An esteemed owner of a property I have recently researched stood as a councillor for the Borough of Shrewsbury in the early 20th century. I found his election expenses and discovered the existence of the previously unknown (to me) Municipal Elections (Corrupt and Illegal practices) Act, 1884. Under its rules as published to putative councillors, there seemed to be far more emphasis on submitting expenses on time rather than what could actually be claimed.
For instance, expense claims had to be submitted within fourteen days otherwise they would not be paid, and would be paid twenty-one days after the election date. Anyone making a payment outside these limits ‘shall be guilty of an illegal practice’, although if such payment were made ‘without the sanction or connivance’ of the candidate, their election would not be rendered void. In a similar vein, every candidate’s agent was required to submit their claims within twenty-three days or be liable to a fine of up to £50.
Twenty-eight days after the election every candidate must have sent the town clerk a return of all expenses incurred, vouched bills, and a ‘declaration made before a justice’ in the form set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Act. If this was not done within the required time, elected candidates were barred from sitting or voting in council AND ‘shall forfeit fifty pounds for every day on which he so sits or votes’.
Failure to observe these rules would render the candidate ‘liable to the punishment for wilful and corrupt perjury’.
This candidate’s expenses comprised, not surprisingly, promotional material in the form of 500 post cards, stamps and a boy to post them, and, mysteriously, printing 450 “songs”. Singing candidates in an election? No thanks.Posted in Blog, Historical records Tagged archives, documentary records, election, expenses, house detective, house history, old documents, record offices, research