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Committee

Volume 217: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1873

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Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—( Mr. Baxter.)

moved that the House resolve itself into Committee on that day month. This was a new system of legislation which had sprung up of recent years, to re-enact important laws in a Continuance Act at the end of the Session. Only one of the Acts which this Bill proposed to re-enact expired before the next Session. The Bill proposed to re-enact the Unlawful Societies (Ireland) Act, a coercive measure of great stringency, and the Elections Petitions Act for two years.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the and of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day month, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—( Mr. Butt,)—instead thereof.

pointed out that nearly all the Acts which it was proposed to renew had been passed by Parliament upon the understanding that they should be continued from Session to Session until Parliament dealt otherwise with them. If the hon. and learned Gentleman opposed certain Acts being re-enacted, it was quite open to him to move a Resolution in any Session, which would prevent their being retained in the schedule of the next Continuance Act; or he could bring in a Bill to repeal the particular Acts. He hoped the Amendment would not be pressed.

said, that many of the Acts proposed to be continued were of a highly penal character, and should be discussed separately and. at a proper time.

thought the continuance of these Acts was very objectionable, and the Bill should not pass without due consideration. He did not think at that late hour the question should be proceeded with.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Schedule.

protested against proceeding with the Bill at such a late hour in the morning. It would seriously affect the liberties of the people of Ireland, and ought to receive due deliberation. He moved the omission of No. 2, "Societies Unlawful, Ireland Act."

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 15, to leave out the words "2 and 3 Vict. c. 74, Societies, Unlawful (Ireland)."—( Mr. Butt.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."

said, it would be inconsistent on the part of the House to pass a Bill in June giving the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland most extensive powers for the purpose of arresting persons supposed to belong to one of these secret societies, and then at the end of the Session to repeal the Act which made these societies unlawful.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 72; Noes 7: Majority 65.

took exception to including the Preservation of the Peace (Ireland) Act, as it was continued by a measure passed this Session.

said, the continued inclusion of the Act would secure its continuance when the measure of this Session expired, if it were allowed to do so.

moved to omit section 14 from the Master and Servant Act, the clause being that which affords a criminal remedy to a master for the breach of a civil contract by a workman. The working classes in every direction had expressed themselves strongly anxious for the abolition of this section. The Bill had been brought in by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), with the best intention to benefit working men, and while some of it was unobjectionable this clause was felt to be an extreme injustice. While it gave a right of appeal to Quarter Sessions the workman might be imprisoned in the meantime, the magistrate not being bound to take bail, as he was under the old Acts against workmen. A Congress at Leeds, representing 700,000 of their body, had relied upon the interference of Parliament to rectify this wrong, and he should take the sense of the House upon it.

Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 20, after the word "Act," to insert the words "except Section 14."—( Mr. Hinde Palmer.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

opposed the Amendment. At the time of the passing of the Act it was felt that there were aggravated cases which could not be adequately dealt with as civil offences. In the case of the gas stokers, for instance, who were sentenced to short terms of imprisonment, the public generally approved the decision. The law was a just and necessary law, and he would Maintain it.

said, he should be disposed to give magistrates a discretion in admitting defendants to bail, and that, he thought, would get rid of the harshness of the clause.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 25; Noes 45: Majority 20.

moved, in page 5, line 43 (No. 33), to leave out "34 and 35 Vic., cap. 87, Sunday Observance Prosecutions." The hon. Member said, that all the old tyranny of Sabbath prosecutions was revived under the recent Act with more than its former anomalies and absurdities. Under the present law the worst features of permissive legislation were exhibited through the police discretion allowed, and a cruel tyranny was enacted. He believed that the Act of Charles II. was wrong; but, at any rate, let them have it in a form in which it would press equally on all classes of society, and not oppress the very poor alone.

opposed the Amendment, and deprecated the contempt displayed by the hon. Member for the feelings of 99 in every 100 of the population, who simply wished to stop unnecessary and obtrusive trading on Sunday.

Amendment negatived.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.