Front Page Titles (by Subject) 96.: Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections  21 MAY, 1868 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
96.: Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections  21 MAY, 1868 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections 
PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 192, cols. 685–6, 691. Reported in The Times, 22 May, p. 8, from which the variants and response are taken. Mill was moving an amendment to Clause 5 of the Bill (see No. 89). He proposed to add “or of general or extensive prevalence of corrupt practices in an Election” after the words “to serve in Parliament” in the preamble to the Clause: “From and after the next Dissolution of Parliament a petition complaining of an undue Return or undue Election of a Member to serve in Parliament for a County or Borough may be presented to the Court of Common Pleas by any one or more of the following persons. . . .” After some discussion of the general question of corruption, Mill’s second speech closed the debate. For William Dougal Christie’s involvement in Mill’s tactics, see CW, Vol. XVI, pp. 1381, 1397–1400, 1403 (a specific reference to the fate of this amendment), 1403–4, 1421, and 1425.
mr. j. stuart mill said, he had to move an Amendment to the clause, which was the first of a series of Amendments, of which he had given Notice.1 The Bill, as it stood, was very incomplete; but, at the same time, he thought it, in the main, very creditable to the Government; and therefore he was glad that this Bill was not to be part of the baggage to be thrown overboard, for the purpose of lightening the ship on its last voyage. Incomplete as it was, the Bill was a bold attempt to grapple with an acknowledged political and moral evil; and the Government had not feared to ask the House to do what it greatly disliked—to make a sacrifice of its own jurisdiction. He now asked the Prime Minister to complete his own work—to help those who were trying to help him, and lend the aid of his ingenious and contriving mind, and the able legal assistance with which he was provided, to make this really an efficacious and complete measure. It was no party measure, and no party were interested in passing it, except the party of honesty. They desired to diminish the number of men in this House, who came in, not for the purpose of maintaining any political opinions whatever, but solely for the purpose, by a lavish expenditure, of acquiring the social position which attended a seat in this House, and which, perhaps, was not otherwise to be attained by them. They were not more attached to one side than to the other, except that they were generally to be found on the gaining side. They were the political counterparts of those who were contemptuously described by Dante as “neither for God nor the enemies of God, but for themselves only.”2 Unfortunately, it was not possible in this case to follow the poet’s advice, “Speak not of them, but look and pass on!”3aThey were men whom the House must endeavour to keep out from among them. (Hear.)a The Bill proceeded on the theory that the law was to be put in motion by the defeated candidate alone. This was contrary to the very idea of criminal lawb, and he wished to supply the deficiencyb . When the law intended to confer a pardoning power on an individual, it did not grant a criminal process at all, but only an action for damages. The immediate object of the present Amendment was the following: the Bill, if passed, would repeal the 5 & 6 Victoria, c. 102;4 but Section 4 of that Act contained an important provision—namely, that where a Petition complained of general or extensive bribery, and the Committee reported that there was reasonable and probable ground for the allegations, the Committee should have power to order that the costs of the petitioners should be borne by the public. If the House was in earnest such a provision was indispensable; and he therefore intended to propose Amendments, the effect of which would be to restore it in the present Bill.
Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, his object was that an inquiry into general corrupt practices should be instituted with the same promptitude and before the same tribunal as the inquiry concerning a claim to the seats. He did not mean, however, as the Solicitor General seemed to infer, that the sitting Member should be at the expense of eliciting such a general inquiry.5 That matter was provided for in his subsequent Amendments.
[The amendment was defeated (col. 691).]
[1 ]The proposed amendments are in Notices of Motion, and Orders of the Day for 7, 11, and 19 May, pp. 733, 739–40, 754–5, 759–60, and 882–4.
[2 ]Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto III, ll. 37–9; cf. the prose translation by John A. Carlyle, Dante’s Divine Comedy: The Inferno (Italian and English) (London: Chapman and Hall, 1849), p. 28.
[3 ]Ibid., Canto III, l. 51 (p. 29).
[4 ]Of 1842.
[5 ]Brett, col. 690.