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PRELIMINARY. 1. This Act shall come into operation on the First Day of January, 1892.
2. In this act the term “ Public meeting ” shall mean any meeting open, without ticket, to all electors in the constituency in which the meeting is held:
“Period of election" shall mean the period from the date of the issue of the writ by the Clerk of the Crown or the Speaker to the date of the declaration of the poll :
“Returning officer” shall include deputy returning officer :
“ Person" shall mean a man or woman of the age of twenty-one years or more :
“Registration Day” shall mean the 15th day of March, June, September, or December, respectively:
" Qualifying Period” shall mean four weeks.
Under the existing law, in Acts of Parliament the masculine pronoun includes the feminine.
Adult Suffrage. . 3. Every person over twenty-one years of age, who has continuously resided in or occupied the same premises for the space of four weeks next previous to any registration day, or has during that time resided in or occupied different premises in the same constituency in immediate succession, shall, with the exceptions hereinafter provided, be entitled to be registered as an elector, and when and so long as so registered, to vote at all elections taking place in the constituency in which the said premises are situated.
Provided also that none of the persons hereinafter mentioned shall be entitled to be registered as electors, namely :
unsound mind ;
penal servitude; or
In view of the future “ending" of the House of Lords, Peers of Parliament are given the franchise like other citizens.
The law regulating the Naturalization of Aliens should be simplified and the expense reduced. The cost of a Letter of Naturalization is now £5, having been raised from £1 to that amount by the Home Secretary in 1886. A statutory declaration should be sufficient.
4. No person shall be registered as an elector who has not satisfied the conditions herein specified; but it shall be presumed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that every adult person satisfying the condition as to occupation or residence, is qualified to be registered as an elector.
5. No person shall be disqualified from being registered as an elector by reason of being a peer of Parliament, or a woman, or a woman under coverture, or a person in receipt of parochial relief, or a member of Her Majesty's military or naval forces; nor on the ground that any rates due in respect of the premises in which he resides are unpaid.
6. Any person registered or entitled to be registered as an elector may be a candidate at any election, whether parliamentary or otherwise, and, if elected, shall be entitled to sit ; provided that no person shall be entitled to sit in both Houses of Parliament.
This section makes women eligible for membership of all representative bodies, and removes the existing disqualification of clergymen for membership of the House of Commons.
Any genuinely Democratic bill must sweep away, as is herein proposed, the whole existing tangle of complicated franchises, making simple residence for the briefest practicable period the basis of the qualification. Such a measure would add, not one million but nearer three millions of adult men to the registers, to say nothing of the nine millions of adult women. The new franchise should apply to all elections, whether for Parliament or any local public body. The creation of “faggot votes” would be impossible, and duplicate votes would be prevented (see section 23).
The number of electors now registered is 6,067,133 (H.C. 368 of 1890), but over 250,000 of these are duplicate registrations, some men having fifteen or more constituencies. The number of adult men in the kingdom is about 8,500,000, the estimated population in 1890 being 38,200,000, and the percentage of males over 21 as ascertained by the last census being 22:3. Accordingly, over two and a half millions of adult men are at present excluded from citizenship. The “ Registration Bill ” promised by the official Liberal leaders is expected by Mr. Gladstone to raise the number of the electorate to “seven millions” (see his article in Lloyd's News, 4th May, 1890, republished under the title of " Rights and Responsibilities of Labour," office of Lloyd's Weekly News, London. One penny). This timid and inconsistent proposal, which is denounced by Lord Hartington as revolutionary, would still leave over one and a half million adult men without the elementary right of citizenship.
The existing qualifications of Parliamentary electors, which are contained in thirty-eight statutes, are seven in number, four being peculiar to counties, and three common to both counties and boroughs :
Counties. 1. A freehold estate of 40s. or upwards. 2. A copyhold estate of £5 annual value. 3. A leasehold for either twenty years of £50, or sixty years of £5
annual value. 4. An occupation of lands or tenements at a rental of £50 or upwards.
Counties and Boroughs. 1. The occupation of land or premises of the clear annual value of £10. 2. The occupation of a dwelling-house. 3. The occupation of lodgings of an annual value, if let unfurnished,
of £10. There are also 32,000 liverymen and freemen in boroughs who are electors under qualifications that will die out.
Manhood, or what is incorrectly called Universal Suffrage, prevails in France, Germany, Spain, most of the United States, New South Wales, South Australia, and New Zealand. The State of Wyoming alone enjoys true Universal Suffrage. In Austria, women who own property to which the franchise attaches may vote, the payment of certain taxes being the chief qualification.
PART II. Efficient Quarterly Registration of Electors. 7. The county council in every county shall appoint annually a county registration officer, who shall also be the returning officer at all parliamentary elections, under 38 & 39 Vict., c. 84, for all the constituencies in such county, and shall have power to appoint deputy returning officers.
8. Where & parish has a population according to the last census exceeding 500 in number, and (with the exception of the overseers) there is no vestry clerk or other officer whose duty it is to make out the lists of voters therein, the vestry shall appoint annually, before the 1st day of June, a local registration officer, whose duty it shall be to give the notices under the Registration Acts, and to prepare the lists of voters, claims, and objections for such parish, and do all other acts hereinafter provided for in respect of registration. The local registration officer shall be paid out of the county fund such a sum as may be approved by the Local Government Board. If in any such parish no local registration officer shall have been appointed by the 1st of June in any year, it shall be the duty of the overseers to report the fact to the county registration officer, who shall (with or without such report) immediately appoint a local registration officer for the said parish, with such remuneration, to be paid out of the county fund, as may be approved by the Local Government Board.
9. The overseers of any parish for which a local registration officer has not been appointed, may employ such persons as may be necessary for the purpose of serving notices, collecting returns, making enquiries, and otherwise aiding them in performing the duties hereinafter provided for in respect of registration.
10. On or before the 20th day of December, March, June, and September in every year, the person who is rated for cach tenement shall furnish the local registration officer in every parish with a list of the adult men and women who have resided in the tenement for the period of four weeks next preceding the 15th day of December, March, June, and September in that year. Any person who shall refuse or negligently omit to make the return, or wilfully or negligently make a false or inaccurate return, may be prosecuted by the county registration officer, or by any other person, and shall be liable upon summary conviction thereof, to a fine not exceeding £5 for the first offence, and £10 for the second or any subsequent offence.
11. The local registration officer in every parish shall, on or before the last day in December in every year, make out a list of persons qualified to be registered as electors, alphabetically arranged, and another list in which the names shall be arranged in the same order in which their places of residence appear in the rate book for the parish in which the premises are situate.
12. The local registration officer in every parish shall, on or before the last day in March, June, and September in every year.
make out two supplementary lists containing the names arranged as
13. These lists shall be printed and published by being affixed on or before the 5th day of January, April, July, and October, in every year, to the door or notice board of all churches, chapels, and places of Worship, town halls, local board offices, and other municipal and parochial offices, post offices, telegraph offices, assize and county courts, public baths, wash-houses, libraries, museums, police stations, and all other buildings in the parish occupied for public purposes.
14. Any person who has not been included in the register or list may, on or before the 10th day of January, April, July, and October in every year, claim to have his name inserted. In such claim the full name and address must be inserted, and in the case of claims in respect of successive residence, all the addresses must be given in full.
The local registration officer shall provide all forms of claim free of charge.
15. Any elector may on or before the 10th day of January, April, July, and October in any year, by notice to the local registration officer, object to any person upon the register for the constituency in which such parish is situate, and in which he is an elector, on the ground, that he
1. Is dead;
unsound mind; or
or penal servitude. A copy of the notice of objection shall be forwarded by post by the person objecting to every person objected to.
16. The local registration officer in every parish shall, on or before the 15th day of January, April, July, and October, print and publish in the manner hereinbefore provided, the lists of claims and objections.
17. The local registration officer shall, in every quarter, obtain from the registrar or registrars of deaths in the district for which he is registration officer, a certified return showing the names in full of all adult persons who shall have died during the quarter, and the dates of their deaths; such return shall be made up to the 10th day of January, April, July, and October in every year, and shall be delivered free of charge to the local registration officer not later than the 15th day of January, April, July, and October in every year.
18. On or before the 15th day of January, April, July, and October in every year, the local registration officer in every parish shall forward to the county registration officer lists containing the names, arranged as hereinbefore provided, of1. Persons who should be struck off the register, specifying the
residence in the same constituency;
All forms of claim, notices of objection, and any correspondence relating to them, and the return of deaths, shall be attached to the lists.
19. On the receipt by the county registration officer of the lists forwarded to him in accordance with the preceding sections of this Act, he shall examine them, and shall give notice in writing by post to all persons, other than persons returned as dead by the registrar of deaths, whom he proposes to strike off the register, or who have been objected to, that, unless reason to the contrary be shown within seven days, their names will be struck off the register.
If no objection be raised to the new electors or claimants, the county registration officer shall insert the names on the register forthwith. In cases of claims in respect of successive occupation or residence, the county registration officer shall, if he think necessary, require a report from the local registration officer, verifying the claims or otherwise. Whenever it shall seem to the county registration officer necessary to hold a local enquiry in any parish, he shall give seven days' notice, by advertisement in one or more local newspapers, of the place, date, and time of such enquiry.
The register of voters for each parish shall be made up by the county registration officer, who shall classify it according to wards for all local elections, and according to the Parliamentary or other constituencies for other elections, and it shall come into force upon the 10th day of February, May, August, and November in every year.
The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office shall issue, free of charge, upon the application of any county registration officer, all necessary registration forms, and the county registration officer shall provide the local registration officers with all forms of claim and objection free of charge.
20. If any person making a claim or objection be dissatisfied with the decision of the county registration officer with regard to such claim or objection, he may within twenty-one days call upon the county registration officer to state a case for submission to the judge of the county court for the parish in which the person claiming or objected to resides.
21. If any local registration officer be reported to the Local Government Board by the county registration officer for misconduct,