|Long title||An Act for amending the Laws relating to Election Petitions, and providing more effectually for the Prevention of corrupt Practices at Parliamentary Elections|
|Citation||31 & 32 Vict. c. 125|
|Introduced by||Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli|
|Royal assent||31 July 1868|
The Parliamentary Elections Act 1868 (31 & 32 Vict. c. 125), sometimes known as the Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections Actor simply the Corrupt Practices Act 1868, is an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, since repealed. The effect of the Act was to transfer responsibility for trying election petitions from the House of Commons to the Judges of the High Court of Justice. The Act was designed to, and did, provide a more effective measure for preventing corruption and fraud in Parliamentary elections.
An election petition refers to the procedure for challenging the result of a Parliamentary election.
The House of Commons, officially the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House.
The High Court of Justice in England is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. Its name is abbreviated as EWHC for legal citation purposes.
The 1865 general election was regarded by contemporaries as being a generally dull contest nationally, which exaggerated the degree of corruption within individual constituencies. In his PhD thesis, Cornelius O'Leary described The Times as having reported "the testimony is unanimous that in the General Election of 1865 there was more profuse and corrupt expenditure than was ever known before". 27–28 When he came into office in 1867, Benjamin Disraeli announced that he would introduce a new method for election petition trials (which were then determined by a committee of the House of Commons). Disraeli proposed that this take the form of two assessors visiting the constituency and determining the outcome, with an appeal to the House of Commons which could appoint a select committee should it decide to take the matter up. :32 This Bill was referred to a select committee which altered it so that the jurisdiction was given to the Court of Queen's Bench, with no appeal to the House, but with a three-member Court of Election Appeals for points of law. At this point the Bill was withdrawn, so that it could be reintroduced the following year. :35As a result of allegations of corruption, 50 election petitions were lodged, of which 35 were pressed to a trial; 13 ended with the elected MP being unseated. In four cases a Royal Commission had to be appointed because of widespread corrupt practices in the constituency. :
The 1865 United Kingdom general election saw the Liberals, led by Lord Palmerston, increase their large majority over the Earl of Derby's Conservatives to more than 80. The Whig Party changed its name to the Liberal Party between the previous election and this one.
Cornelius O'Leary was an Irish historian and political scientist.
The Times is a British daily national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register, adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, itself wholly owned by News Corp. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently, and have only had common ownership since 1967.
When the Bill was reintroduced in February 1868, Disraeli noted that the Lord Chief Justice Sir Alexander Cockburn, had written to the Lord Chancellor expressing the "strong and unanimous feeling of insuperable repugnance" to their proposed duties under the Bill. He had therefore changed the proposal again, to propose an election court which would have three members. The Liberal opposition did not attack the principle of the Bill, although two individual Liberal MPs fervently opposed it, 36–37 with Alexander Mitchell arguing he was "convinced that the retention by the House of its own jurisdiction and the right of determining who were its Members was essential to its dignity and independence". There was a feeling in the press and in Parliament that a makeshift court was not of suitable esteem to take over what had been a matter of Parliamentary privilege. Disraeli therefore came up with a compromise, which William Gladstone accepted, whereby two Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, Exchequer of Pleas or Queen's Bench would be designated to try election petitions with full judicial salaries. :39 The passage of the Bill was prolonged in the House of Commons because of opposition, but passed through the House of Lords in five days and the Bill received Royal Assent on 31 July 1868.:
The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales and the President of the Courts of England and Wales.
Sir Alexander James Edmund Cockburn, 12th Baronet was a Scottish jurist and politician who served as the Lord Chief Justice for 21 years. A notorious womaniser and socialite, he heard some of the leading causes célèbres of the nineteenth century.
The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest ranking among those Great Officers of State which are appointed regularly in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is outranked only by the Lord High Steward, another Great Officer of State, who is appointed only for the day of coronations. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Prior to the Union there were separate Lord Chancellors for England and Wales, for Scotland and for Ireland.
The Representation of the People Act 1832 was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales. According to its preamble, the Act was designed to "take effectual Measures for correcting divers Abuses that have long prevailed in the Choice of Members to serve in the Commons House of Parliament". Before the reform, most members nominally represented boroughs. The number of electors in a borough varied widely, from a dozen or so up to 12,000. Frequently the selection of MPs was effectively controlled by one powerful patron: for example Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk, controlled eleven boroughs. Criteria for qualification for the franchise varied greatly among boroughs, from the requirement to own land, to merely living in a house with a hearth sufficient to boil a pot.
The Representation of the People Act 1867, 30 & 31 Vict. c. 102 was a piece of British legislation that enfranchised part of the urban male working class in England and Wales for the first time. It took effect in stages over the next two years, culminating in full enactment on January 1, 1869.
Great Yarmouth is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Its MP is Brandon Lewis, Chairman of the Conservative Party, who has held the seat since the 2010 general election.
Gloucester is a constituency centred on the cathedral city and county town of the same name, represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament by Richard Graham of the Conservative Party.
The Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act 1883 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was a continuation of policy to make voters free from the intimidation of landowners and politicians. It criminalised attempts to bribe voters and standardised the amount that could be spent on election expenses.
The Ballot Act 1872 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that introduced the requirement that parliamentary and local government elections in the United Kingdom be held by secret ballot.
The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was a piece of electoral reform legislation that redistributed the seats in the House of Commons, introducing the concept of equally populated constituencies, a concept in the broader global context termed equal apportionment, in an attempt to equalise representation across the UK. It was associated with, but not part of, the Representation of the People Act 1884.
William Forbes Mackenzie was a Scottish Conservative politician and temperance reformer. He is best known for the Forbes MacKenzie Act, legislation passed in 1853 to regulate public houses in Scotland.
Sligo Borough is a former borough constituency in Ireland, represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Corrupt practices in English election law includes bribery, treating, undue influence, personation, and aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring personation.
Beverley has been the name of a parliamentary constituency in the East Riding of Yorkshire for three periods. From medieval times until 1869 it was a parliamentary borough consisting of a limited electorate of property owners of its early designated borders within the market town of Beverley, which returned (elected) two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of the English and Welsh-turned-UK Parliament during that period.
Launceston, also known at some periods as Dunheved, was a parliamentary constituency in Cornwall which returned two Members of Parliament to the British House of Commons from 1295 until 1832, and one member from 1832 until 1918. It was a parliamentary borough until 1885, and a county constituency thereafter.
East Retford was a parliamentary constituency in Nottinghamshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons for the first time in 1316, and continuously from 1571 until 1885, when the constituency was abolished. Although East Retford was technically a parliamentary borough for the whole of its existence, in 1830 its franchise had been widened and its boundaries had been extended to include the whole Wapentake of Bassetlaw as a remedy for corruption among the voters, and from that point onward it resembled a county constituency in most respects.
Stockbridge was a parliamentary borough in Hampshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1563 until 1832, when the borough was abolished by the Great Reform Act. It was one of the more egregiously rotten boroughs, and the first to have its status threatened for its corruption by a parliamentary bill to disfranchise it, though the proposal was defeated.
Hindon was a parliamentary borough consisting of the village of Hindon in Wiltshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1448 until 1832, when the borough was abolished by the Great Reform Act. It was one of the most notoriously corrupt of the rotten boroughs, and bills to disfranchise Hindon were debated in Parliament on two occasions before its eventual abolition.
The Queensland Court of Disputed Returns is a court that adjudicates disputes concerning Queensland Government and local government elections and state referendums in Queensland, Australia. The Court is a division of the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Shaftesbury was a parliamentary constituency in Dorset. It returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1295 until 1832 and one member until the constituency was abolished in 1885.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.