HC Deb 29 March 1822 vol 6 cc1382-3
Mr. Chetwynd,

in proposing the second reading of this bill, observed, that the measure contained no provision that was not to be found in the existing laws. He had heard that some persons, particularly ladies, complained that by the bill the minstrels who perambulated the streets would be prevented from serenading theme; but he would inform those persons, that, under the laws at they at present stood, wandering musicians were considered vagrants. It was his intention, on the present occasion, merely to propose that the bill be read a second time.

Colonel Wood

seconded the motion. As the bill at present stood, the exhibition of shows was prohibited, and he knew that some persons feared that a very entertaining personage called. Mr. Punch would no longer be allowed to amuse the public. He therefore felt great satisfaction in stating, that his hon. friend would have no objection to introduce a special clause in favour of Mr. Punch. The public were indebted to his hon. friend for the prospect which held out of relieving the country from the heavy expense incurred by the passing of vagrants. The sum which had been expended for that purpose last year amounted to 100,000l.

Mr. Hurst

observed, that although in the profession of the law, and acting as a magistrate for the last fifty years, he was at this moment unable to define the duties of a peace officer under the present vagrant laws. They were an ill digested mass, and called loudly for revision.

Sir M. W. Ridley

said, that the laws relating to vagrants ought to be simplified, and brought under a more concise shape. The public were much indebted to the learned gentleman for the bill now before them.

Mr. Lyttleton

supported the bill, as it tended to distinguish the vagrant laws from the poor laws, of which there had been some danger of their becoming a part.

Mr. P. Moore

hoped that his friend Punch, as well as the persons who carried about wild beasts for show, would not be included in the list of vagrants by this law, as they were subjects of great and general amusement.

Alderman Wood

supported the bill, as he thought its provision very salutary.

The bill was read a second time, and referred to a select committee.