HC Deb 30 August 1909 vol 10 cc159-60W

asked the Chief Secretary whether his attention has been called to the conduct of Mr. B. R. Purdon, resident magistrate, when presiding at Schull on 4th February, 1909, at a meeting of magistrates called for the purpose of electing a clerk of petty sessions for the districts of Goleen, Schull, and Ballydehob; is he aware that at this meeting Mr. Purdon threatened to take it on himself to disallow the vote of a justice of the district, Mr. Piers Hughes Townsend, and that when a solicitor present protested against this course and stated that it would be regarded as an electioneering dodge, Mr. Purdon insisted on a vote being taken of the magistrates present as to the right of Mr. Townsend to vote; is he aware that when the poll was taken Mr. Purdon and all the supporters of one of the candidates voted with the object of depriving Mr. Townsend of his right to vote; and whether, as the action of the resident magistrate was calculated to intimidate Mr. Townsend from voting in favour of a particular candidate, the Chief Secretary will consider the propriety of the resident magistrate for the district concerning himself in a local election of this kind, and will steps be taken to prevent a recurrence of such conduct in future by a paid official?


I understand that Mr. Purdon, who was the chairman of the bench of magistrates at Schull Petty Sessions on 9th February last, on the occasion of the election of a Petty Sessions clerk, informed Mr. P. H. Townsend that, in his opinion, he was not entitled to vote, as he had not the requisite number of attendances. He then put the question to the magistrates whether Mr. Townsend's vote should be taken. The magistrates were equally divided, those in favour of one candidate voting one way, and those in favour of the other candidate voting the other way. Mr. Townsend's vote was then taken and counted. Mr. Purdon, as chairman, felt bound to direct attention to the Regulations governing the election. I see nothing in his action calling for comment, or for any change in the existing procedure.