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Deposit by Candidates at Parliamentary Elections

Part of Orders of the Day — Representation of the People Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 14th February 1985.

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Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney 4:45 pm, 14th February 1985

In my case, the gentleman concerned, who bore an impressively Welsh name, got nominated in the Welsh National party's interest — thought not, I believe, formally so—and when his list of signatories was put in a number of them were found to be well known for their support for another party, some of them were members of that other party and others denied hotly that they had ever intended to cast their vote for the gentleman in question, but simply thought that it was a neighbourly thing to do to sign his nomination paper.

We must face the fact, from the wholly unnecessary court case brought by an eccentric candidate — who might not have stood had we had the higher level of deposit—that eccentric candidates are not always fun; that one drew my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) through the court.

It was suggested that Screaming Lord Sutch had managed to obtain the signatories for his nomination by spending a few minutes in a pub across the road from where he had to hand in his nomination paper.

Simply multiplying 10 by 50 does not remedy the fact that some people will sign anything. Indeed, a noted psephologist told me always to bear in mind the American experience of the researcher who sent a document through the post to a number of households saying, "Please sign this and return it to me at your earliest convenience." People did so and were astonished to find that they had signed their own death warrants.