Parliamentary Writs Act 1813
(53 Geo 3 c.89, 2nd July 1813)
An Act for the more regular Conveyance of Writs for the Election of Members to serve in Parliament.
[2nd July 1813]
FOR the more expeditious and regular Conveyance of Writs for the Election of Members to serve in Parliament, be it enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 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 when any new Parliament shall at any time hereafter be summoned or called, as also in all cases of Vacancy during this present or any future Parliament, the Messenger or Pursuivant of the Great Seal, or his Deputy, shall, after the Receipt thereof, forthwith carry such of the said Writs as shall be directed to the Sheriffs of London, or Sheriff of Middlesex, to the respective Officers of such Sheriffs or Sheriff; and all such other Writs to the General Post Office in London, and there deliver the same to the Postmaster or Postmasters General for the time being, or to such other Person or Persons as the said Postmaster or Postmasters General shall depute to receive the same (and which Deputation they are hereby respectively required to make), who on Receipt thereof shall give an Acknowledgment in Writing of such Receipt to the said Messenger or his Deputy, from whom the same shall be received, expressing therein the time of such Delivery, and shall keep a Duplicate of such Acknowledgment, signed by the Parties respectively to whom and by whom the same shall be so delivered; and the said Postmaster or Postmasters General, or such their Deputy or Deputies, shall dispatch all such Writs, free from the Charges of Postage (which they are hereby authorized to do), by the First Post or Mail after the Receipt thereof, under covers, respectively directed to the proper Officer or Officers to whom the said Writs shall be respectively directed, and to no other Person whomsoever, accompanied with proper Directions to the Postmaster, or Deputy Postmaster of the Town or Place, or nearest to the Town or Place where such Officer or Officers shall hold his or their Office, requiring such Postmaster or Deputy Postmaster forthwith to carry such Writs respectively to such Office, and to deliver the same there to such Office or Officers to whom the same shall be respectively directed, or to his or their Deputy or Deputies, who are hereby respectively required to give to such Postmaster or Deputy Postmaster a Memorandum in Writing, under his or their Hand or Hands, acknowledging the Receipt of every such Writ, and setting forth the Day and Hour the same was delivered by such Postmaster or Deputy Postmaster, which Memorandum shall also be signed by such Postmaster or Deputy Postmaster, who are hereby required to transmit the same by the First or Second Post afterwards, to the said Postmaster or Postmasters General, or their respective Deputies at the said General Post Office in London, who are hereby required to make an Entry thereof in a proper Book for that Purpose, and to file and keep such Memorandum along with the Duplicate of the said Acknowledgment, signed by the said Messenger as aforesaid, to the Intent that the same may be inspected or produced upon all proper Occasions, by any Person interested in such Elections.
II. And, that the said Postmasters General may be duly informed where such Officers to whom such Writs shall be respectively directed, hold their respective Offices for the Purposes aforesaid, be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster, the Lord Bishop of Durham, or his temporal Chancellor of the County Palatine of Durham, the Chamberlain of the County Palatine of Chester, the Warden of the Cinque Ports, the Sheriffs and Stewarts of the several Cities, Counties and Stewartries, and all other Persons to whom such Writs for the Election of Members to serve in Parliament, ought to be and are usually directed, or their respective Lieutenants or Deputies, shall, within One Month after the passing of this Act, severally send up to the said Postmasters General an Account of the City, Town or Place where they shall hold their respective Offices for the Purpose aforesaid, specifying in such Account such Particulars as shall be necessary to ascertain the particular Situation of such respective Officers, and so from time to time, with all convenient Speed, as often as the Places for holding such Offices shall be changed; and also an Account of such General Post Town or Place as shall be nearest to such Offices respectively, in case such respective Offices shall not be in any General Post Town or Place; and the said Postmasters General shall make or cause to be made a List of such Places, and cause the same to be hung up and kept in some public Place in the General Post Office aforesaid.
III. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That in all cases where any such Sheriff or other Person to whom such Writs ought to be directed, shall hold his Office within the Cities of London or Westminster, or the Borough of Southwark, or within Five Miles thereof, such Sheriff or Officer shall send such Account as aforesaid of the Place where he shall hold such Office, to the Messenger of the Great Seal, instead of the said Postmaster General; and the said Messenger or his Deputy shall carry all such Writs to such Office, in like manner as is hereinbefore directed in the case of the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex.
'IV. And whereas certain Profits now arise to the Messenger of the Great Seal, from Allowances made to him under the Head of Mileage, for the Conveyance of such Writs, which Allowances are paid him from the Hanaper Office;' Be it further enacted, That such Allowances shall not be taken away or any ways affected by this Act, during the Life of the present Messenger of the Great Seal; but shall after his Decease utterly cease and determine; saving and excepting an Allowance of Two Guineas on each Writ for the Election of a Member to serve in Parliament on any Vacancy, and of the Sum of Fifty Pounds on the calling of a new Parliament; which Allowances shall be paid to every Messenger of the Great Seal to be hereafter appointed, from the Hanaper Office, in like manner as the present Allowances for Mileage are now paid.
'V. And whereas the Messenger of the Great Seal and his Deputy have from time to time received certain other Fees for the Conveyance and upon the Delivery of Writs for the Election of Members to serve in Parliament;' Be it enacted, That all such Fees shall utterly cease and determine from the passing of this Act; and that neither the said Messenger, nor his Deputy, nor any other Person, shall receive or take any Fee, Reward or Gratuity whatsoever, for the Conveyance or Delivery of any such Writ; and that the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury shall direct the annual Sum of Five hundred and twenty Pounds to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund to the present Messenger of the Great Seal during the Continuance of his Life, in Compensation for all such Fees.
VI. And be it further enacted, That every Person concerned in the Transmitting or Delivery of any such Writ as aforesaid, who shall wilfully neglect or delay to deliver or transmit any such Writ, or accept any Fee, or do any other Matter or Thing in Violation of this Act, shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor, and may, upon any Conviction upon any Indictment or Information in His Majesty's Court of King's Bench, be fined and imprisoned at the Discretion of the Court for such Misdemeanor.
VII. And be it enacted, That every Person who shall commit in Scotland any Offence against this Act, which is hereby declared to be a Misdemeanor, shall be liable to be punished by a Fine or Imprisonment, as the Judge or Judges before whom such Offender shall be tried and convicted may direct.