Statutes of the Realm: Volume 7, 1695-1701. Originally published by Great Britain Record Commission, s.l, 1820.
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False Return prohibited.
Whereas False and Double Returns of Members to serve in Parliament are an Abuse of Trust in a matter of the greatest Consequence to the Kingdome and not only an Injury to the Persons duely chosen by keeping them from their Service in the House of Commons and putting them to great Expence to make their Elections appeare but also to the Counties Cities Boroughs and Cinque-Ports by which they are chosen and the Businesse of Parliament disturbed and delayed thereby Be it therefore enacted and declared by the Kings most Excellent Majestie by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by the Authority of the same That all false Returns wilfully made of any Knight of the Shire Citizen Burgesse Baron of the Cinque-Ports or other Member to serve in Parliament are against Law and are hereby prohibited And in case that any Person or Persons shall returne any Member to serve in Parliament for any County City Borough Cinque-Port or Place contrary to the last Determination in the House of Co[m]mons of the Right of Election in such County City Borough Cinque-Port or Place that such Returne soe made shall and is hereby adjudged to be a false Returne.
II. Party grieved to recover Double Damages and full Costs.
And bee it further enacted That the Party grieved (to witt) every Person that shall bee duely elected to serve in Parliament for any County City Borough Cinque-Port or Place by such false Returne may sue the Officers and Persons making or procuring the same and every or any of them att his Election in any [of (fn. 1)] His Majesties Courts of Record att Westminster and shall recover double the Damages hee shall sustaine by reason thereof together with his full Costs of such Suit.
III. Officer making false Return;
And to the End the Law may not bee eluded by Double Returns Bee it further enacted That if any Officer shall wilfully falsly and maliciously returne more Persons then are required to bee chosen by the Writt or Precept on which any Choice is made the like remedy may bee had against him or them and the Party or Parties that willingly procure the same and every or any of them by the Party grieved att his Election.
IV. Securities to procure Return void.
And bee it further enacted That all Contracts Promises Bonds and Securities whatsoever hereafter made or given to procure any Returne of any Member to serve in Parliament or any thing relating thereunto bee adjudged void And that whoever makes or gives such Security Contract Promise or Bond or any Guift or Reward to procure such false or Double Returne shall forfeit the Su[m]m of Three hundred Pounds One Third part thereof to bee to His Majestie His Heires and Successors another Third part thereof to the Poor of the County City Borough or Place concerned and one Third part thereof to the Informer with his Costs to bee recovered in any of His Majesties Courts of Record att Westminster by Action of Debt Bill Plaint or Information wherein noe Essoigne Protection or Wager of Law shall bee allowed nor any more then one Imparlance.
V. Clerk of the Crown to enter single and double Returns of Members, and Alterations made therein in a Book.
All Persons may have free Access thereto; Fee; Book or true Copy thereof Evidence; Clerk of the Crown not making Entry, or altering or unduly giving Certificate or neglecting Duty; Penalty £500, and Loss of Office, and Incapacity.
And for the more easie and better proof of any such false or double Returne Bee it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That the Clerk of the Crowne for the time being shall from time to time enter or cause to bee entered in a Book for that purpose to bee kept in his Office every Single and Double Returne of any Member or Members to serve in Parliament which shall bee returned or come into his Office or to his Hands and alsoe every Alteration and Amendment as shall bee made by him or his Deputy in every such Returne to which Book all Persons shall have feee Accesse at all seasonable times to search and take true Copies of soe much thereof as shall bee desired paying a reasonable Fee or Reward for the same And that the Partie or Parties prosecuting such Suit shall and may att any Tryal give in Evidence such Book soe kept or a true Copy thereof relateing to such False or Double Returne and shall have the like Advantage of such proof as hee or they should or might have had by produceing the Record it selfe Any Law Custome or Usage to the contrary notwithstanding And in case the said Clerke of the Crown shall not within Six Days after any Returne shall come into his Office or to his Hands duely and fairely make such Entry or Entries as aforesaid or shall make any Alteration in any Returne unlesse by Order of the House of Commons or give any Certificate of any Person not returned or shall willfully neglect or omitt to performe his Duty in the Premisses hee shall for every such Offence forfeit to the Party and Parties aggrieved the Su[m]m of Five hundred Pounds to bee recovered as aforesaid and shall alsoe forfeit and lose his said Office and bee for ever incapable of having or holding the same.