HC Deb 20 April 1948 vol 449 cc1722-3
Mr. N. Macpherson

I beg to move in page 33, line 12, at the end, to insert: provided that the cost of any such damage shall not be included in a candidate's election expenses. The purpose of this Amendment is to guard against the possibility of unprincipled and evilly disposed persons causing damage to premises where meetings are being held with a view to upsetting the election campaign of a candidate. It is not too farfetched to imagine the possibility, whether by express purpose, or merely as a result of some disturbance that arose in the course of an election campaign, of premises being seriously damaged. I think that the repair of the premises ought not to be included in the election expenses of the candidate unless it can be plainly shown that the damage was due to the action of the candidate himself.

Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)

This appears to be a very reasonable Amendment, and I feel sure that the Home Secretary will realise that if he does not agree in principle with it, it may put the can- didate in very grave difficulties indeed. I think that, without going into details, the Home Secretary will see the point of the Amendment, and I trust that he will agree to it.

Mr. Ede

I am advised that the Amendment is unnecessary. I understand that it is doubtful in law whether damage that is done at a meeting is an expense of the election. It is quite clear that if one could go back to the era of Eatanswill one might have one's opponents turning up at one's meeting and smashing up the furniture in the hope that they might build up a sufficient bill to exceed the whole of the permitted election expenses. I will not be dogmatic on the point of law, but I have given the Committee such advice as I have had, that it would appear not to be necessary for damage of this kind to be included in the election expenses. I will, however, examine the point of law with some care before the Report Stage, and if there should appear to be any doubt on the matter I will insert words to remove the doubt.

Mr. Macpherson

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, and, in view of his kindness, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 34 ordered to stand part of the Bill.