1. The Joint Committee has already submitted a first interim report (T. 173, Pr. 5680), a second interim report (T. 178, Pr. 5943) and a third interim report (T. 179, Pr. 5991).
2. The Joint Committee has now completed its consideration of the questions referred to it and has agreed to the following final report.
3. As was done in its first and second interim reports, the Joint Committee sets out, in italics and small print, the proposals and explanatory notes contained in the general scheme of an Electoral (Amendment) Bill submitted to it by the Minister for Local Government. Any of the Committee’s proposals which do not fall conveniently under the proposals in the general scheme are set out under separate headings.
II. FRANCHISE AND REGISTRATION OF ELECTORS FOR DÁIL AND LOCAL ELECTIONS.
Additional vote for property owners.
4. The Joint Committee received representations that the rated occupies of property with more than a specified minimum valuation should be given additional votes at local elections or, alternatively, that a certain number of seats on local councils should be filled by voters in general, the remainder being filled by ratepaying voters.
5. An arrangement on these lines operated in Dublin city under the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930, which provided for the compilation of a commercial register and the election of commercial members to the city council. The Electoral (Dublin) Commercial Act, 1930, regulated the preparation and maintenance of the commercial register and the conduct of elections of commercial members.
6. Of the thirty-five council members, five were commercial members. The registered commercial electors were individuals, partnerships, unincorporated associations or corporate bodies, resident in “Saorstát Éireann” (in the case of companies their business had to be wholly or substantially managed or conducted in “Saorstát Éireann”) occupying premises of valuation £20 or over for professional, commercial, or industrial purposes. An elector had one vote for a valuation of up to £50, increasing by one vote (up to a maximum of six votes) for each £50 or fraction of £50 above this figure. The 1930 register was prepared from claims by eligible electors and contained 1,048 names out of a possible 2,500 approximately.
7. The Local Government (Dublin) Bill, 1933, which sought to abolish the commercial register, was defeated in the Seanad. It finally became law in 1935, in which year the franchise was extended to all citizens of full age under the Local Government (Extension of Franchise) Act, 1935.
8. At present a person may be registered as a local government elector in any local government area in which he is on the qualifying date in occupation of property for at least six months or in which he is ordinarily resident. He may vote at the election of the members of the different local authorities in whose area he is registered but he may not vote more than once at the election of members of the one local authority. The Joint Committee considers that it would be a most retrograde step to depart from the principle of one man one vote for each local authority on which this franchise is based. A fortiori the Committee considers it undesirable that there should be a special election of commercial or “ratepayers” members. Accordingly, the Committee recommends that no change be made in this respect in the property franchise for local elections.
Responsibility for registration of electors.
Proposal: Provide for the addition of a paragraph to rule 7 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, to provide that the registration officer may, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government, appoint persons to perform any of the duties referred to in the rule and may terminate any such appointment.
Note on Proposal
Rule 7 obliges the registration officer, amongst other things, (a) to require rate collectors to make a house to house or other sufficient inquiry and to furnish sufficient information to enable the electors lists to be prepared, and (b) to require county secretaries and town clerks of county or other boroughs or of urban district councils to prepare draft electors lists from the information furnished by the rate collectors and otherwise, and to furnish them to him. Under amendments of rule 7 made by statutory orders (Nos. 177 of 1933, 341 of 1940 and 342 of 1948) the registration officer may appoint persons with the consent of the Minister to act where the office of rate collector is vacant, or where the collector has been suspended. It is desirable to widen the scope of these provisions so that they will be clearly applicable to the arrangements under which the preparation of the electors lists for Dublin County Borough is carried out by a staff specially recruited by the town clerk, as well as to eventualities, such as the prolonged absence of a collector from his district, the institution by a county council of a system of collection of rates through the post, etc. The employment of such persons will not be governed by the Local Government Acts.
9. The Joint Committee gave much consideration to the question of the general responsibility for the registration of electors. Section 11 of the Electoral Act, 1923, provides that it shall be the duty of the registration officer to compile the annual register. Under section 38 of the Court Officers Act, 1926, the registration officer is now the county registrar.
10. The house to house inquiry on which the register is based is done in most areas by rate collectors who are officers of local authorities. County secretaries and town clerks, who are also local authority officers, may be required to compile draft electors lists from information furnished by the rate collectors and otherwise. It is, however, not the local authorities but the county registrars who have the final responsibility for the publication of the register.
11. Further, local authorities are responsible for the making of polling schemes according to which the register must be made out, and the Minister for Local Government is the Minister responsible generally for local government administration and the registration of electors. He, however, has no function in regard to the appointment or conditions of service of county registrars, the staffing of their offices or their work generally which is largely concerned with Court business, and comes under the general jurisdiction of the Minister for Justice.
12. The Joint Committee considers that this dissipation of responsibility is undesirable and that registration work could, with advantage, be brought within the ambit of the one class of authority subject to the one Minister. The Committee, accordingly, recommends that this work should be transferred to local authorities, whose members are elected by those registered in the register and can, therefore, be presumed to have a direct interest in its compilation. The Committee understands that there are no staff permanently employed in county registrars’ offices on registration work. The transfer should, therefore, not cause any difficulties in this regard. To safeguard the rights of electors, the Committee further recommends that county registrars should adjudicate on claims for and objections to the inclusion of names in the register. Subject to these recommendations, the Committee recommends this proposal.
13. The Joint Committee considered the question of utilising the services of the Garda Síochána to a greater extent than at present on the field work on the compilation of the register. The Committee also considered, in detail, the question of using the services of postmen for the purpose. The Committee decided that neither proposition was feasible.
Appeals from decisions of registration officers.
Proposal: Repeal and re-enact as one, section 16 of the Electoral Act, 1923, and section 2 of the Electoral (Registration Appeals) Act, 1932.
Note on Proposal
Section 16 provided for appeals to the County Court from decisions by registration officers in regard to claims and objections to registration, except in Dublin city and county where the system whereby such appeals were heard by a specially appointed revising barrister was retained. Provision was made for a further appeal on points of law from the County Court or the revising barrister to the Court of Appeal. The jurisdiction of the County Court Judges passed to the Circuit Court established under the Courts of Justice Act, 1924, and the Court of Appeal ceased to function. On the death of the last revising barrister the procedure in Dublin was assimilated to that obtaining in the rest of the country by section 2 of the Electoral (Registration Appeals) Act, 1932, which also adapted the references to the pre-1923 Courts contained in section 16 of the 1923 Act. This adaptation, however, seems to relate only to the Dublin appeals.
It is proposed to replace the two sections mentioned in this proposal by one self-contained and fully adapted provision. Minor consequential adaptations will arise in rules 28 and 29 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, and the whole of the 1932 Act can be repealed.
14. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal.
Repeal of reference to clerks of the crown and peace.
Proposal: Repeal section 14 of the Electoral Act, 1923.
Note on Proposal
This section enabled the Minister for Finance to make orders to increase the salaries of clerks of the crown and peace having regard to the additional duties imposed on them by the 1923 Act. It is obsolete. Part II of the Court Officers Act, 1926, substituted county registrars for clerks of the crown and peace.
15. The Joint Committee agrees with this proposal.
Notification of births and deaths by superintendent registrars.
16. Under rule 7 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, the superintendent registrar of births and deaths may be required to furnish to the registration officer lists of or other information about deaths of persons in his area. The Joint Committee considered whether this provision should be extended so as to require each superintendent registrar to furnish to the registration officer particulars of all persons in his area who reach the age of 21 years on 1st January or any other date.
17. It is understood that to do this superintendent registrars would have to compile special lists from a number of different registers, which would be a slow and tedious process. This would not be an obstacle if the list would help to ensure the accuracy of the register. The Joint Committee is not satisfied that such a benefit would, in fact, result. The extent of population movement within a period of 21 years and the increasing tendency to hospitalize maternity cases often at a considerable distance from home mean that a list of persons born in an area 21 years ago would not be at all reliable as a statement of the names of persons currently living there. Further, under the Vital Statistics and Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1952, the functions of superintendent registrars will eventually be vested in local authorities, many of whom must now prepare the draft electors lists for the registration officer and would on this account have direct access to the information which a list would contain. If the Committee’s recommendation at paragraph 12 that registration work be done by local authorities is implemented this argument is advanced a stage further. In these circumstances, the Committee does not feel that superintendent registrars should be required to furnish lists of persons reaching the age of 21 years in their areas.
Supplement to register of electors.
18. A point which has come frequently to the attention of members of the Joint Committee is that a person who is not registered cannot vote. Where a person’s vote is at stake, every step should be taken to ensure that nobody qualified as an elector is omitted from the register or is incorrectly described in it. At the same time it is of the greatest importance that the register should be final and authoritative. As a way out of the impasse the Committee recommends that where a person’s name is omitted from or incorrectly entered in the register due to a typographical or other administrative error, the registration officer should have power to issue a supplementary list of corrections. This list would generally not be long and could be quickly printed. It should do nothing more than correct administrative errors of the type mentioned, which come to light within a period of, say, 10 days after the publication of the register. The list would be added to and form part of the register, and should be published not later than, say, a fortnight after the publication of the register.
Persons to whom copies of the register should be supplied.
19. Copies of the electors lists and of the register of electors may be bought for 1/- plus 1d. for each 100 or part of 100 names after the first 100. As part of the publication of the register one copy is supplied on request, free of charge, to any Dáil Deputy in respect of the part of the registration area which the Deputy represents, and to each duly nominated candidate at a Dáil election. The Joint Committee recomends that, in addition, a copy should be supplied as follows to:
(a) each Senator—the part of the register for the constituency in which he lives, and
(b) each county and county borough councillor—the part of the register for the electoral area he represents.
This additional circulation should help to achieve greater interest and accuracy in the register.
Calculation of elector’s age.
Proposal: Provide for the substitution in section 4 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, of the age of 21 years on the date on which the register comes into force for the age of 30 years.
Note on Proposal
Section 4 (3) provides that a woman shall be entitled to be registered as a local government elector in a local electoral area—
(1) where she would be entitled to be registered if she were a man, and
(2) where she is the wife of a man who is entitled to be registered in respect of premises in which they both reside and she has attained the age of 30 years.
The reference to 30 years is an anachronism and it is proposed to substitute for it a reference to the age of 21 years.
20. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal.
Registration of local government electors.
Proposal: Repeal and re-enact section 4 of the Local Government Electors Registration Act, 1924, amended so as to provide that the registration officer shall make such alterations and corrections in the electors lists as he thinks necessary in order to secure that no person is registered more than once as a local government elector for any county, county borough, urban district or town.
Note on Proposal
Section 4 provides that the registration officer shall make alterations to secure “that no person is registered more than once as a local government elector in any county, district, borough, poor law or town electoral area”. There are nine borough electoral areas in the county borough of Dublin and an average of five county electoral areas in each county. A person could, therefore, be registered more than once as an elector for a county or for the county borough of Dublin. This multiple registration serves no useful purpose as an elector is not permitted to vote more than once at the election of the one local authority. The amendment proposed would abolish these multiple registrations, which cause unnecessary work and could provide an opportunity for personation. The proposal dealt with in paragraph 23 provides for the determination of the premises for which an elector, who is qualified in respect of two or more premises, is to be registered. It is not, of course, intended to affect a person’s right to be registered in two or more places as a local government elector for the election of different local authorities.
21. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal.
Residents in county homes.
22. A further amendment to section 1 of the Electoral Act, 1923, which the Joint Committee would like to see made is the deletion in subsection (9) of the words “workhouse, poor house”. This would enable persons resident for long periods in county homes and similar institutions to be registered there. The present wording of subsection (9) in effect disfranchises them and seems to be an anachronistic survival from old poor law attitudes.
Address at which elector is to be registered.
Proposal: Provide that where a person is entitled to be registered whether as a Dáil elector or as a local government elector for a county, county borough, borough, urban district or town, in respect of more premises than one he shall be registered in respect of—
(a) such one of those premises as he shall indicate in writing to the registration officer not later than the last day for receiving claims for registration, or
(b) where he does not so indicate and one of the premises is his residence—his residence, or
(c) in any other case—such one of the premises as the registration officer, after consultation with any other registration officer concerned, may decide at his discretion.
and make any necessary consequential amendments in section 1 of the Electoral Act, 1923 and rule 22 of the First Schedule to that Act.
Note on Proposal
The registration rules contained in the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, are somewhat ambiguous. They have been interpreted in Dublin city as requiring the registration officer to list every elector in every registration unit in which he has an address at which he is entitled to be registered, whether a business address or a residential address, and subsequently to eliminate duplicate entries by comparing the lists for the various registration units. In the vast majority of cases the elector does not express any preference as to whether he should be registered at his business address or his residential address, and the preference is usually given to the latter. The proposal in the above Head, apart from removing ambiguities, will eliminate a great deal of unnecessary work and printing.
23. If the Joint Committee’s proposal at paragraph 8 of its second interim report for the abolition of the business premises qualification for registration as a Dáil elector is implemented, a person will be entitled to be registered as a Dáil elector at one place only, that is, where he is ordinarily resident. It will, therefore, be unnecessary to deal in this proposal with the registration of Dáil electors.
24. Subject to the observations in the preceding paragraph the Joint Committee recommends this proposal.
Meaning of “ordinary residence” for registration purposes.
Proposal: Provide as follows:
(a) For the purposes of registering Dáil or local government electors a person shall not be deemed to have given up ordinary residence in a constituency by reason of absence if he intends to resume residence either permanently or temporarily within a period of eighteen months of giving it up.
(b) A written statement by a person to the effect that he intends to resume residence shall, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, be conclusive evidence of the fact.
Note on Proposal
The purpose of this proposal is to provide for the case where a person is absent on the qualifying date from his home and intends to return, within eighteen months, to resume residence either permanently or temporarily, e.g. retains his household in the constituency. The period of eighteen months is already used as a standard in some areas. This proposal will apply it generally to the registration of both Dáil and local government electors.
25. The term “ordinarily resident” is given widely different interpretations by registration officers, particularly as applied to emigrants who return periodically to this country. It is desirable that a standard interpretation should apply in all areas. The Joint Committee agrees, therefore, with this proposal, subject to its being implemented so that the onus is not placed upon the person who is absent, to have his name retained on the register.
Appointment of city manager as deputy registration officer.
Proposal: Provide that the city manager and town clerk of a county borough shall, if so required by the registration officer act as deputy registration officer for the county borough for such purposes as may, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government, be specified by the registration officer, and repeal rule 15 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923.
Note on Proposal
Under rule 15 the registration officer is required to appoint the town clerk of a county borough to act as his deputy “if the town clerk so desires” for the purposes of publishing the electors lists and receiving claims and objections and publishing lists thereof. Such appointments have been made regularly in Dublin, Limerick and Waterford but not in Cork. It is proposed in this proposal to replace these provisions by one which would oblige the city manager and town clerk to act as deputy registration officer for the county borough if so required by the registration officer and to authorise the registration officer to specify with the consent of the Minister the purposes for which the city manager and town clerk may be required so to act. For example, the correction of lists to remove duplicate entries might be included among the duties of the city manager and town clerk.
26. If the proposal in paragraph 12 for the transfer of registration duties to local authorities is implemented it will not be necessary to proceed with this proposal.
Proposal: Provide as follows:
(a) Abolish fees at present payable to county registrars, county secretaries and town clerks for registration work.
(b) The remuneration and expenses of rate collectors or their substitutes engaged in the preparation of the register of electors shall be paid by the county council or county borough corporation as the case may be on the certificate of the registration officer, at such rates and on much conditions as may be prescribed in a scale to be made by the Minister for Local Government with the consent of the Minister for Finance. One-third of such expenditure shall be recouped to the local authority out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, except that in the case of collectors appointed before the 15th November, 1923, one-half shall be recouped.
(c) Where a city manager and town clerk of a county borough acts as deputy registration officer, there shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas to the local authority a sum determined in accordance with a scale to be prescribed by the Minister for Local Government with the consent of the Minister for Finance.
(d) The expenses actually incurred by a county secretary or town clerk shall be met by the local authority. In appropriate circumstances the Minister for Local Government with the consent of the Minister for Finance may approve of all or part of the remuneration of persons necessarily employed by a county secretary or town clerk being treated as remuneration of rate collectors for the purpose of recoupment.
(e) Continue the present arrangement whereby certain minor expenses are shared equally by the State and local authorities, e.g., fees to superintendent registrars of births and deaths, fees to deputy registration officers, other than town clerks, and postage, and provide that the scale governing such expenses shall be prescribed by the Minister for Local Government with the consent of the Minister for Finance. All other expenditure incurred by a county registrar in the preparation of the register shall be met out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, and any sums he receives as payment for copies of the register and other documents shall be disposed of as may be directed by the Minister for Finance.
(f) The Stationery Office shall procure all printing required for registration purposes to be done, and one-half of the cost of such printing shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, and one-half shall be paid by the county council or county borough corporation for the registration area for the use of which such printing is done. If any question arises as to the nature of the printing to be done or the apportionment of the cost between the several registration areas, it shall be referred to the Minister for Local Government whose decision shall be final.
Note on Proposal
The present system of payment of registration expenses is governed by section 12 of the Electoral Act, 1923, as amended by section 12 of the Juries Act, 1927. Under this system the county council or county borough corporation pays the registration officer any registration expenses properly incurred by him, i.e., the amounts determined by a Scale of Registration Expenses which is made by the Minister for Finance. In exceptional cases expenditure in excess of these amounts is regarded as properly incurred if approved by the council concerned and the Minister for Finance.
Under the 1923 Act all the registration expenses including printing costs were shared equally by the State and the local authorities. In 1924 the work of compiling and publishing draft lists of jurors, which had been the sole responsibility of local authorities since the time when such authorities had semi-judicial functions, was amalgamated with the electors registration work. By the Juries (Amendment) Act, 1924, (repealed and codified in the Juries Act, 1927) differing State contributions to registration expenses were introduced, depending on the nature of the expenses, with the object of ensuring that the local authorities should continue to pay in full for compiling and publishing particulars of jurors. The proportions to be contributed by the State which were introduced in 1924 and have not since been changed are as follows—
(a) Towards payments to county secretaries and town clerks appointed after 15th November, 1923—one-fourth.
(b) Towards payments to rate collectors appointed after the 15th of November, 1923—one-third.
(c) Towards the cost of printing—three-sevenths.
(d) Towards other registration expenses—one-half.
The “other registration expenses” comprise payments to county secretaries, town clerks, and rate collectors appointed on or before 15th November, 1923, registration officers, deputy registration officers, superintendent registrars of births and deaths and certain postal charges.
The present system of payment and recoupment of registration expenses is unnecessarily complicated. The State and local government officers to whom payments are made, with the exception of rate collectors, are now on inclusive salaries and lodge the franchise fees to the credit of the State or local authority as the case may be. As the State and the local authorities contribute jointly the whole amount of the fees, many unnecessary circular transactions take place. It is proposed to eliminate such transactions as far as possible.
Under paragraph (a) the fees payable by the county and county borough councils to county registrars (£9,029—State recoupment £4,514) county secretaries and town clerks (£17,017—State recoupment £4,254) will be abolished.
As these officers are on inclusive salaries the abolition of the fees will not affect their personal remuneration. The abolition of the fees and recoupments will entail on balance a small loss to the Exheequer, which on the 1959/1960 figures quoted would amount to about £260. This will be offset by the gain arising from the retention of payments received by county registrars for copies of the register, etc., which is proposed in paragraph (e)—see below.
Paragraph (b) will transfer the responsibility for prescribing the amount of the rate collectors’ franchise fees from the Minister for Finance to the Minister for Local Government acting with the consent of the Minister for Finance and will enable conditions of payment to be prescribed. This paragraph will also transfer the duty of paying these fees from the county registrar to the county council or county borough corporation. The State will recoup the same proportion of these fees, as at present, to the local authorities.
Under the proposal dealt with in paragraph 26 a city manager and town clerk of a county borough may be required by a county registrar to act as his deputy for such purposes as may, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government, be specified. Paragraph (c) provides for a payment to the local authority in such a case in accordance with a scale to be made by the Minister for Local Government with the consent of the Minister for Finance. This will be a simplification of the present procedure and involves no financial change.
Paragraph (d) will authorise local authorities to meet their own office expenses, including expenditure on temporary staff, in connection with registration; it is consequential on the abolition of the franchise fees of the county secretaries and town clerks. Provision is also being made for recoupment in exceptional cases, e.g., in Dublin County Borough, where the registration expenses exceed the total amount allowed by the present scale. These expenses are incurred mainly on extra staff employed by the town clerk to perform, inter alia, the work carried out elsewhere by rate collectors.
In paragraph (e) it is proposed that certain minor expenses of registration officers, which are at present shared equally by the State and the local authorities, will continue to be so shared, e.g. fees to superintendent registrars of births and deaths, fees to deputy registration officers appointed where a registration officer is unable to perform his duties owing to illness, etc. and the postage of registration forms, but the responsibility for making a scale prescribing these expenses will be transferred from the Minister for Finance to the Minister for Local Government acting with the consent of the Minister for Finance. The State will meet all other registration expenses of county registrars such as office expenses and the remuneration of temporary staff; this provision is consequential on the abolition of the franchise fees as proposed in paragraph (a). It is further proposed that in future the county registrar will credit the State, instead of the local authority as at present, with the amount of any receipts from sales of copies of the register, etc. These receipts have averaged about £450 per annum over the ten years up to and including 1959/60. The State benefits at present to the extent of half these receipts inasmuch as the registration expenses ranking for 50% recoupment are reduced. In future the entire receipts will be credited to the State.
Paragraph (f) proposes that the State shall contribute one-half of the cost of printing required for registration purposes instead of three-sevenths as at present. The form of the electors lists and register has changed since 1924 when the present State contribution was fixed and the present method of indicating jurors by placing the letter “(J)” after their names adds nothing to the cost of the lists and register. There is, therefore, no justification for continuing to charge local authorities more than one-half of the cost of printing. This proposal involves an estimated additional expenditure by the State of about £2,000 per annum.
The repeal of section 12 of the Electoral Act, 1923, paragraph (f) of rule 7 of the First Schedule to that Act, and section 12 of the Juries Act, 1927, is entailed in the present proposals.
27. The Joint Committee does not consider that there is any justification for continuing to require local authorities to pay in full for compiling and publishing particulars of jurors, or for the perpetuation of the distinction between rate collectors appointed before and after 15th November, 1923. The Committee considers that half (instead of one-third as proposed) of the remuneration and expenses of all rate collectors or their substitutes engaged in the preparation of the register should be recouped to the local authority by the State, which benefits from the register at least to the same extent as local authorities with quinquennial elections.
28. If the Joint Committee’s recommendation, in paragraph 12 above, that registration duties be transferred from county registrars to local authorities is implemented, this proposal will require modification. The Committee recommends that the principle should be followed that one half of all registration expenses should be borne by the State and one half by local authorities and that no special apportionment should be attempted with a view to continuing local authorities liability for the notional expenses of compiling the jurors lists.
Penalty for interference with registration notices.
Proposal: Provide that every person who, without lawful authority, wilfully destroys, mutilates, defaces or removes any notice, list, copy of register or other document made available for inspection, posted up or otherwise published by a registration officer pursuant to the registration rules shall be liable on summary conviction on the prosecution of the registration officer or any member of the Garda Síochána to a fine not exceeding £5. Repeal rule 30 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, and subsection (2) of section 47 of the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923.
Note on Proposal
Both rule 30 and subsection (2) of section 47 deal with the defacement and removal of notices, etc., published by registration officers. Rule 30 provides a penalty not exceeding £5 while subsection (2) of section 47 prescribes a penalty between 10s. and £2. It is proposed that the two provisions should be replaced by one provision.
29. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal, but would like to see the penalty put at £10 instead of £5.
III. CONDUCT AND COST OF DÁIL ELECTIONS.
Returning officers, assistant returning officers and deputy returning officers.
Proposal: Repeal and re-enact the provisions dealing with the persons to be returning officers and with the appointment of deputy and assistant returning officers, subject to the following modifications:—
(a) The substitution in section 7 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1961, of words to the effect of “a constituency for which members of Dáil Éireann are for the time being required to be returned” for “a constituency specified in the Schedule to this Act”.
(b) In the event of the returning officer being prevented by illness or other reasonable cause from performing all or any of his duties, the Minister shall appoint a person to be returning officer.
(c) Extend the functions for which a deputy returning officer may be appointed to cover the receipt of nominations.
(d) Provide that where the same person, being a county registrar, is returning officer for two or more constituencies—
(i) the Minister may appoint the senior or chief clerk to be the deputy returning officer, if he is willing to act,
(ii) if no appointment is made under (a), the returning officer may, with the sanction of the Minister, appoint a deputy returning officer,
(iii) if no appointment is made under (a) or (b), the Minister may make the appointment.
(e) Extend the expression “returning officer” in any provision of the Electoral Acts, except those dealing with the appointment of deputy or assistant returing officers, to include a deputy or assistant returning officer.
Note on Proposal
The provisions dealing with the persons who are to be returning officers and assistant or deputy returning officers are scattered through a number of Acts as follows:—
Returning officers: Section 7 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1961, will provide on the next dissolution, for the persons who are to be returning officers for the new constituencies. (The present provision is in section 7 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1947, which will be repealed by the 1961 Act on the next dissolution).
The section provides for the person to be the returning officer “for a constituency specified in the Schedule to this Act.” The substitution of words to the effect of “a constituency for which members of Dáil Éireann are for the time being required to be returned” will make the section applicable not only to the constituencies under the 1961 Act but to any future constituencies.
The persons who are to be returning officers are set out in the section. They are, in effect, the county registrars or, if there is a sheriff, the sheriff.
Assistant returning officers: Section 7 provides that where a constituency includes all or part of a county or county borough, other than that for which the returning officer is sheriff or county registrar, he may, and must if required by the officer concerned, appoint the sheriff, or, if there is no sheriff, the county registrar as assistant returning officer for that part of the constituency.
It is not proposed to alter this.
Vacancy in office of returning officer: Where the returning officer is a sheriff, the Minister appoints a person to act during the period of the vacancy under subsection (3) (g) of section 12 of the Court Officers Act, 1945.
Where the returning officer is a county registrar, section 40 (7) of the Court Officers Act, 1926, applies. Under this section also the Minister appoints a person to act during the period of the vacancy “until a deputy is appointed by the Minister for Justice.”
It is proposed to repeal these provisions and incorporate them in a single new provision in the electoral code.
Incapacity of returning officer through illness, etc.: Subsection (3) (g) of section 12 of the 1945 Act and subsection (7) of section 40 of the 1926 Act, just mentioned, contain provisions enabling the Minister to appoint a person to act as returning officer in the event of the sheriff or county registrar being temporarily absent or incapacitated through illness.
Section 5 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946, also provides that where the returning officer is prevented by illness or other reasonable cause from conducting the election he may, with the approval of the Minister, appoint a deputy returning officer and such deputy may carry out the duties for which he is appointed.
If he does not make an arrangement under this section, the Minister may, under section 7, appoint a person to be returning officer.
It is proposed that these provisions should be replaced by one enabling the Minister to appoint a person to be returning officer in the event of the returning officer’s being prevented by illness or other reasonable cause from performing his duties.
Deputy returning officers: Where the same person is returning officer for two or more constituencies, he must under section 5 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946, appoint a person with the approval of the Minister to be deputy returning officer for the constituency or constituencies other than the one in which he himself acts. The appointment is “to open the ballot boxes and count the votes.”
It is proposed that these functions should be extended to include the receipt of nominations. The appointment of deputies for this purpose has hitherto been done under the returning officers’ general power, under subsection (2) of section 5 of the 1946 Act, of appointing deputies to carry out “all or any of his duties” which he is prevented by illness or other reasonable cause from carrying out himself.
It is also proposed that where the returning officer is a county registrar, the Minister may appoint the senior or chief clerk in the county registrar’s office to be the deputy returning officer if he is willing to act. If no appointment is made by the Minister the returning officer may, with the sanction of the Minister, appoint a person. It is also proposed that if no appointment is made under these provisions the Minister may make the appointment.
Where the returning officer is a sheriff the existing provision enabling him to appoint a deputy returning officer would be re-enacted.
Validation of acts of assistant and deputy returning officer: Subsection (3) of section 7 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1961, provides that the duties of an assistant returning officer shall be the performance in the part of the constituency for which he is appointed of the duties of the returning officer, other than the duties which the returning officer is required in person to perform. There is provision for determination of doubts by the Minister.
Subsection (4) of section 5 of the 1946 Act provides that the expression “returning officer” in the Fifth Schedule to the 1923 Act includes deputy returning officer.
A provision similar to this is made by rule 54 of the Fifth Schedule to the 1923 Act.
It is proposed that these validating provisions should be consolidated, and, further, extended to cover Acts of the person acting as returning officer, not done under the Fifth Schedule to the 1923 Act, e.g. duties in relation to the count, postal votes, polling cards, emergency arrangements on islands.
30. The Joint Committee recommends these proposals for the consolidation, with minor amendments, of the provisions regarding returning officers, their assistants and deputies.
Issue and return of writs.
Proposal: (1) Repeal and re-enact section 54 and the forms of writs contained in Part III of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, as adapted by the Electoral Act, 1923, Adaptation Order, 1945, with the following amendments:—
(a) the substitution in subsection (1) of “every constituency for which members of Dáil Éireann are for the time being required to be returned” for “each constituency named in the Eighth Schedule to this Act”,
(b) the addition of a new subsection providing that a writ issued under the section shall be despatched under cover addressed to the returning officer by registered post and shall be transmitted free of charge and by the earliest practicable post, and
(c) the addition of a further subsection providing that the return of a member or members to serve in the Dáil shall be made by a certificate of the names of such member or members under the hand of the returning officer endorsed on the writ, and the returning officer shall as soon as possible after the ascertainment of the result of the election deliver such return under cover, addressed to the Clerk of the Dáil to the postmaster or his deputy at the principal post office of the place appointed for counting the votes (or if the election was not contested, the place appointed for receiving nominations) for transmission by registered post and it shall be transmitted to the Clerk of the Dáil free of charge and by the earliest practicable post.
(2) Repeal the Parliamentary Writs Act, 1813, and rule 42 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923.
Note on Proposal
Section 54 of the Electoral Act, 1923, provides for the issue of writs for Dáil elections. Part III of the Fifth Schedule to that Act contains the forms of writ to be used. Minor adaptations consequential on the provisions of the Constitution were made in the section and forms by the Electoral Act, 1923, Adaptation Order, 1945.
Subsection (1) of section 54 deals with the issue of writs for general elections and refers to the constituencies created in 1923. It is proposed to amend the subsection so that it will apply not only to the present constituencies but to any constituencies that may be created in the future.
The transmission of writs and the return thereto is governed by the Parliamentary Writs Act, 1813, which prescribes at some length a procedure which approximates to sending the writ by registered post. Writs are, in fact, sent by registered post nowadays and it is proposed to replace the 1813 Act by a subsection to provide simply as at paragraph (b) above.
The return to a writ is made by a certificate endorsed thereon and the writ, so endorsed, is handed to the postmaster at the place of election and forwarded by the first post to the Clerk of the Dáil. This procedure is prescribed in rule 42 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923. It is proposed to incorporate this rule in the proposed section, with amendments providing that the return shall be made as soon as possible after the ascertainment of the result and shall be transmitted by registered post, and also defining the place of election for the purpose.
31. The Joint Committee recommends these proposals.
Deposit by candidates.
Proposal: Insert in section 20 of the Electoral Act, 1923, a new subsection (5) providing that, except as provided in subsection (6), whenever a candidate at a Dáil election is elected the deposit made by him or on his behalf shall, as soon as practicable after the result of such election is declared, be returned to the person by whom such deposit was made, and repeal section 2 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1933.
Note on Proposal
Section 20 contains all the provisions regarding candidates’ deposits at Dáil elections with the exception of the provision for the return of the deposit of an elected candidate. The latter is contained in section 2 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1933. Originally, section 20 contained a subsection (5) providing for the return of a successful candidate’s deposit if he took the oath as a member of the Oireachtas. This was repealed in 1927 and a new provision made containing a time-limit for taking the oath. This in turn was repealed by the 1933 Act and the present provision made. It is desirable to insert this provision in section 20 with the other provisions dealing with deposits for convenience of reference. This will, incidentally, make possible the repeal of the whole of the 1933 Act insofar as it is not already repealed, as the repeal of the other existing substantive section (section 3) is entailed in the first proposal in Part IV of this Report.
Subsection (6) provides that where a candidate is nominated for more than one constituency he shall in no case be entitled to have more than one deposit returned to him.
32. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal.
33. The amount of the deposit required of candidates at Dáil elections is £100. The requirement of a deposit was instituted under the Representation of the People Act, 1918, which removed from candidates the liability to pay the official costs of an election. Its primary purpose was to prevent irresponsible nominations. It has remained unchanged in amount since 1923. The Joint Committee considered whether the amount should be increased on account of the fall in the value of money since then or decreased because it deters persons from seeking election. The Committee decided in the light of these conflicting considerations that the amount of the deposit should not be changed.
34. Under section 20 of the Electoral Act, 1923, a candidate at a contested election forfeits his deposit unless the votes credited to him at the time of his exclusion or at the final count exceed one-third of the quota. The Joint Committee recommends that at a bye-election the fraction should be reduced to one-fourth.
Person not to be eligible to be nominated in more than one constituency at a general election.
Proposal: Provide that a person shall not be eligible to be a candidate at a general election to the Dáil in more than one constituency and repeal subsection (6) of section 20 and section 55 of the Electoral Act, 1923.
Note on Proposal
Section 55 provides that if a person is returned as a member of the Dáil for two or more constituencies he shall before taking his seat declare which one of the constituencies he elects to represent and if he does not make this declaration within one month after the first day on which the new Dáil sits he shall be deemed to have elected to represent the constituency in which he received the greatest number of first preference votes. He is deemed to have resigned his seat or seats in each of the other constituencies as soon as he makes or is deemed to have made this declaration. A bye-election then becomes necessary to fill the vacancy or vacancies.
Subsection (6) of section 20 provides that if a candidate is nominated in more than one constituency he shall in no case be entitled to have more than one deposit returned to him.
No person has been elected in more than one constituency for more than 30 years. In addition to the fact that the existing provision could lead to unnecessary bye-elections it is considered that it is open to abuse. It is proposed to replace it by a provision declaring that a person shall not be eligible to be a candidate in more than one constituency at a general election.
35. The fact that the same person may be nominated in two or more constituencies at the same election is objectionable because it may lead to contests where none might otherwise occur and because if the same person heads the poll in more than one constituency his party may well succeed in any consequential bye-elections. However, the Joint Committee would prefer to leave the choice of whether or not to be so nominated to the prospective candidate who would have to face the loss of at least one deposit, and the cost of campaigns in two or more constituencies. The Committee does not consider the argument based on the consequential bye-election as a serious objection. It does not feel that it could recommend this proposal.
Death of a candidate.
Proposal: Repeal subsection (4) of section 19 of the Electoral Act, 1923, and provide as follows:—
(a) Where either before or after the adjournment of an election for the purpose of taking a poll and before the commencement of the poll the returning officer is satisfied that a candidate has died (whether before or after the adjournment) the returning officer shall countermand the notice of the poll, and all the proceedings with reference to the election shall be commenced afresh. In such fresh election the days for receiving nominations and the day for the poll shall be fixed in the manner provided for in the case of a bye-election, and for that purpose the writ shall be deemed to have been received by the returning officer on the day on which proof was given to him of the death of the candidate, but no fresh nomination or consent shall be necessary in respect of any candidate who stood nominated at the time of the countermand of the poll.
(b) Where after the commencement but before the close of the poll the returing officer is satisfied that a candidate has died all votes cast shall be disregarded and the ballot papers destroyed, and the proceedings shall be recommenced as if the notice of poll had been countermanded at the time of the commencement of the poll.
(c) In any other case the death of a candidate shall not invalidate his nomination or any preference recorded for him and if he is elected, his election shall not be invalidated by reason of his death, but he shall be deemed to have vacated his membership of Dáil Éireann immediately after his election thereto.
(d) Where a notice of poll is countermanded all ballot papers issued to postal voters shall be disregarded and the returning officer shall destroy without opening all ballot paper envelopes received by him for inclusion in the countermanded poll.
Note on Proposal
Subsection (4) of section 19 of the Electoral Act, 1923, provides that where a candidate dies after the adjournment of an election for the taking of a poll but before the commencement of the poll the returning officer must, on being satisfied of the fact of such death, countermand the poll. The proceedings then revert to the nomination stage. The first paragraph above is a re-enactment of subsection (4) modified so as to apply also to the case of a candidate whose death occurs before the latest time for receiving nominations.
No provision is made at present for the case where a candidate dies during the poll. It is proposed to deal with this situation by providing for a fresh election where, after the commencement but before the close of the poll, the returning officer is satisfied that a candidate has died. If news of a candidate’s death is circulated during the poll the number of votes given to him is unlikely to be related to the number of his supporters. It is considered that the proper course in such circumstances is to ignore the votes cast and to hold the election again. The close of the poll marks the end of the election, the counting is merely the ascertainment of the result. Consequently, if a candidate dies after the close of the poll his votes ought to be counted and if it is ascertained that he has been elected, then a casual vacancy arises as a result of his death. It is proposed to treat similarly a candidate of whose death the returning officer was not satisfied before the close of the poll because the electorate in such a case would generally have voted in the belief that he was alive and effect should be given to their votes. In this case too the election of the deceased would create a casual vacancy.
Ballot papers are issued to postal voters some time before polling day and accordingly it is proposed to provide for their destruction where the poll is countermanded.
36. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal, subject to the returning officer being required to countermand the notice of poll in the event of a person already nominated dying within the period commencing forty eight hours before the close of the time for receiving nominations.
A. THE POLL.
Facilities for postal voters.
37. In its first interim report the Joint Committee recommended that all members of the Defence Forces and of the Garda Síochána should be entered on the postal voters lists. These are the only electors who can vote by post. The Committee has given much thought to the representations it has received that those in civilian employment whose occupation requires them to be away from home during the greater part of the week or for longer periods should also be registered as postal voters. The Committee recognises that absence from home in such cases may, in practice, deprive the person concerned of his vote.
38. However, the extension of postal voting facilities to such persons would not necessarily remedy this, especially where the address of the person concerned changes from day to day. Further, if postal voting facilities were extended to one class of persons it could be argued that it should be extended to all classes similarly circumstanced, including those who move their residence from the address at which they are registered, and possibly even persons on holidays on polling day. The numbers involved in such an extension would be very great. The Joint Committee does not consider that the resulting greatly increased risk of abuse would be justified. Accordingly, the Committee does not recommend any further extension of these facilities. Neither does it see any merit in a suggestion put to it that prisoners should be allowed to vote by post or that special facilities for voting should be provided in prisons.
Special provisions where two elections have the same polling day.
Proposal: Provide that where more than one poll is to be taken on the same day:—
(1) (a) the poll shall be taken at the same time and the same places, by the same persons and in the same manner,
(b) the same official mark shall be used for the ballot papers at each poll,
(c) the ballot papers at each poll shall be of a different colour and shall be handed or, in the case of postal voters, sent to each voter at the same time,
(d) the returning officer may provide the same or separate ballot boxes,
(e) if separate ballot boxes are provided a ballot paper shall not be invalidated by being put in the wrong box,
(f) an authorisation by a returning officer to a person to vote at one poll at a polling station other than the one allocated to him shall be construed as authorising the person to vote at the other poll or polls in the same constituency or, in the case of a local election, in the same local electoral area.
(2) The Minister may, by direction, order or regulation, provide for such matters as he considers necessary to give effect to this proposal. Such directions, orders or regulations will have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, order or regulation and may in particular:—
(a) define the powers and duties of returning officers and of any other persons employed in connection with the polls,
(b) make such modifications in the Acts, orders or regulations governing the taking of the polls or the arrangements for the counting of the votes as appear to the Minister to be necessary to enable the polls to be taken together or to facilitate or expedite the completion and ascertainment of the results of the elections,
(c) make provisions in relation to the form and issue of polling cards.
(3) The Minister for Finance may by regulations prescribe for the purposes of this proposal:—
(a) a scale of maximum charges,
(b) the time when and manner and form in which accounts are to be rendered to him,
(c) if the expenses of taking a poll would normally be met by a local authority or authorities, the manner in which the expenses of taking the poll on the same day shall be apportioned between the Central Fund and the local authority.
(4) Repeal section 28 of the Referendum Act, 1942, and section 4 of the Referendum (Amendment) Act, 1959.
Note on Proposal
The purpose of this proposal is to enable the polls at more than one type of election to be taken on the same day.
The existing provisions for this are contained in the Referendum Act, 1942, which deals with the taking of the poll at a general election and a constitutional referendum on the same day, and in the Referendum (Amendment) Act, 1959, which deals with the taking of the polls at a presidential election and a constitutional referendum on the same day. The polls at more than one type of election were taken in 1938 (plebiscite and general election under the Plebiscite (Draft Constitution) Act, 1937), in 1945 (Presidential election and local elections under the Presidential and Local Elections Act, 1945), in 1959 (Presidential elections and constitutional referendum under the Referendum (Amendment) Act, 1959), and in 1960 (Carlow-Kilkenny bye-election and local elections in that area under the Elections Act, 1960).
The types of election which it is intended to cover by the proposal are presidential, Dáil (both general and bye-elections), local elections and referenda. In each case, except at local elections, polling day is fixed by the Minister. At local elections polling day is fixed by county and county borough councils and must be between 23rd June and 1st July inclusive. The Minister has announced his intention of introducing legislation to provide for local elections being held on the same day throughout the country. This would probably involve the fixing of polling day by the Minister.
The proposals are generally similar to those in existing or recent legislation dealing with the taking of more than one poll at the same time. With regard to paragraph (2) (c) there is provision for the issue of polling cards at all types of elections covered by the proposal, except local elections. The Minister has announced his intention to introduce legislation to enable local authorities to issue polling cards at local elections. The information which a polling card would give would be generally similar for each of the polls taken at the same time. In such circumstances it may be found desirable to issue only one card to each elector, and paragraph 2 (c) will enable this to be done.
39. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal. The Committee has noted the statement of the Minister for Local Government of his intention to introduce legislation to enable poll cards setting out each voter’s number on the register and his polling place to be issued at local elections. The Committee suggests that consideration should be given to the question of prescribing a poll card which could be used at all types of election covered by the proposal, viz., Dáil, presidential and local elections, as well as referenda.
Polling districts and polling places.
Proposal: (1) Repeal section 42 of the Electoral Act, 1923, section 14 of the Local Elections Act, 1927, and the application of section 14 and the rules made thereunder to local authorities in Dublin city and county by section 86 of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1930.
(2) Provide that:—
(a) each county council and county borough council shall, after consultation with the Dáil returning officer and in accordance with such rules as shall be made from time to time by the Minister, make a scheme dividing the county or county borough into polling districts for the purpose of Dáil and local elections and appointing a convenient polling place for each polling district. The council, may, from time to time, and shall if so directed by the Minister, revise or amend such scheme. Provide for confirmation by the Minister;
(b) the scheme shall include a date of commencement on which it is proposed that it shall come into operation;
(c) the Minister may modify the scheme before confirmation and may alter the date of commencement;
(d) a polling place may be within or outside the county, county borough, constituency or electoral area in which the registration unit is situated, but shall be such as to give the electors allotted to it reasonable facilities for voting;
(e) where the council of a non-county borough or an urban district, or the commissioners of a town or not less than thirty electors in a county or a county borough satisfy the Minister that the polling districts or polling places named in a scheme (or any of them) do not meet the reasonable requirements of the electors in the county or county borough or some part thereof, the Minister may require the county or county borough council to amend the scheme and if they do not do so within one month, the Minister may himself amend it;
(f) the existing polling districts and polling places shall continue until revised under these provisions and every reference in any Act, Order or Regulation to a polling district or polling place shall be construed as referring to such revised polling district or polling place, if the circumstances so require;
(g) the making, revision or amendment of polling schemes or the making of representations by a local authority in regard thereto shall be a reserved function;
(h) rule 13 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, shall be amended so as to provide that where by reason of any difficulty a polling station or a sufficient number of polling stations cannot be provided for a polling district at the polling place assigned to that district, the returning officer may provide a polling station for the district at any other convenient place on giving reasonable notice of the change locally;
(i) in compiling the electors lists and register of electors, the polling place at which the electors registered in a registration unit, other than postal voters, are to vote shall be entered on the title page for the unit;
(j) no election shall be questioned on the grounds of any non-compliance with the provisions of this section or any informality in regard to polling districts or polling places.
Note on Proposal
Section 42 of the Electoral Act, 1923, requires each county and county borough council to divide its area into polling districts and to appoint polling places in such manner as to give all electors in the area such reasonable facilities for voting as are practicable. Schemes must accord with rules made by the Minister for Local Government and are subject to his sanction. If any urban district council or town commissioners, or not less than thirty electors make a representation to the Minister that the polling districts or polling places do not meet the reasonable requirements of the electors the Minister may direct the county or county borough council concerned to alter their scheme, and if they fail to comply with his direction within a month, he may make the alteration himself. It is also provided that no election shall be questioned by reason of any non-compliance with the provisions of the section or any informality relative to polling districts or polling places.
Section 14 of the Local Elections Act, 1927, makes a similar provision in relation to local elections.
The register of electors used for both Dáil and local elections must be compiled in separate registration units according to Dáil polling districts. As a general rule there is little difference between the schemes for Dáil and local elections and in a number of counties an identical scheme has been adopted for both. Paragraph 2 (a) proposes to require only one polling scheme to be prepared and this will be so framed that it can be used both for Dáil and for local elections. Where different polling places are at present specified for the two types of election, it is intended initially that in general the local elections polling place should be adopted.
Paragraph 2 (a) will also enable new rules to be made for the making and amendment of polling schemes. The present rules governing Dáil polling schemes were made in 1923 and 1925, and they cannot be extended to cover amendments to schemes, as there is no specific provision for amendments as such in the 1923 Act. The rules governing local elections polling schemes were made in 1923 and cannot be amended at all under present law. Both sets of rules need revision.
Under paragraph 2 (b) a polling scheme will include a proposed date of commencement, subject to confirmation by the Minister and under paragraph 2 (c) his power to modify a scheme will extend to altering the date of commencement. At present a polling scheme comes into force when confirmed and if this takes place during the preparation of the electors lists or the register, difficulty and delay in preparing and printing them may be caused owing to the amendments entailed. It is intended to arrange that new polling schemes or amendments will, as a general rule, come into force on the date of publication of the annual register and will be confirmed in sufficient time before that date to enable the registration officer to make the necessary changes when preparing the register for printing.
It is intended to clarify the power to prescribe polling places outside the polling districts—and, if necessary, outside the boundary of the county, county borough or constituency—when desirable in order to facilitate electors. The law at present requires the polling place assigned to a polling district for the purpose of local elections to be in the polling district. Sometimes this is impossible to arrange. There is no similar restriction on the choice of Dáil polling places, but it has been argued that they must be in the constituency, and it is desirable to remove doubts on the point.
Paragraphs 2 (e) and 2 (j) propose to re-enact generally the provisions of existing legislation regarding representations by electors and local authorities to have a scheme amended and the exclusion of irregularities in regard to polling schemes from the grounds on which an election may be questioned.
As regards the publication of schemes, it is not proposed to re-enact the provision in subsection (3) of section 42 of the Electoral Act, 1923, which requires the local authority, when a Dáil polling scheme has been confirmed, to publish a notice showing the boundaries of all polling districts and the situation of all polling places. This has been interpreted as meaning publication of the entire scheme in the press, which is unnecessary and wasteful. Instead, the local authority will be required by rule to publish notice of the confirmation of the scheme and to keep the scheme available for inspection, as is the case at present with a local elections polling scheme.
Under the City and County Management Acts “parliamentary and local elections” are functions reserved to the members of the local authority. If necessary, specific provision will be included to ensure that the making of polling schemes will be a reserved function, as proposed in paragraph 2 (g) above.
The amendment of rule 13 of the Fifth Schedule to the 1923 Act proposed in paragraph 2 (h) above is intended to state explicitly a power which returning officers occasionally exercise as part of their general duty on conducting an election.
In some areas the register has got out of step with the polling schemes, and in order to ascertain the electors allotted to a particular polling place a number of registration units must be consulted—as well as parts of the polling scheme. It is proposed in paragraph 2 (i) to make it the duty of the local registration authority to state at the head of each registration unit where the electors, other than the postal voters, in that unit are to vote.
40. The Joint Committee agrees with these proposals but considers that twenty rather than thirty electors in a county or county borough should be a sufficient number to satisfy the Minister for Local Government of the inadequacy of polling facilities in their area. It recommends that paragraph 2 (e) should be amended accordingly. It also considers that in paragraph 2 (h) the words “at the polling place assigned to that district” be deleted and the words “or part thereof at the normal polling place” be substituted.
41. The Joint Committee recommends that polling places to serve electors in institutions should be in the institutions themselves or convenient to them.
42. The Joint Committee also recommends that the name “polling place” should be used to describe the building in which polling takes place and “polling booth” the actual compartment where the votes are recorded. It recommends that the meaning of the term “polling place” should be clarified. At present it is apparently interpreted loosely to mean either a building or an area.
Presence of candidates in polling station.
Proposal: Amend rule 19 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, so as to include the candidates among the persons who may not be excluded from a polling station.
Note on Proposal
Rule 19 provides that the presiding officer at a polling station “shall regulate the number of electors to be admitted at a time and shall exclude all other persons except the clerks, the agents of the candidates, and the police constables on duty”. Some presiding officers have taken this to mean that they must exclude a candidate even though rule 49 provides that a candidate may himself undertake the duties of agent or assist his agent, and “may be present at any place at which his agent may, in pursuance of this Act, attend”. It is proposed by this amendment to make it quite clear that a presiding officer has no obligation, or right, to exclude a candidate from a polling place.
43. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal.
Hours of poll.
Proposal: Repeal subsection (3) of section 41 of the Electoral Act, 1923, as inserted by section 2 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1941, and provide that at a Dáil election the poll shall commence at 9 a.m. and shall be kept open until 9 p.m. unless in the case of a particular election or a particular constituency the Minister by order directs that the poll shall open at 8 a.m. and/or close at 9.30 p.m.; and amend paragraph (c) of rule 30 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1923 Act as inserted by section 3 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946.
Note on Proposal
Subsection (3) of section 41 provides that polling shall commence at 9 a.m. and finish at 9 p.m. unless the Minister directs that it shall be kept open until 9.30 p.m. It is proposed to enable the Minister to direct also that the poll shall be opened at 8 a.m. to facilitate persons who may find it more convenient to vote early.
Paragraph (c) of rule 30 provides that the returning officer shall give notice of the place for the counting of the votes at least 48 hours before the hour of 9 a.m. on the day of the poll. It is proposed to substitute for the hour of 9 a.m. the hour directed by the Minister for the opening of the poll.
44. The Joint Committee discussed a number of alternative polling hours and decided, following a division, to recommend that polling hours should be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Polling should be continuous during these hours.
45. The advantages of uniform polling hours with which the public will become familiar over the years are obvious. The Joint Committee considers that polling time should remain un-changed whether during summer or winter and that the power of the Minister under section 2 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946, to extend polling time by half an hour should be revoked.
Definition of close of poll.
46. In order to avoid electors actually inside the building in which polling is taking place being turned away because the polling time has expired, the Joint Committee recommends that the close of the poll should be defined as meaning the closing of the doors of the building in which the poll is being taken.
Polling at weekends.
47. The Joint Committee has considered representations that to facilitate persons who are, as a rule, away from home during the middle of the week, polling should take place on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday. The objections to this course are that to enable a poll to be opened on Monday morning, it would be necessary either to distribute the ballot boxes and ballot papers to the polling stations on Saturday and to provide police protection to the stations throughout Sunday, which would not be practicable, or to distribute the boxes and papers on Sunday, which would be objectionable.
48. If the poll were held on Friday, it would in many cases entail counting the votes on Sunday, a proceeding which would be equally open to objection. Saturday polling would make counting on Sunday inevitable. The Joint Committee considers that either counting or polling on Sunday would be objectionable. The Committee does not, therefore, consider that it is desirable that in the ordinary course polling should take place on such days.
Declaring polling day a national holiday.
49. The question of declaring polling day a national holiday was also raised. Under Article 28 of the Constitution of the Irish Free State (1922) polling day at a general election was declared to be a public holiday. This provision was repeated by section 41 of the Electoral Act, 1923, which also provided, at section 18, that polling day at a general election should be Monday. This provision for polling on a Monday was included in the Act as a result of a committee stage amendment, the purpose of which was to avoid undue dislocation of business resulting from a mid-week holiday.
50. The Constitution (Amendment No. 3) Act, 1927, abolished the provision that polling day should be a public holiday and the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1927, repealed the provisions in the 1923 Act for polling on a Monday.
51. The Minister for Local Government and Public Health stated during the debate on the Constitution (Amendment No. 3) Bill, 1927, that the reason for making polling day a public holiday had been to secure that every elector should be free on that day to record his vote. In fact it was found that, instead, hardship was caused to workers and some employers through loss of a day’s work. The tendency of people to look on the polling day as an extra holiday and to go away for the week-end, not bothering to return to vote, was also adverted to. The Joint Committee considers that these considerations remain valid and, in the Committee’s view, it would not be wise to declare polilng day a national holiday.
52. In connection with the proposal that polling day should be proclaimed a national holiday the Joint Committee discussed the question of making voting compulsory. Subsection 2° of section 1 of Article 16 of the Constitution provides—
“Every citizen without distinction of sex who has reached the age of twenty-one years who is not disqualified by law and complies with the provisions of the law relating to the election of members of Dáil Éireann, shall have the right to vote at an election for members of Dáil Éireann.”
The Committee obtained legal advice which was to the effect that legislation to introduce compulsory voting would probably be un-constitutional. In the circumstances the Committee makes no recommendation on the point.
Late polling on islands.
Proposal: Amend section 8 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946, by the addition of a subsection to provide that where owing to stress of weather or transport difficulties, the poll on an island is not held on the appointed day, it shall be held on the first day on which transport is possible.
Note on Proposal
Section 8 which enables the poll to be taken in advance on islands where weather and transport conditions so require, needs to be extended to provide also for the case where an unexpected storm arises, such as happende at Dursey Island in 1948, and the polling is delayed. At present the returning officer must ask the Minister for Local Government to make a “difficulty order” to allow to poll to be held late. It is proposed to give the returning officer power to deal with the situation without reference to the Minister.
An Amendment of section 41 of the Electoral Act, 1923, as inserted by section 2 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946, may be necessary. This section provides that each general election shall be held on one day only and that such day shall be the same throughout the State.
53. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal.
Marking of ballot papers.
54. Section 26 of the Electoral Act, 1923, provides that a ballot paper at a Dáil election shall be invalid and not be counted if—
(1) it does not bear the official mark,
(2) the figure 1 standing alone indicating a first preference for some candidate is not placed on it,
(3) the figure 1 standing alone indicating a first preference is set opposite the name of more than one candidate,
(4) the figure 1 standing alone indicating a first preference and some other numbers are set opposite the name of the one candidate, or
(5) anything except the number on the back is written or marked by which the voter can be identified.
55. Section 26 and rule 22 of the Fifth Schedule to the Act further provide that at the time of voting the ballot paper shall be marked on both sides with the official mark. This is taken to mean that it must be stamped on both sides. With the percussion stamps now in use a mark made on one side of the paper is clearly apparent on the other side and stamping the ballot paper twice not only wastes time but tends to tear the paper. The Joint Committee recommends that the law should be amended so as to provide that the ballot papers should be marked so that the official mark is apparent on both sides. The Committee also recommends that the form of the ballot paper should be amended to provide for the inclusion thereon of a space for the impression of the official mark. This will tend to remind presiding officers of the absolute necessity of marking ballot papers before issue.
56. In some areas returning officers, with the agreement of the agents, accept an “X” on a ballot paper as indicating a valid preference. In other areas they do not. There should be uniformity on this point. It is also essential that the rules as to what a returning officer may accept as a valid vote should be clear and definite. There does not seem to be any great objection to allowing the mark “X” or words “one”, “two”, etc. if they clearaly indicate a preference. The Joint Committee recommends that the section be amended accordingly. A consequential amendment may be necessary in rule 34 of the Fifth Schedule to the Act.
Secrecy of the ballot.
57. A matter to which the Joint Committee gave much consideration is the practice of writing on the ballot paper counterfoils each elector’s number on the register of electors as he is handed his ballot paper at an election. The practice is required by subsection (3) of section 26 and rule 22 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, and was devised so that an invalid vote could be identified and disallowed should the need arise, on petition. The practice does, however, give rise to public disquiet and the Committee felt it desirable to go in detail into the provisions dealing with the question especially in view of Article 16.1.4° of the Constitution which provides:
“No voter may exercise more than one vote at an election for Dáil Éireann, and the voting shall be by secret ballot”.
58. Under rules 19 and 49 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, as amended, apart from electors casting their votes and the helpers of blind and incapacitated voters, only the presiding officer, the poll clerks, Gardaí on duty, the candidates and their agents may be allowed in the polling station. Rule 52 requires the officials and agents, before polling commences, to sign an undertaking to preserve the secrecy of the ballot and there are penalties for any infringement of secrecy. Polling stations are so arranged as to enable the voters to vote in secrecy and they must place their ballot papers, folded, in the ballot box, which is sealed.
59. As soon as practicable after the close of poll, the presiding officer must make up in separate packets, sealed with his own seal, in the presence of the agents, a number of documents including the marked copy of the register and the ballot paper counterfoils. Such agents as may wish to do so may affix their seals to the packets, which are then sent to the returning officer. (The Joint Committee has agreed at paragraph 80 to the proposal to make it clear statutorily that the counterfoils (which are secret) and the marked copies of the register (which are not) are put in separate packets).
60. During the counting of votes the returning officer, under rule 32, must see that all ballot papers are kept face upwards and that all proper precautions are taken to prevent the numbers printed on their backs being seen by anyone. The provisions of rule 52 and section 28 as to the preservation of secrecy, referred to above, also apply.
61. Rule 35 provides that the returning officer shall not open the packets containing the marked register and the counterfoils. He must send them to the Clerk of the Dáil, who must keep them unopened for a year and then destroy them, unless otherwise directed by an order of the Dáil or High Court.
62. Under rule 39, no person may, except by order of the Dáil or of a tribunal having cognizance of petitions complaining of undue returns or elections, open the sealed packets of counterfoils. The rule provides that care must be taken that the mode in which an elector voted is not discovered until he has been proved to have voted and his vote has been declared invalid by a competent court. Section 38 provides that no person who has voted in an election shall, in any legal proceeding to question the election, be required to say how he has voted. The marked copies of the register may be inspected subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by the Clerk of the Dáil.
63. The Joint Committee is satisfied that the observance of these provisions ensures that the way in which a particular elector voted cannot be ascertained unless his vote has been declared invalid by a competent court.
64. Since 1922 there has been no petition questioning the return of an election of a member to the Dáil. At local elections there have been two petitions. However, neither of these involved a scrutiny of the ballot papers. The Committee feels that it is justifiable to ask why, therefore, should the practice of marking ballot paper counterfoils with the elector’s number be continued.
65. The risk involved in discontinuing the practice seems small and the Joint Committee was impressed by the case advanced for its discontinuance. On the other hand, the Committee feels that if the practice were discontinued the only remedy which would remain if widespread personation or other corrupt practices were proved to have taken place at an election would be to declare the election void and hold another election. At this second election the persons guilty of the offences would, in a sense, be given a “second chance” of being elected, whereas if the invalid votes were simply struck off on a scrutiny the candidates against whom the offence was directed might well be elected—an effect opposite to that intended by the offenders. On balance, the Committee feels that the deterrent effect of the present practice is a valuable safeguard against widespread personation and other corrupt practices at elections and that it should not be sacrificed to allay a suspicion which is, in fact, groundless. The Committee accordingly recommends no change in this regard.
Declaration of secrecy.
Proposal: Amend rule 52 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, so as to provide that where a candidate acts with or instead of his agent in attending at a polling station or at the counting of the votes, he shall sign an undertaking to preserve the secrecy of the ballot, and further that every person appointed to assist the returning officer in counting the votes shall also sign such an undertaking.
Note on Proposal
Under this proposal it is proposed that where a candidate acts partly as his own agent he shall make the customary declaration of secrecy. It also proposes to remedy a technical defect in the Act by extending the obligation of making this declaration to all persons whom the returning officer appoints to assist him in the counting of the votes. Only his “clerks” are covered by the present rule.
66. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal.
67. The Joint Committee considers that the declaration of secrecy should be so framed that the one declaration can be signed by every person who is required to sign it both at the poll and at the count, instead of each person, as at present, being required to sign an individual declaration.
Presiding officers and poll clerks.
68. The only statutory limitations on the returning officer’s power of appointment of presiding officers or poll clerks are contained in—
(1) section 35 and rule 19 of the Fifth Schedule of the Electoral Act, 1923, which require a returning officer to appoint a presiding officer to preside at each polilng station,
(2) section 36 of the 1923 Act which states that “no returning officer, nor his deputy, nor any partner or clerk of either of them” act as agent for a candidate, and
(3) rule 47 of the Fifth Schedule to that Act which provides that no person may be employed by a returning officer for any purpose relating to an election who has been employed by any other person in or about that election.
Appointments do not require Ministerial sanction.
69. The Joint Committee feels that the provisions of rule 47 should be broadened so as to provide that no one who, the returning officer is satisfied, has been actively associated on behalf of any candidate at an election should be employed as a presiding officer at that election. To ensure that this prohibition operates, the Committee recommends that each candidate at an election or his agent should be entitled to obtain on request from the returning officer the names of persons whom he proposes to appoint.
70. Polling hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. or 9.30 p.m. and under the Joint Committee’s recommendations would be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. When the fact that the presiding officer must not leave the polling station during this period and the time he must spend both before and after the actual polling period are taken into account this represents a long day’s work. It has been suggested to the Committee that an age limit should on this account be stipulated for appointments to the post of presiding officer and poll clerk. The Committee does not, however, consider this would be warranted. The returning officer at an election must exercise care in making appointments because of his statutory responsibility for the conduct of the election. Further, severe penalties could be imposed by court action either on him or the presiding officer, depending on the circumstances, under section 63 of the Electoral Act, 1923, for failure, refusal or neglect to perform his duties. It is doubtful if, in fact, court action would be resorted to except in an extreme case. The Committee recommends, however, that before he is appointed each presiding officer should be warned specifically by the returning officer that the payment of his fee is dependent on the satisfactory discharge of his duties and that if serious irregularities (such as, for instance, failure to mark ballot papers with the official mark) occur his fee may be reduced or withheld and that he will not be appointed again.
Questions and oaths at elections.
Proposal: (1) Provide as follows:—
(a) Subject to the provisions of this Head, every person whose name is on the register of electors for the time being in force for a constituency, and no other person, shall be permitted to vote at an election in that constituency.
(b) A person’s name shall be deemed to be on a register if the register includes a name which resembles that person’s name and which in the opinion of the returning officer or presiding officer was intended to be that person’s name. The returning officer or presiding officer may on his own initiative and, if so required on behalf of any candidate, shall put the questions or administer the oath set out in the succeeding provisions of this Head.
(c) The returning officer or presiding officer may, and, if so required on behalf of any candidate, shall put to any person at the time of his proposing to vote, but not afterwards, the following questions, or any of them, viz.:—
(i) Are you the same person as the person whose name appears as AB on the register of electors now in force for the constituency of ............................?
(ii) Have you already voted at this election?
(iii) Have you attained the age of 21 years?
and unless the first and third questions are answered in the affirmative and the second question in the negative, that person shall not be permitted to vote.
(d) The returning officer or presiding officer may, and, if so required on behalf of any candidate, shall administer to any person at the time of his proposing to vote, but not afterwards, an oath or (in the case of any person who objects on conscientious grounds to taking an oath) an affirmation in the following forms:—
“I swear by Almighty God (or I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm) that I am the same person as the person whose name appears as AB on the register of electors now in force for the constituency of ...................................... that I have not already voted at this election, and that I have attained the age of 21 years”
and unless that person takes this oath (or makes this affirmation) he shall not be permitted to vote.
(e) Save as is provided in this proposal and in the provisions for voting by blind and incapacitated voters, no question, inquiry or objection shall be put, made or permitted at the time of the poll as to the right of any person to vote, and no objection thereto shall be made or received by any returning officer or presiding officer, nor shall it be lawful to require any voter at any election to take any oath either in respect of his right to vote or any other matter whatsoever.
(f) Nothing in this Head shall be construed as entitling any person to vote who is not entitled to do so, or relieve him from any penalties to which he may be liable for voting.
(2) Repeal sections 3, 29 and 37 of the Electoral Act, 1923, and the Electoral Act, 1941, re-enacting section 1.
Note on Proposal
This proposal in effect re-enacts the provisions which it repeals with a number of minor amendments designed to remove ambiguities and clarify the intention of the sections. The principal amendment is entailed in paragraph (b) which makes clear the intention of the first of the statutory questions referred to in paragraph (c).
It is also made clear that when a person gives satisfactory answers to the questions or takes the required oath he must be given a ballot paper. If he commits perjury he can be dealt with by the courts.
71. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal. The Committee considered whether any steps could be taken to ensure the right to vote of an elector whose name is omitted from the register, and decided that apart from the publication by the registration officer of a supplement to the register containing the names of electors inadvertently omitted from the register, as recommended at paragraph 18 of this Report, no further steps are practicable.
B. THE COUNT AND AFTER.
Place for counting votes.
Proposal: Amend section 3 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946, so as to provide that a returning officer for a constituency which contains part of a county borough may appoint for the counting of votes either a place in the county borough or a place in the constituency.
Note on Proposal
Section 3 substituted a new rule for rule 30 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, including the following provisions:
“30. The returning officer for a constituency—
(a) shall appoint, as the place at which the votes will be counted—
(i) in case the constituency consists wholly or partly of a county borough, some place within the county borough, or
(ii) in any other case, some place within the constituency, but may with the consent of the Minister (which consent shall not be given unless the Minister is satisfied that there is not, within the constituency, any place available and suitable for the counting of the votes) appoint some place outside, but convenient to, the constituency,”
Subparagraph (i) has been interpreted as requiring the returning officer for the county constituency of Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown to appoint a place in the county borough for counting the votes because the constituency, since the last extension of the county borough boundary, includes a very small part of the county borough. It is not intended that in such circumstances the place for counting should be in the county borough and a modification of subparagraph (i) appears to be required.
Proposal: Provide to remove doubts, that it shall be the duty of a returning officer at an election, to provide adequate accommodation and all equipment necessary for the counting of the votes.
Note on Proposal
Under rule 30 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, as inserted by section 3 of the 1946 Act, a returning officer is required to appoint the place at which the votes will be counted. In most areas this rule is interpreted as requiring the registration officer to provide accommodation for counting. However, section 3 of the Courthouses (Provision and Maintenance) Act, 1935, is regarded by one returning officer at least as imposing the duty on the county council. That section provides that a county council must maintain such courthouse accommodation as the Minister for Justice directs either generally or in a particular case, for the purpose, inter alia, of the transaction of the business by law assigned to or usually transacted in or by any court office or officer both during the sitting of the Court and at all other times, whether such business is court business or not. It is proposed to remove any doubts as to the responsibility of the returning officer to provide counting facilities.
72. The Joint Committee recommends these proposals.
73. The Department of Local Government issue instructions from time to time that the count should be so arranged that the candidates and their agents can see what is being done by the returning officer, his assistants and clerks in relation to the counting process.
74. The Joint Committee considers it most important that these instructions should be reiterated, and, if necessary, included in statutory regulations. The Committee also suggests that the Department should include in their instructions a specific advice to returning officers that the tables at a count might be arranged in semi-circular or U-shape, with provision for the agents and their candidates to walk around the outside of the barrier and watch the counting.
Agents at count.
75. Under rule 31 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, the only persons permitted to be present at the counting of votes are the returning officer, his staff and the agents of the candidates and any other persons sanctioned by the returning officer. Rule 49 of that Schedule provides that a candidate may be present at any place at which his agent may, in pursuance of the Act, attend. There is no statutory limit to the number of agents a candidate may appoint to attend on his behalf at the count, but in some cases the number of agents for each candidate is limited by the returning officer because the accommodation in the place in which the votes are being counted is restricted. The Joint Committee considers that it should be possible to get sufficient accommodation to ensure that a candidate may, personally or through his agents, satisfy himself that a ballot paper which is counted as a preference for a particular candidate is in fact valid and contains such a preference. Where the number of agents for each candidate admitted to a count is limited, this may not be possible. The Committee recommends that, in addition to placing a statutory obligation on the returning officer to provide adequate accommodation for the count, a further provision should be enacted permitting each candidate to attend the count personally and, in addition, to appoint not more than five agents to attend. The Committee also recommends that, in exercising his discretion as to the number of other persons to be admitted to the count, the returning officer should have special regard to his responsibility to conduct the count efficiently and to ensure that the agents of the candidates are also facilitated in carrying out their tasks in relation to the count effectively.
Time for counting.
76. Under rules 30 and 33 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, the returning officer was required to make arrangements for counting the votes “as soon as practicable after the close of the poll” and to “proceed continuously with the counting, allowing only time for refreshment, and excluding (except so far as he and the agents otherwise agree) the hours between 7 o’clock at night and 9 o’clock on the succeeding morning.” These provisions were changed by section 3 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946, which provides that the returning officer should commence the count at 9 a.m. on the day after the close of the poll and, as far as practicable, proceed continuously with the counting, allowing only time for refreshment, and excluding (except so far as he and the agents otherwise agree) the hours between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. on the succeeding morning.
77. The Joint Committee has received representations that these hours should be changed so as to provide for a twelve-hour day as the basic counting period, beginning from 9 a.m. on the morning following polling day. While the Committee has full sympathy with the officers responsible for the conduct of the election, who will have been under considerable strain for some time prior to the count, especially in the case of a general election, it takes the view that it is vital in the public interest to ascertain the result of the election at the earliest possible moment. The Committee recommends, therefore, that the law in this matter should not be changed.
Tendered ballot papers to be counted.
Proposal: Provide that a tendered ballot paper shall be counted at a Dáil election and allow a person tendering such a vote to make a statutory declaration in lieu of requiring him to take an oath.
Note on Proposal
Where a person claims that another person has voted in his stead he cannot vote unless he takes an oath that he is the person who was entitled to the vote. He is given a different coloured ballot paper which is not counted except in the event of a petition. It is considered that this is unfair to the voter and it is proposed to allow him to make a statutory declaration instead of an oath and to count all such tendered votes. Penalties will be provided for false declarations and the tendered votes will still be recognisable in the event of a petition.
Transfer of votes.
Proposal: Amend paragraph (5) (a) of rule 6 of the Third Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, so that it will provide that the returning officer need not transfer a surplus when that surplus together with any other surplus not transferred is less than the difference between the numbers of the votes credited to the two lowest candidates, and either
(i) the number of votes credited at such count to the lowest candidate is greater than one-third of the quota, or
(ii) one-third of the quota is greater than the sum of the number of votes credited at such count to the lowest candidate together with that surplus and any other surplus not transferred.
Note on Proposal
A deposit is forfeited by a candidate unless the votes credited to him at the time of his exclusion or at the end of the final count exceed one-third of the quota. Under the present counting rules a surplus which otherwise would not be transferred (e.g., when the transfer could not alter the position of the lowest candidate or when all the vacancies had been filled) must be transferred if the lowest candidate has less than one-third of the quota. There is no point, however, in transferring a surplus if the transfer could not possibly provide the number of votes necessary to save the candidate’s deposit. It is proposed, therefore, to amend the rules by adding words such as those underlined above to remove the obligation to make a futile transfer.
78. The Joint Committee recommends these proposals, subject to provision being made (a) to ensure that a tendered ballot paper shall be identical with an ordinary ballot paper and be incapable of being identified in the course of counting and (b) for the keeping of any necessary records of the numbers of tendered votes in each polling place.
Recounting of votes by returning officer.
Proposal: Amend rule 10 (1) of the Third Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, so as to make it clear (a) that the power of a returning officer to recount at his discretion papers in any case in which he is not satisfied as to the accuracy of any count extends to papers dealt with at an earlier count than the one just concluded at the time, and (b) that where an error is discovered as a result of a recount the returning officer shall, where necessary, amend any results previously announced by him.
Note on Proposal
Under the present procedure for the counting of votes at a Dáil election the result of each count is announced after the conclusion of that count. A mistake made during a count may not be noticed, however, until a further transfer of the votes is being made at a later stage, but it is not sufficiently clear that a returning officer has power to recount the papers involved in a pervious count or to revise the figures if an error is discovered and, if necessary, to deem a different person elected. Provision will be included to ensure that apart from the correction of errors, the ballot papers dealt with at a recount will follow the same course as in the original count.
79. The Joint Committee agrees that it should be made clear that a returning officer has discretion to recount the papers involved in a count prior to the last one, or to revise the figures if an error is discovered. The Committee considers that, in addition, each continuing candidate should be entitled to claim one re-check of all parcels of ballot papers during the count. During this re-check the number or order of the papers in any parcel should not be disturbed. If, however, in the re-check, a significant error is discovered, a candidate should have a right to demand a complete recount as from the point at which the error occurred.
Particulars to be furnished by returning officer.
Proposal: Delete the letter “(a)” in paragraph 2 of rule 34 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923.
Note on Proposal
The purpose of this proposal is to correct a tautology. Rule 34 requires the returning officer in his report to the Clerk of the Dáil to furnish particulars of the number of papers rejected for want of an official mark under two separate headings, namely,
“1. Want of official mark.
2. Invalid under paragraphs (a)......of subsection (4) of section 26.”
Paragraph (a) of subsection (4) of section 26 refers only to ballot papers which do not bear an official mark.
Disposal of documents after an election.
Proposal: Repeal and re-enact rules 27, 35 and 36 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, so as to provide that:—
(a) the marked counterfoils of the ballot papers will be sealed by the presiding officer in a packet separate from any other documents, and
(b) the sealed packets containing the marked counterfoils, the marked ballot papers and the rejected ballot papers (all of which are accessible only by order of the Dáil or the High Court) shall be sent by the returning officer to the Clerk of the Dáil in a sealed container or containers separate from the other election documents which he is required to send to the Clerk.
Note on Proposal
Rules 27, 35 and 36 prescribe the procedure to be followed in the transmission of documents after an election. Each presiding officer must, at the end of the poll, make up into separate sealed packets various documents, etc., one of which is itemised in rule 27 thus—
“(4) the marked copies of the register of electors and the counterfoils of the ballot papers.”
In practice this rule is interpreted as requiring the marked counterfoils and the marked copies of the register to be placed in the one sealed packet. This practice can cause difficulties later when the packets are sent to the Clerk of the Dáil to be retained for a year after the election, because the marked counterfoils are secret documents which can be inspected only by order of the Dáil or an election court, whereas the marked copies of the register may be inspected by the public under regulations to be prescribed by the Clerk of the Dáil.
For the same reason it is desirable to provide that in sending the marked counterfoils and the marked and rejected ballot papers to the Clerk of the Dáil the returning officer shall put them in a separate container (mail bags or sacks are usually used for this purpose). The ballot papers, marked and rejected, are also secret documents which may not be inspected except by Order of the Dáil or the High Court and under conditions which afford the maximum secrecy.
Time for retention of documents after an election.
Proposal: Insert the words “from the date on which the poll took place” after the words “for a year” in rule 37 of the Fifth Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923.
Note on Proposal
Rule 37 provides that the Clerk of the Dáil shall “retain for a year” all ballot papers and other documents relating to an election before destroying them. It is desirable to establish more exactly the date on which this period of retention expires.
80. The Joint Committee recommends these proposals.
Corrupt and illegal practices.
81. The Joint Committee reviewed the provisions of the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923, dealing with corrupt and illegal practices at elections. A corrupt practice is generally regarded as a thing the mind goes with and an illegal practice as a thing the legislature is determined to prevent, whether it is done honestly or dishonestly. Corrupt practices are defined at sections 1 to 5 and section 36 of the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923, as:—
(b) personation, or procuring or aiding in the commission of personation,
(d) undue influence,
(e) knowingly publishing before or during an election, a false statement of the withdrawal of a candidate at such election, and
(f) knowingly making a false declaration of election expenses.
Penalties for corrupt practices.
82. Under section 6 of the Act the penalties for corrupt practices are:—
(a) for any of the practices except personation or procuring or aiding in the commission of personation—on summary conviction, imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding one year;
(b) for personation or procuring or aiding in the commission of personation—
(i) on summary conviction, imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term of not less than 2 months in the case of a first offence, or, not less than 6 months for subsequent offences, subject in each case to a maximum term of 12 months imprisonment. A fine not exceeding £100 may also be imposed,
(ii) on conviction on indictment, for a second or subsequent offence, imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for not less than 6 months nor more than 12 months, or penal servitude for 3 years; and in either case, a fine not exceeding £200 may be imposed;
(c) in addition to the foregoing penalties, any person convicted of a corrupt practice is incapable, during a period of 7 years after conviction, of:—
(i) being registered as a Dáil, Seanad or local government elector,
(ii) voting at Dáil, Seanad, or local government elections or at a referendum,
(iii) holding any judicial office; or
(iv) being a member of the Dáil, Seanad or any local authority.
83. Further, under section 7, if an election court reports that a corrupt practice has been proved to have been committed at an election with a candidate’s knowledge and consent, the candidate, in addition to suffering the other penalties, is rendered permanently incapable of being a member of either House of the Oireachtas. If an election court reports that a corrupt practice has been proved to have been committed by a candidate’s agent, the candidate is rendered incapable for 7 years of being a member of either House of the Oireachtas. In addition, under section 38, a candidate or election agent is liable, on conviction on indictment for knowingly making a false return of election expenses, to the punishment for perjury.
84. Under sections 8 to 14, 17 to 20, and section 34, illegal practices include:
*(a) excessive employment,
*(b) excessive payment,
(c) voting by prohibited persons,
(d) voting when disqualified,
(e) voting more than once,
(f) making false statements concerning a candidate,
(g) disorderly conduct at a public election meeting,
(h) failure by a candidate or the agent of a candidate, to have the name of the printer and publisher on election bills, placards and posters,
*(i) the payment of expenses by unauthorized persons,
*(j) payment of expenses after the appointed time,
*(k) payment of late claims,
*(l) failure to make a return and declaration of expenses in proper form,
*(m) illegal payments,
*(n) illegal employment,
*(o) illegal hiring.
Penalties for illegal practices.
85. Under sections 15 and 16, the penalties for illegal practices are:—
(a) on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding £100 and, for 5 years from conviction, incapacity for being registered as a Dáil, Seanad or local government elector, or for voting at a Dáil or local government election or at a referendum;
(b) if an election court reports that an illegal practice has been proved to have been committed by, or with the knowledge or consent of any candidate, that candidate is rendered incapable, for 7 years from the date of the report, of being a member of the Oireachtas;
(c) if an election court reports that an illegal practice has been proved to have been committed by a candidate’s agent, the candidate is rendered incapable of being a member of the Dáil “during the continuance of that Oireachtas”, or of the Seanad “before the next (triennial) elections thereto”.
Abolition of certain corrupt and illegal practices
86. If the Joint Committee’s recommendations in Part D of its second interim report that the present limitations on the expenses which a candidate may incur or the number of persons he may employ at an election are implemented, the offences marked with an asterisk in paragraphs 81 and 84 will cease to be corrupt or illegal practices. The relevant statutes will require amendment accordingly.
87. The Joint Committee discussed sections 1 and 4 of the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923, which deal with “treating” and felt that the sections, as drafted, are far too wide. The Committee considers that objectionable “treating” could be dealt with as bribery and it recommends accordingly the abolition of “treating” as a corrupt practice in itself.
88. The Joint Committee also recommends that making false statements concerning a candidate should cease to be an illegal practice. An offence of the type contemplated should be dealt with under the law of libel or defamation. If the penalty of disfranchisement for corrupt and illegal practices and under the Forfeiture Act, 1870, is removed, as the Committee recommends at paragraphs 90 and 112, the offence of voting when disqualified will cease to exist as an illegal practice. The necessary amendment in the relevant statutes should be made.
89. The Joint Committee also considers that sections 19 and 20 of the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923, which make it an offence (“illegal hiring”) to use as a committee room, at an election, restaurants, licensed premises, certain clubs and elementary schools, should be repealed. The sections are of no relevance to present day conditions.
Modification of penalties for corrupt and illegal practices.
90. The Joint Committee feels further that, in general, corrupt and illegal practices should be treated in the same way as other offences and the provision for the secondary penalties of disfranchisement, disqualification from office, etc., should be abolished. The Committee recommends, therefore, the repeal of the provisions rendering persons convicted and candidates whose agents are convicted of corrupt or illegal practices incapable of being registered as electors and of voting at elections. The maximum period of imprisonment and the maximum amount of the fines should, however, be increased. The Committee also recommends the repeal of the specific disqualifications for membership of the Dáil and Seanad on account of corrupt and illegal practices and of the specific disqualification for 7 years for holding judicial office on account of a conviction of a corrupt practice.
Corrupt and illegal practices list.
91. Under rule 8 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, and section 43 of the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923, every registration officer must publish and send to every other registration officer a list of persons in his area who are disqualified for voting through having been found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices. The circulation of this list helps to ensure that anyone disqualified for registration as an elector or for voting is in fact not registered and is prevented from voting. If the Joint Committee’s recommendation in paragraph 90 that the penalty of disfranchisement should no longer attach to corrupt or illegal practices is implemented the list will no longer be of any use and the Committee, therefore, recommends its abolition.
Consolidation of pre-1923 provisions dealing with corrupt and illegal practices.
92. The Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923, largely consolidated the existing statutory provisions dealing with corrupt and illegal practices. Some of these provisions, however, still remain in earlier statutes, particularly the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Acts of 1854 and 1883. The Joint Committee recommends that the provisions in the earlier statutes should be incorporated in an up-to-date form in the legislation implementing its recommendations on the subject.
Penalty for illegal practice.
Proposal: Amend section 15 of the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923, so as to permit a justice when convicting a person for an illegal practice to impose, at his discretion, a lesser period of disqualification for voting at Parliamentary or local elections than the period of five years fixed in the section.
Note on Proposal
Section 15 provides that a person guilty of an illegal practice shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding £100 and shall during a period of five years from his conviction be incapable of being registered as a Parliamentary or local government elector or of voting as such. This automatic disqualification seems unduly harsh in the case of some offences e.g. disorderly conduct at an election meeting.
93. The Joint Committee has recommended in paragraph 90 that the provision disqualifying persons convicted of illegal practices for being registered as an elector or voting at Parliamentary or local elections be repealed and consequently does not consider this proposal necessary.
Vacancies in Dáil occasioned otherwise than by a dissolution.
Proposal: Amend section 53 of the Electoral Act, 1923, (which relates to the filling of casual vacancies in the Dáil) so that it will apply in any case where a person ceases to be a member of the Dáil otherwise than in consequence of a dissolution, and adapt the definition of “bye-election” in section 65 accordingly.
Note on Proposal
Section 53 provides for the filling of a vacancy occasioned by the death, resignation or disqualification of a member of the Dáil. A casual vacancy can also arise if a person vacates his seat on becoming President or a member of the Seanad under subsection 2° of section 6 of Article 12 and section 14 of Article 15 of the Constitution respectively and it is advisable to amend sections 53 and 65 to cover these cases.
Definition of general election.
Proposal: Amend the definition of “general election” in section 65 of the Electoral Act, 1923, so as to mean a general election for members of Dáil Éireann held in accordance with subsection 2° of section 3 of Article 16 of the Constitution.
Note on Proposal
Section 65 provides that the expression “general election” shall mean an election of members to serve in the Dáil of a new Oireachtas. As the whole Oireachtas is never dissolved under the present Constitution the definition is inappropriate. Subsection 2° of section 3 of Article 16 of the Constitution provides that “a general election for members of Dáil Éireann shall take place not later than thirty days after a dissolution of Dáil Éireann”.
Amendment of definition.
Proposal: Amend rule 6 of the Third Schedule to the Electoral Act, 1923, by substituting “candidate deemed to be elected” for “elected candidate” wherever the latter occurs, and amend paragraph (10) of rule 12 by inserting “result of the” before “poll”.
Note on Proposal
Rule 6 deals with the transfer of surplus votes of a candidate who has under rule 5 been “deemed to be elected”. He is referred to in paragraphs (1), (2) (a) and (b) and 5(a) of rule 6 as an “elected candidate” which seems to be a misnomer as in paragraph (3) of rule 6 and in other rules he is described as a “candidate deemed to be elected”. The difference is that—as stated in paragraph (10) of rule 12—“deemed to be elected” means deemed to be elected for the purpose of counting the votes, but without prejudice to the declaration of the (result of the) poll. The words in brackets here are omitted from this definition in the Act, but it would be clearer if they were to be put in, and it is proposed to insert them as well as to correct the misnomer in rule 6.
Substitution of “Dáil Éireann” for “Oireachtas”.
Proposal: Repeal and re-enact section 7 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1927, with the substitution of “Dáil Éireann” for “the Oireachtas”.
Note on Proposal
This section provides as follows:—
“The maximum duration of the Oireachtas without a dissolution shall be five years reckoned from the date of the first meeting of Dáil Éireann after the last previous dissolution, and if a dissolution of the Oireachtas does not take place before the last day of any such period of five years the Oireachtas shall be dissolved on such last day”.
With the substitution of “Dáil Éireann” for “the Oireachtas” this provision will accord with section 5 of Article 16 of the Constitution which provides that “the same Dáil Éireann shall not continue for a longer period than seven years from the date of its first meeting: a shorter period may be fixed by law”. A dissolution of the whole Oireachtas does not take place under the present Constitution.
Repeal of Electoral (Dáil Éireann and Local Authorities) Act, 1945.
Proposal: Repeal the Electoral (Dáil Éireann and Local Authorities) Act, 1945, and re-enact sections 2 and 7 thereof.
Note on Proposal
The 1945 Act substituted the 15th September for the 15th November as the qualifying date for the registration of Dáil electors (section 2) and local government electors qualified through residence (section 7). Section 2 did this by substituting for section 6 of the Electoral Act, 1923, a new section as follows:
“6—The qualifying date for every register shall be the 15th day of September.”
Section 7 provided that in subsection (1) of section 2 of the Local Government (Extension of Franchise) Act, 1935, the expression “qualifying date” shall mean the 15th day of September.
The remaining seven sections of the 1945 Act can be repealed if the proposals in the present General Scheme are adopted. It is considered preferable for the sake of simplicity to repeal the whole Act and to re-enact the two short sections which are not affected.
Repeal of obsolete reference.
Proposal: Provide for the amendment of section 59 of the Electoral Act, 1923, by the substitution in paragraph (b) of some such words as “established by law” for “established by this Act”.
Note on Proposal
The section refers to “constituencies established by this Act”. This reference is obsolete.
94. The Joint Committee recommends the six preceding proposals. The proposal headed “Repeal of Electoral (Dáil Éireann and Local Authorities) Act, 1945” will not be necessary if the recommendation, at paragraph 13 of its second interim report, that the Minister for Local Government should have power to prescribe dates for registration purposes, is implemented.
Adaptation of enactments.
Proposal: Provide that the Minister may by order make such adaptation or modification of any statute, order or regulation relating to the registration of Dáil or local government electors or the conduct of Dáil, Seanad or local elections as may in his opinion be necessary to enable it to have effect subject to the provisions of this General Scheme, and provide that every order under this provision shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and include usual provisions for annulment.
Note on Proposal
This is the customary provision to enable existing provisions which are inconsistent with an Act to be adapted, should any be found which have not been dealt with in the General Scheme. It will take the place of the adaptation section (section 5) in the Local Government Electors Registration Act, 1924, and consequently the whole of that Act can be repealed, as the remaining “live” sections 3 and 4, will be repealed as a result of other proposals in the scheme.
95. The Joint Committee considers that this proposal is too wide in its scope. The legislation to give effect to it should be drafted so as to provide that the Minister may adapt or modify statutes only in an emergency or to meet special difficulties, and then only in a manner which will not be contrary to the spirit of the relevant statute.
Proposal: Provide, to remove doubts, that in so far as any of the enactments set out in paragraph 112 are in force they shall be repealed.
Note on Proposal
The enactments mentioned in paragraph 112 comprise provisions, relating to elections, which are spent, obsolete, unconstitutional, repealed by implication or repeated in later legislation. A large number of these enactments relate to disqualifications and incapacities for membership of Parliament, as to which see note on paragraph 98.
96. The Joint Committee recommends this proposal. Some further obsolete or superseded enactments may come to light on further examination. If this happens, they should be repealed so that as far as possible the statute book will be cleared of the great mass of dead wood on electoral matters which at present encumbers it.
97. The Joint Committee recommends that consideration should be given to the question of dealing with at least some of the repeals set out in paragraph 112 in a special Electoral (Repeal of Enactments) Act. This would eliminate the delay which would probably occur if the repeals were to be effected in a general Electoral Act containing other provisions.
IV. QUALIFICATIONS AND DISQUALIFICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP OF EACH HOUSE OF THE OIREACHTAS.
Qualifications for membership of the Dáil.
Proposal: Provide that notwithstanding anything contained in any previous enactment, every citizen who has reached the age of 21 years and who is not disqualified or placed under disability or incapacity by the Constitution, by this Part of this Bill or by the law for the time being in force relating to corrupt and illegal practices and other offences at elections, shall be eligible to be elected to, and, subject to compliance with Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann, to sit as a member of the Dáil. Repeal section 51 of the Electoral Act, 1923, section 3 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1933, sections 19 (4) (a) and 23 (6) of the Central Bank Act, 1942, and pre-1922 enactments relating to disqualification or incapacity for membership of the Irish or British Houses of Commons.
Note on Proposal
This proposal is intended to provide explicitly that disqualification and incapacities for membership of the Dáil shall be limited to—
(a) those which are provided in the Constitution, viz., that the President, the Comptroller and Auditor General and Judges may not be members of the Houses of the Oireachtas and that a person shall not at the same time be a member of both Houses;
(b) those mentioned in the next two proposals which re-enact with amendments the disqualifications and incapacities contained in section 51 of the Electoral Act, 1923, and
(c) those imposed by the law relating to electoral offences. The present law in this matter is the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923, which declares persons found guilty, or candidates whose agents are found guilty, of certain electoral offences, to be incapable for various periods of being a member of the Dáil or Seanad as the case may be.
This and the two following proposals will replace section 51 of the Electoral Act, 1923, as amended by section 3 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1933, and the repeal of those sections is, therefore, proposed. It is also proposed to repeal the provisions of the Central Bank Act, 1942, which imposes a disqualification for membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas on the Governor and Directors of the Central Bank. The practice in all recent legislation relating to semi-State bodies has been to provide that a member of the Dáil or Seanad may not be a member of the body and that if any member of the body becomes a member of the Dáil or Seanad he shall cease to be a member of the body. The principle followed in these cases is that the Oireachtas has the prior claim to the person’s services where membership of the Oireachtas is incompatible with membership of the body.
The provisions in the Central Bank Act which impose disqualifications for membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas also purport to impose a similar disqualification for the office of the President. It is proposed to repeal this also as it is considered to be unconstitutional.
It is also proposed to repeal the numerous pre-1922 provisions imposing disqualifications or incapacities for membership of the House of Commons, Section 51 of the Electoral Act, 1923, had the effect of negativing such provisions, but specific repeals are desirable to remove the danger of misunderstandings. Among the classes of persons affected by these Acts were—holders of offices or places of profit under the Crown (Succession to the Crown Act, 1707); Contractors to the Government, and Commissioners of Customs and Excise (House of Commons (Disqualifications) Act, 1801); certain clergymen (House of Commons (Clergy Disqualification) Act, 1801); Priests (Roman Catholic Relief Act, 1829— section 9); Commissioners and officers of Public Works (Public Works (Ireland) Act, 1831); Traitors and felons until pardoned or punishment completed (Forfeiture Act, 1870); Members and officers of the Irish Land Commission (Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881); Officers of County Councils (Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898—section 83). At the same time it is proposed to repeal, as superfluous, the enactments which declare that certain classes of persons are not disqualified for or incapable of being members of Parliament, e.g., Civil Service pensioners (Pensioners Civil Disabilities Relief Act, 1869) and women (Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act, 1918).
98. The Joint Committee has already recommended at paragraph 90 that conviction of a corrupt or illegal practice should not in itself disqualify a person for membership of the Dáil or Seanad. This proposal should be modified accordingly. Subject to this, the Committee recommends it.
Qualifications for membership of the Seanad.
Proposal: Provide that in order to be eligible to be elected to Seanad Éireann, a person must, in addition to any other qualifications which may be required, be a citizen of Ireland who has reached the age of 21 years and who is not disqualified or placed under disability or incapacity by the Constitution, by this Part of this Bill or by the law for the time being in force in relation to corrupt practices and other offences at elections.
Note on Proposal
This proposal with those which follow relating to disqualifications and incapacities is designed to implement section 2 of Article 18 of the Constitution which provides that “a person to be eligible for membership of Seanad Éireann must be eligible to become a member of Dáil Éireann.” The “other qualifications which may be required” to which the proposal refers are the knowledge and practical experience of certain interests and services which are required in the case of panel members.
99. Section 2 of Article 18 of the Constitution provides—
“A person to be eligible for membership of Seanad Éireann must be eligible to become a member of Dáil Éireann.”
Under Article 16, to be eligible for membership of Dáil Éireann, a person must be a citizen who has reached the age of 21 years. The Joint Committee does not feel that it is desirable specifically to repeat these provisions in a statute as proposed. It also thinks that the proposal should be modified in accordance with its recommendation at paragraph 90 that conviction of a corrupt or illegal practice should not disqualify a person for membership of the Dáil or Seanad. Subject to these observations, the Committee recommends this proposal.
Disqualifications for membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Proposal: Provide as follows:—
(a) A person who is under sentence of penal servitude or imprisonment for any period exceeding six months imposed by a court of competent jurisdiction in the State shall be disqualified for election as a member of either House of the Oireachtas, unless:—
(i) such sentence was imposed not more than 14 days before the day of election, or
(ii) an appeal against such sentence was lodged and had not been determined before the day of election.
(b) Where a member of either House of the Oireachtas is sentenced to penal servitude or to imprisonment for any period exceeding six months by a court of competent jurisdiction in the State or where a person so sentenced is duly elected to either House, then the Registrar or Clerk to the Court shall notify the Chairman of the House of the fact as soon as possible after the expiration of a period of 14 days after the date of sentence if no appeal has been lodged within that period, or, where an appeal has been so lodged, as soon as possible after the appeal court has given its decision if the said appeal court either affirms the sentence or substitutes a sentence which is a period of penal servitude or more than six months imprisonment. On receipt of the notification by the Chairman the seat of the member shall become vacant, and the Chairman shall report accordingly to the House as soon as practicable.
(c) A person who on the day of election is lawfully detained in a mental institution and has been so detained in the same or another mental institution for a continuous period of not less than six months shall be disqualified for being elected as a member of either House of the Oireachtas.
(d) Where a member of either House of the Oireachtas is lawfully detained in a mental institution, or where a person detained is duly elected a member of either such House, the following provisions shall apply:—
(i) The person in charge of the institution in which the member is detained shall, as soon as possible, notify the Chairman of the House of such detention.
(ii) If, at the expiration of a period of six months, the member is still detained in a mental institution, the person in charge of the institution shall, as soon as possible, notify the Chairman of the House of the continued detention. On receipt of the notification by the Chairman the seat of the member shall become vacant, and the Chairman shall report accordingly to the House as soon as practicable.
(iii) Provide for a penalty where the person in charge of an institution knowingly fails to notify the Chairman of the House, as required by this proposal.
(e) Any person in charge of a mental institution may obtain on request particulars as to the name and address of any person who has been returned to serve in either House of the Oireachtas from the Clerk of that House.
(f) Define a mental institution as including a mental institution for the purpose of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, and the Dundrum Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum.
(g) Provide that a person shall be deemed to be detained in a mental institution from the time of his reception until he is discharged or a certificate is duly given that his detention is no longer necessary, and that no person shall be deemed to be so detained while he is a voluntary patient.
(h) A person who has been adjudicated bankrupt by a court of competent jurisdiction in Ireland not less than six months before the day of election, shall, unless the order of adjudication has been annulled or he has obtained a certificate of conformity, be disqualified for election as a member of either House of the Oireachtas.
(i) Where a member of either House of the Oireachtas has been adjudicated bankrupt by a court of competent jurisdication in Ireland or a person who has been so adjudicated bankrupt is duly elected a member of either such House, and within a period of six months from the date of the order of adjudication the said order is not annulled or the person concerned has not obtained a certificate of conformity, then the Registrar in Bankruptcy shall, as soon as possible after the expiration of that time, notify the Chairman of the House. On receipt of the notification by the Chairman the seat of the member shall become vacant, and the Chairman shall report accordingly to the House as soon as practicable.
(j) To facilitate compliance by the Registrar in Bankruptcy with the foregoing provision, the Clerk of the Dáil or the Clerk of the Seanad, as the case may be, shall, on the return of a member to serve in the Dáil or Seanad respectively notify the said Registrar forthwith of the name and address of such member.
(k) In this proposal the expression “day of election” means in relation to a contested election the day on which the poll is taken, or, where voting is by post, the last day for receipt of the ballot papers, and in relation to other elections the last day for receipt of nominations.
Note on Proposal
Under subsection (2) of section 51 of the Electoral Act, 1923, the following are disqualified for being elected or sitting as a member of the Dáil—
(a) a person who is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment with hard labour for any period exceeding six months or of penal servitude for any term,
(b) an imbecile and any person of unsound mind,
(c) an undischarged bankrupt under an adjudication by a court of competent jurisdiction, and
(d) a person found guilty of electoral offences for which a disqualification is prescribed by law.
This proposal deals with the first three categories of disqualification. Disqualification, on account of electoral offences, is dealt with in the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923.
The disqualification on account of a sentence of imprisonment or penal servitude does not take effect for thirty days from the date of the sentence in the case of a person who is a member of the Dáil, or in the event of an appeal, thirty days from the date of the order confirming the sentence. Subsection (4) of section 51 provides that if a member of the Dáil becomes subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned, he shall thereupon cease to be a member of the Dáil.
Under this proposal the following will be disqualified for being elected to or being members of the Houses of the Oireachtas:—
(a) a person under a sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding 6 months or penal servitude,
(b) a person lawfully detained in a mental institution, and
(c) a person who has been adjudicated bankrupt, unless the order of adjudication has been annulled or he has obtained a certificate of conformity.
In each case there will be a period of grace before the disqualifications take effect, as follows—
(a) Imprisoned Persons—14 days after sentence to allow time for appeal, or until the date of termination of the appeal, if any,
(b) Mental Cases—6 months after detention to allow time for recovery from a temporary upset, and
(c) Bankruptcy—6 months after adjudication to allow time to obtain a certificate of conformity.
If a disqualified person is elected his election is invalid and may be upset by election petition. It is not proposed to deal in this Bill with election petitions which will, instead, from the subject of further proposals when the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas are settled.
If a member of either House becomes disqualified the Chairman of the House will be notified of the facts causing the disqualification and on his receipt of this notification, the seat will become vacant. The onus of notifying the Chairman will rest on the registrar or clerk to the court, in imprisonment cases, on the person in charge of the institution in which the member is detained, in mental cases, and on the Registrar in Bankruptcy, in bankruptcy cases. In the mental cases a preliminary notification must also be sent to the Chairman of the House as soon as the member is detained.
If a prisoner or bankrupt liable to disqualification is elected before the disqualification has taken effect, then his election will be valid, but at the end of the period of grace, he will become disqualified for remaining a member of the Oireachtas, if the cause of disqualification still operates. The procedure indicated above for vacating the seat of a disqualified member will apply in such cases. If a person who has been detained for less than 6 months by reason of mental infirmity, etc., is elected to either House the person in charge of the institution will be obliged to notify the Chairman of the House as soon as possible. After the period of 6 months, which may run from the commencement of the detention, a second notification will be sent to the Chairman, if the person is still detained and the seat will then become vacant.
To facilitate compliance with these provisions persons in charge of mental institutions will be entitled to obtain on request particulars of members returned, and the Clerks of the Dáil and Seanad will be obliged to send such particulars to the Registrar in Bankruptcy.
100. The persons whom it is proposed to disqualify for membership of the Dáil and Seanad are, briefly:—
(1) persons under sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding six months, or penal servitude;
(2) persons lawfully detained in a mental institution, and
The proposal is to continue the existing disqualifications with modifications which would make them more readily workable. The Joint Committee does not feel that a good case exists for the continuance of these disqualifications. The Committee feels that electors must be regarded as mature enough to elect representatives of the type they want and to take the consequences of their choice should the persons elected become incapable of acting during their period of office by reason of imprisonment, mental instability or bankruptcy. It it noteworthy that this principle applies to the office of President, for which there are no statutory disqualifications. The Committee feels, however, that an exception should be made in the case of a person convicted of treason, as defined in Article 39 of the Constitution, or of an offence under the Official Secrets Acts. Such a person should be disqualified for membership, if he is a member, but he should not be disqualified for standing at the consequential bye-election or any subsequent election.
101. On individual disqualifications, the Joint Committee feels that the fact that a person, in addition to suffering the normal penalties of imprisonment and/or a fine, will, if he is a member of the Dáil or Seanad be disqualified for membership if a sentence of penal servitude or imprisonment exceeding six months—or any other period specified—is imposed, make a court hesitate to impose a sentence exceeding the specified period, even if it considers such a sentence justified. Thus the disqualification on account of a sentence of imprisonment may have the effect of mitigating the penalties instead of being an additional penalty as intended.
102. The trend in recent legislation has been to do away with the distinction between physical and mental ill-health. A member suffering from a disease which prevents him for a long time from discharging his functions as a public representative is not thereby disqualified. If, however, the disorder is mental he is disqualified. The Joint Committee does not see any logic in this distinction.
103. The abolition of the disqualification on account of bankruptcy would follow from the acceptance of the principle of full electoral responsibility, in accordance with which the Joint Committee recommends the abolition of the other disqualifications.
Disqualification on account of absence.
104. A further point which has been raised is that a person who absents himself without good cause for a prolonged period from the proceedings of the Dáil or Seanad should be disqualified. Such a provision is made in the case of local authorities by Article 12 of the Schedule to the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898. The Joint Committee feels that such a provision should not be applied in the case of the Houses of the Oireachtas. To an even greater extent than in the case of local authorities a member’s duties are not confined to attendance at formal debates or meetings. Further, the provision could be too easily evaded. Finally, if a member does not perform his duties to the satisfaction of those who voted for him the people have the remedy in their own hands.
Incapacities for membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Proposal: (1) Provide that a person shall be incapable of being elected or being a member of either House of the Oireachtas, who is—
(a) a wholetime member of the Defence Forces;
(b) a member of the Garda Síochána;
(c) a civil servant;
(d) a district justice;
(e) a lay member of the Irish Land Commission; or
(f) an “officer of the Houses of the Oireachtas” as defined in the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1956, as amended by the Staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Act, 1959.
Define a wholetime member of the Defence Forces as follows:—
(i) A member of the Permanent Defence Force, or
(ii) an officer of the Reserve Defence Force employed continuously on military service or duty during a period during which a proclamation authorising the calling out of reservists on permanent service is in force, or during a period during which reservists are called out on permanent service under section 88 of the Defence Act, 1954, or
(iii) a reservist called out on permanent service.
Define a civil servant as a person who is a civil servant for the purposes of the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1956, as amended.
(2) Provide that where a member of either House of the Oireachtas becomes incapable, whether by virtue of this section or by reason of appointment as judge or Comptroller and Auditor General, of being a member of either House, he shall be deemed to have resigned his seat and shall notify the Chairman of the House, as soon as possible, and the latter shall report accordingly to the House as soon as practicable. Provide further that where a member of either House of the Oireachtas becomes a member of the Reserve Defence Force (who is not a wholetime member of the Defence Forces) he shall be deemed to have resigned his seat and shall notify the Chairman of the House, as soon as possible, and the latter shall report accordingly to the House as soon as practicable.
(3) Provide for a penalty for failure to notify the Chairman under the provisions of this proposal.
Note on Proposal
This proposal is for the re-enactment of subsections (3) and (4) of section 51 of the Electoral Act, 1923, amended in the following respects:—
(1) The new provision will apply to the Seanad as well as to the Dáil.
(2) The new provision will define clearly the classes of members of the Defence Forces who are incapable of membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas, because of wholetime service; the present provision says merely “a member of the defence force (of Ireland) on full pay.”
(3) The incapacity of police for membership of the Oireachtas will be limited to the Garda Síochána: at present it affects “a member of any police force (in Ireland) on full pay”—which includes such other bodies as harbour police.
(4) At present a person is incapable of being elected or sitting as a member of either House of the Oireachtas if he is “a person either temporarily or permanently in the Civil Service (of Ireland) unless he is by the the terms of his employment expressly permitted to be a member of Dáil Éireann”. It is proposed to provide instead that a person who is a civil servant shall be incapable of being elected or sitting and to define “civil servant” as a person who is a civil servant for the purposes of the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1956, as amended by the Staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas, Act, 1959. The 1956 Act gives a definition of “civil servant” and also provides that where any question arises whether, for the purposes of the Act, as to whether any person is or was a civil servant the question shall be decided by the Minister for Finance, whose decision shall be final. This Act does not apply to the lay Land Commissioners, or civilians employed under section 30 of the Defence Act, 1954, by the Minister for Defence with the defence forces, or in a factory set up by him. Lay Land Commissioners will be included among the persons declared incapable of being elected or sitting as members of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Provision for the case of a civil servant expressly permitted to be a member of the Dáil is being omitted. It is undesirable that such permission should be given or that any provision should be included in the Bill to suggest that serving civil servants might be permitted to be members of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
(5) District justices will be included among the persons incapable of membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Section 1 of the District Justices (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923, provided that no person shall, while holding the office of district justice, be capable of being elected to or of being a member of either House of the Oireachtas. This enactment is no longer in force, but district justices are commonly regarded as judges for the purpose of Article 35.3 of the Constitution which provides that no judge shall be eligible to be a member of either House of the Oireachtas. It is advisable to provide expressly to this effect by statute.
(This provision may not be necessary if the Courts (Establishment and Constitution) Bill becomes law.)
(6) Section 51 (4) provides that where a member of the Dáil becomes subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in that section, he would thereupon cease to be a member. Provision is being made in the preceding proposal for the automatic unseating of a member who becomes subject to a personal disqualification. In this proposal it is proposed to provide that a member of either House who accepts an incapacitating post shall notify the Chairman of the House to which he belongs and be deemed to have resigned from the House. In addition to the incapacities set out in this proposal, judges and the Comptroller and Auditor General are excluded from membership of the Houses of the Oireachtas by Articles 35.3 and 33.3, respectively, of the Constitution and it is proposed that the same procedure should obtain in the case of members being appointed to these offices. If an incapacitated member should fail to notify the Chairman of the House of his incapacity it is proposed that a penalty should apply as in the case of similar failure on the part of a person in charge of an institution.
(7) Under sections 48 and 74 of the Defence Act, 1954, a member of the Reserve Defence Force who becomes a member of either House of the Oireachtas ceases to be a member of the Reserve. This proposal provides for the converse, viz., that a member of either House of the Oireachtas who joins the Reserve shall cease to be a member of the House. The intention is to prevent a person from being a member of both the Reserve and of a House of the Oireachtas at the same time but to allow him to exercise an option.
Political activities of civil servants.
105. In addition to the provisions of section 51 of the Electoral Act, 1923, the following extracts from circular letters issued by the Department of Finance have a bearing on the subject matter of this proposal:
“Any person in the civil service of the State seeking …. a seat in the Oireachtas …. shall, when his intention to become a candidate is formed, immediately notify the Head of the Department thereof, and shall resign his office as soon as he issues his address to the electors, or accepts nomination, or in any other manner announces himself, or causes himself to be announced, as a candidate for election.” (Circular No. 23/25 of 3rd July, 1925).
“The Minister is aware that it is the view of the Civil Service itself that the action of an official who identifies himself actively or publicly with political matters is indefensible and that such conduct is detrimental to the interests of the service as a whole. The nature and conditions of a Civil Servant’s employment should of themselves, suggest to him that he must maintain a reserve in political matters and not put himself forward on one side or another, and, further, that he should be careful to do nothing to give colour to any suggestion that his official actions are in any way influenced, or was capable of being influenced, by party motives…. Should any departure from official impartiality occur it will be followed by disciplinary action.” (Circular No. 21/32 of 3rd June, 1932.)
106. The Joint Committee agrees with the view expressed in the circular letter of 3rd June, 1932, that a civil servant should do nothing to give colour to any suggestion that his official actions are in any way influenced or capable of being influenced by party motives. This is of vital importance for civil servants concerned with the formulation of policy or employed in any clerical or supervisory position and it is undesirable that such persons should be permitted to stand for election.
107. The same considerations do not apply with such force to persons in other grades in the civil service. In this connection the Joint Committee had before it representations which adverted to the freedom allowed to various grades of civil servants in the United Kingdom to engage in political activities. The Committee also considered section 9 of the Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Act, 1958, under which an officer or servant of the Electricity Supply Board who becomes a member of either House of the Oireachtas may be seconded from his employment with the Board for the period of his membership. The tendency in recent legislation is to allow a similar freedom to employees of other State bodies. This tendency accords with the principle suggested in the note to the first proposal in Part IV of this Report that the Legislature should have first claim on a person’s services. The Committee is in full agreement with this principle. It is of the utmost importance that the Legislature should be able to draw for its members from as wide a field as possible and only for the gravest and most compelling reasons of public policy should any individual be prevented from putting himself forward for election. The Committee, having considered the question with great care, is of opinion that such reasons do not exist in the case of persons employed in the manipulative grades in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and corresponding grades in other Departments, and that the existence of the existing prohibition gives rise to indefensible anomalies as between workers in the Electricity Supply Board and other Boards or authorities financed wholly or largely by the State who can stand for election without penalty, while those in, say, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs cannot stand without losing their positions. The Committee, accordingly, recommends that civil servants in manipulative grades in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and corresponding grades in other Departments should be permitted to stand for election to the Dáil or Seanad on the same conditions as apply in the case of an employee of the Electricity Supply Board.
Disqualification on account of membership of the Defence Forces.
108. Under sections 48 and 74 of the Defence Act, 1954, a member of the Reserve Defence Force must, on becoming a member of either House of the Oireachtas, cease to be a member of the Reserve. Membership of either House of the Oireachtas, which requires attendance at Dublin, may conflict with membership of the Reserve Defence Force which may require attendance elsewhere. It is, however, reasonable to assume that the times at which this conflict will arise will be limited and it is not in the best interests of the State to deprive a member of the Reserve Defence Force of his position in the Force because he becomes a member of the Dáil or Seanad. The Joint Committee considers the converse to be true also—that a member of the Dáil or Seanad who joins or is in the Reserve should not on that account cease to be a member.
109. If, however, reservists are called out on permanent service the conflict of duties would arise in an acute form. In such a case the Joint Committee recommends that a reservist who is a member of either House should at his option be given leave from the Defence Forces while his membership of the House continues. If he does not avail himself of this leave then his membership of the House should cease. The Committee appreciates that this recommendation seems to imply that when a reservist is most needed, that is, when he is called out on permanent service, he need not go. The Committee, however, considers that the principle that the Legislature has the prior claim on a person’s service is sufficient justification of its proposal in the matter. It recommends the provisions of this proposal in regard to the Defence Forces subject to these modifications.
Duty to give notice of incapacitating appointment.
110. Where a member of either House becomes incapable by reason of his appointment to a post entailing incapacity for membership, it is proposed to place an obligation on him to notify the Chairman of the House of his incapacity and to provide penalties for failure to do so. The Joint Committee recommends that this obligation should be placed instead on the authority which appoints him to the post and that no provision should be made for penalties for failure to notify incapacity.
111. Subject to the reservations in the preceding paragraphs the Joint Committee recommends these proposals.
V. ENACTMENTS FOR REPEAL.
Enactments for Repeal.
112. This paragraph sets out the enactments proposed in paragraphs 96 and 98 for repeal. Those relating to eligibility for membership of Parliament are marked with an asterisk. The word “ineligible” in the notes on these provisions means prohibited from, incapable of or disqualified for being elected to or sitting as a member of the House of Commons. Under section 5of the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922, references to the House of Commons could possibly be construed as references to the Dáil.
In the case of Acts which are primarily electoral it is proposed to repeal the whole Act wherever possible.
PART I.—BRITISH (PRE-UNION) STATUTES.
1275-3 Edw. 1. c. 5.
No man to disturb any to make free election.
1313—7 Edw. 2. c. 1.
Men not to come armed to Parliament.
1382—5 Rich. 2. st. 2. c. 4.
Sheriff omitting return of writs to Parliament is to be punished “in the manner as was accustomed to be done in times past.”
*1693—5 W. & M. c. 7.
No member of the House shall be concerned in the collection of State revenue, except the commissioners of treasury, customs, excise and land tax.
1695-6—7 & 8 Will. 3. c. 7.
An Act to prevent false and double returns of Members to serve in Parliament.
1695-6—7 & 8 Will. 3. c. 25.
(Note—Procedure governing delivery of writs is in 53 Geo. 3. c. 89.)
S. 1.—Forty days time-limit for return of writ. Writs to be issued with expedition and delivered to the proper officer.
S. 2.—Sheriff, etc. not to take fee for delivery, receipting, return or execution of writ.
S. 5.—Sheriff to deliver copy of poll to any person desiring it.
*S. 7.—Persons under 21 are not to vote and are ineligible.
(Section 1, Electoral Act, 1941, and Section 51, Electoral Act, 1923).
1700-1—12 & 13 Will. 3. c. 2.
No person born out of England, Scotland or Ireland or the Dominions although naturalized (except such as are born of English parents) to be capable to be a member of either House of Parliament.
*1700-1—12 & 13 Will. 3. c. 10.
Ss. 87 and 88.—Commissioner or farmer of customs is ineligible.
*1706-7—6 Anne c. 41. (Succession to the Crown Act.)
S. 24.—Any holder of a “new office” created after 25th October, 1705, and certain specified office holders are ineligible.
S. 25.—Member of House accepting any office of profit under Crown must resign but may be re-elected.
S. 27.—Act does not apply to Army or Navy Commissions.
S. 28.—Penalty of £500 is payable by any person disqualified by the Act on suit to any person who sues for it.
S. 29.—Persons ineligible for Parliament of England are ineligible for any Parliament of Great Britain.
1715—1 Geo. 1 st. 2. 38.
Parliaments to have continuance for seven years, unless sooner dissolved. (Article 16.5 of the Constitution and section 7 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1927.)
*1715—1 Geo. 1. st. 2. c. 56. (Crown Pensioners Disqualification Act.)
Crown pensioners are ineligible.
*1741-2—15 Geo. 2. c. 13. (Bank of England Act.)
S. 8.—Governors, etc., of the Bank of England are not ineligible.
*1741-2—15 Geo. 2. c. 22. (House of Commons Disqualification Act.)
Revenue Commissioners in Ireland and certain civil servants are ineligible. Return of such is void and a penalty, payable to an informer, is provided for.
*1781-2—22 Geo. 3. c. 45. (House of Commons (Contractors’ Disqualification) Act.)
Public contractors, with certain exceptions, are ineligible.
*1781-2—22 Geo. 3. c. 82. (Civil List and Secret Service Money Act.)
S. 2.—If offices similar to certain abolished offices including “principal officers of the Board of Works” are recreated they are deemed to be “new offices.”
1784—24 Geo. 3, sess. 2, c. 26. (Recess Elections Act.)
Ss. 2-4.—Speaker may issue warrant for writ for byeelection during recess in case of death of member or elevation to peerage.
Ss. 5-8.—Speaker may authorise from three to seven members to act in his absence in this matter.
S. 9.—Publisher of Gazette to give receipts for notices. (This Act appears to be superseded by S. 54 of Electoral Act, 1923.)
PART II.—IRISH (PRE-UNION STATUTES).
1790—30 Geo. 3. c. 20.
S. 10.—Lessees, etc., of land under Royal Canal Company not to vote at elections.
*1793—33 Geo. 3. c. 34.
S. 21.—Architect to superintend public buildings is ineligible.
*1793—33 Geo. 3. c. 41.
S. 1.—The following are ineligible:
(a) those appointed to a “new office” of profit under the Crown created after the Act;
(b) those holding a pension for years or during pleasure;
(c) those whose wives hold such pension;
(d) various named civil servants, with a saving for others.
S. 2.—Offices revived after 5 years disuse or where £100 a year is added to salary are deemed “new offices.”
S. 8.—Act does not extend to members being officers in Army, Militia or Navy, nor to any person having or accepting an office for life or during good behaviour.
S. 9.—Elections of ineligible persons are void and such persons, if acting, may be sued for penalties.
*1795—35 Geo. 3. c. 28.
S. 6.—Receiver-General of duties is not ineligible.
1795—35 Geo. 3. c. 29.
S. 2.—Place of election prescribed (place of Assize Court usually.)
S. 22.—Returning officer may employ a barrister and candidates may pay what they think proper towards fee.
S. 25.—None to vote under 21 years old (provided for in Electoral Act, 1941.)
S. 26.—None to vote whose freeholds are let or demised to persons from whom they hold, if under £20, nor if let to any other for the term he holds (Obsolete.)
S. 28.—None to vote by virtue of freeholds in exchange, etc., or in consideration of increase in rent (Obsolete).
*1797—37 Geo. 3. c. 47.
S. 20.—Election of a minor is void.
*1798—38 Geo. 3. c. 36.
Any member who accepts office from or subject to approbation of governor of the kingdom vacates his seat but is eligible for re-election (amends 33 Geo. 3. c. 41).
1800—40 Geo. 3. c. 29.
S. 3.—No elections to be held for other areas.
S. 7.—Writs for new parliament of United Kingdom (Spent).
PART III.—BRITISH (U.K.) STATUTES.
1800—39 & 40 Geo. 3. c. 67. (Act of Union).
Article Fourth.—Irish Peers and commoners to sit in English Parliament.
*1801—41 Geo. 3. (U.K.) c. 52. (House of Commons (Disqualification) Act.)
S. 2.—Persons ineligible for the Irish House of Commons are ineligible for the United Kingdom House of Commons.
S. 3.—Persons ineligible by British law are not hereby rendered eligible to sit for Ireland.
S. 4.—Following (in Ireland) are ineligible—
(a) Commissioners of customs, excise, stamps, etc.
(b) Army agents.
(c) Contractors to the Government (except members of existing trading companies).
(d) Deputies and clerks in certain Government offices.
S. 5.—Persons holding new offices under the Lord Lieutenant are ineligible.
S. 6.—Elections of such persons are void—penalties.
S. 8.—Act does not extend to offices held for life or during good behaviour.
S. 9.—Member accepting any Crown office in Ireland must vacate seat, but may be re-elected if not ineligible.
*1801—41 Geo. 3. (U.K.) c. 63. (House of Commons (Clergy Disqualification) Act.)
Clergymen are ineligible. (This appears to be unconstitutional—vide Art. 44. 2. 3°.)
*1802—42 Geo. 3. c. 116. (Land Tax Redemption Act).
S. 185.—Commissioners under Act not to vacate seat in Parliament.
*1808—48 Geo. 3. c. 140. (Dublin Police Magistrates Act).
S. 14.—Dublin metropolitan divisional justices, receiver and police are ineligible.
S. 15.—No person appointed under the Act may vote (or canvass) while holding office, or for 6 months thereafter, in the election of members of Parliament for the county or city of Dublin. £100 penalty, one-half of which is payable to informer. (Of doubtful applicability now.)
1810—50 Geo. 3. c. 33.
S. 3.—No grantees or lessees to be qualified to vote by virtue of grant or lease under the Act.
*1812—52 Geo. 3. c. 144. (Members of Parliament (Bankruptcy) Act.)
S. 1.—Suspension of bankrupt members.
(S. 51, Electoral Act, 1923, provides that membership shall cease.)
Ss. 2-3.—Vacation of seats by bankrupt members and issue of writ for bye-election.
*1813—54 Geo. 3. c. 16. (House of Commons (Disqualification) Act.)
Clarification of 41 Geo. 3. (U.K.) c. 52.
*1816—56 Geo. 3. c. 98. (Consolidated Fund Act.)
S. 16.—Commissioners of the Treasury are not ineligible.
*1817—57 Geo. 3. c. 62. (Public Offices (Ireland) Act.)
Amends 41 Geo. 3. (U.K.) c. 52.
1820—60 Geo. 3. and 1. Geo. 4. c. 11. (Parliamentary Elections (Ireland) Act.)
(Note—This Act applies to counties only).
S. 5.—Sheriff to endorse date of receipt of writ for county elections.
S. 22.—Returning officer may summon constables, etc., to attend polling places and appoint special constables.
S. 24.—Deputy to act in case of death or illness of returning officer or deputy. (Provided for in Sec. 7, Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946).
S. 25.—Punishment of returning officers acting corrputly or partially.
S. 26.—Expenses of election to be paid by Returning Officer in first instance. (This section was virtually repealed by section 29 of the Representation of the People Act, 1918.)
*1821—1 & 2 Geo. 4. c. 44. (House of Commons Disqualification Act, 1821.)
S. 2.—Election of persons holding certain judicial offices to be void.
*1821—1 & 2 Geo. 4. c. 58. (Parliamentary Elections (Ireland) Act.)
S. 3.—Persons guilty of bribing returning officer, etc., are ineligible.
*1823—4 Geo. 4. c. 7.
S. 2.—English chancellor of the exchequer not to vacate his seat if he becomes chancellor of the exchequer of Ireland.
1823—4 Geo. 4. c. 55. (Parliamentary Elections (Ireland) Act.)
(Note—This Act applies to towns and cities only).
S. 33.—Sheriffs or other returning officers to endorse date of receipt on writ.
S. 63.—Deputies, clerks, constables, etc., who absent themselves at elections forfeit compensation for attendance and may be dismissed and replaced by the returning officer.
S. 66.—Returning officer may summon constables, bailiffs, etc., to attend polling places and may apoint special constables (cf. S. 22 of 1820 Act.)
S. 67.—Deputy to act in case of death or illness of returning officer or deputy (cf. S. 24 of 1820 Act.) (Provided for in Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1946.)
S. 73.—No fees or rewards to be given to the returning officer.
S. 74.—Elections of persons under 21 years are void. (Sec. 51, Electoral Act, 1923.)
S. 75.—Punishment of returning officer acting corruptly or partially.) S. 63 of the Electoral Act, 1923, provides for penalties by Court action in such cases).
S. 86.—Treble costs to be awarded if case is non-suited.
S. 87.—Action to be commenced within one year after the offence. (Sec. 52 of the Prevention of Electoral Abuses Act, 1923 contains this provision).
(The repeal of these sections involves the repeal of the whole Act).
*1827—7 & 8 Geo. 4. c. 53. (Excise Management Act.)
S. 8.—No member to be a commissioner or officer of excise.
*1827—7 & 8 Geo. 4. c. 65.
S. 5.—Membership of Admiralty council not to be a new office or place of profit.
*1829—10 Geo. 4. c. 7. (Roman Catholic Relief Act.)
S. 2.—Catholics may sit and vote in Parliament.
S. 5.—Catholics may vote at parliamentary elections.
S. 9.—Priests are ineligible. (This appears to be unconstitutional—vide Art. 44. 2. 3°.)
*1831—1 & 2 Will. 4. c. 33. (Public Works (Ireland) Act.)
S. 11.—Commissioner or officer of Public Works in Ireland is ineligible.
*1832—2 & 3 Will. 4. c. 21. (The Admiralty Act, 1832.)
S. 1.—(Proviso)—Admiralty commissioners not to be disqualified and not more than five commissioners to sit in the House of Commons at the one time.
1832—2 & 3 Will. 4. c. 69. (The Corporate Property (Elections) Act, 1832.)
Provides that it shall not be lawful for municipal corporations to apply corporate property for expenses of parliamentary elections.
*1832—2 & 3 Will. 4. c. 87. (Registry of Deeds (Ireland) Act.)
S. 36.—Registrar of Deeds in Ireland is ineligible.
1832—2 & 3 Will. 4. c. 88. (Representation of the People (Ireland) Act.)
Ss. 11-12.—Constituencies and number of members to be returned.
1832—2 & 3 Will. 4. c. 89. (Parliamentary Boundaries (Ireland) Act.)
Makes provision as to boundaries of constituencies, detached portion of parishes, etc.
*1835—5 & 6 Will. 4. c. 35. (Paymaster General Act.)
S. 5.—Paymaster General not to be deemed a “new office.”
1850—13 & 14 Vic. c. 68. (Parliamentary Elections (Ireland) Act.)
S. 5.—Division of certain cities into polling districts (spent).
S. 21.—Candidates are not liable for the fees of assessors appointed by the returning officer.
1850—13 & 14 Vic. c. 69. (Representation of the People (Ireland) Act.)
S. 108.—Rate books to be prima facie evidence in connection with registration of Parliamentary electors.
*1851—14 & 15 Vic. c. 42. (Crown Lands Act.)
S. 20—The first Commissioner of Works is not ineligible.
*1851—14 & 15 Vic. c. 57. (Civil Bill Courts (Ireland) Act.)
S. 2.—Assistant barristers for counties are ineligible.
1852—15 & 16 Vic. c. 23. (Meeting of Parliament Act.)
S. 1.—Appointment by proclamation of time for meeting of Parliament after dissolution; not less than 35 days after proclamation.
1858—21 & 22 Vic. c. 106. (Government of India Act.)
S. 4.—Not more than 4 Principal and 4 Under Secretaries of State may sit as members of Parliament.
1858—21 & 22 Vic. c. 110. (Election of Members during Recess Act.)
Extends 24 Geo. 3. sess. 2, c. 26 to vacancies caused by appointment of members to offices involving vacating of seat.
1862—25 & 26 Vic. c. 92. (Elections (Ireland) Act.)
Ss. 3-4.—Writs to be directed to returning officers of boroughs. Sheriff of county to be returning officer in borough where the office of returning officer is vacant. Writs to conform to this Act.
1863—26 & 27 Vic. c. 20. (Elections in Recess Act.)
Amends 24 Geo. 3. sess. 2, c. 26 and 21 & 22 Vic. c. 110 as to period of notice.
*1863—26 & 27 Vic. c. 65. (Volunteer Act.)
S. 5.—Acceptance by a member of Parliament of a commission in the “Volunteer Force” does not involve vacating seat.
1864—27 & 28 Vic. c. 34. (House of Commons (Vacation of Seats) Act.)
S. 1.—Acceptance of office of Under Secretary when four Under Secretaries are sitting invalidates election.
S. 2.—Provision in case of more Secretaries or Under Secretaries of State being chosen than are capable of sitting.
S. 3.—Provision in case of other offices.
*1866—29 & 30 Vic. c. 39. (Exchequer and Audit Departments Act.)
S. 3.—Comptroller and Auditor General and his Assistant are ineligible (c.f. Art. 33.3 of Constitution.)
*1866—29 & 30 Vic. c. 55.
S. 1.—Office of Postmaster General is not a “new office” but member of House accepting the office shall vacate his seat but be eligible for re-election.
*1867—30 & 31 Vic. c. 44. (Chancery (Ireland) Act.)
S. 4.—Vice-Chancellor for Ireland is ineligible.
* 1867—30 & 31 Vic. c. 72. (Board of Trade (Parliamentary Secretary) Act.)
S. 1.—Treasury may appoint a Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and he may be a member of Parliament.
*1869—32 & 33 Vic. c. 15. (Pensioners Civil Disability Relief Act.)
S. 1.—Civil Service pensioners or holders of super-annuation allowances are not ineligible.
*1869—32 & 33 Vic. c. 43. (Diplomatic Salaries, etc., Act.)
S. 17.—Diplomatic pensioners are not ineligible.
*1870—33 & 34 Vic. c. 10. (Coinage Act.)
S. 14.—The Chancellor of the Exchequer is not rendered ineligible by reason of his being master of the Mint.
*1870—33 & 34 Vic. c. 17. (War Office Act.)
Ss. 2-3.—Surveyor-General of the Ordnance and the Financial Secretary of the War Office may be members of Parliament.
*1870—33 & 34 Vic. c. 23. (Forfeiture Act.)
S. 2.—Traitors and felons are ineligible until pardoned or punishment completed, and may not vote in any parliamentary or municipal election.
*1870—33 & 34 Vic. c. 91. (Clerical Disabilities Act.)
Item 1 of 1st Schedule.—Retired Clergymen of the Church of England are not ineligible after relinquishment of clerical office has been duly recorded.
1872—35 & 36 Vic. c. 33. (Ballot Act.)
S. 31.—The Act not to apply to University elections.
Third Schedule (Application of Acts relating to Registration).
Fourth Schedule (Repeals of Acts relating to England).
Fifth Schedule (Repeals of Acts relating to Scotland).
Sixth Schedule (Repeals of Acts relating to Ireland).
*1872—35 & 36 Vic. c. 44. (Court of Chancery (Funds) Act.)
S. 4.—Paymaster General is not ineligible by reason of his exercising the powers of Accountant General of the Court of Chancery.
1872—35 & 36 Vic. c. 58. (Bankruptcy (Ireland) Amendment Act.)
S. 41.—Automatic suspension of member of House adjudicated bankrupt.
S. 42.—On Court certificate of bankruptcy given one year after adjudication seat becomes vacant.
Ss. 43 & 44.—Provision for issuing of writ for consequent bye-election during recess.
*1877—40 & 41 Vic. c. 57. (Supreme Court of Judicature (Ireland) Act.)
S. 13.—A Judge of the High Court of Ireland or of the Court of Appeal in Ireland is ineligible (cf. Art. 35.3 of Constitution).
*1881—44 & 45 Vic. c. 49. Land Law (Ireland) Act.
S. 54.—Members and Officers of the Irish Land Commission are ineligible.
*1883—46 & 47 Vic. c. 52. (Bankruptcy Act.)
Ss. 32-33 contain provisions in regard to English bankruptcies similar to 35 & 36 Vic. c. 58.
1885—48 & 49 Vic. c. 17. (Parliamentary Registration (Ireland) Act.)
S. 12.—Contributions by townships of Pembroke and Blackrock to cost of registration of electors in Borough of Dublin (obsolete).
S. 16.—Superintendent registrars of births and deaths are to furnish on 15th July an annual return to registration officer of deaths of persons over 21. (Now obsolete).
S. 33.—Application and Title.
First and Third Schedules.—Forms.
1885—48 & 49 Vic. c. 23. (Redistribution of Seats Act.)
The whole Act.
1886—49 & 50 Vic. c. 16. (Lunacy (Vacating of Seats) Act.)
S. 1.—Short Title.
S. 2.—Procedure for vacating seat of member of House received as a lunatic in an asylum, etc.
S. 3.—Penalty on doctors and asylum officers for non-compliance with Act.
*1898—61 & 62 Vic. c. 37. (Local Government (Ireland) Act.)
S. 83 (10).—Paid whole-time officers of county councils are ineligible.
*1906—6 Edw. 7. c. 28. (Crown Lands Act.)
S. 1. (Part)—President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries not ineligible.
*1907—7 Edw. 7. c. 9. (Territorial and Reserve Forces Act.)
S. 23 (1).—Membership of the Territorial Force does not render a person ineligible.
S. 36.—Becoming an officer of the Reserve does not render a person ineligible.
*1909—9 Edw. 7. c. 14. (Assistant Postmaster General Act.)
S. 1.—Assistant Postmaster General is not ineligible.
1911—1 & 2 Geo. 5. c. 13. (Parliament Act, 1911.)
S. 7.—Duration of Parliament (amends Septennial Act, 1715.)
*1914—4 & 5 Geo. 5. c. 59. (Bankruptcy Act.)
S. 106 (2).—Court to notify House of bankruptcy of member six months after order.
S. 120.—Registrars and officers attached to bankruptcy courts are ineligible.
*1914—5 Geo. 5. c. 7. (Finance Act, 1914 (Session 2) ).
S. 14 (2).—Subscription by members to national loans does not involve their vacating their seats.
*1915—5 & 6 Geo. 5. c. 55. (War Loan Act.)
S. 1 (2).—Applies section 14 (2) of Finance Act, 1914, to War Loan.
*1915—5 & 6 Geo. 5. c. 62. (Finance Act.)
S. 26.—Subscription to wartime Treasury Bills does not render subscriber ineligible.
*1915—5 & 6 Geo. 5. c. 96. (Government War Obligations Act.)
S. 2 (4).—Deposit and exchange of securities with the Treasury does not render person ineligible.
*1916—6 & 7 Geo. 5. c. 24. (Finance Act.)
Ss. 58 (2) and 68 (3).—Subscription to Exchequer Bonds, etc., does not render subscriber ineligible.
*1916—6 & 7 Geo. 5. c. 67. (War Loan Act.)
S. 1 (2).—Applies section 14 (2) of Finance Act, 1914, to a new Loan.
*1917—7 & 8 Geo. 5. c. 25. (Courts (Emergency Powers) Act.)
S. 9.—Contracts as to requisitioned property does not render contractor ineligible.
*1917—6 & 7 Geo. 5. c. 4. (War Loan Act.)
S. 1 (2).—Applies section 14 (2) of Finance Act, 1914, to a new Loan.
*1918—8 & 9 Geo. 5. c. 25. (War Loan Act.)
S. 1 (2).—Applies section 14 (2) of Finance Act, 1914 to a new Loan.
*1918—8 & 9 Geo. 5. c. 47. (Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act.)
Declares that women are not ineligible because of sex or marriage.
*1919—9 & 10 Geo. 5. c. 2. (Re-election of Ministers Act.)
S. 1.—A member of Parliament need not vacate his seat on accepting an office of profit if it is not specified to be an incapacitating office and if he accepts it within nine months after a proclamation summoning a new Parliament. (Chiltern Hundreds, etc., are excluded from this provision.)
S. 2.—Certain Ministers not to be ineligible.
*1919—9 & 10 Geo. 5. c. 37. (War Loan Act.)
S. 1 (4).—Applies section 14 (2) of Finance Act, 1914, to new Loan.
*1919—9 & 10 Geo. 5. c. 50. (Ministry of Transport Act.)
S. 27—Minister of Transport and Secretary in the Ministry of Transport are not ineligible.
PART IV.—ACTS OF THE OIREACHTAS.
*1923—No. 23 of 1923. (Electoral Act.)
S. 16—Confirmation of franchise resolutions (spent).
(Signed) A. A. HEALY,
12th July, 1961.