HC Deb 27 February 1844 vol 73 cc329-30
Mr. Turner,

in pursuance of notice, asked the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury, whether it was his intention to bring in a Bill for the more effectual prevention of Duelling.

Sir R. Peel

said, that Her Majesty's Government had not failed to take this important subject into their consideration, but they were not prepared to bring in any new legislative enactment in reference to Duelling. If the practice of Duelling still existed, it was not owing to any defect in the letter of the law, and Her Majesty's Government greatly doubted whether any good object could be promoted by altering the law. At the same time, they had shown by the exercise of influence and authority, during the Recess, a disposition to discourage the practice of Duelling, so far as it could be discouraged by the exe it would be his duty hereafter to designate executive power. He believed that the feel- ing which had lately existed on this subject had been excited in a great degree by the unfortunate result of a duel which took place in the course of last year. He thought there could be no doubt that the practice of Duelling was on the decline, that the influence of civilisation was producing its necessary effect; and on this account he should deprecate any interference on the part of the House. The officer who lost his life last year, had served his country with great distinction. When his widow applied for that pension to which she would have been entitled had he died in any other way than by the hand of his antagonist, Her Majesty's Government felt themselves compelled to refuse the application. With respect to the survivor, as that officer did not come forward to answer the charge after the lapse of the period which was allowed for public feeling to subside, he was superseded. The widow of the deceased officer having been refused the pension, and the survivor having been superseded, he thought Her Majesty's Government had shown that they were not unwilling to exercise their legitimate authority for the purpose of suppressing the practice of Duelling: but they were not prepared, as he had already stated, to introduce any new legislative measures with that view.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, the right hon. Baronet had stated that the unhappy widow of Col. Fawcett had, from the mode of her husband's death, been deprived of a pension she would otherwise have been entitled to. He wished now to ask whether it was the intention of the Government to discontinue pensions to the widows of officers who did fight duels, and to break officers, as was now the case, if they did not fight duels when challenged to do so.

Sir Robert Peel

said, as notice had been given of a Motion on the subject of Duelling, he thought it best to say no more upon the subject, but to reserve his opinions until the subject was brought regularly before the House.