§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK,
in moving that the Bill, which had just come up from the Commons, be now read a second time, said, it was rendered necessary by a doubt as to the existing law in respect of the conveyance of voters to the poll. Its object, therefore, was to make legal the use of conveyances in boroughs at Parliamentary elections. It made no other change in the law beyond introducing into Scotland the same declaration with regard to personation which existed in England.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Viscount Cranbrook.)
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said, this was an objectionable Bill. It did not apply to Ireland and Scotland, and it was one which ought not to be pressed through for this country in the last days of the Parliament, seeing that it made a most important change in the law. It was stated that the object of the Bill was to enable people to go to the poll who might not be otherwise able to do so; but it was singularly anomalous that while this provision applied to England it was not considered necessary in Scotland or Ireland. If there was anything objectionable in the present system of election it was the expense, and this was a device to increase the expense. If anything was necessary to be done in this matter, surely the proper course would have been to make the existing law more strict. The objection to this Bill was not merely the expense to which candidates would be put, but that the employment of conveyances was a direct means of influencing votes. He could not conceive a more retrograde or objectionable step than that which was taken 1216 by this Bill. It was a deliberate attempt to narrow the choice of constituencies, and to limit them to the selection of rich candidates; but, in his opinion, nothing could be worse than that candidates should be rejected merely because they were poor. It was to be regretted that a Bill of the kind should have been brought in at the tail end of Parliament and on the eve of a General Election.
said, that a quorum of their Lordships' House being only three the Bill might be discussed; but he objected to it on different grounds than the lateness of the Session. Noble Lords might attend if they wished to oppose any Bill.
§ Motion agreed to;Bill read 2a accordingly; Committee negatived; and Bill to be read 3a on Monday next.