HC Deb 13 June 1851 vol 117 cc768-71

Order for Second Reading read.


moved the Second Reading of this Bill; he said, that a feeling in favour of the measure prevailed out of doors, and he was credibly informed that Members of Her Majesty's Government had declared that they would be rejoiced if the Bill were passed. For his own part he could in all sincerity declare that he had no object in view but the public welfare, He was a soldier, and was accustomed to military music, and would sleep soundly and with a good conscience as times went, even though a band of military music and one hundred barrel organs were playing under his window. But human lives had been lost by barrel organs, and great inconvenience was caused by those yet more offensive nuisances, advertising vans, and he felt it to be his duty to propose something effective with a view to the protection of the public in these respects. Constant complaints had been made of the injury to the revenue and of the annoyance to the citizens which result from the practice of driving vans through the streets, and horses wore continually taking fright at the barrel organs, and yet the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey) was prepared, he feared, to oppose this Bill. He had ventured to hope the right hon. Gentleman would have acceded to the second reading of the Bill, and allowed it to go into Committee, when any modifications that might be needed could have been made, He begged humbly to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would permit the Bill to be read a second time pro formâ? If not, he should console himself with having done his duty, and with regretting that a public servant should have so far forgotten his duty as to meet him by a refusal. He had, however, the proud reflection that he had done his duty, and that thought would console him under any defeat.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


could assure the hon. and gallant Member that he gave him credit for being actuated solely by a regard to the public interest in bringing forward this Bill, and he (Sir G. Grey) consequently regretted that he felt it his duty to oppose the measure. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had given the House no information as to the contents of the Bill. He (Sir G. Grey) admitted that the monster advertising vans were a great nuisance in the streets, and that it was desirable to put them down; but when the hon. and gallant Gentleman came to draw his Bill, he had evidently found the same difficulties which he (Sir G. Grey) had encountered in dealing with the case, namely, in defining these advertising vans, and legislating directly against them. He (Sir G. Grey) took no exception to the Bill on technical grounds; but the hon. and gallant Gentleman was obliged, even after having obtained able professional assistance, to use such general words that persons who carried about with them any advertisement or placard whatever would be subjected to penalties. Then the Bill imposed a penalty upon any person causing a cart to be drawn through the street for the purpose of exhibiting any advertisement or placard; many tradesmen's carts, used in their ordinary calling, had such advertisements upon them. It would be bettor to leave the matter to the existing law, which enabled the police to remove dangerous obstructions, unless the House thought fit to give them a general discretion to interfere with any such vehicles. The Bill proposed to subject to a penalty of 40s. any person playing any musical instrument in a public street. Now already there was a penalty on a street musician refusing to depart at the request of a householder, on account of the illness of an inmate of his house, or other reasonable cause; and there was a penalty for blowing a horn or using a noisy instrument to call people together or obtain money. This would meet the case of those large horse organs with a drum inside, which, he believed, the police had succeeded in removing from the streets, and which exceeded the limit that should be allowed. But to stop all street music would be depriving a large portion of the inhabitants of the metropolis of a very rational entertainment. The operation of such a Bill as this would be very arbitrary, and unreasonably severe, and he (Sir G. Grey) must move, as an Amendment, that it he read a second time that day six months.

Amendment proposed, "To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question, to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"


said, he must charge the Government with inconsistency in not bringing forward some Bill to meet the evil, the existence of which they had admitted in the year 1846. [An Hon. MEMBER: Divide, divide!] Ah! Sir, you are a van-man, I suppose. I beg to assure Her Majesty's Government that there is a very strong feeling out of doors on this subject, and that upon the head of the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department must fall the responsibility of refusing to legislate upon it. The right hon. Secretary for the Homo Department does not appear to care one farthing whether I pass the Bill or not. Sir, I am satisfied that I have discharged my duty, and although I may have failed in succesfully carrying the measure on which I have set my heart, I tell the right hon. Gentleman that he shall not escape the castigation which he deserves for the dereliction of a duty which he owes to the public, a dereliction which I believe to be induced by political cowardice unworthy of a statesman.


agreed with the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Sibthorp), that the question was one well worthy of legislative interference. It was impossible to dispute the fact that the traffic in the streets of the metropolis had greatly increased of late years, and that owing to the inactivity of the City authorities in not opening the parallel street to Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street, the stream of intercourse was often cheeked by these unwieldy vans. He had himself on one occasion encountered on Westminster Bridge a "tremendous" van, quite enough to frighten man and horse, and so affrighted was the animal he rode that it jumped upon the pavement and nearly threw him into the river. He really thought the time had come when the Government ought to take some steps to remedy the evil.


declined to divide the House; he considered that as he had done his duty, he should throw the responsibility upon the Government.

Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question" put, and negatived.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to; Second Reading put off for six months.

The House adjourned at One o'clock till Monday next.