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Volume 218: debated on Tuesday 24 March 1874

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, in rising to move for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal "The Criminal Law Amendment Act (1871)," said, having regard to the fact that Her Majesty's Government had appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the subject, and that they had promised to legislate upon it during the present Session, he was willing to postpone the second reading of the Bill until the 10th of June. Before that time they could hardly expect the Commission to make their Report, and after that time legislation might be regarded as impracticable.

said, he did not rise for the purpose of opposing the introduction of this Bill; but he was glad to find that the hon. Member proposed to defer its second reading at all events for a considerable time. He should like to say, as there had been some misconception upon the matter, that the first moment that the most urgent business which the Government had to deal with was disposed of, he had brought before their attention what he thought was the most pressing matter connected with the particular Department of which he had charge—namely, this question of the disputes which had arisen as to the working of two Acts of Parliament that had lately been passed, and the Government took up that matter at the first possible opportunity. He should like also to state that the way in which they found matters was this: A Royal Commission had been issued which had accumulated a vast amount of facts, and upon these facts Parliament had legislated. Two Acts of Parliament had been passed regulating the relations between master and servant; but complaint had been made that serious differences of opinion had arisen amongst large classes of Her Majesty's subjects with reference to the working of these Acts of Parliament. There was no information that he could place his hands upon, in the Home Office or elsewhere, to show the particular eases as to which complaints had arisen, and it became the duty of the Government to see how best they could inform themselves as to the matters in dispute. The working of the Law of Conspiracy having been questioned, it was necessary before legislating that they should have the advice of some of Her Majesty's Judges, and that the Judges should obtain information on which to give advice. The Government, therefore, thought the best way was to appoint a Royal Commission of perfectly independent men to consider what were the precise points in dispute, and to ascertain the facts. The Government had undertaken to do their duty, and hoped to receive the Report of the Committee in such time as to enable them to legislate upon the matter during the present Session.

Motion agreed to.

Bill to repeal "The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1871," ordered to be brought in by Mr. MUNDELLA, Mr. EUSTACK SMITH, Mr. MACDONALD, Mr. BURT, Mr. CARTER, and Mr. MORLEY.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 41.]