§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he can inform the House what is the total number of votes recorded at the recent local government elections in Ireland, and how many of them were by illiterate voters; and whether he will assent to a Return, if moved for, showing the following details, viz., the number of voters and particulars of votes recorded in each constituency?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I have no official information as to the number of persons who voted at the recent local government elections in Ireland, or as to the proportion of electors who voted as illiterates. In 1896 a Return was presented to Parliament showing the number of persons who voted as illiterates at the General Election of 1895 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain 372 and Ireland. I hardly think any useful purpose would be served by the preparation, so soon after the Return of 1896, of the further Return suggested by my honourable Friend, and which, I am informed, would occupy a very considerable time in compiling. Moreover, I am not aware that a Return of literate and illiterate voters has ever been laid on the Table in respect of local government elections in Great Britain, and to lay such a Return on the Table in respect of Ireland alone would appear to me to be open to an invidious interpretation.