HC Deb 13 June 1828 vol 19 cc1364-6
Mr. Stuart Worthy

, in moving that the House go into a Committee on this bill, observed, that the bill had received the sanction of the aristocracy and the great landed proprietors of the kingdom. The scarcity of game in I the market had long held out to poachers a temptation to the commission of depredations upon the preserves; but he was satisfied that this bill, by rendering game less valuable, would materially check the evil.

Sir John Brydges

said, he altogether disapproved of the bill. The interests of the class of independent country gentlemen would be sacrificed by it, and the higher and the lower orders only would be benefitted. The first being enabled from extensive and uninterrupted acres, to bring to market a very profitable produce of game for sale; and the last, receiving a right to kill game on their own lands, by possessing ten acres only. Under this provision, it would be no longer possible for those country gentlemen, living in that part of England where property was much divided, to protect their game. This ten acre qualification would be a constant source of altercation, and would greatly tend to create ill blood between neighbours, who would otherwise live in harmony. This bill would operate against the inducement country gentlemen should feel, to reside on their estates; a most mischievous effect, and which was one of the great evils tinder which Ireland was suffering. As to legalising the sale of game, and thus affording a check to poaching, he was satisfied the bill would not only be inoperative on that score, but that it would give greater facility to it. Under these impressions, he would move, that the bill be committed this day three months.

Sir J. Shelley

said, he had for many years opposed the principle of this bill; but he felt it his duty no longer to do so. He had not relinquished any of his opinions on the subject of these laws; but they would not be interfered with by the principle of this bill. One of the great evils of the Game-laws arose from the system of battues, which was the practice of enticing the game into a corner, and destroying them there. The crime of poaching was chiefly encouraged by the mode of keeping preserves.

Sir H. Vivian

said, that from the facilities which the bill gave to the sale of game, he thought that poachers would increase. Wherever preserves sprang up, poachers invariably sprang up also. By lowering the qualification, as was proposed, idler-ness and brawls would be encouraged among the inferior classes, and particularly amongst young farmers and apprentices. It would also have the effect of driving the country gentlemen to the metropolis; as they would no longer have the exclusive right of sporting, which constituted their principal amusement. If the bill should pass, he hoped it might receive such alterations, as would render it more beneficial to the country.

Mr. C. Wood

said, that some alteration in these laws was required by the country, and he thought that alteration likely to be effected by the present bill. It was notorious, that there was a feeling in favour of poachers, which prevented them from being visited by the punishment which the law enacted.

Lord W. Powlett

approved of the bill, because it would decrease the remuneration for poaching, and would consequently diminish the crime.

Mr. R. Colborne

would not oppose the measure, although ho did not altogether accede to its principle or provisions.

Mr. F. Lewis

supported the bill. The present laws for preventing poaching were quite inoperative; whereas the law proposed to be enacted might be acted upon, He considered that the quantity of game would be increased under the proposed bill; as farmers, finding a legal mode of selling game introduced, would be induced to rear it.

Mr. Secretary Peel

supported the bill, although he was not so sanguine in his expectations of its success, as were some of his friends. He felt convinced that the present system was a bad one, and that the adoption of this measure would be one great step towards its amendment. At present, no man could preserve his game, without the employment of an armed force, and this created a disagreeable feeling between parties who ought to stand in a different relation towards each other. He thought certain qualifications might be introduced, which would induce the owner of small portions of land to part with their right of sporting and sale of game to their more opulent neighbours.

Lord Morpeth

approved of the general principle of the measure, and observed, that his hon. friend, and his noble relative in the other House, deserved the thanks of the country for bringing it forward.

Mr. Duncombe

supported the bill, on the ground that legalising the sale of game would put an end to poaching.

Mr. G. Lamb

wished to see the market for the sale of game thrown open; but he feared that this bill would not effect all the desired purposes.

Mr. Benett

supported the bill, as one step towards an improvement of the existing code of laws.

The bill was then committed.