§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third Time."
§ MR. ROEBUCK
expressed a hope that the hon. Member for North Warwickshire would not endeavour to pass it in the present Session. He objected to the two new clauses which had been added to the Bill, directing not only that the costs of the prosecution should be paid, but that the party should likewise be compensated. This was departing from the ordinary course, and might open the door to many vexations prosecutions for the purpose of obtaining compensation.
said, that he would move that the Bill be read a third time that day three months, unless the hon. Member for North Warwickshire postponed it till next day. Two new and important clauses had been added, which were not yet in the Bill, and it was only right that at least a day should be allowed to intervene. The hon. Gentleman himself admitted that the Bill was so altered and perverted by amendments that had been added, limiting its operation to women under twenty-one years of age, from its original character, that he did not care to pass it, and yet he now persisted in moving the third reading. In its present shape, it was a Bill to prevent the procuring of women by other persons, but it did not in the least degree prevent defilement by the seducer in person—or what some hon. Gentlemen had described as legitimate seduction.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day three months."
§ MR. HENLEY
wished the hon. Member for North Warwickshire to state what he intended to do upon the subject of costs, as referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. As the Bill was now framed, it might be entitled, "a Bill to support a society for the suppression of vice at the expense of the county rates."
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he had treated this offence as other offences in regard to 954 costs. But he was willing to strike out of the clause the words, "compensation for loss of time."
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 65; Noes 22: Majority 43.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 3°.
§ On the Question that the Bill do pass,
§ MR. HUME
said, that he could not allow this extraordinary measure to pass without saying a few words by way of protesting against it. In the first place, he begged to observe that, as it came from the House of Lords, it consisted of only one clause. That had been considerably altered, and within the last forty-eight hours two other clauses had been added, and now they were asked to pass the Bill into a law. In the next place, he must say it appeared to him that to attempt to improve the morals of the people by Act of Parliament was a great mistake. He thought it would be better if the right rev. Prelates and others who interested themselves in this question, would endeavour to set a good example to the community. If a Bill of this kind were desirable at all, it should have been taken up by the Government with all the assistance which they could command to render it as perfect as possible. But he protested against this kind of interference altogether. There was a certain class of persons who were never at rest unless they were either showing intolerance to their neighbours, or making loud professions of superior sanctity. That was a class whom he always looked upon with suspicion, because in his dealings with them he had invariably found them the readiest to impose upon others, and the least ready to do justice.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
also begged to enter his protest against this ill-considered and crude piece of legislation, which he described as the result of a species of cant which was almost as dangerous as vice.
§ MR. MOWATT
had also felt himself obliged to oppose the Bill, because it was calculated to mislead the people for whose benefit they affected to legislate, namely, the parents of females in humble life, by teaching them to dispense with the moral education and training of their children, and lean only upon the Legislature.
§ MR. SPOONER
, in reply, said that there had only been a few verbal alterations made in the first clause; and with respect to the two clauses which had been 955 added since the Bill came from the Lords, they were clauses which it was not usual for the Lords to insert in Bills. Whether it was competent for them to do so, he would not say. With respect to the epithets "cant" and "superior sanctity" which had been applied to the promoters of the measure by the hon. Members for Sheffield and Montrose, he begged to say that they were words which were very easily used, but not so easily justified. If the hon. Members meant to impute, either to his right rev. relative or to himself, that they made any pretensions to superior sanctity, the only answer he would make to the charge was, that if, upon consideration, the hon. Members forgave themselves for so unjustifiable an attack, he and his right rev. relative would forgive them also.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
did not desire to impute any thing to the hon. Gentleman. He only meant to say that the House, in passing this measure, was yielding to an unworthy cry out of doors.
§ Amendments made; Bill passed, with amendments.