HC Deb 26 November 1917 vol 99 cc1748-50

(1) A candidate at a Parliamentary election (other than a university election) shall deposit, or cause to be deposited, with the returning officer, during the time appointed for the election, the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds, and if he fails to do so he shall be deemed to be withdrawn within the provisions of the Ballot Act, 1872.

(2) The deposit may be made by the deposit of any legal tender or, with the consent of the returning officer, in any other manner.

(3) If after the deposit is made the candidate is withdrawn in pursuance of the provisions of the Ballot Act, 1872, the deposit shall be returned to the candidate; and if the candidate dies after the deposit is made and before the poll is commenced, the deposit shall be returned to his personal representative.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out "(other than a university election)."

This relates to the Clause enacting that every candidate shall make a deposit which shall not be returned unless he polls a certain proportion of the votes. As the Clause stands, university elections are excluded, but it is the desire of all the universities that they should partake of this safeguard against crank candidates.


I beg to second the Amendment. If the purpose of a deposit is to ensure a guarantee of good faith, I assume that it ought to apply no less in a university election than in any other. I do not see any reason for distinguishing between university elections and any other case.


I am willing to accept this Amendment. If the universities desire a deposit, I do not see any objection to it.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "election" ["Parliamentary election"], to insert the words "or someone on his behalf."

A candidate may not be in England at the time of the election if the election takes place before the conclusion of hostilities. This Amendment is necessary because, although the Home Secretary in Committee has included the words "or cause to be deposited," yet in that case, as well as in the case of direct deposit, it is the action of the candidate himself. It may and very likely will happen that the candidate is not in a position to give any directions at all, in which case the chairman of the party, if there be such a thing, or whoever is responsible, should be in a position to make a deposit on his account. This will particularly apply to Labour candidates. It will be necessary for them and for many of us to have the deposit made for them, and unless it is clearly recognised that the deposit may be made by someone other than the candidate or by his personal direction it may prove to be in practice very difficult. I cannot conceive any objection to this. It provides for a contingency which may arise, especially in relation to candidates in distant theatres of war. It is an Amendment made without any arrière pensée to help the arrangements for the election, and I hope that it will be accepted without any difficulty.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I confess that I thought that this point was entirely covered by the provision in the Bill that the candidate should either deposit or cause to be deposited. I think that that would cover every case where a deposit is made on behalf of a candidate. I do not know if my hon. Friend thinks otherwise, but personally I believe his words to be entirely unnecessary.


The matter has been well considered from the practical point of view, and I feel sure that if there is any doubt we certainly ought to have these words. If these men who are serving abroad were to be in any way prejudiced if an election took place during the War it would be altogether contrary to the spirit of the House, and we should provide that there can be no difficulty in any case on the question of deposit with regard to these men.


Can there be any doubt about it? The words are "shall deposit or causes to be deposited." That is, either deposit himself or cause to be deposited by somebody else.


Surely "cause to be deposited" means by the direction of the candidate. In the absence of communication with the candidate we should allow the money to be paid on his behalf.


Perhaps there is a little more substance in the matter than the right hon. Gentleman realises. The candidate who causes the money to be paid, of course, actually takes the action for himself. But my lion. and learned Friend desires that a man, who will probably be well known in a district, should not be passed over when he is absent owing to circumstances which are not in his control. You may have a sudden election. The electors may very likely wish to return this man and you cannot in the short time available communicate to him and get his instructions to make a deposit. Therefore, somebody must make the deposit on his behalf and nominate him. That is really what I think is meant. Of course, on the other hand, there is the possibility that a deposit may be made in the case of a candidate of less substance, but on the whole I think that these words might be inserted, and if they are found later on to be likely to lead to an objectionable result they could easily be taken out.


I will not resist it if it is persisted in.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In Subsection (3), leave out the word "candidate" ["candidate is withdrawn"], and insert instead thereof the words "person by whom the deposit was made."—[Mr. Nield.]