HC Deb 08 May 1833 vol 17 cc1067-9

On the Motion of Mr. Lamb, the House went into a Committee on the Metropolitan Police-Offices Bill

Mr. Pease

proposed a clause, to the effect to give Magistrates the power of punishing persons who kept places for bear-baiting, dog-fighting, and other cruel sports of that kind, which tended so much to demoralize those who assisted at them, and also to punish those who were present at such sports.

On the Question that the clause be brought up,

Mr. Lamb

said, he felt it to be his duty to oppose the clause which the hon. member for Durham wished to introduce. He saw no reason why the sports of the poor should be interfered with more than those of the rich. If individuals had cause to complain of any riot or disturbance occurring in places where such sports were carried on, it was open to them to indict such places as a nuisance.

Mr. Lennard

said, those practices might be described by some as amusements; for his own part, he viewed them as cruelties. He, therefore, should support the clause. It was true, that individuals might proceed by indictment; but the process was so dilatory and so uncertain, that it was almost useless to resort to it. He concurred in the propriety of the clause, and was glad that the hon. Member had brought it forward.

Mr. Hill

opposed the clause. He did not see how it could be fairly agreed to, unless the House was prepared to put down coursing, pigeon-shooting, angling, &c. The House would not surely proceed on the puritanical principle and Compound for sins they are inclined to, By damning those they have no mind to.

Mr. Rotch

contended the clause was very desirable with the view to prevent the practice of frequenting these pits for fighting dogs, and pursue other such inhuman sports, by disorderly and dishonest persons. They were too often the haunts of vagabonds and thieves. The clause, too, was to be confined to within five miles of the metropolis, and that with the view to prevent the congregating together of loose and idle persons, who often met in these places for no other purpose than to plan the robbery of individuals, burglary, and rifling of banks in this city.

The Solicitor General

was convinced that the argument used by the last speaker, when calmly considered, would be deemed an objection strong enough to induce the House to reject the clause. If these consequences were to be anticipated from the continuance of the practice, why was not a Bill of a general nature brought in to repress these sports throughout the country? The interests of morality would seem to require a general measure instead of beginning to legislate for a district in the manner of an experiment.

Mr. George F. Young

was of opinion, that the proposed clause ought to be agreed to, because it would have the effect of putting an end to practices which had a demoralizing influence on the people.

Mr. John Romilly

objected to the clause. It was, us he thought, improperly introduced ill a Police Regulation Bill. In a Bill for the prevention of cruelty to animals it might fairly be inserted.

Sir Thomas Freemantle

thought the present opportunity afforded by the proposition the hon. member for South Durham ought not to be suffered to pass unimproved. This experiment to repress these cruel and immoral associations he hoped would lead to a more general measure being adopted by the Legislature to accomplish so truly desirable an object.

Mr. Pease,

in reply, observed that his sole object in bringing forward the clause was to aid the Magistracy of the metropolis ill putting down these places, which it was admitted were the constant haunts of the idle and immoral, and in the continuance of which the police found the greatest obstacle to the coercion of the guilty, and the repression of plans for robbery and outrage.

The Committee divided—Ayes 42; Noes 40: Majority 4.

The House resumed.