HC Deb 20 April 1836 vol 32 cc1244-5
Mr. Fox Maule

Having given several days notice of the petition which I hold in my hand, I trust I may be allowed to state as shortly as I can to the House, the grievances set forth in it. It is signed by 1,279 owners and occupiers of land in the county which I have the honour to represent (Perth). They complain, that owing to the present state of the Game Laws they are deprived of that protection to their property which is enjoyed by all other holders of property in this country; and I must say, that the grounds of this complaint are unhappily too well founded. When we consider the state of the times, as far as agricultural interests are concerned—when we know that it is only by the greatest energy, enterprise, and skill, that the farmer can meet the high rent which he is called on to pay, it does appear monstrous that the seed which he commits to the ground, that the growing crop on which his existence depends, should be devoured before his eyes, without his having the slightest power either to destroy the animals that prey upon him, or to obtain redress for the damage they occasion. They complain, also, in language most respectful, of the course pursued by the House when a measure of redress was last year proposed to its notice, and they deeply regret the unwillingness of the House to listen on that occasion to what they conceived to be a just and equitable mode of settling this question, which, while it left the landlord in the enjoyment of his amusements derived from the pursuit of game, which I would be the last man to wish to interrupt, at the same time afforded protection to the small proprietors and cultivators of the soil. Upon this subject, however, I feel a delicacy in entering further, and bow for the present to the decision of the House. I feel that the state of the Game Laws is such, that they must ere long demand the attention of the Legislature, and I shall avail myself of whatever opportunity may occur, to obtain for my constituents that redress for their grievances which they pray for in the petition. I always regret when I see the landlord and tenant differing on the subject of game, as I feel convinced that arrangements might be made compulsory by law which would have the effect of bringing about a clear understanding on the subject, and that game, instead of being as it too often is, the source of dissension, might become a connecting link between the two. I move that this petition be now received.

Mr. Craven Berkeley

said, the parties took their land knowing what they would be subject to, and they had no right to com plain. He did not think it would be generally advantageous to destroy game altogether.

Mr. Robert Ferguson

supported the prayer of the petition. He knew that the destruction of game was not the object of the petitioners, but they were in general overrun with rabbits, which had been allowed to multiply too much; and if the rabbits were kept down there would be no complaints.

Petition to lie on the Table.

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