HC Deb 09 March 1824 vol 10 cc865-9

Mr. R. Martin having moved, that the House do resolve itself into a committee on this bill,

Mr. Hume

said, he had hitherto taken no part against the hon. member's mea- sures, except that of voting against them. He now, however, felt it necessary to say a few words on the subject. By the bill which the hon. member had introduced this session, it was made an offence to overload a horse. Now, how was it possible to ascertain what load was suited to a horse's strength? He had seen a little pony who could carry his noble friend near him (lord Nugent) with the greatest ease. It would be difficult however to find many a large horse that would not find it difficult to do the same thing. He was willing to admit, that the hon. member would have done good, if he had allowed his bill of last session to remain unaltered. He would state why he must doubt the humanity of the hon. member. On a former evening, he (Mr. Hume) had made a motion to prevent the torturing of men, by flogging. As a matter of course he had expected that the hon. member would have given him his vote; but to his great surprise he found, that that hon. member who was so anxious to protect oxen, and who sympathized so much with the sufferings of dogs and cats, did, without the slightest remorse, consign, as far as his vote went, 73,000 British soldiers to the torture of the lash. He would move by way of amendment, M that this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said committee."

The Attorney-general

rose to second the amendment. The present bill, he said appeared to him to be vexatious and every way unnecessary. The definition of the offence in the bill which the hon. member for Galway had introduced last year was the wilful ill-treatment of horses and cattle. He understood, however, that the object of the present bill was to render the ill-treatment of those animals, arising from inadvertence and negligence, a misdemeanour. There was one clause of the bill which, in charity to the framer, he hoped would be withdrawn. He alluded to the clause which authorized any individual to apprehend a person in the act of ill-treating cattle. He knew from the zeal which the hon. member had heretofore displayed in the cause of humanity, that not a week would elapse before he would be forced into some desperate conflict in attempting to enforce the law. He remembered that the hon. member had been extremely anxious to introduce the word "bull" into the bill of last year. After a long discussion, however, the bull was rejected by a large majority. The hon. member, however, contrived to introduce the words "or other cattle," and he had been endeavouring, during the last year, to persuade the magistrates that the-bull was included in that description. He supposed it was for the same object that the hon. member had introduced the words "or other cattle" into the present bill. He objected to having the bull introduced thus covertly. The hon. member should take the bull by the horns, and bring it in openly.

Mr. W. Smith

was convinced that the bill of his hon. friend, ridiculed as it had been, had already conferred great benefit upon the community. He conceived the object of the present bill to be a good one, and was therefore disposed to go into the committee upon it.

Mr. R. Martin

said, he was not uninformed, that the hon. member for Aberdeen intended to shew him up. He would say further, that the hon. member for Aberdeen would not shew up the honourable man who represented the county of Galway, unless he had the license of the latter for so doing. With respect to bull-baiting the learned attorney-general had his (Mr. M's) two guineas in his pocket, and had given it as his opinion, that a bull was entitled to legal protection.

Dr. Lushington

considered the present bill to be a necessary adjunct to the act of the last year; the effect of which act was, that the public feeling was no longer shocked with those atrocities which had so long disgraced the national character. Lord Erskine had, years ago, endeavoured without success, to provide that remedy, which it was the happier lot of the hon. member for Galway to effect.

Mr. Wynn

said, he should oppose the measure for the reasons which had led him to oppose the existing act of the horn* member for Galway.

Mr. Buxton

said, he should cordially support the motion. He had asked a friend what effect the bill of last year had produced, and the answer was, that it had put an end to half the cruelty which formerly prevailed in the country.

Mr. Warre

said, it had been stated that the cases which measures of this kind brought before magistrates were in general of so doubtful a character, that it was a chance whether conviction would or would not take place. Now, he denied this to be the fact; for an overwhelming majority of the cases recently prosecuted were of so atrocious a character, that con- viction had regularly followed accusation. He should support the motion for the bill going into a committee. The instances of cruelty to animals were numerous. How often were horses, in the last extremity, forced beyond their strength and urged forward by lighted straw being put under them. Would not any man who witnessed such an atrocity feel gratified at being enabled to send such vagabonds before a magistrate?

Mr. Alderman Bridges

adverted to the shocking barbarities which were every day practised on cattle, and said, that there never was a measure of more humanity than the one now proposed by the hon. member for Galway. He briefly pointed out the evil effects which an habitual practice of tormenting animals, or seeing them tormented, produced on the mind, and illustrated his proposition by an allusion to Hogarth, whose hero, commenced his progress in cruelty with tying a canister to a dog's tail, and ended it by committing murder.

Mr. Goulburn

objected to the bill, on account of the great disproportion would it would establish between punishment and crime, and in which he saw an attempt to proceed still further in the march of penalty. The bill of last session had, it was said, effected much good; but, because it did not do all that the hon. member contemplated, he now came forward, and called on the House to tolerate a most disproportionate punishment, by making the offence a misdemeanour, at the discretion of the magistrate.

Mr. G. Bankes

expressed his anxiety to go into a committee, where the House would have an opportunity of examining all the details of the measure. He must object most strongly to the spirit of levity with which the question had been treated, and the sort of argumentum ad hominem which had been so frequently resorted to.

Mr. Huskisson

spoke against the bill. The House, he said, was now required to increase the punishment for this offence, although the hon. member for Galway had shown that this was not necessary. The hon. member had himself stated to the House, that, generally, when he obtained a conviction, he paid the penalty himself, the persons accused being mostly too poor to pay it. This, surely, proved, that the present bill was sufficiently severe.

Mr. W. Courtenay

objected to going into the committee. If the act of last year had been duly executed and had been found inadequate, that might have been a good reason for fresh legislation; but as that was not the case, he could not consent to create a new misdemeanour.

The House then divided, when there appeared: For going into the committee 11. Against it 19. There being only thirty members present, the House, of course, adjourned.