HC Deb 17 February 1825 vol 12 cc528-9

Mr. S. Wortley moved for leave to bring in a bill to amend the existing Game Laws, which was precisely the same, he said, as that which he had submitted to the House last session.

Sir J. Shelley

wished that a clear fortnight should be allowed to elapse between the introduction of the bill and the third reading.

Sir J. Brydges

objected to the principle of the bill, and said, he would endeavour to strangle the measure in its infancy.

Mr. R. Colborne

thought the present game laws were open to so many objections, and that any attempt to amend them ought to have a fair trial.

Mr. Curwen

said, that the evils of the present system were obvious. The gaols were filled with poachers; game was destroyed to a considerable extent, and was, in many places, openly sold, notwithstanding the penalties. He highly approved of the general principle of the bill.

Mr. Secretary Peel

was also favourable to the measure. It would have a beneficial effect in diminishing poaching. He wished, however, that the hon. member had confined himself to legalizing the sale of game, and giving the owner of the ground a property in them, without extending his views to any alterations of the qualification for sporting. It was an attempt to do too much last year, that the failure of the bill was to be attributed.

Mr. Tennyson

also recommended a more gradual reform in the Game laws. This bill went too far. He sincerely hoped, that the illegality of traps to catch the unwary as well as the guilty would be put beyond all doubt.

Mr. Lockhart

deprecated the use of traps for the protection of game. They were a disgrace to the country.

Mr. H. Sumner

would resist the bill, as he wholly disapproved of its object.

Mr. Bright

was favourable to this alteration of the law, and lamented that the right hon. gentleman should have said any thing in favour of spring guns.

Mr. Peel

denied that he had done so. On the contrary, the practice of setting spring guns in open woods for the preservation of game, met with his decided disapprobation.

Sir R. Heron

was for limiting the bill to legalizing the sale of game.

Mr. Cripps

was of opinion that the bill as proposed went too far.

Mr. Benett

, of Wilts, supported the measure. He did not believe that spring guns were set in any woods by game preservers in the West of England. He should hold himself guilty of murder, if life were lost on his grounds, in consequence of the employment of these engines.

Mr. F. Palmer

approved of the bill, and attributed the recent increase of poaching to the low wages which labourers received [hear].

Mr. S. Wortley

, speaking from experience, was of opinion, that the setting of spring guns prevented scenes which would be ten times more fatal than any which could result from them. If the question was narrowed to the sale of game, he would wash his hands of the bill. His first principle was, to give every occupier of land a right to the game thereon, and protection against the poacher and trespasser. His second was, to make the sale of game legal.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.