HC Deb 26 April 1911 vol 24 cc1792-3

asked the Prime Minister, whether he is aware that the trial of election petitions is exclusively confined to puisne judges of the King's Bench Division, and that, under the provisions of the Election Petitions Act, chief justices, even though not Members of the House of Lords, and puisne judges when Members of the House of Lords, are incapable of taking part in the trial of such petitions; whether, having regard to the fact that the exclusion of chief justices and Members of the House of Lords from the trial of such petitions was due to the desire that gentlemen who, before their elevation to the bench had been actively engaged in party politics, or who, while members of the bench, were likely to be engaged in politics, should not take part in these proceedings; and whether, in any contemplated legislation for the purpose of ensuring public confidence in the decisions of election petition judges, the Government will consider the advisability of limiting the selection of puisne judges for appointment as election petition judges to such members of the bench as have been appointed to that position without reference to official or political claims, and without previous active intervention in party politics?


asked the Prime Minister whether he will give this House an early opportunity of discussing the present method of trying election petitions?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

As I stated a clay or two ago there are features in the present procedure for the trial of election petitions which seem to the Government to call for serious reconsideration. The matter will not be lost sight of, but I cannot at present give any more specific assurance.