§ The EARL of ST. GERMANS
observed, that it was generally understood the days of the present Parliament were numbered, and that a general election would very shortly take place. Their Lordships were aware that under the existing law, the poll at elections in Ireland might be kept open for five days. This he considered was a great evil. In ordinary times, and under ordinary circumstances, the arrangement occasioned great expense to the candidates, and tended to the disturbance of the public peace; and, if this were the case under ordinary circumstances, he asked, what might be expected to be the state of things at a period like the present, when disease and famine were prevalent in almost every part of Ireland? He would not call upon the Government to introduce any measure relating to the franchise; but he would ask, whether, under existing circumstances, it might not be possible to 240 introduce a measure for assimilating the law of Ireland with regard to polls at elections, at least to a certain extent, to the law of England. So far as he had had an opportunity of ascertaining, there was a general concurrence of opinion in Ireland in favour of such a measure; and he thought it most desirable that power should be given to the Lord Lieutenant to fix the number of days to be allowed for polling in each county; the period to be regulated by the size of the county.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
agreed with the noble Earl as to the importance of shortening the duration of polls in Ireland, and thought it was desirable that the law of that country in this respect should be placed on the same footing as the law of England. The attention of the Government had been turned to the matter, and they were most desirous to accomplish this object; but it was not proposed at present to introduce any measure on the subject, because it was deemed advisable that it should be considered with reference to another most difficult matter—the question of the franchise.
§ House adjourned.