HC Deb 29 June 1825 vol 13 cc1459-61
Mr. Tennyson

moved the third reading of this bill. The bill was accordingly read a third time.

Mr. R. Colborne

then proposed a clause to legalize the use of spring guns in the night, which after some discussion the hon. gentleman agreed to withdraw.

Lord Binning

moved an amendment, to allow their use in gardens and orchards, which, after debate, was carried, the numbers upon division being:— for the amendment 35; against it 26. On the question, that the bill do pass,

Mr. Tennyson

begged to have it understood, that the motion did not procede from him. He would not be instrumental in moving that so anomalous and mischievous a measure as this had now become, should pass the House.—After a pause,

Lord Normanby

moved the passing of the bill.

Mr. Tennyson

said, that although he had conducted the bill to that point, he now felt it his duty to vote against it. The measure had been changed from one declaring the use of spring guns to be altogether unlawful, into one of mere regulation, and which, to a certain extent, was to legalize the practice. As the bill now stood, homicide by a spring gun was declared to be manslaughter on one side of the hedge, while on the other, it was for the first time to be sanctioned by law. He had rather leave the question with all the uncertainty, which, in the opinion of some, might belong to it, until another session, than be guilty of voting for a measure which, in its present shape, would give a legal existence to the very principle which it had been designed to stifle in its birth, as repugnant to reason and humanity and to the rule of law on which homicide had hitherto been alone justifiable. Neither would he ever have to charge his conscience with voting for any bill which was to authorize and recommend to the people of this country the brutal practice of employing these diabolical machines for the protection of any species of property whatever, be it what it might—his object had been, to put an end to it altogether; instead of which, it was now to a certain extent, to be legalized and established, perhaps for ever, and the new and frightful principle thus introduced might at a future period be indefinitely extended. If that House sanctioned the bill as now all altered, he trusted the Lords would reject it. If it passed into a law it would be an eternal disgrace to the British legislature, and as he was anxious to rescue the House of Commons, and himself individually, from the odium and responsibility which would justly attach to them if they sanctioned it, he should vote against the passing of the bill.

The House divided: For the passing of the bill 31; Against it 32; Majority against the bill 1.