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Volume 10 (1929) / Pages 1115 - 1116
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Volume 10 / Page 1115

Division No. 21].AYES.

Andrews, Rt. Hon. John MillerCrawford, Robert Archdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward MervynDixon, Captain the Rt. Hon. Herbert Babington, Rt. Hon. Anthony BrutusGordon, John Fawcett Barbour, Rt. Hon. John MilneGrant, William Bates Rt. Hon Sir Richard DawsonHanna, George Boyle Black, ArthurJohnstone, Robert James Cooper, JamesLavery, Thomas Robert Craigavon, Rt. Hon. The ViscountMcMullan, Thomas Wallace NOES.

Beattie, JohnKyle, Samuel Devlin, JosephMcAllister, Thomas Gyle, James WoodsMcHugh, John Healy, CahirMcMullen, William Henderson, GeorgeO'Neill, Patrick ORDERS OF THE DAY. House of Commons (Method of Voting and Redistribution of Seats) Bill.

Order for consideration in Committee read.

Mr. BEATTIE: I beg to move, "That it be an instruction to the Committee that they have power to amend the Bill so as to include provisions regulating the deposits paid by candidates, the use of vehicles, and the situation of polling places at Parliamentary elections."

I think those are three very important matters that the Committee on a Bill of this kind should have full power to go into. As the Government did not find it necessary to include three of the most important items as far as elections are concerned, I have put down this Motion asking the House to send forward an instruction to the Committee. The deposit fee for candidates, as we are all aware, is £150. That £150 is equal to a contest in four seats, and from now onward the deposit fee should only be equal to one-fourth of £150. I am going a little higher than one-fourth, because I see the dangers that lie in bringing the deposit fee too low, and I am going to ask the Prime Minister and the House to agree with me that £50 is a fairly reasonable amount to fix as a deposit. The sum of £50 for each of the four constituencies would total £200 as against the £150 necessary previously. Therefore, I think that is a reasonable request.

I will try to substantiate my contention by giving another illustration. This is a rich man's Bill, and is the rich man's idea of trying to oust the poorer parties, such as the party to which I have the honour to belong, which have to depend for their income on the working-class people, but the contributions of these people are very small owing to the small

[3-15 p.m. Parker, Mrs. Dehra Pollock, Rt. Hon. Hush MacDowell Robb, John Hanna Shillington, Major David Graham TELLER FOR THE AYESâ??

Captina Dixon.

TELLER FOR THE NOESâ??

Mr. Beattie. wages they are in receipt of. My party stand in an altogether different position from the party the right hon. Gentlemen opposite belong to or the Lloyd Georgian party. We have nothing to sell, and we do not believe in selling anything for the purpose of gathering in party funds. The Unionist party have piled up millions of pounds in their party exchequer, and the reason for that is that they occupied the seats of the mighty in the Imperial House of Commons, and on every New Year's Day they were able, for substantial contributions, to name some baronets, earls, dukes, or something like that. The sale of titles built up their funds, and, therefore, they have at hand large sums of money to meet the needs and requirements of an election such as will be held in Northern Ireland on or about the 10th day of May, 1929.

We in the Labour party might realise £600 under the old system, and that £600 represented sixteen seats contested. That gave every man and woman who had the vote an opportunity of going to the poll and declaring what he or she stood for. Under the new system to contest those seats and give the electors an opportunity of going to the poll to support the policy we think would serve them best would take £2,400. That is a financial transaction which I am sure the Government took into consideration. They knew perfectly well there was only one way of retarding the progress of Labour, and that was by strangling it financially, by putting the noose round its neck and drawing it tight. If you allow the deposit for the four divisions in Belfast to be £600 we are prepared to give every elector an opportunity of coming forward at the next election and using the franchise in the manner he thinks best, but under the new conditions £2,400 will have to be set aside as deposit fees. That is financially impossible.

 
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