Subsection (1) of Section five of the Municipal Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Act,
1884, and Sub-section (1) of Section nine of the Elections (Scotland) (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Act, l890 (which, prescribe the maximum amount of the expenses of candidates), shall have effect, both as originally enacted and as applied by any other Act, as though "two pence for each elector" were substituted for "three pence for each elector.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir F. HALL:
I beg to move, at the end, to add the words,
Provided that no person shall be liable to any penalty or disability in respect of expenditure in excess of the amount permitted under the said Acts, as amended by this Act, but not in excess of the amount which would have been permitted if this Act had not been passed, if this excess was due to expenses that had been bonâ fide incurred or for which his had made himself liable before the passing of this Act which would not have been incurred or for which he would not have made himself liable if this Act had been in operation, and any person entitled to apply for relief under Section 20 of the Municipal Elections (Corrupt and illegal Practices) Act, 1884, or Section 24 of the Elections (Scotland) (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Act, 1890, may apply for relief on the ground that the excess was due to such cause, and that these Sections shall have effect accordingly.
We are not desirous of doing anything which is likely to interfere with the passing of the Bill, seeing how near the county council elections are, but still, it leaves open all sorts of questions with regard to expenses that may be incurred or may have been incurred previous to the passing of this Bill. Hon. Members will no doubt appreciate that the Bill reduces the expenses of candidates by one third. This Clause, if accepted by the House, will mean that chose who have, unfortunately, entered into arrangements for the purchase of stationery, and so forth will be exculpated under this Bill, and I have no doubt, should any cases come up in the Law Courts after the passing of this, at all events every latitude will be given. I do not know whether I may be permitted to say so, but, of course, it is quite possible that after the passing of this Act it may be necessary to bring forward further Amendments, but it is not desirable that I should do so at the present time, because it has been more or less agreed by certain municipal bodies; that this Bill should be passed in this state. But there are points, in consequence of the alteration of the Elections Act, by which free postage has been given, and with regard
to penalties that have been put in, so that candidates shall not put themselves forward where there is, practically speaking, no possible chance of their being elected. I do not intend to deal with that at the present moment, but if the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept this Amendment, so far as I am concerned I shall be quite prepared to allow the Bill to go through.
I am advised that the Amendment carries out the spirit and intention of the understanding we arrived at yesterday. The effect is that whereas candidates may before the passing of the Act have committed themselves to expenses which would have brought them above the maximum of 2d. per elector, notwithstanding the increased number of electors proposed to be allowed by the Act, the Amendment will exempt them from any penalties. I am glad to accept the Amendment.