§ MR. SMALL
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he is aware that on the 31st March, several charges have been brought against Mr. Joseph Bell, the returning officer of the Newry Union, in relation to the recent election of three guardians for the Newry Division of that Union, viz.: that he rejected on illegal and frivolous grounds many votes tendered on one side, and that he recorded a large number of votes tendered on the other side, although same were objected to and ought not to have been received; that his rulings were not consistent with each other, or with his decisions at previous elections; and that, by these means, he contrived to give Messrs. Sinclair, Savage, and Todd a very small majority over the outgoing guardians, and declared them elected; whether it is not also alleged that the returning officer wrongfully permitted several persons to remain in the Board room till late hours at night inspecting the papers relating to the election, contrary to the 1847 Workhouse regulations, and without the presence of any agent of the other side; whether it is also charged that the minute book has been falsified in relation to a motion which had been before the Board of Guardians in reference to the election; whether it is also charged that the porter's book, giving the hours of outgoing of the persons who had inspected the election papers, had been wrongfully altered, and that the returning officer's son refused to give the porter the names of the persons who had inspected the election papers, thereby rendering the porter unable to fulfil his duty by inserting the names in the book; whether complaints of these matters were sent to the Local Government Board as far back as 31st March, demanding a re-scrutiny and an inquiry, and whether the Local Government Board has since admitted that the returning officer was wrong in a large number of his rulings; and, whether it is the intention of the Local Government Board to direct a re-scrutiny of the disputed votes by a properly qualified person, and an investigation into the conduct of the returning officer as requested, and whether such re-scrutiny and investigation will be held without further delay?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
It is the case that charges of the kind mentioned in the Question were made, and have been the subject of much correspondence. Several votes were found to have been improperly recorded for all the candidates; but the rejection of such votes would not disturb the return of Messrs. Sinclair, Savage, and Todd. The Local Government Board cannot institute a general scrutiny of all votes recorded at the election; but I understand that a day or two ago they addressed a letter to the hon. Member with reference to several specific votes objected to, and that they are prepared to entertain any further objections to particular votes. The Board also, as I understand, furnished the hon. Member with the Re-turning Officer's explanation as to the complaint respecting the presence of persons in the workhouse, and the alleged falsification of the minute book, and they await any further observations he may make on the subject. They cannot decide, while the correspondence is going on, whether an inquiry is necessary or not.