« السابقةمتابعة »
cf votes, the returning officer shall declare the election undecided, and shall give public notice that a second poll will be taken. If one of the candidates only has obtained more than one-half of the aforesaid number of votes, the returning officer shall declare this candidate only to be duly elected, and he shall give public notice that, in respect of one representative, the election is undecided, and a second poll will be taken for this representative.
In any satisfactory scheme of Redistribution of Seats, provision would be made for the abolition of all double-barrelled constituencies.
36. Whenever a second poll is necessary, as provided in the previous sections, it shall be the duty of the returning officer to appoint the Saturday next succeeding the first poll to be the day for taking the second poll.
37. The candidates at the second poll shall be not more than twice the number of members to be elected, and shall be the highest candidates at the first poll who shall not have given notice in writing of their retirement to the returning officer before 8 a.m. on the Thursday next preceding the day fixed for the second poll. No new candidates shall be nominated for the second poll.
38. After the second poll, the returning officer shall declare the number of votes for each candidate, and in constituencies which elect one representative only, he shall declare the candidate who obtains at the second poll the greatest number of votes, to be duly elected; and in boroughs which elect two representatives, he shall declare those two candidates who obtain the highest number of votes, to be duly elected : provided always that in case one of the representatives in boroughs, which elect two representatives, shall have been declared duly elected at the first poll, then the returning officer shall declare that candidate only who at the second poll obtains the highest number of votes to be duly elected.
Absolute Secrecy of the Ballot. 39. All ballot papers shall be burnt immediately after the declaration of the election of members, in the presence of the returning officer and the candidates or their agents, and a certificate of their destruction, signed by the returning officer and the witnesses, shall be forwarded to the Clerk of the Crown, or the Speaker, with the election return.
The proposal of a second ballot, contained in this part, is of extreme impor. tance. We have suffered too long under the tyranny of the minority. The Tories obtained more than half their majority in the House of Commons in 1874, owing to splits amongst the Liberals. Without the second ballot, there can be no certainty that the representation of the majority in a constituency will obtain the seat. Until we get this reform, the Labour candidate will always be in danger of being squeezed out by the official wire-pullers, under the plea of not endangering the seat. With the second ballot he might insist on going to the poll and proving whether the electors preferred him to the official Whig. Whichever of them got the smaller number of votes could then retire, and leave the other to fight the Conservative at the second ballot.
This proposal is already the law in many continental countries.
In Austria and Hungary where no candidate obtains more than 50 per cent. of the votes polled, a second ballot is necessary and is restricted to the two competitors standing highest at the first poll.
In Germany, where no candidate has obtained a clear majority of votes, a new ballotage takes place, and the expense, which for a town of 100,000 inhabitants rarely exceeds from £15 to £20 in each case, is borne exactly as before.
In Belgium where the number of candidates exceeds that of members to be elected, a second ballot is taken if no candidate obtains more than half of the votes.
In France, a second ballot is required in all cases where no candidate has received both (a) the absolute majority of the votes polled, (b) a number equal to one-fourth of the electors on the roll. The second ballot takes place on the second Sunday following the day of the first poll. On this occasion, that candidate is elected, in whose favour the relative majority of votes is recorded whatever the number of votes may be. If an equal number of votes is given to two candidates, the elder of the two is declared elected. The State pays the same expenses at the second elections as it does at the first.
In Italy, the candidate is elected who obtains the greatest number of votes, provided that number is above one-eighth of the electors on the roll.
In the Netherlands, a second ballot takes place whenever no candidate ob. tains an absolute majority. The second ballot, when necessary, takes place about fourteen days after, and a mere majority of votes is sufficient. If the votes are equal, the eldest is elected ; and if the ages are the same, the question is decided by lot. At the second ballot twice as many candidates as there are persons to be elected are submitted to the vote,
In Norway, a second ballot is only taken when two candidates poll the same number of votes.
The second ballot is also in operation in Portugal.
In Switzerland, an absolute majority is required, and when this is not obtained, a second ballot is taken amongst all the candidates. In the event of no absolute majority being obtained at the second ballot, a third is taken at which the number of candidates must not exceed three times the number of persons to be elected, Should it do so, those candidates wbo have received the lowest number of votes must retire until the limit is arrived at.
Two incidental but valuable reforms enacted by this section are the holding of all elections on one day, and the abolition of the power of scrutiny by the destruction of the used ballot papers. This will, for the first time, make it perfectly clear that the ballot is absolutely secret. It appears better to ensure this conviction of secrecy than the possible benefit of a scrutiny.
In France, Germany, Spain, Natal, and Victoria, all elections are held on one day.
Restriction of the use of conveyances. 40. No conveyance shall be permitted to be used for the purpose of the conveyance of electors to or from the poll, unless the owner of such conveyance shall himself accompany it; and any person who shall otherwise lend or employ for the purpose of the conveyance of electors to or from the poll any conveyance whatever, shall be guilty of an illegal practice, and shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding £100.
This would effectually prevent the swamping of constituencies at bye. elections by carriages lent by outsiders.
Adequate provision of Polling Places. 41. The returning officer in every constituency shall appoint one or more polling places in every parish in such manner that every elector shall have his polling place within a distance not exceeding one mile from his residence: provided that it shall not be necessary to appoint any polling place in pursuance of this provision if the number of registered electors which would be assigned to it is less than twenty. Each polling station shall be furnished with such number of compartments, in which the voters can mark their votes screened from observation, as the returning officer shall think necessary, so that at least one compartment be provided for every 150 electors entitled to vote at such polling station. At present the limit of one mile is confined to boroughs.
Extension of the Hours of Polling. 42. At every parliamentary and municipal election the poll (if any) shall commence at eight o'clock in the forenoon, and be kept open till ten o'clock in the afternoon of the same day and no longer.
By this extension of the hours of polling the scandal of turning away voters, without allowing them to record their votes, will be rendered almost impossible. There would be less excuse than at present for voters postponing voting till the last moment. The extension is also desirable to enable Jewish electors to poll on Saturdays after sunset.
Payment of Members. 43. At the end of each calendar month during the whole year, the Speaker of the House of Commons shall issue to every member of the House an order on the Paymaster-General for £25; provided that in no case shall this payment be made to a member who shall be in receipt of a salary or pension of £300 per annum, or more, paid out of public funds : provided also that where a member shall be in receipt of a salary or pension of less than £300 per annum, paid out of public funds, he shall only be entitled as a member of parliament to such payment as shall make the total sum paid to him out of public funds not more than £300 per annum : provided also that a proportionate sum shall be deducted from the monthly payment to each member for every day he is absent from parliamentary duties without leave of the House.
This deduction would be made whenever a member absented himself from the ordinary sittings of the House or of any Committee, without having first obtained the leave of the House. A rule already exists forbidding absence without such leave.
Free Travelling for Members. 44. Every member of the House of Commons shall be provided by the Speaker, at the commencement of each parliament, with a free railway, steamboat, and mail coach pass of the first class, which shall entitle him to travel without payment, by any railway, steamboat, or coach carrying passengers in Great Britain and Ireland. No payment shall be made to any railway company, or to the owner of any steamboat or coach in respect of the provisions of this clause.
The proposal to pay members of parliament is not an untried and new. fangled innovation, but a reversion to old constitutional custom, both in England and Scotland. “The custom began," says Dr. Henry in his work, “Great Britain," "with the commencement of Representation from a principle of common equitri" In Scotland, the payment was made in accordance with the terms of a statute dated 1427, which has been preserved, and is supposed to have been copied from an English statute that has been lost. Professor Thorold Rogers says that in the reign of Edward I. “the member of parliament had daily wages; the knights or county members receiving more-the amount is not invariable than the burgesses. When the Parliament was prorogued or dismissed, the wiits for payment were made out, and the time during which the House sat exactly calculated.” A judgment of Lord Chancellor Nottingham after the dissolution of Parliament in 1681 proves that the payment was not merely a voluntary contribution by the constituencies. Thomas King, M.P. for Harwich, presented a petition stating “ that he had served as burgesse in Parliament for the said borrough severall yeares, and did give his constant attendance therein ; but that the said borrough had not paid him his wages, though often requested so to do." Notice being given to the Corporation of Harwich, and the facts being verified, a writ was ordered to be issued, de expensis burgensium levandis. This was probably the last order so made. “I know no reason," said Lord Campbell, commenting on this judgment, “in point of law, why any member may not insist on payment of his wages. For this point in the People's Charter-payment of wages-no new law is required.” An Act of 1541 made the payment of wages depend upon attendance in the House throughout the whole session. Payment of members is required to enable constituencies to freely choose their representatives, to give the public complete control over them, and compel them to perform their duties with diligence and efficiency. The poor candidate would thus be put upon an equality with the richest. An equitable and convenient adjustment of burdens is made by the payment of members out of the state, and the election expenses out of the local exchequers, Payment of members is the law in almost every country where representative government prevails. A Table of existing laws on the subject will be found on page 18.
Triennial Parliaments. 45. The present and succeeding parliaments shall have continuance for three years and no longer, to be accounted from the day on which by the writ of summons the parliament shall be appointed to meet, unless this present or any parliament hereafter to be summoned shall be sooner dissolved.
Prior to the Revolution of 1688, with the exception of a few years during the Commonwealth, the duration of parliaments was entirely within the control of the Sovereign. One of the parliaments of Charles II. sat eighteen years. The Triennial Act was passed in 1694. Its preamble declares “ that frequent and new parliaments tend very much to the happy union and good agreement of King and people.” The Septennial Act, one of the earliest measures of the first parliament of George I., was nominally based on a desire to relieve the country of the “grievous and burdensome" expense of elections, and also from “ the violent and lasting heats and animosities among the subjects of the realm," but was really aimed at the “ restless and Popish faction," which was "designing and endeavouring to renew the Rebellion within this Kingdom and an invasion from abroad.” The dangers of 1714 have passed away, and the Septennial Act should therefore have been repealed more than a century and a half ago, but all attempts at repeal have been unsuccessful. The reversion to Triennial Parliaments is the least reform that can be accepted, and perhaps combines most of the advantages of Annual Parliaments without their drawbacks.
Members of the House of Representatives in the United States are elected only for two years. The members of the Lower Houses in Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland are elected for three years, as are also those of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and New Zealand. For other countries see the table on the next page.
The precedents quoted in this tract may be found in the following authorities :
"Summary of the Constitution and Procedure of Foreign Parliaments ; compiled by Reginald Dickinson, one of the Committee Clerks of the House of Commons, from reports respecting the Practice and Regulations of Legislative Assemblies in Foreign Countries, presented to Parliament in 1881 ;
“Problems of Greater Britain,” by Sir Charles Dilke.
“ Constitutional History of England,” by Sir T. Erskine May (Lord Farnborough).
“ Lives of the Lord Chancellors," by Lord Campbell.