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Commons Chamber

Volume 202: debated on Wednesday 6 July 1870

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

House Of Commons

Wednesday, 6th July, 1870.

MINUTES.]—NEW WRIT ISSUED— For Norwich v. Sir Henry Josias Stracey, baronet, void Election.

SELECT COMMITTEE—Army (Colonels), nominated.

PUBLIC BILLS— Resolution in Committee—Annuity Tax Abolition (Edinburgh and Montrose, &c.) Act (1860) Amendment [Consolidated Fund] * .

OrderedFirst Reading—Habitual Drunkards * [197]; Pedlars' Certificates * [199]; Vestries (Isle of Man) * [198]; Public Schools Act (1868) Amendment * [200].

First Reading—Sewage Utilization Supplemental * [201]; Sequestration * [202].

Second Reading—Poaching Prevention Act Repeal [93], negatived; Sunday Trading [68]; Shipping Dues Exemption Act (1867) Amendment * [194]; Consolidated Fund (£9,000,000) * .

Committee—Juries ( re-comm.) * [182]—R.P.

Considered as amended—Wages Arrestment Limitation (Scotland) * [118].

Third Reading—Pier and Harbour Orders Confirmation (No. 2) * [178], and passed.

Withdrawn—Vaccination Act (1867) Amendment * [126].

Poaching Prevention Act Repeal Bill—Bill 93

( Mr. Brown, Mr. Andrew Johnston, Sir David Wedderburn, Mr. Thomas Potter.)

Second Beading

Order for Second Reading read.

, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that his object was to repeal the Act passed in 1862, introduced into that House by Sir Baldwin Leighton, at that time Member for South Shropshire. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey), who was then Home Secretary, in opposing that measure, said—

"It would greatly increase the stringency of the Game Laws. It had been framed with the greatest haste. He had received the memorial from 28 chief constables, who stated, however, that they were most anxious the constabulary should not be employed to protect game. These constables signing the memorial had also furnished returns as to murders or attacks by poachers on gamekeepers, and in 10 of these the return was 'nil,' so that in 10 counties not a single case of the kind had occurred. In the rest cases had occurred. … Under the provisions of the Bill a constable would be authorized to stop, search, and detain 'any cart or other conveyance in or upon which there should be reasonable cause to suspect that any such game was being carried.' That was a power that did not exist with regard to stolen property, for a constable could not stop a carriage except under the Metropolitan Police Act, which compelled a warrant to be first obtained for power to search. He recommended the withdrawal of the Bill."—[See 3 Hansard, clxviii. 377.]
The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council of Education (Mr. W. E. Forster) equally opposed the conversion of the county police into gamekeepers, and said—
"If the Bill passed many gentlemen would have defrayed out of the county rates part of the cost which they now paid for an amusement."
The Bill, too, was opposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) who denied that poaching was sufficiently on the increase to warrant the passing so stringent a measure, and who contended that the result of giving these powers to the police would be to make them less attentive to their natural game, the thieves, in proportion to the energy with which they devoted themselves to their new duties. The severity of the provisions of the Bill was somewhat lessened in Committee; but after scenes which would be in the recollection of many hon. Members the Bill was ultimately read a third time and passed. The difficulty of carrying out the provisions of the Act had been fully exemplified by the numerous cases which had come before the magistrates, in which the words, "giving cause for suspicion" were subjected to various readings, while the general effect of the working of this extraordinary measure had evidently been to intensify rather than to diminish the evils arising from poaching. Many cases of hardship had arisen under the Act, persons having been committed for private poaching, though they were entirely innocent of the crime; but it was only fair to the police to say that, considering the enormous powers with which they had been intrusted, it was a matter of some surprise that more had not arisen. If hon. Members opposing this Bill objected that all Acts of Parliament were liable to abuse, he could urge other and higher grounds than that of the conviction of innocent persons under the Act. But the Act had done nothing to stop poaching, for the convictions for this offence were still actually on the increase, and had been increasing year after year. [Colonel BARTTELOT: Because they've caught them.] In 1858 the total offences under the Game Laws numbered 7,473, in 1869 they had increased to 10,345. The increase in the five years from 1858 to 1862 was 15¾ per cent, and in the five years after the passing of this Act it was 19¼ per cent. No doubt in the year 1862 there was a great increase in poaching; but that increase he believed was due solely to temporary causes—to the Cotton famine caused by the American War. He would remind the House that from Scotland during the last election there had been no uncertain sound with regard to the damage caused by game, and it was well known that many hon. Members were returned to that House with the express object of endeavouring to secure the repeal of the Game Laws. He would ask the House to repeal this Act, because, while effecting little or no good, it had created a great deal of annoyance throughout the country districts. It was evident that the police in some parts of the country were largely employed in the preservation of game, in proof of which statement he would quote the Return obtained by the hon. Member for Hertford, which showed that there had been 806 convictions last year under this Act, and that while so acting as assistant gamekeepers their support devolved upon the general body of the ratepayers, and he certainly could not see why the heavily-taxed ratepayers should be called I upon to contribute to the preservation of animals that certainly destroyed a great amount of the food in this country. If game was to be preserved it should be at the expense of the owners and not of those who derived no benefit from the Act. He begged, therefore, to move that the Bill be read a second time.

, in seconding the Motion, said, that the present Bill was limited in its scope, and was simply intended to deal with the Poaching Prevention Act of 1862, commonly known as Sir Baldwin Leighton's Act. It was only eight years since that Act was passed; but during that interval there had taken place a great Parliamentary Reform, and it was not likely that anyone on either side of the House would ever venture to propose a similar measure to the present House of Commons. It therefore seemed only proper that "the householders' Parliament" should have an early opportunity of rescinding the unpopular Act of its predecessor. Before the Committee of 1845 the strongest evidence was given of the severity of the Game Laws; and the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department said that these laws were the severest in the statute book, and that he knew of no law, except the Night Poaching Act, by which a magistrate had power to imprison, with hard labour, in default of finding of securities not to repeat an offence for which imprisonment, with hard labour, had been already inflicted. It might have been hoped that in the course of 25 years something would have been done to relax their severity; but the only important Game Act since passed was that of 1862, which was forced through the House of Commons in the teeth of strenuous opposition from leading men on both sides. It was not too much to say that since the Reform Act of 1832 no such piece of unequal class legislation had passed this House. No enactment had gone so far to render the Game Laws hateful to the general community, who were not sportsmen, farmers, or poachers, but simply ratepayers, and who saw their paid servants, the police, invested with new and arbitrary powers in order to protect not the property, but the pastime of their wealthier neighbours. An eloquent opponent of the Game Laws stated recently in public that he dated their certain repeal from this triumph of the game preservers. Speaking, however—possibly from selfish motives—he was not yet quite prepared to accept the Bill of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) for sweeping from the statute book all penal laws whatever relating to game. He knew, however, that public opinion was now setting strongly in that direction, and that those who a few years ago would have been satisfied with reform were already agitating for total repeal. Feeling satisfied that this Act, the last and worst, should be the first to go, he had ventured to put his name upon his hon. Friend's Bill, to which he now asked the House to accord a second reading.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—( Mr. Brown.)

said, he would not go into the general question of the Game Laws, which would come before the House on another occasion; but he protested against the repeal by a sidewind of a statute which had worked satisfactorily. The Mover of the Motion now before the House asked how it was to be found out that game carried on the high road was carried illegally. The answer was, that the police found no difficulty in the matter. The hon. Member said that poaching had increased since the passing of the Bill. But so had the population; and the police having become more vigilant, and having increased powers to stop persons on the high roads, the number of apprehended poachers was of course increased. The hon. Member had also said that the number of the police force had been increased. But this was not in consequence of the Game Laws. The Seconder of the Motion had stated that the Reform Bill haying passed, this Bill ought to be repealed. The only conclusion which he (Viscount Galway) could arrive at on the point was that the hon. Member wished the householders to have a better chance of poaching. The Act was carried by a very considerable majority, notwithstanding the opposition of some most influential Members of the House. It was opposed by Lord Stanley, by the right hon. Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey), by the old and respected Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and by the Vice President of the Council, as well as some other influential Members, and the Prime Minister. There must, then, have been some merit in this Bill, for it was carried through the House. The right hon. Member for Morpeth spoke against the Bill on the second reading; but he was not quite sure that the right hon. Baronet voted against it. [Sir GEORGE GREY: I did.] The right hon. Baronet tried to improve the Bill in Committee. As it came down from the Lords it was certainly too stringent. It was very much improved in the House of Commons by the aid of the right hon. Baronet, and also by the assistance of the present First Commissioner of Works. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire said, the Bill would authorize the police to interfere in the question of game. This was the grave objection; but if their objections on that point had been borne out by experience, would they not have been in their places that day to support the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Brown)? The real question was, had the Act worked well? He had not heard a single argument adduced by the Mover and Seconder of the Motion showing that it had not acted well—that the magistrates had complained of it; that the police had complained of it; or, in fact, that any complaint had been made against it throughout the country. In his own county the Act had worked satisfactorily—in truth, the Act had broken up the gang of poachers. There was no more effectual way of stopping poaching than stopping the poachers on the high road and taking away their nets and engines of destruction. The most implacable opponent of the Act formerly was the Vice President of the Privy Council. The opponents of the measure divided the House repeatedly, reported Progress, did everything they could to defeat the measure. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman had learned wisdom by experience—that he had been convinced that the measure had worked satisfactorily, and that the result would be to prevent poaching, to make parents respectable people, and send their children to the schools which he was so anxious to establish about the country. Another opponent of the measure was the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who thought that the power to the police of stopping persons on the highway would be unpopular. But the right hon. Gentleman now proposed to authorize the police to make a still greater interference, and go on land and demand the gun tax. He (Viscount Galway) did not wish to increase the power of the police, but he thought the Act had worked well. He was by no means an advocate for an over-protection to game—he thought that those who tried to increase the growth of rabbits did not know their own interests. But he was equally opposed to thieving, to which the present Act operated as a considerable check. Not only had the police found game on the highway; but, under the game, poultry; and under the poultry, plate. He therefore begged to move, that the Bill be read a second time upon this day three months.

, in seconding the Amendment, said, his opinion was that there was no step between the maintenance of the Game Laws and the proposals on the subject which had been made by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor). Either it was right that game should be preserved, or it was wrong. If it was wrong, the system should be directly attacked. He altogether objected to piecemeal legislation. He had endeavoured to give the existing Game Laws his best consideration; but it was simply a waste of time to seek to deal with them by four or five measures such as were this Session before the House, as there was not the slightest chance of their passing into law. It was, indeed, only because some hon. Members represented cantankerous constituencies that the question was so often brought forward; but he had no such incentive to meddle with matters of the kind, for he was glad to say that he represented one of the pleasantest and Best of constituencies. Who was it, he asked, that complained of the Night Poaching Act? Did the occupiers complain of it? There might be a man here and there who did; but, so far as he could judge, the intelligent farmers did not call for its repeal. The farmers were his best friends, as they permitted him to ride over their lands whenever he pleased. He ought to know something about poaching. When he first went to live in the parish in which he now resided, it was one of those which, previously to the Union Eating Bill, were called "open parishes." Every one who did wrong in the surrounding parishes was sent into it to live, and there were in it at the period to which he was referring 24 men who regularly carried guns and shot game, which they afterwards sold at the public-houses. Well, as a remedy for that state of things, he said to these men—"I am coming to live among you; I am fond of sport; I shall keep a sharp look out, and if I catch you poaching I will prosecute you. And mind, I shall put on very active men to look after you." The result was that these men had ceased after a time to commit the offence. Some of them he had recommended to go to Canada. He would state what had happened to him since the Night Poaching Act had come into operation. One morning he had had one of those early sleeps in which he advised hon. Gentlemen to indulge as often as possible, and he rode out early. On his way home he overtook two of his friends, whom he knew to be notorious poachers, and he saw that they had been engaged at their trade. Having met a policeman he pointed them out to him. One of them ran away, but the other I was taken into custody, and at once said that it was now impossible to poach, for if poachers were not caught on the land they were liable to be caught off it. Well, that very man worked for him at the present moment, and was, he believed, as steady as any man in the parish. It was said that game offered a temptation, but so did the butcher's shop. If game was not to be protected what was to be said of the fowl-yard and the pig-yard? There were, of course, some hon. Gentlemen opposed to the preservation of game, because their political existence depended on agitation. But although they might not be fond of shooting or hunting, they might, he thought, use their spare energies in a better way. There were, no doubt, some persons who were given to over-preservation, and their conduct, like that of a few evicting landlords in Ireland, occa- sioned a great outcry. To such persons he would say—"Keep down your rabbits and hares, and you will hear very little about game." The result of the complete destruction of game would, he believed, lead to a great extent to that absenteeism which was said to be one of the great evils of the sister country. The poor would, in the long run, be the sufferers. If the game were destroyed, what, he should like to know, was a man to do with his guests after breakfast in the country? One of the penalties he should like to impose upon those hon. Gentlemen opposite who proposed the repeal of the existing Act, was that they should come and stay with him in the winter under the altered state of things, when, instead of offering them any sport, he would have to tell them that they must walk about between breakfast and dinner time in a solitary place and amuse themselves as well as they could in smoking. If they had to suffer in that way for three days they would come back to the House and implore hon. Members to re-enact the Bill. It was either right or wrong that there should be a law providing that in the event of a man trespassing on another's property, and taking away that which did not belong to him, the owner should be protected. Justice was done to the poacher—even more than justice. No man regretted more than he did that there should be so many prosecutions for poaching; but much as he differed from the hon. Member for Leicester—and he scarcely ever agreed with him on any subject—he must admit that he was far more consistent in his attempts at legislation with reference to the Game Laws than the Mover of the present Bill, the result of passing which would be to encourage the poacher. Repeal this law, and why not repeal every penal law and let people rob each other as they pleased. He would implore hon. Members to discuss the question in that House as they would round their own dining-tables—in a calm, serious, and proper manner, and not, by such speeches as he had listened to, seek to inflame the passions of a well-contented people.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—( Viscount Galway.)

said, that as allusion had been made on both sides of the House to the part which he took in 1862, when he held the office of Secretary of State, in opposition to the passing of the Act which it was now proposed to repeal, he desired to state the course which, he should feel it his duty to take that day. It was quite true that he strongly opposed the Bill when it came down from the House of Lords. The Bill underwent considerable modification in its passage through this House; but he thought that the powers it conferred on the police were larger than necessity required, and therefore he opposed it, although many of the objections to the original Bill were removed by Amendments made in that House. He opposed the Bill partly on the representations of 28 chief constables, who objected to the duties which it conferred on the police, and partly from an apprehension that serious abuse might arise from placing these powers in the hands of the police. He had, he believed, voted not only against the second, but against the third reading. But it was a very different thing to oppose a Bill in its passage through Parliament, and to vote for the repeal, without any inquiry, of an Act which had received the sanction of a large majority of the Members of both Houses. And he was bound to add that, owing to the great discretion with which the chief constables of counties generally had exercised the power vested in them, and the manner in which they used the authority over the men under their charge, the apprehensions which had been entertained by those who opposed the Bill of an abuse of the power vested in the constables had not been verified. Very few complaints had been made of the operation of the Act, although he still thought the powers it gave were larger than ought to be intrusted to the police. In one respect—he referred to the case of those gangs of professional poachers who were in the habit of making some populous town the centre of their operations, and who went out armed at night and carried their game back to their head-quarters in town, the Act had, he believed, worked beneficially. The police knew them to be poachers, and yet, in the face of the police, the poachers formerly carried their game to their quarters in the town, sold it, and pocketed the profits of their nefarious enterprize with impunity. In this respect the Act had been useful as a check, and the repeal of it now would, he thought, be rather an intimation to those poachers that they might resume their old practices, and would lead to a great increase of crime. But, in addition to that objection to the Bill, he concurred with the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, that it was not desirable to proceed by piecemeal legislation. It was merely nibbling at a great subject which ought to be dealt with in a much more comprehensive manner. This was not the only Bill which proposed a repeal of the Act of 1862. There was a Bill before the House, in which the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. Hardcastle) proposed that game should be made the property of the occupier. If that principle were adopted—of which he was disposed to think favourably, though he would give no decided opinion upon it now—it would involve the repeal not of this Act only, but of several other Acts relating to game as was proposed in the Schedule to the Bill, and it would place the whole question upon a different and a more satisfactory footing. As the law stood at present it was very difficult to make the people believe that it was an equal crime to take game as to take fowls or other poultry. But that was a question which the Government ought to deal with. They had four Bills before them on the subject of the Game Laws, exclusive of that under discussion. They had now entered upon the month of July, and there were several important questions which it was essential they should dispose of. He thought, therefore, it was impossible to deal with the question this Session, and he would advise that all these Bills should be withdrawn, which, if they were pressed, would only waste time that might be much more usefully employed, and he hoped that during the Recess his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department might be able to take the whole subject into his consideration, with a view to its being dealt with early in the next Session. There was no doubt a strong feeling in the country on this subject; but there was no use in attempting to deal with it this Session. In the part of the country where he lived he did not believe there was any strong feeling on the subject; the tenants had liberty to kill hares, and there was no excessive preserving of game. For himself, he could not sufficiently deprecate that over-preservation of game which existed in some parts of the country for the sake of enabling a great head of game to be killed in the course of two or three days. That was anything but sport. He was glad to say he had never heard it defended in that House. If that excessive preservation were done away with a great deal of the unpopularity which now attached to the Game Laws would, he believed, cease to exist. He had simply to add the expression of a hope that the hon. Member (Mr. Brown) would not press his Motion to a Division, but would be satisfied with the expression of opinion he had elicited from all parts of the House.

said, he was glad to find that the right hon. Baronet who had just sat down had seen reason to modify his original opinion as to the arbitrary nature of the measure, and that he was now induced to think that the discretion of the police justified the large powers intrusted to them by the Act. He rose for the purpose of stating how the Act had worked in the county which he represented (Cheshire). Before the passing of the Act one of the worst evils of the system was that large gangs of poachers came out from the manufacturing towns to the agricultural districts, and though the police met the produce of their poaching going into the towns in carts they could not interfere. He was happy to say that the Act had had considerable effect in reducing the numbers of these large gangs. The hon. Member for Wenlock (Mr. Brown) had stated that there was a considerable increase in poaching cases since the Act was passed. That might be true, but the hon. Member had not discriminated between the different classes of cases. His argument, if it was good for anything, was in favour of the abolition of all game laws. He (Mr. Wilbraham Egerton) had received returns from the chief constable of Cheshire of the cases of poaching since the passing of the Act, distinguished under the heads of trespass by day in pursuit of game, night poaching, and offences under the present Act. It appeared that under the first head there was an increase of cases, between 1860 and 1869, from 133 to 275. In night poaching there was also an increase from 23 in 1860, to 34 in 1869. But with regard to the cases under this Act there had been a decrease, from 58 in 1863, which was the first year it came in operation, to 43 in 1869. The question had also been discussed before the Cheshire Chamber of Agriculture, and though there was a large attendance of the farmers, no resolution was carried in favour of the repeal of the Act. He thought it was quite unnecessary to repeal this Act, and he hoped the Bill would be withdrawn, and that the Government would be able to deal with the whole question next Session, instead of leaving it in the hands of private Members.

said, he would not follow the right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey) or the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. Greene) in travelling over the whole question of the Game Laws, but would confine himself to the Bill before them, and would devote the few minutes during which he should trouble the House, chiefly to reviewing the arguments of the noble Lord (Lord Galway) who moved the rejection of the Bill. The noble Lord told them that there must have been "something in" the Bill of 1862 to force it through the House against the opposition of Lord Stanley, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, and of almost every Member on the Ministerial Bench. He hoped to show what that "something" was. Again, the noble Lord described the Act as "a success." He hoped to show that it had been a failure. Were he to characterize the Act as he should like, he feared the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair would call him to Order; but he would say this—that in his humble opinion it was the worst piece of legislation that had passed this House during his life, because the only distinctly retrogressive Act in an advancing and enlightened time. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to glory in it, but it was strange that they did not see that it was the cause of the outcry that existed all over the country about the Game Laws, and that from it had arisen the five or six Game Bills—more or less wild in his opinion—now before the House. Ono of these Bills would make game "property." He regretted to hear the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) countenance this most foolish idea. How could that be property the proprietorship of which was to depend on its own volition? How could that be property, again, which no man could distinguish or identify? Of course Parliament might pass an Act making game property; but so Parliament more than once passed an Act declaring that a certain piece of paper should be worth a certain number of sovereigns. But did the Act make the paper worth the money? Not a bit of it. The people persisted in taking the paper for exactly what it was worth—not a 1d. more or less. Just in the same way they might pass a law making game property—but they would never get the English people to believe that wild animals were property. He had said he regarded the Act as a failure, and the only argument to the contrary that he had heard was, that it had decreased night-poaching in the vicinity of large manufacturing towns. Well, as to those who kept large heads of game close to manufacturing towns, perhaps it would be safer for him to keep to himself the expressions which rose to his lips; but he would say that he should like to place such men in the dock beside the high-spirited or ignorant lad whom they were the means of leading into trouble. Everywhere else the Act had worked badly. It had increased the rates for the purpose of promoting what the ratepayers most suffered by. He could not, of course, prove that the increased cost of the police from £600,000 in 1862, to £700,000 in 1870, was due to the operation of the Act; but it required no proof that they could not put additional duties on any body of men without either increasing their numbers and pay, or else decreasing their efficiency in the discharge of their former duties. The police were appointed and paid by the county magistrates; they were constantly under their eye and control—they were, it might be said, their servants. These same magistrates were, in the main, the preservers of game, so that when the House passed this Act, it became the interest of every constable to pay more attention to assisting gamekeepers than to protecting the property of the ratepayers. They would not have been human if they had not! This had been brought vividly before him by what he heard from a neighbour of his. He was up at two in the morning attending to a sick cow, and having done what was necessary, he went and looked over his fence into a small bit of very fine mangel, which was close to his house, and there saw, as he expected, a large number of his landlord's hares. He threw a stick at them, and they scampered away in a flock. A day or two after he met the parish policeman, who, to his surprise, asked him "Whether he was often up at two in the morning?" "Why, no!" "Weren't you up on such a morning?" "Oh, yes! after my cow." "Ah, I see yer, and see yer shy yer stick at the hares!" Why that man was tending those hares as a boy might tend sheep. He thought, then, that he had proved his first point, that the ratepayers paid, in one form or another, for the working of this Act. He next asserted that they suffered in anotherway—namely, that the amount of ground game—which destroyed their crops—had been greatly increased by it. ["No, no!"] Well, he said it had. Of course he could not give figures. Even if the right hon. Baronet succeeded in making game "property," he would not, he supposed, have a census of hares. But it was notorious in the parts of Suffolk that he knew best, that ground game had increased. In Norfolk he was aware it had gone down very much in the last two years, owing, it was said, to the healthy influence of the General Election. Hon. Gentlemen found that hares were very bad canvassers. He had promised to enlighten the noble Lord as to what the "something" was that forced the Act of 1862 through the House. He feared it was the desire of a large section of the then House of Commons to preserve a bigger head of game, and not at their own expense. Last winter, after a day's shooting, his keeper asked him to give two constables—who duly presented themselves—a hare a piece. He asked why. "Oh, sir, they are very useful to me." He thought at the time, and he thought now, that that simple expression spoke volumes, and he left the moral in the hands of the House. There was one other point he wished to avert to before he sat down; and he would ask, was not game preserving sufficiently fostered already by pecuniary exemptions, without laying additional burdens on the ratepayers? How about the coverts which harboured the game, and were hardly rated at all? How about the reduced assessment of "game farms," which increased the rates on all other land? He would ask the House to consider these points, and not to refuse a second reading to his hon. Friend's Bill.

said, he hoped that an opportunity would be afforded, either this Session or early in the next, to discuss the whole question of the Game Laws. His own opinion was that truth lay, as was usual in such cases, between the two extremes—between those who were for the total repeal of the Game Laws and those who committed what he held to be the folly and injustice of a large and over-preservation of ground game. He had not the honour of a seat in that House when the Act now under consideration was passed; but he spoke against its passing whenever he had an opportunity, and he was of the same opinion still. He did not, indeed, think there was any great danger in intrusting the exceptional powers of this Act to the police, for though they were as a class ignorant men, yet they were under the direction of highly intelligent chief constables, who would take care that they discharged their duties with discretion, and, in fact, with a few exceptions at the beginning, those powers had been exercised with great moderation. He took objection to the police being employed in the preservation of game, because game paid nothing, or next to nothing, in rates and taxes. He did not think it desirable that the police should be assistant gamekeepers, though a poacher was an unmitigated rascal, who, if he could not fill his bag with the landlord's hares, would bag the tenant's cocks and hens or steal his sheep. Woodlands, where game was preserved, were not rated, except where there was saleable underwood; and, as a rule, it would be found that where the right of shooting was let to the tenant then game paid both rates and taxes; where it was let to a third party it was not assessed to the rates, but it was to the property tax; but where it was in the landlord's own hands it escaped both rates and taxes, and he believed it would also be found that where gentlemen sold their game they escaped the licence duty as well. If these lands were rated, as they ought to be—and he believed no Gentleman in that House who preserved game would object to that—a great deal of the pre- sent objection to the system would be removed. As to the hardship of the police searching a man for game, he believed that if that were conducted with discretion a great portion of the present objection would die away, because in seaching for game it often happened that several other crimes were discovered. But that was a question for the Government to deal with. The Government had brought in a Bill for Scotland which was not worth the paper on which it was written. That Bill ought to be withdrawn, and the Government ought to take a large and enlightened view of the whole question, if they would satisfy the country. Though he held that the present Motion was ill-timed, and that it was useless to press the question now, still, for consistency's sake, he would do in the House what he said he would do out of it, and vote for the repeal of the Act.

said, he was absent through illness when the Bill of 1862 was before the House. Had he been present he should have given his most determined opposition to the Bill, because it tended to increase the preservation of game, employed the police to assist in promoting that object, and exposed magistrates, however pure, to the imputation that they increased the county police in order to decrease poaching. But the question which the House now had to decide was, whether they would repeal the Act without considering the general subject of the Game Laws. He was bound to admit that he had received no complaints of the working of the Act. It might be true that the farmers objected to ground game, and to anything that might have a tendency to increase it; but they were well aware that they had derived a benefit from the action of the police under that Act, for in the suppression of poaching the pillage of farm-yards had in a great degree been prevented. There was also no question that the Act had had a useful effect in suppressing the worst and most violent form of poaching—that of night gangs. He should hesitate, therefore, to deal with one part of the subject without proposing remedial measures in another direction. He might be asked whether the Government were prepared with such remedial measures. Now, he must say that, however worthy this subject might might be to occupy the attention of the Government, he was not in anyway pledged, nor was he aware that any other Member of the Government was pledged to deal with it. The Government had introduced a Bill with the view to settle the question as between landlord and tenant in Scotland, and at the solicitation of many hon. Members that Bill was afterwards made applicable to England; but it only had a limited operation. He felt great reluctance to deal with a question when he did not see clearly the principle on which legislation could proceed, and that was his difficulty here. He did not see that it was the duty of the Government absolutely to abrogate the Game Laws, and deprive game of protection. On the other hand he must admit that there were many evils resulting from the present system. He agreed with the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. C. S. Read) that game was a proper subject for rating, and that woodlands now exempt should also be rated. But he feared that that, of itself, would be no solution of the question. Then came the suggestion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey). You might solve the question by making game property, and, undoubtedly, pheasants reared at great expense, and never leaving the land where they were reared, could hardly be called wild game, and might be considered almost as much the creatures of the law as domestic fowls. But other game was continually shifting from place to place; and it would be most repugnant to public feeling to deal with it as with ordinary property. By universal consent the taking of ordinary property was regarded as an act of felony; but who would be bold enough in this House to propose that the killing of a hare or rabbit should be treated as a felony? He shrank, therefore, from adopting that principle as a solution of the difficulty. All he could undertake to say on the part of the Government was that the matter should be taken into their serious consideration, with a view, if possible, to find some reasonable solution of these difficulties. He could not, however, promise to deal with the subject next Session, which was too heavily mortgaged already. He should have next Session to introduce a Licensing Bill, hardly less formidable than an Education Bill; to deal with the Metropolis; with the Pollution of Rivers—a question of vast importance; with the Inclosure of Lands, and, perhaps, with Turnpike Trusts. All these questions pressed for settlement. If, indeed, they were to take the remanets of the subjects mentioned in the Queen's Speech, there would be ample material to occupy next Session, and possibly the Session after. All that the Government could do under such circumstances was to make its selection of subjects. On this subject he could give no pledge, but he hoped meanwhile that his hon. Friend (Mr. Brown) would listen to the strong appeal made to him and not press the Bill to a Division. If the Act were so unpopular as the hon. Member described it, its continuance for a year or two longer would only add to its unpopularity, and its retention among the Game Laws would, he would suggest to the advocates of their total repeal, add strength to their case, and improve their chances of ultimate success.

said, he believed that the matter might long ago have been put on a footing which would have reconciled all conflicting interests—which would have satisfied the tenant-farmer and the demands of the public without inflicting any injury on the rights of property. Those rights must undoubtedly be protected, but how far was the principle to be carried? Mr. Charles Buller, when talking to him on the subject, said—"Do you think you have a right to hang your silver spoons on your trees?" This went to the root of the question. To what extent did the rights of property justify the preservation of game, and thereby the temptation of the poor? The speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) was a true specimen of the old Whig style. The right hon. Baronet had been long acquainted with the subject, for it had come before him as Home Secretary. Twenty-five years ago there was a Committee on this subject, and all the essential facts were elicited, yet the right hon. Gentleman deprecated an early treatment of the question without inquiry. The farmers of England were pressing for a settlement of the question. As to the Secretary of State for the Home Department he should remember that the House was not asked to pass a great measure, but to undo a bad measure—not to construct, but to destroy, which was a much simpler thing. The true Conservative was the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. H. G. Start), who deprecated the over-preservation of game, and recommended that tenants should be allowed to shoot it down. Battues were not true sport. The pleasure was in marking down your bird, or in following and bagging even a single jack-snipe, and the first thing a landowner should do after a day's sport was to send a brace or two of birds to the farmer. Hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to remember that game preservation had a considerable influence on rents, and that was one very important matter in the consideration of the subject. There was only one alternative for the landlords. If they insisted on having game they must lower the rents on the farmers.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 140: Majority 78.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill put off for three months.

Sunday Trading Bill—Bill 68

Lords Second Reading

Order for Second Reading read.

said, he rose to move the second reading of this Bill, which had come down from the other House. He would remind hon. Members that two Committees of this House had decided that there ought to be legislation on the subject, that the late House of Commons read this Bill a second time on three occasions, that it was read a second time last Session, that it had been in Committee twice, and that a Committee of the other House had also recommended legislation on the subject. The state of the question had been altered materially during the last four or five years. In the metropolis Sunday trading was governed by the Act of Charles II., which for some years no attempt was made to enforce, because it was supposed that Parliament would pass an intelligible law on the subject. But on the failure of the measure last year, the Lord's Day Observance Society held that the Act of Charles H. was all that was needed, and that it could be enforced; and last winter accordingly they endeavoured to enforce it, but every magistrate before whom a case had been brought had protested against the jurisdiction being forced upon him, and had declared that the Act was obsolete, and that it ought to be superseded by a reasonable Act, stating what were the necessaries which people ought to be allowed to buy on the Sunday morning. While some magistrates had imposed the penalty of 5s. prescribed by the Act, Mr. Mansfield last week set the example of ignoring it and imposing a fine of 1d., with out giving costs. Soon after reading a report of this case he (Mr. T. Hughes) received one of the Lord's Day Observance Society's documents, which stated that the magistrates had met together and had virtually decided that the Act was sufficient, and was capable of being carried out. He believed that a more erroneous statement had never been made. He immediately wrote to a London magistrate, who replied that there had been no such consultation; that they could not refuse to enforce the Act so long as it was law; that the only thing would be to do it as mildly as possible; that he would do as Mr. Mansfield had done until it was decided by a superior Court that magistrates had no power to remit expenses; and that if he were in Parliament he would bring in a Bill to repeal the Act of Charles II., and to substitute a more rational enactment, laying down a clear and intelligible rule as to what was prohibited, and the hours within which it was prohibited. This was virtually what the 10th section of this Bill did as regarded the towns within its purview. It had become quite necessary with respect to a good many perishable articles that there should be facilities for obtaining them on the Sunday morning, and these the Bill allowed. If any objection should be taken to the hours limited they might be altered in Committee. The old Act prohibited the sale of anything but milk and bread; but within half a mile of that House there was held a great Sunday fair for the sale of rabbits, birds, dogs, clothes, ironmongery, and everything else. It was most dangerous to allow this to go on in known contravention of the law, because it weakened the old English reverence for law. The existing Act could not be worked; if it could, it would do substantial injustice; and therefore he proposed to modify it for the large towns. He would prefer to repeal it altogether, but he knew that there was a strong feeling in favour of it in Scotland, and, as he respected that feeling, he did not wish to provoke its opposition. As three successive Secretaries of State had admitted that something should be done, he trusted the House would assent to the Motion that the Bill be now read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—( Mr. Thomas Hughes.)

said, he rose to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, and if it were in accordance with the forms of the House, he would say that day six years. The appearance of the Bill at the end of the Session might be compared to farce after comedy; but it was a harmless farce, for nothing ever came of it, and it was not supposed anything ever would. In the words of the Sunday Rest Association, many efforts at legislation had been frustrated by "a strange concatenation of circumstances;" the explanation of which was that there was a superficial and somewhat a fictitious agitation in the country, and Members consented to vote on the understanding that there would be no practical result. The fact was that Sunday trading was not on the increase, but was decreasing year after year. The evidence of Mr. Burcham, the magistrate for Southwark, on the Sale of Liquors Bill was that there was no need for legislation on the subject of Sunday trading. Indeed, the Sunday Rest Association admitted that there had been no increase of Sunday trading for 12 years. As for this Bill being a "very little one," that made it all the worse, for legislation should be based upon a principle applying equally to all classes. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hughes) dared not bring in a great Bill, because he knew that it would cause a riot in Hyde Park in less than a week. He (Mr. P. A. Taylor) took objection to the Bill in limine. It was ill-legislating by the rich for the very poorest—by Dives for Lazarus, and the Bill did not give Lazarus the crumbs, but diminished his comforts and lessened his power of subsistence. The Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol acknowledged that the Bill must interfere with the means of livelihood of a great number of the poorer classes; and that was enough to make the House pause. There was a great distinction between this Bill and a Bill for putting a stop to artizan labour, for this Bill interfered, with that which did not involve wear and tear, but which was necessary, and was to some extent the amusement of the poor. Virtue in the shape of Sabbatarianism closed museums, libraries, and public gardens—the highest and purest amusement for the poor—on the Sunday; in the person of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) it would stop the Sunday beer; by this Bill it would cut off shrimps, lollypops, oranges, and little luxuries, and when all this was done the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) would come in and stereotype the Sunday restrictions for every day in the year. There was a special attack in the Bill upon costermongers. Beverages and newspapers were excepted in the Bill; but last year it was periodical publications. The barbers were attacked in the Bill of last year. They were to go free now; but if a man wanted a clean chin it must be within certain hours, or he must unlearn the lesson that cleanliness was next to godliness. The provisions of the Bill, he maintained, were characterized by recklessness, pettiness, and inconsistency—for example, they would allow a cabbage to be sold in the morning, and cherries in the afternoon, and while they closed the tobacco shop they would allow tobacco to be sold at the beer-house next door. He was at a loss to know what there was in a population of less than 10,000 persons that the law should not be applied to them. If the Bill was petty, the penalties were not, for they were cruel and cumulative. His hon. Friend had referred to the magistrates, and what did they think of the existing law? Why, a certain number of them practically ignored it, and declared they would not inflict a punishment under it. But, as far as he had read, they had said nothing in favour of passing a moderate measure, such as that proposed by his hon. Friend. In one case a man was told he might, under an Act passed in the reign of William IV., open his shop on a Sunday for the sale of cooked meat; but that if he bought the meat in a raw state and took it home to cook, he then brought himself within the penal provisions of the law. The existing law was bad in other respects, and Sir Richard Mayne stated before the Parliamentary Committee that a considerable number of policemen were taken from the important duties of protecting life and property to watch public-houses on a Sunday, and that in general they had to say and do things to mislead in order to prevent persons from suspecting their purpose. On the other hand, it was said that people evading the law employed "touts" to watch the policemen, and one magistrate in a country town expressed his belief that the police took bribes, and winked at evasions. Laws opposed to public opinion or common convenience were sure to be evaded, and if this Bill passed people would smuggle into their nouses articles they bought on Sunday, which would be taken from the shops, concealed under the buyers' garments. His hon. Friend said that he did not bring forward the Bill in a Sabbatarian spirit, but that he advocated it in the interest of the community, as it was desirable that all labour should, as far as possible, cease on a Sunday. They could sympathize with him in that feeling, but it was not possible that all should rest, and what was to be desired was that a few only should work in order that the great majority might rest. The greatest sinners, however, were the Members of that House, for probably there was not an hon. Member who did not employ two or three persons to minister to his own comfort on the Sunday. Those who sought to stop on Sundays the running of railway trains, to shut up post offices, and to pass the present Bill, were only seeking to relieve the few from labour on Sunday and to cast the greatest amount of sacrifice on the vast majority of the people. There was a sort of vicarious virtue for which he had little respect, and he opposed the Bill because, if the hon. Member for Frome and Lord Chelmsford were virtuous, that was no reason why the people should have no more "cakes and ale." Sunday trading was a necessity in the case of persons who were only paid their wages late on Saturday night, and who consequently had no opportunity except that afforded them on Sunday of purchasing provisions for themselves and families. He trusted that the House would throw out the Bill by a large majority. The hon. Member concluded by moving as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time upon this day three months.

said, he rose to second the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor), in opposition to this Bill, although he must guard himself by saying that he did not sympathize with some of the opinions which he had expressed. He would yield to no one in a desire that the working classes should be secured a day of rest in the week in order that they might have an opportunity for relaxation and self-improvement, and if he thought the Bill would prove efficacious in that respect, he would certainly not be disposed to object to it; but he was not prepared to agree that the provisions of the Bill were wise or proper. No doubt everyone required a day of rest in the week, and ought to have it. His own experience of the work in that House led him to be glad—and he was sure hon. Members would agree with him—that they had two days in every week—Saturday and Sunday—as days of rest. Certainly, if they wished to secure the moral, religious, and intellectual improvement of the working classes, they must guard their one day of rest from unnecessary infringement. He did not believe that the present Bill was at all likely to prove satisfactory. Why was it brought forward? His hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mr. Hughes) gave, as a principal reason, that former Bills of a similar character had been introduced into Parliament, and that was no doubt the fact; Bills had been introduced in 1832, 1845, 1850, 1855, 1860, 1866, 1867, 1868, and 1869, but as none of them had passed, that circumstance was of itself a strong reason why the House should regard with suspicion a proposition rejected by several previous Parliaments. No doubt it had been felt that the proposed legislation was of an objectionable and impractical character. He scarcely knew upon what ground the hon. Member for Frome supported his Bill. It was not on Sabbatarian grounds, because it violated the principle of Sabbatarianism by absolutely legalizing and sanctioning the carrying on of certain trades and employments during several hours on the Sunday. He had been especially requested by the Lord's Day Observance Society to oppose this Bill. And although he was not prepared fully to adopt the views of the members of that society, he very much respected the motives that actuated them, and if a Bill were brought into that House absolutely prohibiting all kinds of labour on the Sunday, they would at least understand the principle upon which it was based; but no one proposed by legislation to carry out the extreme views of Sabbath observance by making penal every kind of labour on Sunday. There was another peculiarity about the Bill before the House. It was only partial in its operation, and excluded from its provisions all towns having less than 10,000 inhabitants. His hon, Friend the Member for Leicester seemed at a loss to imagine the reason for that exclusion; but his hon. Friend knew the reason perfectly well—they all know the reason—it was because the borough of Frome happened to have less than 10,000 inhabitants. If, therefore, the policy of the hon. Member was the right one, it should be applied everywhere throughout the country. Apart from the Sabbatarian ground, was there any justification on other grounds for the House sanctioning the Bill? Was it necessary on the lower ground of police regulations? Were there evils of such magnitude proceeding from Sunday trading as to justify exceptional legislation and heavy penalties for the protection of society? There was a trade carried on on Sundays which endangered life and property, which led to crime, public disturbance, and gross immorality. But this trade was especially exempted from the operation of the Bill. They would fine a poor girl for selling oranges in the parks, but they would allow the gin palace to open its doors and lure its hundreds of victims into vice and immorality. The Bill, in fact, dealt with petty transactions, and evaded touching the great evils of Sunday trading It "strained at the gnat and swallowed the camel," and he would be ashamed of the House of Commons if it sanctioned such partial legislation. In considering the reasons for this Bill he had left out of view the fact that there was already an Act of Parliament in existence—an Act of Charles II.—which dealt with this question. The present Bill would leave the Act of Charles II. in operation over a great part of the country, and also partially in operation everywhere, and he believed the result would be great inconvenience in connection with magisterial decisions. The hon. Member said the Act of Charles II. was obsolete, and could not be enforced; but the fact was, it might be enforced if the magistrates were willing to carry it into execution; but no doubt they declined to enforce it in reference to offences which they did not think of importance. The Lord's Day Observance Society state that that Act "was still operative, and could be put in force with no greater exercise of effort than would be needed to enforce a law founded on the Sunday Trading Bill." His hon. Friend the Member for Frome spoke of that Act with much contempt; but why did he not propose its repeal? Simply because he knew that its repeal would give great offence to conscientious men in Scotland and elsewhere, who valued it as a declarative enactment on the part of the Legislature against any unnecessary labour on the Sabbath. He thought they might safely rest contented with that Act as it now stood. Lord Melbourne, when any difficult matter was submitted to him, used to say—"Cannot we let it alone?" And the same might be said in reference to that difficult and delicate subject of legislation. It appeared to him that they should try to check the evil complained of not by passing new Bills and imposing fresh penalties, but by spreading education, morality, and religion among the population.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—( Mr. Taylor.)

said, that the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) had stated that the evil which the present Bill was intended to remedy only existed in imagination. That was a strong statement. The hon. Member must have confined his walks to the fashionable portion of London. [Mr. P. A. TAYLOR explained that he said it had not increased.] No person acquainted with the condition of the poorer parts of London could doubt that Sunday trading existed to an enormous extent. Indeed, it was only necessary to walk over Westminster Bridge in order to see the traffic which was carried on during Sunday, and the same was the case in the neighbourhood of Bethnal Green. It was not merely shops for the sale of necessary articles that were kept open, but actual fairs were going on which would not be allowed on other days of the week. A statement appeared a short time back in The Times about the Sunday traffic in the neighbourhood of Shoreditch, and it was shown that at these fairs such "luxuries for the working classes" as birds, dogs, and mice were sold during the hours of Divine worship. What was sought to be done by the present Bill was to secure for the working classes in all great cities a day of rest, which everyone in that House desired to have for himself. He was not saying a word about the religious grounds on which that Bill might be supported. Enjoying, as he had done from childhood, the blessing of the day of rest, he felt pain at observing that numbers were debarred from its enjoyment. There was one class of persons most injuriously affected by the system of Sunday trading, and they were the servants of small traders, who worked early and late on every one of the six days of the week, toiling still later on Saturday evening than on other day; and who had, notwithstanding, to work till 2 or 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon. On behalf of that suffering class he asked the House to pass the present moderate Bill. The hon. Member for Leicester had said that people bought their goods on a Sunday because wages were paid late on a Saturday; but did not the hon. Member know that wages were generally paid either on the Friday evening or on the Saturday afternoon? The fact was that some men spent in drink a great portion of their wages on Saturday night, and sent their wives to buy articles on the Sunday morning; so that, if Sunday traffic were put a stop to, the temptation to drink on Saturday night would be checked. Nothing could be worse than an Act of Parliament which magistrates cast a slur upon; and what was wanted was that the law should be put on a sensible basis, and that there should be means for enforcing it without vexatiously interfering with the wants of the people. The hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) said that similar Bills had always been rejected by Parliament, but that was not a correct statement. The principle of the Bills had always been accepted by Parliament, and they were prevented from passing only on account of delays interposed by opponents. The hon. Member also stated that the promoters of the present Bill ought to have proposed to shut up gin palaces on the Sunday; but the Secretary of State for the Home Department knew very well what their fate would have been if they had attempted to deal with the licensing system; and the best answer to the combined opposition of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) and the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) who opposed this Bill on such very different grounds, was in medio tutissimus ibis. One great argument in favour of the Bill was that, under existing circumstances, the minority were able to oppress the majority; because, as some persons would not close their shops on a Sunday, others felt compelled to keep theirs open. So much so was this the case that, though the principals of three large clothing firms at Shoreditch were willing to allow their employés to rest on the Sunday, they could not be persuaded to close their shops on that day, because each was afraid of his neighbours. At length all the three firms bound themselves by a bond to close on Sunday, and severally pledged themselves to pay £100 to the vicar and churchwardens of the parish, to be distributed among the deserving poor of the parish if they broke the engagement. The signataries to the bond were two Jews and one Nonconformist. He believed that, if the House passed the Bill, an act of mere justice would thereby be done to a great number of the industrious classes.

said, he was opposed to the Bill because it contained so many exemptions that he was convinced it would not be possible to carry it into practical effect. Beyond this there were many exemptions which did not appear on the face of the Bill; they would be continually enlarged, and, in the end, would embrace so large a number of trades that their exemption would appear to be most unjust to the others. They could not prevent those who were deprived of a privilege which others possessed from agitating for its extension to themselves. Were they prepared to grant these exemptions from the operation of the statute? It had been said by the hon. Member for Frome that the metropolitan magistrates practically ignored the Act of Charles II. If that were so, the House might, when the Estimates came under consideration, take away a portion of their salaries, for their duty was to administer the law as they found it, and not to take upon themselves to repeal the law. He thought that the Bill, in the way he had indicated, would be productive of a great deal of evil; and, while he did not agree with the opinion of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor), he was quite as much opposed to the passing of the Bill as he could be, although it might be from very different reasons.

said, he could understand the argument that there should be no distinction between Sunday and the other days of the week; but the opponents of the Bill did not venture to put that forward, though it was the conclusion to which their speeches pointed. The law ought not to be set aside by police magistrates. So far from the measure being opposed to the feeling of the people, he was in a position to state that in Marylebone Sunday trading was felt to be a great public grievance; and though he was prepared to admit that the proposal was defective, because it did not deal with public-houses, he should not oppose the second reading, but rather hoped they might have the opportunity of amending it in Committee. The Bill would protect those who could not protect themselves. The real desire of the community was for some legislation, and the House of Lords having sent down this measure, it was their duty to pass what he considered a moderate measure, by way of experiment, on the subject.

said, he looked upon the Bill as wholly inadequate for the purpose for which it was intended. If there was a necessity for dealing with the question at all, let the same law be applied to the luxuries of the rich as to the necessaries and comforts of the poor. He opposed the Bill because he thought it was unjust to the poor, and he believed it would be most injurious in its effects.

said, he was prepared to support the second reading, because he believed the principle of the Bill was in strict harmony with the public feeling on the matter. There could be no doubt that public feeling in this country was in favour of the decent observance of the Sabbath, and, at the same time, of giving reasonable facilities to the poor for obtaining that which was absolutely necessary. It was all very well to com- plain of magistrates not enforcing the present law, but an obsolete law not in harmony with the feeling of the country could not be practically enforced. This Bill, he thought, was a moderate one, in accordance with the public conviction, and supplied reasonable facilities for its enforcement. There were many large towns throughout England where there was no Sunday trading, and he did not see why there should be more difficulty in London than in other large communities in dispensing with it. He had received many deputations on the subject, and he was satisfied that the greater part of those who now broke the law would be very glad if it were so altered that there would be a reasonable chance of enforcing it. He believed that the form of bond which had been read by his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. J. G. Talbot) fairly represented the feeling of a vast number of persons in the metropolis who broke the law because their neighbours did so. For these reasons he should support this Bill, because he thought it would so amend the present law as to bring it in harmony with public feeling and conviction.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 109; Noes 64: Majority 45.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.

Vaccination Act (1867) Amendment Bill—Bill 126

( Mr. Candlish, Mr. Serjeant Simon.)

Second Reading Adjourned Debate

Order for resuming Adjourned Debate on Second Reading [31st May] read.

said, that his Bill was not intended to conflict with the principle of the Act of 1867, but was rather intended to strengthen the provisions of that Act. He believed that the construction put upon that Act by the Law Courts was never intended by Parliament when it was passed. It was a mere verbal accident that the penalties of vaccination were made continuous. Vaccination could only be enforced by taking the children out of the hands of the parents and giving them by force into those of the public vaccinator. He quite admitted that the feeling of the country was largely in favour of vaccination, and it was because he himself was in favour of it that he would mitigate the severity of the law as it had been construed by the Law Courts. His opinion was that even were there no law in favour of vaccination, 80 per cent of the population would have their children vaccinated; 10 per cent were apathetic on the subject, and were induced by the penalties of the Act to comply with it; but there was a class—honest, intelligent, and well-disposed—who altogether objected to such an operation, and would not be compelled to vaccinate their children by any penalty that might be imposed. Such persons were, in his estimation, entitled to what he might call a Conscience Clause in the matter. He was quite aware that it would be impossible for him to carry his Bill at this late period of the Session, and he would therefore withdraw it if he received an assurance from the Secretary of State for the Home Department that a Select Committee would be appointed early next Session to investigate the whole of this delicate and difficult subject. That there was some need of amendment of the present Act was proved by the fact that many conscientious people left the country rather than submit to its operation.

said, he had come down to the House prepared to argue against the Bill; but as it was not to be pressed, he would not adduce the arguments he had prepared. He would merely remark that if it were true that many people left the country rather than submit to have their children vaccinated, the country would be the better of their absence. The Bill before the House was, in his opinion, neither more nor less than a Bill which would sell indulgences to parents to break the law at the price of £3. When the Motion was made for a Select Committee he hoped reasons would be adduced to show that its appointment would not tend to check the action of the present system, which all who were acquainted with the results must regard as eminently satisfactory.

said, he did not understand that his hon. Friend who had brought in the Bill (Mr. Candlish) objected to the system of compulsory vacci- nation. What he said merely was that unfortunately, as was very well known, there were a number not only of poor and uneducated people, but of persons who ought to know better, who were opposed to vaccination, and, the penalties being very considerable, and, indeed, indefinite in their ultimate amount, it was difficult to administer the law when the victims became the objects of so much public sympathy. That was an administrative difficulty which it was the duty of Parliament to grapple with. He thought, therefore, that it would be well to appoint a Select Committee to consider the point, and if possible to suggest a remedy. He thought it was perfectly impossible for any reasonable man who considered this subject with our experience in England and our more recent experience in Scotland and Ireland—where small-pox was almost entirely got rid of—to doubt the beneficial results of compulsory vaccination. He was bound to say that there were subjects connected with vaccination which were well worthy of the consideration of a Committee, and the supply of good vaccine matter was one of them. He begged it to be borne in mind, however, that in moving for a Select Committee he understood his hon. Friend to have moved for it in the full determination to apply the system of compulsory vaccination. But whilst they agreed that this was desirable they should take care, in order to remove prejudice, that the application of the compulsory Act should be made in the manner that was most in accordance with the wants, wishes, and feelings of the people. Upon that understanding he would have no objection to the granting of the Committee.

When this Bill was first brought in I did not see the objections to it which I do since I have studied it, and the reason for this is, that I thought it was introduced in the interests of vaccination, with the view of giving elasticity to a rigid compulsory law. But, finally, I determined to oppose it because its very existence implied doubt as to the justice and efficiency of the existing law. That doubt will be much increased by the course which the Government have advised the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) to adopt—that is, to withdraw his Bill on the promise of a Select Committee to inquire into the operation of the compulsory law. This is a far more serious and objectionable course than that proposed by ray hon. Friend. It indicates to the nation that there is something which justifies an inquiry, and shakes confidence in the protective power of vaccination itself. There is every reason why we should be satisfied with the results of our compulsory legislation, and none why we should give encouragement to ignorant agitation by a Parliamentary inquiry. I shall not detain the House above a few minutes in regard to the evidence already before us; but the new aspect which has been given to the question compels me to give a few statistical results to show that there is absolutely no ground either for hesitation or inquiry. Since Jenner's great discovery, there has been a progressive diminution of small-pox, and exactly in proportion to the increasing stringency of the law. Previous to the introduction of vaccination, the annual deaths from small-pox in England and Wales were estimated to be 3,000 per 1,000,000 of the population. In the three years before the first Vaccination Act of 1840, the Registrar General's Returns show a considerable reduction by the adoption of voluntary vaccination, for the annual average was then only 770 deaths per 1,000,000. That Act provided vaccination gratuitously, but its operation was not obligatory, and the average of its nine years' working was to reduce the death-rate to 304 per 1,000,000. Then came the compulsory Vaccination Act of 1853, which made it obligatory on a parent to have his child vaccinated, but unfortunately permitted a defective machinery to enforce the law; nevertheless, in the next 10 years, a short amending Act having been passed in 1861, the rate of mortality from smallpox sunk to 171 per 1,000,000. Before alluding to the last Act of 1867, I would refer to the intermediate Acts of 1863, which applied to Ireland and Scotland, and not to England. These were improvements upon the English Acts of 1853 and 1861, although they have defects inherent to themselves. The compulsion has been made universal, and has been accepted by both countries with very little resistance, and the results have been gratifying in the highest degree. Both countries previous to these Acts had in ordinary years about 1,000 deaths from small-pox, but in epidemic years these increased, especially in Ireland, to three or four times that number. Now small-pox may be said to be "stamped out" of both these countries; for in 1868 the mortality in Ireland was only 19 from this cause, and in Scotland, 24. In 1869, Ireland, lost only four persons by this disease—all in the first quarter, for in the remaining part of the year there had not been a single death. Scotland in 1869 had unfortunately an epidemic of small-pox, and its mortality increased to 100. England, in spite of her Vaccination Acts of 1853 and 1861, lost still between 6,000 and 7,000 persons annually by this disease, and so in 1867 we passed the last compulsory Vaccination Act, which it is the object of this Bill to amend. Well, its operation has been largely successful, though as yet it has not stamped out small-pox like the Scotch and Irish Acts. Nevertheless, the last Returns of the Registrar General show only 2,052 deaths, or at the rate of 105 per 1,000,000, our last ratio under the Act of 1857 having been 171. Hence, nothing is clearer than that the rate of mortality from small-pox has largely decreased in proportion to the force of every measure directed against it. Yet here we have a Bill before us for reducing the force. What can have led to a demand for such legislation? Exactly the same ignorance and prejudice which opposed Jenner in the introduction of his great discovery. Then, as now, associations were established to oppose vaccination. Though comprehensible in those days—as the discovery was one of startling novelty, and somewhat of a repulsive aspect, for the introduction of a disease from a beast into a man was calculated to raise prejudice; yet this prejudice was gradually overcome by the overwhelming evidence in its favour; and now, when, on a moderate computation, 80,000 lives are annually saved in the United Kingdom by its agency, it is really marvellous to find that there is a resistance to the compulsory law not in Scotland or Ireland, where the laws have been the most stringent and effective, but in England, where they have been the least stringent and the least effective. In all such resistance to law there are some grounds of valid objection, and though these in the present case happen to be very small, and connected with much that is purely fanciful, I am not disposed to treat them either with ridicule or disrespect. The objections taken against vaccination generally are shortly the following:—Firstly, that in some cases children are injured by vaccination; secondly, that loathsome diseases are communicable by it; thirdly, that the vaccine virus has lost its power, and is no longer protective. The only one of these which has truth in it is the first. Undoubtedly some children have suffered from the process of vaccination, just as some people have died from the administration of chloroform; but the proportion of injury to benefit is so infinitesimally small in both cases, that it vanishes altogether when looked at from a public point of view. Some of this injury may have, and likely has, arisen from the use of bad vaccine matter, deteriorated by defective preservation, or from taking it from the pustule, instead of from the vesicle; but the very object of the system of national vaccination is to provide proper lymph and skilful vaccinators, so that the recurrences of such accidental injuries will be reduced to a minimum. When I have admitted thus much, I have gone as far as it is possible for me to do. The averment that loathsome disease is communicable by vaccination is the main ground of opposition, but is contrary to nearly universal medical evidence, and to the results of actual and direct experiment. In 1857, the medical officer of the Privy Council, Dr. Simon, published an important Blue Book on vaccination. He addressed inquiries on this subject to 539 eminent medical men of all countries, and with scarcely a single exception they all rejected the statement that loathsome disease was ever communicated by means of vaccination. There are eminent medical men in this country who have vaccinated from 40,000 to 50,000 children, and they have never met with a single instance of such communication. Nay, more, direct experiments have been made in foreign countries—for happily our medical traditions would not permit them to be made in England—in which many children have been purposely vaccinated with lymph taken from Jennerian vesicles on the bodies of persons actually suffering from the loathsome disease, and in no case has it been communicated to the children thus vaccinated. Of course, I am aware of two instances—the Auray and the Rivalta epidemics—which are stated to have originated from this cause, but the evidence in both cases is inconclusive in the highest degree, and nothing analogous to them has ever appeared in this country. The third and last objection to vaccination consists in the allegation that the lymph has lost its efficiency by long descent, and that it no longer offers efficient protection against small-pox. I shall not trouble the House with statistics in refutation of this, though there is abundant experience to show that well-selected lymph is almost certain in its efficiency. The idea that it deteriorates in a long descent is as fanciful as would be the supposition that yeast deteriorates by passing through a long succession of brewings of beer. Both the vaccine lymph and yeast are individual existences, which are reproduced each time afresh with marked individual characters as precise and peculiar as a puppy is produced from a dog or a rose from the rose tree. However distant in genealogy vaccine matter is from the cow, it is as effective as in the first instance, if carefully selected and properly applied. With the teachings of science, and with the large practical experience acquired not only in Scotland and Ireland, but also in England, it is quite incomprehensible to me what is the justification for a Committee of Inquiry. That inquiry is not, as I understand, whether it is wise to sell vaccination indulgences to the prejudiced rich, and practically to exclude the prejudiced poor who could not pay 40s. for an indulgence, for such is really the safety-valve suggested by the Bill—a very heavily overweighted and dangerous safety-valve as I think it—but a general Parliamentary inquiry is suggested, though it will shake public confidence on the whole subject of vaccination. I know that it is useless to oppose an expressed intention of the Government on such a point; but, at all events, I can express my conviction as to the unwisdom, of such a proceeding. Had we rejected the Bill, I believe that the working classes of England would have thanked us for not treating them in a childish exceptional fashion. When the working people of Ireland and Scotland are deriving such advantages from their Acts—when England sees that Ireland and Scotland lose scarcely a score of persons annually by this terrible scourge, she will not rest content to see 2,000 of her sons perish every year. Science, as well as practical experience, shows that though small-pox is the most terrible of all diseases, it is the one most surely preventible; and it is lamentable that any course taken by the Government should throw any doubt on the necessity and efficiency of our compulsory laws.

said, the opposition to vaccination was much stronger and deeper than was generally believed. He had presented a Petition from 1,650 inhabitants of Northampton against the compulsory clauses of the Vaccination Act. Some of these persons were suffering from penalties inflicted upon them for non-observance of the Act. These men were intelligent and sincere in their objection to vaccination. Some hon. Members opposite might think they deserved expatriation for their obstinacy; but he belonged to a people who had suffered banishment for conscience sake, and could understand a man preferring prison to doing to his children what he believed to be an injury. He was glad that a Committee was to be appointed.

said, that if the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, and St. Andrews Universities (Dr. Lyon Playfair) were likely to be accepted with the authority it deserved, the appointment of a Select Committee would be undesirable; but the state of feeling in the country with regard to vaccination required an authoritative declaration from a Select Committee to disperse the unreasonable and unfounded dislike to vaccination prevalent in some parts of the country. He hoped the Government would see that a proper Committee was appointed, and that evidence from both sides was taken. Then he had no doubt that the present opposition would be removed, and the smallpox as effectually stamped out in this country as it had been in Scotland and elsewhere.

said, that one great objection to vaccination was that it was injurious to the constitution; but the idea was unfounded, as was proved by the low death-rate in Ireland, where vaccination was more general than elsewhere.

said, he was very much afraid that the announcement of the Secretary of State for the Home Department with regard to granting a Committee next year would have a most mischievous effect in the interim. It would strengthen the opposition which now existed to the Vaccination Act, would create doubt in the minds of many who now had no doubt, and produce a laxity in enforcing the Act which would be followed by a state of things similar to what was at present occurring in Paris, where as many as 212 deaths had occurred last week in consequence of laxity in enforcing vaccination. He would recommend the publication of a few facts upon the subject by the display of a handbill in shop windows to allay fears regarding vaccination, and he was of opinion that if the Registrar General would issue a circular showing the percentage of deaths from small-pox before and since the passing of the Vaccination Act, it would tranquilize the public mind.

said, he would remind the House that a Committee, presided over by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, had sat upon the subject in 1867. He thought it was unnecessary to appoint another.

said, that Committee did not take evidence upon the subject of vaccination.

said, as a Member of the Committee spoken of, he could confirm that statement; the Committee confined itself to the clauses of the Bill referred to it. He thought evidence as to vaccination should be heard, and he therefore approved of the appointment of a Committee next year.

Order discharged.

Bill withdrawn.

Habitual Drunkards Bill

On Motion of Mr. DONALD DALRYMPLE, Bill to amend the Law of Lunacy and to provide for the management of Habitual Drunkards, ordered to be brought in by Mr. DONALD DALRYMPLE, Mr. GORDON, and Mr. PEASE.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 197.]

Pedlars' Certificates Bill

On Motion of Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Bill for granting Certificates to Pedlars, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Secretary BRUCE and Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEX.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 199.]

Vestries (Isle Of Man) Bill

On Motion of Mr. Secretary BRUCB, Bill to repeal an Act, intituled "An Act to alter the mode of giving Notices for the holding of Vestries, of making Proclamations in Cases of Outlawry, and of giving Notices on Sundays with respect to various Matters," so far as such Act

relates to the Isle of Man, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Secretary BRUCE and Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 198.]

Public Schools Act (1868) Amendment Bill

On Motion of Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Bill to amend "The Public Schools Act, 1868," ordered to be brought in by Mr. Secretary BRUCE and Mr. KNATCHBELL-HUGESSEN.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 200.]

Sewage Utilization Supplemental Bill

Bill "to confirm a Provisional Order under the Sewage Utilization Acts relating to the District of East Barnet," presented, and read the first time. [Bill 201.]

House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.