all the objections, he was heartily in favour of the Amendment, because he desired to make it as easy as possible for every man, rich or poor, who was qualified to vote to record his vote at least once. What distressed him about the attitude of the Government in this matter was that so long as the voter could be supposed to be a rich man, or to have more than one qualification, there was no restriction or obstacle they could throw in his way which they did not joyfully put there, and they absolutely refused to him the relief they gave to the man who, ex hypothesi, had but one qualification, although his name appeared on two registers by an oversight on the part of the overseers. That man was considered by the Government to be more deserving of consideration than the man who had two qualifi-tions and whose name rightly appeared on the two sets of papers, but who, under this Bill, had to make a selection.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said it was a matter the voter could find out at the last moment. It would have nothing to do with his vote or the validity of his qualification.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said it was only when it was pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman that there were men of this kind amongst the voters with only one qualification that he gave the slightest sign of any willingness to consider the case. He could not help contrasting the attitude of the Government towards other proposals for making it easier for properly qualified men to record one vote. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not met the Opposition in as amicable a spirit when they desired to secure the technical right of the voter, not to vote more than once, but to vote a single time. Might he ask the right hon. Gentleman to answer the questions that were put to him? He assumed it to be the intention of the Government that the presiding officer should have the statutory form printed 1470 and supplied to every voter who asked for it without any fee.
§ *MR. COURTHOPE moved an Amendment to the proposed Amendment of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle with the object of enabling the voter to make a selection before the presiding officer of the polling station at which he was qualified to vote in the constituency which he selected, in the form prescribed by Order in Council under the Act. Although he did not attach very much importance to his Amendment, it would, he thought, remove some of the objections which had been raised to the form of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle. Had it not been for the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had told the House that after taking advice he found that the presiding officer would be able to administer the oath he should have pressed his Amendment. Now, however, a great deal of its importance was removed, though he still thought his Amendment provided a better and more, simple form of words. He begged to move.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG (Down, E.),
in seconding the Amendment, said he quite understood the difficulty of making this clause meet all demands.
Amendment proposed to the proposed' Amendment to the clause.—
In line 4, to leave out from the word ' section,' to end, and insert' it shall be lawful for him to make a selection before the presiding officer of the polling station at which he is qualified to vote in the constituency which he selects, in the form prescribed by Order in Council under this Act.'"—(Mr. Courthope.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the. proposed Amendment to the clause."
§ MR. HARCOURT
thought the hon.. Member would see that this was not a desirable Amendment when he pointed out that its effect would be to remove the statutory necessity for a declaration. In order to prevent the concessions made to the hon. Member for Barnard Castle being turned to fraudulent uses, it was necessary that they should be safeguarded by a statutory declaration. If 1471 they were going to insist upon this declaration it was only fair that it should be in the Act and not provided for afterwards by the Order in Council.
§ Amendment to the Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Proposed words added to the clause.
§ Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.
A prosecution for an offence against this Act shall not be instituted except by or with the consent of the Attorney or Solicitor-General." —(Mr. Harcourt.)—
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
did not think they ought to allow these words to pass without pointing out that the Act was likely to be a dead letter owing to the extreme difficulty of obtaining a conviction for breaches of its provisions. Legislation on these lines would prove to be a disappointment to the country, because at the present moment where duplicate voting occurred it was perfectly notorious that breaches of the law took place. the practice varied very much in different counties. In the constituency of North Herefordshire it was admitted at the Revision Court by the agents of both parties that forty-one duplicate voters voted twice at the last general election. If such a breach of the law occurred when enormous penalties attached to the offence, how much more would the breach of this law be practised when they had to prove that it was done knowingly. the cases in which proof would be forthcoming would be very few, and it would be almost impossible to secure a conviction. the words they were now discussing still further weakened the probability of prosecutions, and he feared that legislation on these lines would be a failure.
§ Question put, and agreed to.1472
§ Clause read a second time, and added to the Bill.
In the application of this Act to Ireland— '(1) Sections eighty-eight and ninety-three of the Representation of the People (Ireland) Act, 1850, shall be substituted for sections eighty-one and eighty-six respectively of the Parliamentary Voters Registration Act, 1843; and (2) Section three of the Parliamentary Registration (Ireland) Act, 1885, shall be substituted for section seventy-six of the Local Government Act, 1888; and (3) the clerk of the peace shall be substituted for the clerk of the county council or town clerk; and (4) the expressions ' Attorney-General,' and ' Solicitor-General 'mean respectively the Attorney-General and the Solicitor General for Ireland.'" —(Mr. Harcourt.) —
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG
asked if the adoption of this clause would prevent his moving to leave Ireland out of the operation of the Bill.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG
thought in that case he would be in order in arguing that the Act should not apply to Ireland. He wished to point out the disabilities under which a man would labour on account of the long distances he would have to travel to vote through having been placed on two registers, one say belonging to Fermanagh and the other to the south of England. Great expense might be incurred, especially to the labouring man in moderate circumstances who had acquired qualifications in both Glasgow and Belfast. If these men happened to be on that side of the Channel where they had not selected their constituency the expense of crossing the Channel to record their votes would be prohibitive. He considered that was a serious hardship, and one which would appeal to all hon. Members who knew the immense number of dual voters there were in Ireland. Whichever way they looked at it anyone living in Ireland was taxed to an enormous extent as compared with dual voters in adjoining parishes 1473 in England. It was never intended that plural voters who were endeavouring to develop industries in Ireland or who went to Ireland to the shooting lodges or to fish should be disfranchised or put to enormous expense as compared with people on this side of the Channel. There were so many flagrant anomalies in the Bill especially when it came to be applied to Ireland that he could not enumerate one half of them. It would be extremely difficult to meet the cases he had cited. He was not one of those who desired separate legislation for different parts of Great Britain, but when a serious innovation was made in the working of the system of Parliamentary representation nothing but a redistribution of seats——
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG
said he hoped the Bill would not be made to apply to Ireland where it was neither wanted nor necessary.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
entirely agreed with his hon. friend in the very moderate and reasonable appeal he had just made to the House. He thought that appeal would have had even more chance of success if the hon. Member had pointed out with more emphasis that it was made not only on behalf of dual voters who were wealthy, but also on behalf of a very large number of labourers, who in the harvest season went from Ireland to England and Scotland, and during their residence in those countries became qualified voters. Hon. Members laughed, but that only confirmed what many of them believed, that some hon. Members did not know Ireland well, and did not take the trouble to inquire into the conditions. He said with confidence that there were a large number of plural voters among the labourers of Ireland whom this clause would seriously affect. the Government had shown a great disposition to listen to appeals made from the Labour Benches. They had been guided by the Labour Members to a large extent in their policy in regard to 1474 Bills brought before the House. Sometimes they had been guided for evil, but by accepting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle they had certainly been guided for good. He would venture to assume the role of Labour Member and speak on behalf of labourers in Ireland who were plural voters. Unless this Amendment were accepted a severe blow would be struck at many of these labourers who had crossed to England during the harvest-time and become qualified voters in two constituencies unknown to themselves.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause read the second time, and added to the Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM BULL,
in moving a new clause (supply of forms to plural, voters) said that the ordinary elector, who was not a very intelligent person would find difficulty in regard to the form in which the selection of the constituency should be made. It was for that reason he proposed that the statutory form should be supplied gratis by the overseers.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY,
in seconding the Motion, said he presumed the right hon. Gentleman would accept the new clause, which applied to all classes of voters, as he had already accepted something similar in the Motion proposed by the hon. Member for Barnard Castle in regard to working class voters. There were no doubt electors who did not know what course they ought to pursue, and they would not take the trouble to draw up a form themselves. If the forms were supplied gratis there would be additional cost thrown on somebody—he supposed it would be the State—but they must submit to it. the least they could do was to put the people concerned to as little expense as possible.
That the statutory form be supplied by the overseers gratis to all plural voters."—(Sir William Bull)—
§ Brought up, and read the first time.1475
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he agreed that there should be a form provided gratis for voters, but he thought for three reasons this new clause was not necessary. In the first place, they were not going to make it a statutory form; secondly, it should not be supplied by the overseers; and thirdly, it should not be limited to plural voters only, but should be supplied to anybody who might apply on their behalf. All that would be provided for in the Order in Council. It was not necessary to put the provision in the Act as they did not make it a statutory form.
§ Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR E. CARSON (Dublin University)
said that the new clause he had to propose raised the question as to whether the clerk of the county council or the town clerk of a borough ought not to serve on any elector whose name appeared on the register for the first time a notice that his name appeared on another register. Having regard to the new clause inserted by the Government it became doubly important that a person whose name was inserted on a register for the first time should, if the name appeared on another register, have an intimation that he must select the constituency in which he wished to vote. His Amendment would enable such a person to apply to the court to get his right to vote in one of the constituencies. the obvious reason for putting down the Amendment was that a man's name might come on the register after 5th September, the day on which he must serve his notice as to selection, and he might be thereby disqualified. Then there was the case of a man in a University constituency who came on the register automatically. He thought his Amendment was a perfectly reasonable one. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman would say that it would pat a great deal of labour on the county 1476 council and borough town clerks; but that was no answer at all.
Where the name of any person is inserted on the register of Parliamentary voters for the first time the clerk of the county council or town clerk shall serve a notice of the fact on such person, and shall thereby give him notice that if he is registered in and other constituency it is necessary to serve a notice in accordance with and in the form and manner prescribed by the first section of this Act."—(Sir E. Carson.)—
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,. "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said that the hon. and learned Member had contended that it was no answer to his Amendment that it would involve a great deal of labour on the county council and town clerks; but he insisted that the adoption of the Amendment would put too great labour and responsibility on those clerks. They would be asking the clerks to do something impossible. How were the clerks to know that a man was on the register for the first time? It was true that a man might not have been on the register for the previous year, but he might have been at a former period and his name had been dropped out. How far were the county council and town clerks to go back and search old registers in order to find out whether a man was on the register for the first time? He thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman must realise that this was a clause which. could not reasonably be added to the Bill.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that his right hon. and learned friend, in moving the adoption of his Amendment, had again shown how many were the difficulties which would arise in the practical application of this Bill. No doubt the Amendment was open to some criticism, but there were plenty of cases which justified it. He himself had been placed, without his knowledge, on the register of a county division when he had no right to be put there. When informed of it by a relative he wrote to the county clerk and explained that lie had no electoral qualification in that 1477 division; but three years afterwards the same mistake was made. Who was to bear the responsibility of those mistakes and incur the penalties which might follow if this legislation was passed? For the first time it was proposed to enact that the possession of two votes was to expose a man to all sorts of penalties if he had not made the declaration required by this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said that it would not be possible for a clerk to find out whether a man was on the register for the first time; but surely State officials should do the work which the ordinary voter could not possibly do. For Party purposes the Government were trying to prevent a man giving more than one vote. If that was what was meant they were at the same time exposing a man, not only to the possibility of disfranchisement, but to serious penalties if he happened to have two votes. As the Government had accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle they might accept that of his right hon. and learned friend.
§ * MR. CLAVELL SALTER
said that under the Bill a plural voter without guilty intention might be subject to serious penalties and be disfranchised. That being so, was it not common justice to warn him of the dangers which surrounded him? He ventured to say that the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University would secure that. There had been several suggestions as to how the warning should be given to the new voter, but the only complete way was to appoint other officers if the county clerks and the town clerks were unable to do the work. He sincerely hoped that his right hon. and learned friend would press his Amendment to a division. The cynical refusal by the Government to accept the Amendment only revealed once more the true motive for introducing and pushing this Bill through the House.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
thought that the Government would do well to take the Amendment into serious considera- 1478 tion. the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had asked—How was the county council or town clerk to know whether a voter was on the register for the first time?If there was any doubt about it, all the clerk had to do was to send a note to the new voter and ask him whether he had been on the register before. But the real reason why he supported this clause was that he believed the Bill was going to add enormously to the expenses of Parliamentary candidates. That consideration had not, he believed, been sufficiently kept in view by the Government. Under recent Acts the actual costs of a contest had been considerably reduced; but that was not the most serious burden which a candidate had to bear, especially in some constituencies where for a period preceding the contest the machinery had to be prepared, the Party organisation kept up, and registration seen to. All that was a serious burden already on candidates; but that burden would be enormously increased by this Bill unless there was some official liability to give notice to the plural voter that he must take steps to retain his qualification. This meant an enormous addition to Party machinery, and he looked upon any such addition as a very bad thing from many points of view. He did not think the Government had given due consideration to that question. What they had to consider was whether they were going to leave the carrying out of this Act to private organisations in the different constituencies or whether they were going to say that it was the duty of the State to see that the measure was carried into operation. This Parliament had already passed Resolutions in favour of placing upon the State the expenses of the returning officers and for the payment of Members, in order to enable all citizens whatever their wealth might be to become Members of Parliament, and yet this same democratic assembly was now engaged in putting up a barrier far higher than any that now existed against a man of moderate means entering the House. That was rather a remarkable position to be taken up by what had been so often described as a great democratic Parliament. He invited the Government to 1479 consider the matter from that point of view, and even if they did not approve of the machinery suggested to see if they could not carry out the object which the House had announced to be one of those which they wished to attain.
§ MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W.R., Barkston Ash)
said the right hon. Gentleman had raised the question of the great labour that would be involved in carrying out the Amendment, but he thought that clerks of the county councils and the town clerks should have the duty cast upon them of giving the warning contemplated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman's proposal. He wished to emphasise the point which his noble friend had made and which he himself made when the Bill was before the House for Second Reading, viz., that this Act would largely increase the cost of elections. That remark was received with derision, as such remarks always were when they were uttered by one who was supposed to represent a wealthy class, but he thought it was necessary that the Government should consider the matter from that point of view. Whatever the motive of the Bill was he was perfectly certain that its effect would not be to make elections cheaper. Any Member who sat for a large and scattered constituency must realise that unless this Amendment was carried the expense of electioneering machinery would be greatly increased. Therefore in the interests of those whom right hon. and hon. Gentleman opposite pretended to represent, and whom from hour to hour they were showing themselves not fit to represent—in the interest of the poorer classes he hoped the Government would give more consideration to the proposal than they had hitherto done.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said this was an extremely important Amendment, and one which he would have thought would appeal to Members on both sides of the House, because the Bill undoubtedly was going to add immensely to the expense of registration. This consideration apparently did not appeal to hon. Members below the gangway, because they seemed to be under the impression that they were going to put the additional cost upon the unfortunate taxpayer, and so long as he had to pay they did not care how much money was wasted 1480 on these matters. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had given as his only reason for refusing to accept the Amendment that it would put considerable labour and trouble upon the clerks of the county councils or the town clerks, and that it would be practically impossible for those officials to carry out the work. He would point out, however, that it would be extremely easy for the clerk of the council or the town clerk to carry out what was suggested. All they had to do was to find out how many voters had been added to the register. They had only to take last year's register and compare it with the present, but if that was too much work for them they could go to the overseers and ask how many people they had put upon their lists, and find out also what number of people the revising barrister had allowed to remain on those lists. That was an extremely simple process. What was a town clerk appointed for if he was not to take any trouble in regard to matters such as were dealt with by the Bill? If this work was left to the Party agents, plural voters would obtain a vote only in those cases whore the Party agent, Liberal or Conservative, happened to be energetic and the prospective candidate was a rich man. An energetic and capable Party agent with large funds at his back would no doubt take the trouble to inform all the persons who were on the register for the first time that they were plural voters, and the candidate who had the longest purse and the most efficient agent would benefit. It was not desired to make admission to Parliament contingent on a man's having a long purse, but unless the Amendment were accepted a man with such a qualification would have a very great advantage. He could not understand how hon. Members opposite could oppose an Amendment which would have the effect of putting people on an equality. He could not, moreover, see why the right hon. Gentleman was so concerned lest the town clerk or the county council clerk should have to do some additional work. the number of voters added to the list every year was not large. In a constituency of 10,000, the number would not be more than 1,000 or 1,500 at the outside. Surely it was not a very large task for a person to find out who the plural voters were. He hoped it 1481 was not too late to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment, the only result of which would be to put people more or less on an equality.
§ * MR. HICKS BEACH (Gloucestershire, Towkesbury)
hoped the Government would reconsider their decision. As the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had pointed out, people were very often placed upon the list against their will and in spite of their protest. There were scores of people who got upon the register without their knowledge, for in numbers of cases claims were not signed by the electors but by an agent; and on that account, in order to prevent people becoming liable to be charged with the offence of personation or other illegal practices, that notice should be given to them. The fact that many voters remained on the register when they presumed their names had been removed must also be taken into account; for what happened in cases where only one Party was represented at the Registration Court was that the agent who appeared objected to and got struck off the lists the voters for the opposing Party, whereas the claims of those who belonged to his own Party remained on the list. If in some cases, therefore, voters were not removed from the list when they thought they had been, and were put on another list without receiving any intimation of that fact, numerous charges of personation would arise which might have been avoided by the acceptance of the Amendment.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had a wide experience of elections and the work of registration in various constituencies, but it could be wished that he would extend his purview to other constituencies where an entirely different system prevailed. There were a great many constituencies where the Party agents did no work in the Registration Courts at all; where year after year no expenditure was incurred for registration. Those were the best seats which Members of this House could occupy. High as the expenses of contests usually were the greatest strain put upon Members was that of maintaining the 1482 Party organisation from one election to another, and when that strain was intensified by the costs of registration it became intolerable to a poor and most burdensome to a rich man. He had ventured on a former occasion to describe the Bill as one to amend the criminal law and create new offences; he would not now be going too far in describing it as a Bill for rendering the work of registration and the maintenance of Party organisation more onerous than ever. Here was work that had to be done, work which the right hon. Gentleman thought was too difficult and costly to put on the public authority, and consequently the agents of the Party organisations were to have it thrust upon them. They were not the proper men to make a register; their work ought to be strictly limited to checking a register made by some one else. the Bill proposed to thrust upon those men work altogether outside their proper sphere. He joined in the appeals that had been made to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this question.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he supposed the eloquent speeches to which the House had listened were made in favour of the rejection of the Bill, because they could not be intended to support the clause. Was it seriously suggested that in the urban portions of the county of Essex a public officer was to search the register of a constituency in which a quarter of the voters changed every year? There were an average of 40,000 electors each in the Romford and Walthamstow Divisions; was it suggested that the register was to be searched by the county clerk of Essex and all the new voters to be ticked? [An HON. MEMBER: Somebody has to do it.] Somebody had to do it and where cases of plural voting were suspected there might be great difficulties. That was an argument that could not be used in support of this clause.
§ * THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir JOHN WALTON, Leeds, S.)
said in dealing with these matters they must have some sense of proportion, and the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire in his speech had lost sight of all sense of proportion in treating the dangers which he contemplated. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested 1483 that there might be a class of persons possessing two qualifications without being aware of the fact. If that class existed it would be a very limited class, and an intolerable burden could not be placed on public officials connected with the administration of public affairs in order to inform those persons, and to remind them of their obligations under this legislation. In the first place, there would be the laborious comparison of old with new registers, and, in the second, a costly and laborious machinery for the
§ purpose of informing a person for the first time that if he happened to be on some other list he must make a selection in order to exercise a vote. He did not say there was no danger, but he submitted that the machinery proposed was out of all proportion to the danger which might have to be met.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 89; Noes, 338. (Division List No. 440.)1487
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Doughty, Sir George||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Peters field)|
|Arkwright, John Jtanhope||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Du Cros, Harvey||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.||Faber, George Denison (York)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fardell, Sir T. George||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Fell, Arthur||Roberts, S. (Speffield, Ecclesall|
|Baring, Hon. Guy (Winchester)||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury S. Edm'ds||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Starkey, John R.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hills, J. W.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cave, George||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor, C. W.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Law, Endrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn J. A. (Worc.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glagsow)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Younger, George|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Marks, H. H. (Kent)|
|Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Lord Balcarres.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Dixon, Sir Daniel||Moore, William|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Beck, A. Cecil||Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J. T. (Chesh.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bellairs, Carlyon||Bryce, Rt. Hn. James (Aberdeen|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Bennett, E. N.||Burke, E. Haviland.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Berridge, T. H. D.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Bertram, Julius||Burnyeat, W. J. D.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Bethell, J. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Billson, Alfred||Byles, William Pollard|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cairns, Thomas|
|Barker, John||Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordshire)||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somers't)||Boland, John||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Brace, William||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight|
|Barnard, E. B.||Bramsdon, T. A.||Cawley, Sir Frederick|
|Barnes, G. N.||Branch, James||Chance, Frederick William|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Brigg, John||Channing, Sir Francis Allston|
|Beale, W. P.||Bright, J. A.||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Beauchamp, E.||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Beaumont, Hn. W. C. B. (Hexhm)||Brunner, J. L. F. (Lancs., Leigh)||Churchill, Winston Spencer|
|Clough, William||Hedges, A. Paget||Meagher, Michael|
|Clynes, J. R.||Helme, Norval Watson||Menzies, Walter|
|Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Mond, A.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Collins, Sir Wm. S. (J. Pancras, W.||Henry, Charles S.||Montagu, E. S.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Herbert, Col. Ivor (Mon., S.)||Mooney, J. J.|
|Corbett, CH. (Sussex, E. Grinstd||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Higham, John Sharp||Morley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Cory, Clifford John||Hobart, Sir Robert||Morrell, Philip|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Morse, L. L.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Hodge, John||Myer, Horatio|
|Cox, Harold||Hogan, Michael||Napier, T. B.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Holland, Sir William Henry||Nolan, Joseph|
|Crean, Eugene||Hooper, A. G.||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Crombie, John William||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Crossley, J.||Horniman, Emslie, John||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Nuttall, Harry|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Hudson, Walter||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Daives, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hyde, Clarendon||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan. (Cardigan)||Idris, T. H. W.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Jardine, Sir J.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N||Jenkins, J.||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Dickson-Goynder, Sir John P.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||O'Dowd, John|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Dillon, John||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Jowett, F. W.||O'Malley, William|
|Duffy, William J.||Jowett, F. W.||O'Mara, James|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Kearley, Hudson E.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Kekewich, Sir George||Paul, Herbert|
|Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Kelley, George D.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)|
|Elibank, Master of||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Erskine, David C.||Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Laidlaw, Robert||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Essex, R. W.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Lambert, George||Pollard, Dr.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lamont, Norman||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Fenwick, Charles||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, K)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Findlay, Alexander||Lover, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Levy, Maurice||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lewis, John Herbert||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Lough, Thomas||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Lundon, W.||Rees, J. D.|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Gill, A. H.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Ginnell, L.||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Maclean, Donald||Richardson, A.|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Glover, Thomas||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Callum, John M.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Crae, George||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Gulland, John W.||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Robinson, S.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Kenna, Reginald||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Hall, Frederick||M'Killop, W||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Halpin, J.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Rose, Charles Day|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||M'Micking, Major G.||Rowlands, J|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mallet, Charles E.||Runciman, Walter|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyspire)||Marnham, F. J.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Massie, J.||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Massie, C. F. G.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Masterson, C. F. G.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne|
|Sears, J. E.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Wedgwood, Josiah C|
|Seaverns, J. H.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Seddon, J.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Seely, Major J. B.||Thompson, Franklin||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Tillett, Louis John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Torrance, Sir A. M.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Toulmin, George||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Verney, F. W.||Wilson, Hn. C. H. W. (Hull, W.)|
|Soames, Ernest J.||Wad-worth, J.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesborough)|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Wallace, Robert||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)||Walsh, Stephen||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Steadman, W. C.||Walters, John Tudor||Winfrey, R.|
|Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)||Wodehouse, Lord|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Young, Samuel|
|Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Sullivan, Donal||Wardle, George J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Summerbell, T.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Watt, H. Anderson|
§ MR. COURTHOPE moved a clause with the object of securing that the registers should be marked in any case, quite irrespective of the failure or otherwise of the plural voter to make his selection. It was manifest that after a Bill like this had been passed, by which a very large number of qualifications would cease to operate, so far as permitting voters to register their votes was concerned, it would be very important that the registers should be so marked that the number of plural voters could be ascertained. It was manifestly undesirable— and he thought the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would agree with him— in the interests of economy in the conduct of elections, that the election expenses should be calculated on the total number of qualifications on the register and not on the total number who would be able to vote. It would also be a matter of great convenience to revising barristers, to the Party agents, and to many other officials, presiding officers at polling stations and so on, that they should be able to tell at a glance, by looking at the register, whether a person was or was not also registered elsewhere. It might possibly be contended that this would involve expensive machinery. He did not think it necessarily would, but he thought even if a certain expense were involved by the carrying out of the clause, it would be more than justified by the enormous convenience and great economy which would be effected. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman in 1488 charge of the Bill did not want unnecessary expense to be incurred either in the preparation of the register, the work of the revising barrister, or by the contending parties at the time of an election.
The clerk of the county council or town clerk who is responsible for the printing of the parliamentary register of any constituency, shall, before the first day of August preceding the commencement of the year in which the righter is to begin to take effect, mark the name of every person who is entered on any register of parliamentary electors for another constituency where it appears on the register in the manner prescribed by Order in Council, made under this Act, and shall keep the same of that person so marked in the register for every subsequent year so long as the name of that person continues without interruption to be included in both the said registers."— (Mr. Courthope.)—
§ Brought up, and read a first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said the hon. Member bad not explained to the House how he imagined or intended that the clerk was to obtain the knowledge it was necessary he should have in order to carry out the provisions of this clause. What the hon. Gentleman suggested was that the clerk should mark the name of every person who was entered on any other register of Parliamentary electors. Was every clerk to search 669 registers and compare each of them with his 1489 own, and having found a similar name to one on his own register, decide by himself whether the owner of the name in each case was the same individual? He agreed as to the desirability of having a clean register, but if so every voter must be compelled after making his selection to send notices of his other qualifications to the proper clerks. That was the only way of obtaining a clean register, or else some great clearing house would be required in London. It was not a matter that could be dealt with in this way, and the Amendment was not one that he could accept. With regard to the question of the undesirability of election expenses being kept up to a high figure by people being on the register who were non-effective voters, the Leader of the Opposition had raised that question, and in compliance with a promise that had been made an Amendment to Clause 4 had been placed on the Paper.
§ * MR. COURTHOPE
said with the leave of the House he would explain the methods by which his Amendment could be carried out. It would only be necessary for the clerk who was preparing the lists, when he found that the address of an elector in the qualification column was not the same as the address in the residential column, to ascertain from the clerk in charge of the lists for the constituency in which the latter occurred whether the elector was registered in respect of his residence. Both clerks would then mark their lists accordingly. It would be a simple and inexpensive process and would not involve sending out notices.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
suggested that the clerk of the council might send a notice to every voter on the register requesting him to state whether he was on another register. It would be a cumbrous process, but the Bill itself was a cumbrous measure, and he could not see why the suggestion should be refused on the ground that it would be troublesome and inconvenient. The Bill would throw insuperable burdens upon what he regarded as a very deserving class, namely, the plural voter. He thought the right hon. Gentleman might very well adopt the Amendment subject to the suggestion he had made.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
agreed that it would be almost impracticable for the clerk to discharge the duties which the clause would cast upon him. He hoped the House would take note of the declaration made by the right hon. Gentleman that it would be impossible to have a clean register, because the main argument all along had been that it was important that they should have a clean register and that it should be made perfectly clear who had a right to vote and who had not.
§ * MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)
thought the proposed new clause in its present form would not be workable, but suggested that an attempt to clean the register might be made by leaving it optional to the plural voter when he sent in his notice of selection to specify in the notice of selection any other constituencies in which he had a qualification. The clerk of the selected constituency could then be required to send to the clerks of the other constituencies so specified a notice to the effect that the voter had decided to vote in the selected constituency, and the clerks of the other constituencies could then put a mark on the register showing that the person in question was a plural voter, and was not entitled to vote in that particular constituency. If something of this kind were not done, a man might be canvassed and dragged up to the poll in a constituency not selected by him and then find when he applied for his voting paper that he had no right to vote in that constituency.
§ SIR E. CARSON
said he was afraid that they were rather a divided party in regard to this Amendment. He wished to protest against the suggestion of his hon. friend which would increase the burden already laid on the plural voter. The great difficulty was finding out whether or not a man had voted twice. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean that it would be almost impossible to find out whether or not the law had been broken.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, West Derby)
said he had had considerable experience in regard to the question they were now discussing. He voted for the Second Reading of the Bill because it scorned to him a matter of 1491 equity that the plural voter should be abolished, but he objected to the methods by which that principle was now being carried out. The effect of the Bill without some such Amendment as that under discussion would be to set up dummy registers. He had officiated as Under Sheriff of Lancashire during two general elections, and from practical experience he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that there would be thousands of names appearing on the register as duly qualified voters who were not qualified to vote at all in a particular constituency. He knew of two divisions where there were over 2,500 plural voters in one, and over 1,500 in the other division. This Amendment was an attempt to rectify the unworkable nature of the Bill by providing some machinery under which the dummy voters would either be cleared off or indicated on the register in some practical way. Tremendous expense and inconvenience would be caused by leaving the Bill in its present shape. The returning officer's charges and the cost of the election were based upon the number of electors on the register, and if 25 per cent. were not entitled to vote, why increase the cost of an election by 25 per cent.? AH the canvassing for these people would be unnecessary if this Bill were made workable by taking the names of duplicate voters off the registers for the constituencies where they were not entitled to vote. If the names were not taken off altogether, some mark should be placed opposite to them in the constituencies where they were entitled to vote. He looked at this from the point of view of one who would like to see plural voting abolished. Having had a great deal of practical experience in the actual conduct of elections, he could only say that the Bill as at present framed was absolutely unworkable. He was perfectly certain that such an outcry would be raised against it that it would not take long for any Government to repeal it.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ LORD R. CECIL moved the following new clause—"This Act shall come into operation on the first day of January after the next general election, unless before that time an Act shall be passed giving to women the franchise on the same terms and conditions upon which it 1492 is enjoyed by men, in which case it shall come into operation on the day fixed for the coming into operation of such last-mentioned Act." He said they had good reason to think that one of the main purposes, or one of the main results of this Bill, would be to diminish the electoral support of the Unionist party and increase the electoral support of the Liberal party. For a Parliament containing a large Liberal majority to endeavour to secure that one Party should continue in power for all time or for a long period was a highly unconstitutional proceeding. It seemed to him essentially the same as attempting to repeal the Septennial Act. Therefore, before this Bill came into operation, it was right that the people of the country should be consulted upon it before the Party now in power succeeded in placing on the statute-book a measure which would work out to their political advantage; at any rate the constituencies should have an opportunity of saying that that was the reason for which they were returned to power. That was the general scope of this clause, but there was one contingency in which he thought the House might fairly think that the Bill should not necessarily be put off until after the next general election. If the Government were to undertake to make a real reform of the electoral law of the country and set the franchise upon a solid and enduring basis, it would be reasonable to say that whenever that Bill came into operation this Bill should also come into operation as part of that great reform. What was nominally really sought to be removed by this Bill? As he understood it, at any rate, that which was put forward by the advocates of the Bill was that there were certain electors who had an undue share in the government of the country—that some, owing to their property qualification, were enabled to have a greater share of representation in this House than others—in other words, that some people were favoured elector-ally above others. That was an anomaly undoubtedly, if they put it in that way, and he did not say that it was an anomaly which should not in certain circumstances be dealt with. But he did say that in considering the anomalies of our electoral system it did not stand very high. The anomaly was that they gave to a certain class of voters no doubt 1493 a preponderance of power, but there was a very much larger class of our fellow-countrymen or countrywomen who had no share in the electoral power of the country. No one could say they were in any way less qualified than the present electors to give their voices in the government of the country. They had the same stake in the country, the same intelligence, and the same education.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I do not think that the noble Lord would be justified under a clause fixing the date of the operation of the Act to go into a general discussion on the question of woman suffrage. He is entitled to contemplate a Bill for that purpose passing the House, but I do not think he is entitled to go into arguments in favour of it.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he did not propose to argue the case for woman suffrage beyond saying that this Bill was only intended to remove one of the anomalies of the electoral system, and before it came into operation the House ought to have an opportunity of considering the electoral system as a whole. He was quite aware that it was not very easy to present that argument without to some extent dealing with the question of woman suffrage, but he would endeavour to abide closely by the ruling which had been given and not to deal with it more than was absolutely necessary in order to make his argument clear. This was essentially a disfranchisement Bill. Before they disfranchised one class, they ought to consider whether there was not another class anxiously demanding and entitled to the franchise. Before they made this small alteration, which after all would do no more than deprive people of the vote which they had exercised up to now, they ought to consider whether in the readjustment of our electoral system there were not other people who were entitled to be called to the exercise of the franchise. Before they passed a measure which, after all, would mainly benefit one party, they ought to consider whether there were not other anomalies which affected all parties alike, such as the question of woman suffrage, which really had gained the sympathy and support of hon. Members sitting in all parts of the House. He contended that a reform of that kind had as great a claim to be considered 1494 as the one dealt with in this Bill. There were an enormous number of Members pledged to that reform, and he would point out that if they accepted this Bill without endeavouring to force on the House and the Government their claim that women should receive the vote they would never have an opportunity of doing so again. [Cries of "Order."] He ventured to think that that was perfectly in order. The question was whether this Bill should come into operation immediately. It was only in that way that they could secure from the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer the reform which they desired. It was only by putting pressure on the Government that many hon. Members opposite could carry out their election pledges. The pledge he gave was embodied in this clause. He said that he would not bring in a Woman Suffrage Bill, but he did say that they had a better claim to be considered than any other class in the country. Hon. Members opposite had given more extreme pledges than that, but he believed that very few of them would vote with him in the division. [Cheers.] Yes, and they gloried in it, because they cared much less for the cause he was pleading on this occasion than they did for the support of the Government. Until reformers outside realised the nature of the support they were receiving in Parliament, they would labour Under a delusion which, he feared, they Would have to bear with very unpleasant results to themselves. He recommended this new clause to the House because it embodied the opinion which he had endeavoured to impress on the House more than once, and because it would be a test of the political sincerity of hon. Members who sat on the other side of the House.
This Act shall come into operation on the first day of January after the next Genera Election, unless before that time an Act shall be passed giving to women the franchise on the same terms and conditions upon which it is enjoyed by men, in which case it shall come into operation on the day fixed for the coming into operation of such last-mentioned Act."— (Lord R. Cecil.)—
§ Brought up, and road a first time.1495
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that a considerable portion of the interesting speech to which they had just listened left his withers completely unwrung. He did not pledge himself, when he was before his constituency, to woman suffrage; but he did not think that even those who did pledge themselves need be in the least difficulty about voting against the noble Lord's clause. The effect of it would be to postpone the operation of this Bill, which secured, as they believed, a great and necessary reform in their electoral law, until 1st January after the next general election, unless the contingency which the noble Lord contemplated took place in the meantime. In other words, the probable or, at any rate, the more than possible operation of the clause, if it wore carried, would be that, until another general election had taken place, the plural voter was to continue to vote and, indeed, was to have the opportunity of saying, at the next general election, whether he would be a party to his own extinction. That was not the intention of the Government, and he did not believe it was the intention of the House of Commons. This was not a new proposal. It was one to the principle of which the majority of the Party on that side of the House had been pledged for more than twenty years. If ever there was a reform which had been adequately discussed and presented to the people of the country it was this, but the present was the first occasion on which they had had an effective opportunity of seeing it carried into law. He had no hesitation in asking hon. Members behind him, whatever their opinions as to the expediency or inexpediency of woman suffrage might be, to vote against this clause.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
thought every one would admit that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put before his followers the argument which of all others was likely to induce them to follow him into the lobby. He could well believe that nothing would be more disagreeable to hon. Gentlemen opposite than that anything should be deferred until after the next general election. They were aware from Parliamentary history that general election must 1496 follow general election, and that a new Government would reverse the policy of that which preceded it. He congratulated hon. Gentlemen in having no illusions as to what would happen at the next general election. The right hon. Gentleman, he thought, was not quite so happy in the earlier part of his speech, in giving reasons why the Amendment should be rejected. He understood that his noble friend who proposed the Amendment was a supporter on the whole of female suffrage, but he had not given the specific pledges which had been given by 420 Members on both sides of the House. His noble friend's view rested on two propositions. The first proposition was of general policy, and it was that, when they were desiring to remove anomalies, they ought, if possible, if they could do so in a practical spirit, to take a wide view of the anomalies that existed, and that, in particular, they ought not to set to work to deal with this relatively small anomaly, which was directed against a particular party, when there were other anomalies in existence which had no party complexion, but which affected much greater and wider interests in the community at large. He had been a consistent supporter of that view when he was unsuccessfully fighting a Manchester seat and through all the debates on this Bill. He was a more ardent supporter of woman suffrage twenty-five years ago, but he had never concealed his opinions either in the House or out of it. The addition of an enormous number of votes to the register was a great change in our electoral system, which now worked well, and he looked at it, therefore, with the caution appropriate to the Party to which he belonged. But the general trend of legislation in this country seemed to him to make it very necessary that on some questions they should have an authoritative representation of the other half of the human race who now, far more than formerly, were brought into direct competition with men in the industrial sphere. That was a genuine argument in favour of the change. But, apart from that, it was quite clear that those who thought they ought to make our electoral system a symmetrical whole, in which they should only consider the exact value of each human being in a community and give each human being his exact proportion of the total political power of the whole community—those 1497 who held that hard and fast theory—he thought a very pedantic theory—of our representative system, were bound to support his noble friend's proposal or any other proposal which hastened the day on which this grout and undoubted anomaly should be brought to an end. That brought him to the second motive which had animated his noble friend, viz., that it was in vain to appeal to the House and to gentlemen pledged to a particular change unless they could give them some strong motive for carrying out that change. There were 420 gentlemen in the House who were pledged to this change. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed, not in words but in tone, an absolute scepticism as to the possibility of the change being carried out in the present Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that, although 420 gentlemen were pledged to it, it would not come to anything so long as this Parliament, under the direction of the present Government, had no motive other than the actual carrying out of their own pledges for seeing the change brought into effect. That other motive his noble friend supplied, and he ventured to say that every one of the 420 gentlemen ought to welcome the stimulus to carrying out their pledges which his noble friend supplied. Promises were easily made but not always equally easily kept. It was because his noble friend, rightly gauging the temperament of these 420 gentlemen, and rightly seeing that there could be no motive applied to them so strong as the motive of getting a Party advantage out of the change, sought to link together the great change, the great reform which had no Party complexion, with a simple change which had nothing but a Party complexion. He seemed to have rightly gauged the motive actuating those 420 gentlemen. Personally, holding that view which he had always held, he should go into the lobby with his noble friend.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
thought the only inference to be drawn from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech was that this Government did not intend to enfranchise women before the next general election. The question of the enfranchisement of women was of supreme importance, and he should vote for the Amendment now before the House as a protest against the 1498 statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Events out of doors ought to convince Ministerialists that they could not treat this question lightly. Thirty-nine years ago the House of Commons passed a resolution in favour of the enfranchisement of women. He was sorry to hear from the Loader of the Opposition that as he advanced in years he did not advance in wisdom, or, if he advanced in wisdom he did not advance in gallantry. Women's Liberal Associations had been pathetically putting their trust in the present Government, but now they knew that so long as this Government remained in office there was no chance of the injustice to women being removed.
§ * MR. NIELD
denied that this question had in the proper sense of the term been before the country for twenty years, although it might have been discussed in hole-and-corner Liberal caucus meetings and at Radical clubs from time to time, but it could not be said to have been pronounced upon nor had the opinion of the country been taken upon the question. All he knew was that several hon. Gentlemen opposite were commiserating each other in regard to the votes which they would lose under the Bill and did not seem to have a very grateful appreciation of the Government measure, except so far as they thought as a Party they might derive some general benefit from the injury it was expected to inflict upon their opponents. The Right Hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the electorate had had the question before it for twenty years past, but he appeared to have lost sight of the fact that his Party had not been able to get up very much enthusiasm over the subject. He would remind the Right Hon. Gentleman that for the bulk of the period he mentioned the Radical Party had been wandering in the desert, and so far from the cry of "one man one vote" assisting them to terminate their wanderings it had done nothing for them, and they only found their way out when they invented the fable of "Chinese Slavery" and the imposture of the "big and little loaf."
MR. HOWARD (Cumberland, Eskdale)
said he was a keen supporter of woman suffrage, but he proposed to vote against the now clause of the noble Lord because 1499 he thought it would do nothing to forward that movement. It appeared to him to pursue a "cut off your nose to spite your face" policy. He believed that this Bill was a democratic measure, and he did not wish to see the effect of a general enactment of this kind postponed until after the next general election, In his opinion the effect of this measure at the next general election would be a valuable one and would forward the democratic cause in the country.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said he had a great admiration for his noble friend the Member for Marylebone, whose foresight and capabilities were beyond question, but on this occasion the noble Lord had put him in an extremely
§ difficult position, because if he went to a division, as he supposed he would, he really did not know with whom to vote. He was in favour of the first part of the Amendment, but with the second part he disagreed, and therefore he did not know what course to pursue. He thought, however, as the first part of the Amendment would postpone what was an extremely bad measure, he had better support his noble friend, especially as be thought the second part of his Amendment, which only dealt with an abstract question, would never be brought forward.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 50; Noes, 278. (Division List No. 441.)1501
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Courthope, G. Loyd||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Alters-||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Du Cros, Harvey||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Duncan, Robert (Lanark Govan||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Balcarres, Lord||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Rasch, Sir Frederic Came|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond||Faber, George Denison (York)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fell, Arthur||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Banner, John S. (Harmood)||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hodge, John||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Houston, Robert Paterson||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Jowett, F. W.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Cave, George||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Keir Hardie.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Nield, Herbert|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Bottomley, Horatio||Clough, William|
|Alden, Percy||Brace, William||Clynes, J. R.|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Bramsdon, T. A.||Cobbold, Felix Thornley|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Branch, James||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Brigg, John||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Bright, J. A.||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight||Brooke, Stopford||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Barker, John||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Cowan, W. H.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs)||Cox, Harold|
|Barren, Rowland Hirst||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Craig, Herbert J, (Tynemouth)|
|Beaumont, Hn. W. C. B. (Hexhm)||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Crean, Eugene|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Crosfield, A. H.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Berridge, H. T. D.||Byles, William Pollard||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Bertram, Julius||Cairns, Thomas||Dillon, John|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Duffy, William J.|
|Billson, Alfred||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Chance, Frederick William||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall|
|Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordshire||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)|
|Boland, John||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)|
|Bolton, T. D. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Clarke, C. Goddard||Elibank, Master of|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Lever, W. H. (Chesh, Wirral)||Renton. Major Leslie|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Levy, Maurice||Richards, Thos. (W. Monm'th)|
|Essex, R. W.||Lewis, John Herbert||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mptn)|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Richardson, A.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lough, Thomas||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lundon, W.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Findlay, Alexander||Lynch, H. B.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Robinson, S.|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Maclean, Donald||Rogers, F. K. Newman|
|Fullerton, Hugh||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Rose, Charles Day|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Rowlands, J.|
|Gill, A. H.||MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Runciman, Walter|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||M'Callum, John M.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||M'Crae, George||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Glover, Thomas||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Kenna, Reginald||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne)|
|Greenwood, G (Peterborough)||M'Killop, W.||Seddon, J.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Micking, Major G.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Hall, Frederick||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Halpin, J.||Marnham, F. J.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Meagher, Michael||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Menzies, Walter||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Micklem, Nanthaniel||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Montagu, E. S.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Mooney, J. J.||Summerbell, T.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Morpeth, Viscount||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morse, L. L.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Henry, Charles S.||Myer, Horatio||Tillett, Louis John|
|Herbert, Col. Ivor (Mon., S.)||Napier, T. B.||Torrance, Sir A. W.|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Nolan, Joseph||Toulmin, George|
|Higham, John Sharp||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Verney, F. W.|
|Hogan, Michael||Nuttall, Harry||Wadsworth, J.|
|Hooper, A. G.||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Wallace, Robert|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Horniman, Emslie John||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Doherty, Philip||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Hyde, Clarendon||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Idris, T. H. W.||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Dowd, John||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Jenkins, J.||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)||Watt, H. Anderson|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Malley, William||Whitbread, Howard|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||O'Mara, James||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Joyce, Michael||Paul, Herbert||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Kelley, George D.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pirie, Duncan V.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Pollard, Dr.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James||Power, Patrick Joseph||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Winfrey, R.|
|Lambert, George||Rainy, A. Rolland||Young, Samuel|
|Lamont, Norman||Raphael, Herbert H.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Redmond, William (Clare)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Rees, J. D.|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Rendall, Athelstan|
§ SIR WILLIAM BULL,
in moving a new clause providing that an attempt to 1502 induce any person to vote as a Parliamentary elector by informing that person 1503 without reasonable ground that he was not registered in two or more constituencies, should be considered to be undue influence within the meaning of Section 2 of the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act, 1883, said that as there would be much difficulty in understanding the Bill, he thought this Amendment was desirable. During election times various stories went about with reference to people not being entitled to vote, and such stories were likely to increase greatly in the future, when men would be uncertain whether they could vote or not. Added to that there was the question of heavy penalties which were to be inflicted under this Bill upon anyone who committed these offences. The result would be that numbers of people, rather than run any risk, would decline to exercise their franchise. That being so, any pressure in the direction of undue influence might have a material effect upon an election, and therefore it was in the interest of purity that such a clause as he now proposed should be inserted in the Bill. He begged to move.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD
, who seconded, said that when this question was dealt with in Committee he understood the right hon. Gentleman sympathised with the suggestions that were made, and indicated that he would probably provide words to carry out the ideas suggested. On looking through the various clauses and Amendments, however, he had failed to see anything to provide against undue influence. He did not think this Amendment would injure the Bill.
If any person directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, induces or attempts to induce any person to vote as a Parliamentary elector by informing that person that he is not registered in two or more constituencies knowing that he is so registered, or without having reasonable ground to believe he is not so registered, that person shall be guilty of undue influence within the meaning of Section 2 of The Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act, 1883."—(Sir William Bull.)—
§ Brought up and read a first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."1504
§ MR. HARCOURT
said the hon. Gentleman was quite right in saying that although he had spoken sympathetically in Committee, nothing appeared on the Paper in his name. The obvious reason was that it was not necessary. This new clause under discussion was more or less the converse of an Amendment in his name to Clause 1, and was therefore unnecessary, because a person who induced anyone to vote under such circumstances would be guilty of impersonation under two separate sets of circumstances. First, he would be guilty by Section 6, Subsection (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883 if the agent knew that he was a plural voter—that was the guilty agent and the guilty voter—and he would be also guilty by his new proviso under Clause 1, Sub-section (1) Sub-head (c), if the voter did not know he was a plural voter. In both those cases the persons so inducing would be guilty of the offence of impersonation.
§ * MR. COURTHOPE
asked whether the right hon. (Gentleman would be willing to accept an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Ealing, the effect of which would be to include both inducing to vote and inducing not to vote. If the right hon. Gentleman did so he agreed that this proposed clause would be unnecessary; but otherwise he did not see that the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment to Clause 1 at all covered the case which this proposed clause was designed to meet.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said when they reached his Amendment he would point out that it was unnecessary to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ealing.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
said that although he sympathised entirely with the motive of his hon. friend in moving this Amendment, he really thought the point was much better met by the Amendment put down by the First Commissioner of Works. The right hon. Gentleman, however, ought to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ealing as suggested by his hon. friend the Member for Rye. They took the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment for what it was worth—meaning no disrespect—but they thought that with 1505 the words of the hon. Member for Ealing added it would be very much better.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Mr. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E. R., Holderness) moved an Amendment to enable a Parliamentary voter to withdraw any selection made by him on giving notice on or before 5th September, and requiring the clerk to send to such voter an acknowledgment of the receipt of such withdrawal. He thought it was only fair that the voter should have this right given to him, and he earnestly hoped the Government would be able to accept the clause.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
seconded the clause, the effect of which, he said, would be that a plural voter who had chosen his vote in constituency A and found that there was no probability of an election in any given year in that constituency, but that there was a probability of an election in constituency B, in which he was also registered, would have the opportunity of withdrawing his selection from constituency A, and placing it in constituency B. In other words, it would prevent a plural voter from being disfranchised altogether when a by-election occurred.
A parliamentary voter may withdraw any selection made by him on giving notice to the clerk of the county council, or town clerk, having charge of the registers in which such selection was operative on or before the fifth day of September in any year, and the clerk of the county council, or town clerk, shall send to such voter an acknowledgment of the receipt of such withdrawal." —(Mr. Stanley Wilson.)—
§ Brought up and read a first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be road a second time."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he must condole with the hon. Gentleman on the particular quality of support he received. The hon. Baronet knew there was no offensive intention in what he said. It was only that they had not been able to direct the hon. Baronet's attention with any precision to the clause which he happened to be supporting. The hon. Member who 1506 moved this clause had, of course, a very definite idea in his mind as to what he wished to obtain, but unfortunately the two benches that separated the two Members had been an effectual bar to that close communication between those who were taking such an active and intelligent part in the discussion necessary to bring the controversies within the ordinary region of reason and application. The hon. Member had proposed that a voter should be permitted to withdraw any selection he had made up to the 5th September. He thought it was a reasonable proposal, and he had provided for it in an Amendment to Clause 1, which he had on the Paper. He could not imagine what more the hon. Gentleman wished for.
MR. STANLEY WILSON
said he should like the right hon. Gentleman to have included in his Amendment the date and also the sending of notice to the voter himself.
§ MR. HARCOURT
thought it would be a pity to insert the date, as it might limit the operation. As to the notice, his Amendment provided that the clerk should send an acknowledgment of the receipt of every notice of selection or withdrawal received by him.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. STANLEY WILSON moved a new clause requiring the overseers to distinguish in the lists of voters those registered in more than one constituency. In this way he submitted they would get a clean register and simplify the work of every body connected with registration or elections. He thought his proposal was quite a reasonable one, and he had brought it forward with an honest intention of preventing dishonesty. If the First Commissioner of Works would give this matter his careful consideration he would at once sec the reasons why the suggestion he was making was necessary.
§ *MR. COURTHOPE, in seconding, said it was highly desirable that they should have a clean register, which would simplify the work of everybody connected with registration, and make it much easier to administer this Bill when it 1507 became an Act. Although he preferred the method which he had proposed in his own new clause, this clause would by other means achieve the same object, and he was therefore glad to second it.
The overseers of every pariah or township shall in the months of April or May in each year ascertain from every person in their parish or township, entitled to be registered as a Parliamentary elector, whether such person is registered in any other parish or township as a Parliamentary elector, and every person who is a Parliamentary elector in more than one parish or township shall have a distinctive mark placed against his name in the overseers lists of voters."—(Mr. Stanley Wilson.)—
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made and Question proposed. "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said this proposal would make it part of the duty of the overseers to undertake a personal canvass of every elector in order to ascertain whether such person was registered elsewhere as a Parliamentary elector, and that, of course, must carry with it the right to prosecute if the overseer did not get a full and true and complete Answer. The Amendment would compel every voter to state all his qualifications and impose a penalty for not doing so. There were other objections of a practical character to the Amendment, which, obviously, was not one that could be put into the Bill.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
asked the First Commissioner if he had a new clause or Amendment down on the Paper which would carry out the intention of his hon. friend's proposal.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
thought that in this case the right hon. Gentleman was right, and the new clause proposed by his hon. friend was a mistake, because it would give a good deal of trouble to the overseers and impose upon them a task which they could not fulfil. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the work thrown upon the overseers by this Bill would be so great that be was 1508 obliged to refuse this new clause. Surely that admission was a tremendous condemnation of the Bill, for it showed that after all they would not get a clean register.
§ * MR. R. PEARCE (Staffordshire, Leek)
who had a similar Amendment on the Paper, urged that the overseer was the only person who could really get the information on which alone a clean and trustworthy register could be drawn up. Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than that candidates should have to fight an election on a register crowded with names of persons who were not entitled to vote in the constituency because they were qualified elsewhere. It would be very inconvenient for both canvassers and candidates if the register was left in such a confused condition that nobody could tell whether or not the persons on it were entitled to vote. He would like to point out the difficulties which the voters themselves would be in when they were considering where they should record their votes. They might find themselves pursued by applications from the political parties in different constituencies, and when the Primrose dame came along in a motor car, followed possibly by the suffragettes in prison dress in a trap, the unfortunate voters would find themselves in a sad dilemma. The voter might drive off with one party or the other, and then discover that he had no right to vote. Nothing could could be more irritating than for a voter to be brought up to the polling station and then find that he was not able to vote. In endeavouring to find a remedy for this state of things hitherto they had been looking to the clerk of the county council, the town clerk, and the registration agent. These were not the right people to deal with this matter. The clerk of the county council and the town clerk were high and dry officials who did not really have to do with this particular matter at all. Registration agents were non-official and only parisitical people, who were employed to try to correct anything that was done wrong by the overseers. It was the overseer who was at the root of the matter. He must be employed to keep the register clean. He thought if the overseer was appointed to deal with this matter they would accomplish what the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill hoped for. They 1509 would be able to get a clean register, and surely the right hon. Gentleman would welcome any suggestion which would enable them to do that. A register should be in such a state that everybody could rely on it at election time, and he urged respectfully, but still with persistency, that the only person who could help to do that was the overseer. He made the rate book, and the rate book was the foundation of the registration list. The man who made up the rate book was the man who had to make investigations and inquiries which resulted in a voter ultimately being put on the voting list. There was no difficulty about the overseer getting the information. In the City of London the overseer was the person who put every occupier of single rooms on the rate and therefore on the register. The rate book was his guide. The overseers were willing and proud of the work they had to do, and the ultimate result was to collect and marshal in order the voting power and public opinion of the country. The overseers, he was certain, did their work thoroughly well. The overseer by personal inquiry found out the place of abode of the voter, and out of 31,000 voters in the City of London 25,000 voters had against their names their actual place of abode. That was done by private inquiry and when that inquiry was made there was nothing more easy than for the overseer to put to the qualifying voter the magic question which would otherwise be put to him at the polling booth, "Are you to your knowledge registered in any other constituency?" The country overseers knew everything about their parishes. In the constituency he represented in North Staffordshire the overseers of the parishes knew all the voters who had plural qualifications. If a man had a field in an adjoining county or neighbouring constituency and was entitled to be on the register the overseer knew it, and the overseer was acquainted not only with the man's residence but with his occupation. They could tell what he had 1510 for dinner and what market inn he frequented. There would be no difficulty in the overseer in a county constituency making up a list of plural voters. If they entrusted the overseer to do it he could distinguish these plural voters in the list by distinctive type so that everybody would know that the man was a plural voter. He thought that should be done in order that the voter might not be ensnared into a double vote. The voter was the very last person who saw the list. It was not until the voter came to the polling booth that he knew he was on the list. The best mark of all would be to print the names of plural voters on the register in italics.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that the debates had been remarkable for the non-intervention of private Members on the Ministerial side of the House, and he wished to congratulate the Government and the Minister in charge of the Bill that they had now had an exception to the rule. He found himself in a difficulty. He had some sympathy with the object sought to be obtained by the Amendment, but he could not find himself in agreement with the Amendment itself. It had been said that this was a Bill the object of which was to secure "one man one vote." He entirely disagreed that that was the object of the Bill, indeed it was the last object. The object was rather "one man no vote but possibly prison," He had no doubt that the Government might have achieved what was said to be their object with a less waste of time. This was the first occasion in his recollection that an hon. Member had stood up in the House as an advocate for the overseers. Both in his public and in his private life he had had a good deal to do with that wholly underpaid class of public servants, and he was glad that they had obtained such an advocate. The hon. Gentleman had said that the overseers were the only persons who could provide the necessary information. It was perfectly true that the assistant overseers in their different 1511 parishes had all the local information without which this Bill could not be carried into effect with justice. He was amazed that the Government, and the supporters of the Government, did not realise what they were doing. There must be thousands of electors who would walk absolutely blindfold straight into the trap that was being laid for them. He did not know whether the overseers had the intimate knowledge of the daily life of the electors alleged by the hon. Member for Leek, but they wore in the unfortunate position of being called upon to do a great deal of work for little or nothing, and he did not think that it was quite fair to throw this additional burden upon them. Nobody in the House really wanted to expose a man to penalties because he happened to have two voting qualifications. What was wanted was to prevent a man voting more than once; but the plan of the Bill was the most roundabout way of obtaining that object which he had ever hoard of in his Parliamentary experience. He believed that if the Bill passed into law, it would have to be followed by an entire reorganisation of our whole electoral and local government systems, in order that somebody else should be found to do the work which the overseers could not undertake.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said with reference to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the silence of the supporters of the Government, that that was a silence which the right hon. Gentleman understood in past years. When they were working under closure the supporters of the Government were silent, to allow more time to hon. Gentlemen opposite to criticise the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he did not remember the guillotine being imposed upon the Report stage; but he himself remembered seeing, from below the gallery, the guillotine being imposed by the late Government not only at the Committee stage but on Report as well. As to the Amendment, it was perfectly true that he did not wish to add to the work 1512 of the overseers who had been so ably represented by the hon. Member for Leek, but he was not able in this Bill to add to their pay. He had a great regard and respect for the overseers, but the hon. Gentleman would admit that he could not put the spiritual powers of the overseers, which he had specified so fully, into an Act of Parliament. Omniscience had always been the foible of overseers, and now apparently omnipotence was to be added, for the kind of canvass proposed would necessitate that they should not only know where each voter dined and what he drank, but a personal Interview in order to discover the facts. He did not envy the lot of an overseer who would have to conduct such a canvass, and such a proposal as this would inflict a hardship and unnecessary labour upon those who were charged with the preparation of the lists.
§ * MR. THORNTON (Clapham)
said he was quite conscious of the force of the objections which had been put forward, but in a suburban constituency with which he was familiar and which he represented he would like to see the overseers charged with this duty. He would like to tie down the dwelling house occupier and the small lodger as much as possible to the locality, and so secure a strong Residential vote, because there was great difficulty in finding out the qualifications of the elector except by visits. He wanted to know how these personal visits were to be carried on under the machinery which existed. He spoke with some sense of responsibility and some knowledge, and although he had just heard private Parliamentary agents spoken of disparagingly they would loom more largely in the future and become more powerful under the Bill. It would become necessary in the future for a Member to defend his position by means of such agents who at the last moment knew the voters who had a dwelling house franchise and who had gone into another constituency. The task of 1513 following these voters was far beyond a private Member's ability or purse, and involved a policy contrary to that which his Radical opponents professed to support. They all desired that elections should not be made dearer and also to put them on a plane which would lead to citizens with ordinary purses having a chance of entering Parliament. Under this system, however, the cost would be much greater unless the overseers were employed.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD
contended that, if this proposal wore carried out, there would be the advantage that on the list of voters plural voters would be shown by a distinctive mark. There would also be the distinctive mark put by the official to whom the voter had sent his notice of selection, so that the register would show, not only who were plural voters, but also who were entitled to vote. It was the assistant overseer's duty to compile the register. Why should they not take the trouble to ask whether any given man was a plural voter or not? It was the assistant overseer's duty to find out a lot of particulars about a man and his house. He had to find out whether a man was an alien, whether he had made alterations in the house to the extent of £40 or £50 so that something should be put on his assessment, and a variety of other matters. If the assistant overseer was paid for this work why should he not do it, and make the Bill workable? He had calculated that in the county of Lancashire £20,000 would be saved on elections if the registers were complete in this respect. Putting a man on an inquiry of this kind would show the voter that there was something in the point and that he had better look into it. He did not know 1514 which of the three clauses on the Paper would carry out this proposition most effectively; he doubted whether any of them would be effectual, but they showed that the Bill was unworkable. Why should not the work be done by those who made up the lists to the extent, at all events, of the information that could be got and put upon the register? It would save an immense amount of money to everybody concerned in an election. He respectfully suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should give one of these clauses his consideration. The affect of adopting the clause would be that, in addition to the notice sent in, there would be a mass of other information on the register, such as the place in which a plural voter might vote and the places in which he might not. It was a fatal objection to the Bill that the right hon. Gentleman persistently refused to entertain any suggestions whatever which would enable the electors to preserve the great advantage which they had only acquired as the result of fifty years of legislation, namely, a complete register. He thought if the Government did not adopt some such Amendment the Bill would become a dead letter.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
thought there was a growing feeling in all parts of the House that this was not only a very confused and complex but a very bad Bill. If the debate on the Report stage had been extended for a night or two more the Government would probably have seen the wisdom of withdrawing the Bill altogether. It was a thoroughly bad Bill.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
, continuing, said the one redeeming feature about the 1515 debate had been the wit and eloquence of the Minister in charge. He was very glad that the silence on the benches opposite had at last been broken by an hon. Member who, speaking with great knowledge, had appealed to the Government to give way upon this Amendment. What was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman? He objected to the overseer being made the authority because that would involve a personal canvass of the electors by the overseer. But did not the overseers send out every spring a circular to all ratepayers asking them to state how long they had occupied their house and other particulars; and would it not be the simplest thing in the world for the overseer to add to those inquiries the question—"Are you registered in any other constituency or are you not?" He desired to help the Government to reduce a very complex and confused Bill to something that the voter could really understand. The very simplest way in which to do that would be by that indicated in this Amendment.
§ MR. LANE-FOX
thought no adequate reason as to why this work could not be done by the overseers had been given to the House, and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the matter in view of the enormous advantage that would accrue. It was obvious that a register overloaded with dummy names must cause an infinite amount of trouble to those who had to correct it, and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to make the labours of those who
§ had to amend the register more burdensome than they need be. He was glad to gather from the remarks of the right hon. Member that the silence of hon. Gentlemen opposite was due to the generous spirit of the Government, who desired to give the Opposition during the short time at the disposal of the House an opportunity of expressing their views as fully as possible.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG
said everybody would, after the points that had been brought out, recognise the extreme importance of weeding out the register to the lowest point. The notices sent out at the present time by the county council clerks and town clerks could at all events cover one of the points raised by this Amendment. It was quite clear that some wrong was going to be done by the Act to a certain number of people entitled to vote, and the minimum of wrong would be done if these officials were allowed to make the register as plain as possible. A great deal of clearness would be undoubtedly attained if the suggestion of his hon. friend were carried out. If the right hon. Gentleman could be induced to do something to remedy the evil complained of it would be a gain. He thought the fact that there had been unanimity on this question during the debate should lead the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 62; Noes, 298. (Division List No. 442.)1519
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F||Banner, John S. Harmood.||Bridgeman, W. Clive|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Baring, Hon. Guy (Winchester||Bull, Sir William James|
|Ashley, W. W.||Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Burdett-Coutts, W.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cave, George|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(City Lond.||Bowles, G. Stewart||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Boyle, Sir Edward||Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc||Kimber, Sir Henry||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Craig, Captain Jas. (Down, E.)||Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Starkey, John R.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh,|
|Duncan, Robt. (Lanark, Govan||Moore, William||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Nield, Herbert||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Fell, Arthur||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Warde, Col. C. B. (Kent, Mid)|
|Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury S. Edmds.||Remnant, James Farquharson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Stanley Wilson and Mr. Courthope.|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Agnew, George William||Cheetham, John Frederick||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Alden, Percy||Clarke, C. Goddard||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Clough, William||Hall, Frederick|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Halpin, J.|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Cooper, G. J.||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E Grinst'd)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Cox, Harold||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Crean, Eugene||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Barker, John||Crosfield, A. H.||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somers't||Crossley, William J.||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Dalziel, James Henry||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Barnard, E. B.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Beale, W. P.||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Herbert, Col. Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Beaumont, Hn. W. C. B. (Hexh'm||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dillon, John||Hodge, John|
|Benn Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Dobson, Thomas W.||Hogan, Michael|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hooper, A. G.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Duffy, William J.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N|
|Bertram, Julius||Dunne, Major K. Martin (Walsall||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Billson, Alfred||Edwards, Frank (Radnor||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordshire||Elibank, Master of||Jenkins, J.|
|Boland, John||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Bolton, T. D. (Derbyshire, N.E.||Erskine, David C.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea|
|Brace, William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Essex, R. W.||Jowett, F. W.|
|Branch, James||Evans, Samuel T.||Joyce, Michael|
|Brigg, John||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Bright, J. A.||Everett, R. Lacey||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Fenwick, Charles||Kelley, George D.|
|Brooke, Stafford||Ferens, T. R.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh||Findlay, Alexander||Kincaid-Smith, Captain|
|Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs)||Flynn, James Christopher||Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)|
|Burke, E. Haviland.||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fullerton, Hugh||Lambert, George|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Lamont, Norman|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Gill, A. H.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas.||Ginnell, L.||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Glendinning, R. G.||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Glover, Thomas||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)|
|Chance, Frederick William||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)|
|Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Levy, Maurice||O'Malley, William||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||O'Mara, James||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Lough, Thomas||Parker, James (Halifax)||Summerbell, T.|
|Lundon, W.||Paul, Herbert||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Paulton, James Mellor||Taylor, Theodore C, (Radcliffe)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Lynch, H. B.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset E.)|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Pollard, Dr.||Tillett, Louis John|
|Maclean, Donald||Power, Patrick Joseph||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Toulmin, George|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Price, Robt. John (Norfolk, E.)||Ure, Alexander|
|MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Verney, F. W.|
|M'Callum, John M.||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.||Wallace, Robert|
|M'Crae, George||Rainy, A. Rolland||Walsh, Stephen|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Raphael, Herbert H.||Walters, John Tudor|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|M'Killop, W.||Redmond, William (Clare)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Rees, J. D.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Rendall, Athelstan||Wardle, George J.|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Renton, Major Leslie||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Richards, Thos. (W. Monm'th)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston||Richardson, A.||Watt, H. Anderson|
|Marnham, F. J.||Rickett, J. Compton||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Meagher, Michael||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Menzies, Walter||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Montagu, E. S.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Robinson, S.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Morse, L. L.||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rose, Charles Day||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Myer, Horatio||Rowlands, J.||Williamson, A.|
|Napier, T. B.||Runciman, Walter||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Nolan, Joseph||Samuel, Hebert L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid)||Seaverns, J. H.||Winfrey, R.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Seddon, J.||Wodehouse, Lord|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Seely, Major J. B.||Young, Samuel|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|O'Dowd, John||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|O'Hare, Patrick||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
§ MR. RAWLINSON (Cambridge University) moved a new clause providing that no nomination paper should be invalidated by the fact that the registered elector signing it was not entitled, by reason of the provisions of this Act, to vote in the constituency. Under the Bill a person disqualified to vote would be unable to nominate a candidate or present a petition against the return of a candidate. He thought that would cause a great deal of inconvenience and unnecessary expense, and it was an obvious defect in the Act. He noticed that the right hon. Gentleman had an Amend 1520 ment down on Clause 4 dealing with this question, and he should like to have some assurance from him that it achieved the same object as he was anxious to provide for in his proposal. Of course if the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment covered the same ground he would withdraw his proposal.
MR. STANLEY WILSON
seconded. He thought this was a clause which the Government ought to accept. It would be a great hardship if a nomination was rendered void on account of a man having signed tit in error. The proposal 1521 of the Government on this point was a most complicated one.
No nomination paper shall be invalidated by the fact that the registered elector signing it is not entitled, by reason of the provisions of this Act, to vote in the constituency."—(Mr. Rawlinson.)—
§ Brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. HARCOURT
assured the hon. and learned Member that the Amendment he had placed on the Paper was intended to cover the point dealt with in his proposal. With that assurance he hoped this Amendment would be withdrawn.
§ Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY moved the following new clause:—"Any clerk of the county council or town clerk who shall wilfully neglect to carry out the provisions of this Act or any part thereof, or who shall be wilfully guilty of any breach in the execution of this Act shall for every such offence be liable to pay, by way of fine, a sum of money not exceeding £5, nor less than 20s., to be imposed by, and at the discretion of, any barrister holding any Court for the revision of any list of the parish or township of any such clerk of the county council or town clerk." That was a very simple clause, and it provided a moderate penalty in case the clerk did not carry out the duties imposed upon him. They had been told that the overseers would be put in a very awkward position by the onerous duties imposed 1522 upon them. He would be the last person to impose onerous duties upon persons who were unable to carry them out, but it ought to be remembered that the Bill would impose a great deal of trouble and some heavy burdens upon a very deserving class, namely, plural voters. Unless some penalty of this sort was imposed it would be difficult to ensure that the town clerks or the clerks of the county council would carry out the duties placed upon them by the Bill. In view of the fact that the penalty was so small, and that it would only act as a reminder to those concerned that there was a penalty if they did not carry out their duties, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept the clause.
§ MR. HARMOOD-BANNER
, in seconding the Motion, said this new clause proposed to make the penalty for wilful breach of duty a fine not exceeding £5, nor less than 20s. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill wished to make the penalty £100. He felt in connection with this Bill that for some reason or other the right hon. Gentleman had got "penalties" on the brain. They owed a great debt of gratitude to the clerks of the county councils and to town clerks for the the manner in which they performed their duties, and the House ought not to impose penalties on them which would be unduly oppressive.
Any clerk of the county council or town clerk who shall wilfully neglect to carry out the provisions of this Act or any part thereof or who shall be wilfully guilty of any breach in the execution of this Act shall for every such offence be liable to pay, by way of fine, a sum of money not exceeding £5, nor less than 20s., to be imposed by and at the discretion of any barrister holding any Court for the revision of any list of the parish or township of any such clerk of the county council or town clerk." —(Sir Frederick Banbury.)—
§ Brought up, and read the first time.1523
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be now read a second time."—(Sir Frederick Banbury.)
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he had several times to-night begged the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London to devote some of his rare moments of leisure to a more detailed consideration of the Amendments on the Paper. The new clause went on the assumption that he was not proposing to put a penalty into the Bill. The hon. Baronet had not devoted his mind sufficiently to the clause which applied to these matters. Members of this House were not going to be more squeamish than their forefathers in 1843 when they passed the Parliamentary Voters Act which imposed penalities on clerks for omission to perform certain duties. This was the only time he had departed from legislation by reference. If he had put in an Amendment imposing under this Bill the penalties provided for in the Act of 1843, he would have heard none of these complaints. The penalties under the Bill for the same class of offence wore the some as those provided for in previous Acts of Parliament. Having taken that course, an hon. Member who was not acquainted with the previous Acts
§ accused him of having "penalties" on the brain.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG
said there were one or two trifling alterations which he thought the hon. Baronet ought to make in the new clause. They were all agreed that where a person wilfully neglected to make a selection he should be open to penalties. The revising barrister had duties to perform which did not syncronise with those of a county council clerk or town clerk. He thought the right hon. Gentleman made a mistake in making the appeal to the revising barrister. He should have chosen a court of summary jurisdiction. This clause was one which inflicted penalties for the non-performance of a statutory duty, and required the most watchful cure of every Member of the House.
And, it being half-past Ten of the clock, Mr. Speaker proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 26th November, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the clause already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 80; Noes, 346. (Division List No. 443.)1527
|Anson, Sir William Renyell||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wor.)||Hills, J. W.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Ashley, W. W.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Courthope, G. Loyd||Keswick, William|
|Banner, John S. Harmood.||Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Baring, Hon. Guy (Winchester)||Craig, Capt. James (Down, E.)||Lane-Pox, G. R.|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Craik, Sir Henry||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Faber, George Damson (York)||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Fardell, Sir T. George||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Bull, Sir William James||Fell, Arthur||Marks, H. H. (Kent)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Fletcher, J. S.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Cave, George||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Moore, William|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury S. Edm'ds)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey.||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Nield, Herbert|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Starkey, John R.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Lord Balcarres.|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Glendinning, R. G.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cheetham, John Frederick||Glover, Thomas|
|Agnew, George William||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Clarke, C. Goddard||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Alden, Percy||Cleland, J. W.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Clough, William||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.)||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gulland, John W.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cooper, G. J.||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hall, Frederick|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.||Cowan, W. H.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Crean, Eugene||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh)|
|Barker, John||Crombie, John William||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somerset)||Crosfield, A. H.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Crossley, William J.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Dalziel, James Henry||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Beale, W. P.||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Beauchamp, E.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dswar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S. Geo.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Herbert, Col. Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Dillon, John||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Bertram, Julius||Dobson, Thomas W.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'd||Donelan, Captain A.||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Duffy, William J.||Hodge, John|
|Billson, Alfred||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hogan, Michael|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordsh're||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Hooper, A. G.|
|Boland, John||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.|
|Bolton, T. D. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Brace, William||Elibank, Master of||Hudson, Walter|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Branch, James||Erskine, David C.||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Brigg, John||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Bright, J. A.||Essex, R. W.||Jenkins, J.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Evans, Samuel T.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Brooke, Stopford||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Everett, R. Lacey||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J. T. (Chesh.)||Fenwick, Charles||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hn. James (Aberdeen)||Ferens, T. R.||Jowett, F. W.|
|Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Joyce, Michael|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Findlay, Alexander||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Flynn, James Christopher||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Burke, E. Haviland.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Kelley, George D.|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Freeman Thomas, Freeman||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Fuller, John Michael F.||Kincaid-Smith, Captain|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas.||Fullerton, Hugh||Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James|
|Byles, William Pollard||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Gill, A. H.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Ginnell, L.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Chance, Frederick William||Gladstone Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Lambert, George|
|Lamont, Norman||O'Hare, Patrick||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||O'Malley, William||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||O'Mara, James||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Levy, Maurice||Paul, Herbert||Summerbell, T.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Paulton, James Mellor||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Lough, Thomas||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Lundon, W.||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Lupton, Arnold||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Pirie, Duncan V.||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pollard, Dr.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Lynch, H. B.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central||Toulmin, George|
|Maclean, Donald||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Ure, Alexander|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Verney, F. W.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Radford, G. H.||Wallace, Robert|
|MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Rainy, A. Rolland||Walsh, Stephen|
|M'Callum, John M.||Raphael, Herbert H.||Walters, John Tudor|
|M'Crae, George||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Redmond, William (Clare)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Rees, J. D.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|M'Killop, W.||Rendall, Athelstan||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Renton, Major Leslie||Wardle, George J.|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mptn||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Richardson, A.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Rickett, J. Compton||Watt, H. Anderson|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Massie, J.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Meagher, Michael||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Menzies, Walter||Robinson, S.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Montagu, E. S.||Rose, Charles Day||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Rowlands, J.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Runciman, Walter||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Morrell, Philip||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Morse, L. L.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Williamson, A.|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Myer, Horatio||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Napier, T. B.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesborough)|
|Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Sears, J. E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Seaverns, J. H.||Winfrey, R.|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Seddon, J.||Wodehouse, Lord|
|Nuttall, Harry||Seely, Major J. B.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Md||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Young, Samuel|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Silcock, Thomas Ball||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|O'Dowd, John||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—(Mr. Whiteley)—put, and agreed to.
§ Bill, as amended, to be further considered To-morrow.