§ Order for Committee read; House in Committee; Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The Committee will, I doubt not, remember that when this Bill was last before us, a question was raised on Clauses 4, 5, 6, and 7, relative to registration and securities. A discussion took place on the structure of those clauses, and it was pointed out that certain inconveniences would arise under their operation; that, in certain cases, a sort of publication not coming within the range of the original Acts would be included, and that, in certain other cases, particular publications that did come within the operation of the original Acts would be excluded. I felt that these remarks had in them some foundation; and, though the clauses referred to were framed on the principle of removing penalties and securing the obligation of registration and securities merely by the operation of seeking stamps, I thought it was better to reconsider the matter, and 1979 accordingly asked the Committee to postpone the clauses and report progress. I have since reconsidered the matter, and, after the best consideration I can give to the subject, I have come to the conclusion that, on the whole, it will be the safer course for me not to interfere with the existing law, but simply to leave it as it now stands with respect both to registration and securities. These will be applicable to all newspapers, according to the terms of the Act; and, though we shall certainly leave in operation the difficulty which the Board of Inland Revenue has found as to the interpretation of the word "newspaper," that difficulty will be considerably diminished when the operation of the compulsory stamp is removed. I confess I do not think the state of the law will be altogether satisfactory; but, on the whole, I am disposed to stand on the existing law, and allow it to be enforced by penalties. I therefore propose to omit Clauses 4, 5, and 7, and, with regard to Clause 6, which will remain, I shall propose some verbal alterations required by the omissions that are to take place.
§ On the question that the 4th Clause be omitted,
§ MR. G. BUTT
said, he understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to mean that he intended the law as to registration and giving security to remain applicable to all newspapers. By the Bill as it stood the Government intended to confine the obligation of registering and giving security to those particular publications that chose to avail themselves of the postal advantages proposed to be given; but the effect of the omission of this clause, as he understood it, would be to relieve particular publications from that obligation.
§ Clause struck out; as was also Clause 5.
§ Clause 6 agreed to, with certain verbal alterations.
§ Clause 7 struck out.
§ Clause A.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had now to propose the clause of which he had given notice, limiting the retransmission by post of periodical publications. He proposed this clause as being a reasonable limitation in the right of retransmission. In practice it was found that persons in possession of newspapers, and wishing to send them to a distance, transmitted them by post merely to be 1980 used as waste paper, and without any view of their being read. The privilege of unlimited transmission led to large quantities of waste paper being thus sent by post; the right of transmission was abused, and additional cost was thrown upon the conveyance of papers. He therefore proposed the reasonable limit of fifteen days.
§ MR. G. BUTT
said, he wished to direct attention to some confusion which he feared would arise under the Act as it was now proposed to stand, owing to the adoption in different clauses of the terms "periodical publication" and "newspaper," when the same thing was meant. He did not oppose the clause, but he thought that it would be necessary slightly to alter the language, in order to make the different parts of the Bill harmonise.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that it would no doubt be necessary carefully to examine and compare all the clauses of the Bill. He did not think that there was any error in the present clause, but he was much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for drawing his attention to the subject.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he wished to know whether it was intended to give the right of transmission and retransmission through the post as frequently as one chose within the fifteen days?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
replied, that it was; but beyond fifteen days from the date of publication no newspaper would be entitled to the privilege of transmission through the post. If the Committee considered the period of fifteen days too limited, it might be extended.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause B.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
next proposed a clause for determining how questions as to periodical publications should be decided. It provided that, so far as referred to their transmission through the post, the question should be referred to the determination of the Postmaster General, whose decision, with the consent of the Treasury, should be final.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause C, relating to the manner in which warrants and consents of Treasury were to be given, was abandoned.
§ Clause D. (Actions or suits might be carried on in the names of the registered proprietors of newspapers on behalf of themselves and co-proprietors.)1981
§ MR. G. BUTT
said, he thought, if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider the laws which were applicable to this class of subjects generally, that he would come to the conclusion that this was a clause which ought not to be adopted. It contained a provision which was perfectly new to the law of the country, and if it were adopted it would apply to no other publication except a newspaper, because no other publication was required to be registered. The effect of the clause was to enable the registered proprietors of newspapers to sue for debts and other contracts in their own names, without joining all the parties in the concern as plaintiffs in the action. But upon what principle was this to be done? If there were a firm of booksellers the partners must all be joined, and what reason was there for taking the proprietors of newspapers out of the operation of the law as it stood? The proposition which was now before the Committee was not properly analogous to that contained in the Joint Stock Act, which enabled proprietors in companies where there were many partners, upon registering themselves and continuing to register any alteration in the firm as it arose, to sue in the name of the registered officer. That Act also provided, if the registered officer failed in his suit, and judgment went against him, that it would be a judgment against all the partners in the concern; so that all would be, as they ought to be, amenable for the judgment obtained against them in the name of their registered officer. In the present case, however, there was no such provision, and the clause standing therefore in the isolated position in which it did was clearly contrary to every principle of existing law, and to every Act of Parliament which had ever been passed for giving facilities to parties for suing and being sued. Suppose that a newspaper were the property of six proprietors, what reason could there be for exempting them from the responsibility of their ownership? Of course he spoke not of the respectable newspapers in the metropolis and throughout the country, the registered proprietors of which would, no doubt, be able to satisfy any judgment which might go against them; but he would take the case of smaller publications, in which it might be convenient to register as the proprietors persons who had no funds whatever, while there were other partners in the concern who might be capable of answering any judgment which 1982 might be obtained against them. He therefore contended that, under the clause as it was proposed, there were no means of meeting such a case. The General Joint Stock Act, 7th & 8th of Vict. chap. 110, contained proper provisions for doing justice, and rendered it necessary for every change in the firm, the addition of every new partner, and the ceasing of a man to be a partner to be registered; and the public officer was obliged once a year to make a return of all such alterations. He must give in a list of the whole of the proprietors, and should any alteration be made in the period which elapsed between the times of making the general returns, it was required to be duly noted. It was provided, too, by the Joint Stock Act, that a suit should not abate by reason of the death of the plaintiff, for the reason that he was merely the nominal plaintiff, and a judgment was in effect a judgment against time whole of time parties concerned; so that a sufficient remedy was given. But here there was a palpable omission. The right hon. Gentleman could not have known the state of the law; for if he had intended to adopt the law to be found in the Banking Act, or the Joint Stock Act, he had so worded the clause as to render it entirely ineffective, and would enable a paper which was started for the purposes of piracy, or as a vehicle for slander, to register a nominal man, to sue and be sued, and the consequence would be that persons who should get judgment against such person would be without remedy. There was no principle of law which, if a debt were due, for instance, on a bill of exchange to newspaper proprietors, would enable one party to sue, when if a respectable firm, composed of six persons, had a debt due from a newspaper proprietary, they would all be obliged to join in the suit. The clause was not so worded as to do justice between parties who might be plaintiffs and defendants in a snit, and any hon. Gentleman conversant with the law would tell the right hon. Gentleman that such a principle was totally unknown to it, and was now for the first time imported into the House. At present, proprietors of newspapers were registered for the purpose of giving facilities for fixing the parties in cases of libel; but the registration of a portion of them did not hinder him from joining the whole of the proprietors in the suit if he pleased. On these grounds, therefore, he submitted that the clause was not a proper one, and he should consequently move its rejection.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the present law provided that there should be two registered parties subject to legal proceedings, and might be made defendants to any civil action.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
At all events they were subject to criminal proceedings, and it had been represented to him as a hardship that, while they were thus subject, individually, to be made defendants, no relative right was given them of suing. Any two registered proprietors were subject to a judgment in an action. He apprehended that the principal persons registered would be the printer and publisher, and no doubt they would have sufficient funds to give security for costs. The object of this clause was to place them in the same position with regard to suing as that in which they were when they were being sued.
§ MR. G. BUTT
said, that the provision of registration did not limit the right of parties to sue the registered proprietors only, in cases of contract. They might if they pleased, sue all the proprietors. It was, therefore, impossible that this clause could be supported on any principle of law, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not press it.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that it was a clause in which the Government had no interest whatever, but it had been suggested with a view of doing away with a hardship existing under the present law. He had no objection, in consequence of the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman, to postpone its further consideration till the third reading.
§ Clause postponed.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he begged to inquire whether any determination had been come to with respect to the registration?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Those clauses have been withdrawn for the present. I now beg to move the clause which proposes to give the protection of a copyright of twenty-four hours on certain articles in newspapers. The present Copyright Act in its interpretation clause includes newspapers, and it certainly appears to have been the intention of the Legislature in passing that Act to give the full benefit of copyright to newspapers as well as to all other classes of printed pub- 1984 lications. But the clauses introduced into that Act seem to have been formed principally with reference to encyclopædias, reviews, magazines, periodicals, and works of larger bulk and less frequent publication than daily or weekly newspapers, and imposed certain conditions with respect to copyright which could scarcely have been fulfilled in the case of newspapers, and therefore practically nullified the benefits which the Act appeared to concede to them. Inasmuch, however, as it has been imputed to the Government that in introducing this measure, which affects large daily newspapers, conferring upon the public great advantages by collecting and diffusing intelligence at considerable expense through all parts of the world, it gives facilities for pirating the information they contain, and disseminating it without any cost—inasmuch as it has been charged upon the Government that they wished to encourage a dishonest course of that sort, and having had no such intention, they feel it incumbent upon them to lay before the House a clause like the present, in which a copyright is given to the articles in newspapers, and a remedy proposed for the infringement of that copyright. The model of this cheap remedy already exists in the Act with respect to the copyright of designs, which has received the sanction of Parliament. I am free to admit that if this clause should be rigidly or vexatiously enforced by the leading metropolitan newspapers, the rights which have by consent hitherto been exercised by the London evening and weekly newspapers, and by the country newspapers, would be materially abridged. It is undoubtedly true that the general intelligence, the reports of the debates in this and the other House of Parliament, the reports of proceedings in courts of justice, the reports of the transactions at public meetings and on other public occasions, which are obtained at a considerable cost by the proprietors of the leading metropolitan journals, are transferred into other papers by the mere process of copying, and without any expenditure of money on their part whatever. That practice has grown up, and has been acquiesced in by the principal newspapers for a long series of years; and it certainly would be a considerable detriment to the public at large if any attempt should now be made to abridge the rights thus conceded by practice; but it is not my belief that the leading London newspapers would seek to exercise the powers which this clause would 1985 confer in any harsh and oppressive manner. The proprietors of newspapers, like other persons in this country, live under the influence of public opinion. Though newspapers, to a great extent, act as the guides of public opinion, they are also themselves in return peculiarly amenable to the influence of public opinion, and it is not my belief, looking to the manner in which the principal metropolitan newspapers are conducted, that their proprietors would seek by a harsh, novel, or oppressive use of the powers of this clause to prevent that transcription of intelligence from their columns which practice has hitherto sanctioned. My belief is that this clause would merely be brought into use in cases where a newspaper might be set up with the deliberate intention of pirating the principal newspapers, and of transferring into its columns intelligence, articles of original composition, and other communications, animo furandi—with the deliberate intention of making the profits of the newspaper depend on such ill-gotten gains. Under these circumstances, it is desirable that a cheap, quick, and certain remedy should be afforded to those newspaper proprietors whose intelligence should be so taken from them. I shall now, therefore, beg to move the insertion of the following clause:—The proprietors of every newspaper shall, for the purpose of protection against piracy, be entitled to a copyright in every original article, letter, paragraph, communication, and composition which shall be for the first time published in such newspaper in this country; and if any person shall, within twenty-four hours after the first publication of any original article, letter, paragraph, communication, or composition in any such newspaper, print or publish any copy of such original article, letter, paragraph, communication, or composition, or of any material part thereof, or any colourable abridgment or alteration of the same, such person shall for every such offence forfeit a sum of not less than 5l., nor exceeding 30l., to the proprietors of the newspaper against whom such offence has been committed; and it shall be lawful for the printer or publisher of such last-mentioned newspaper, on behalf of the proprietors thereof, to recover such penalty by a summary proceeding before a stipendiary magistrate who has, or two justices who have, jurisdiction where the party offending resides, who shall issue a summons requiring such party to appear on a day and at a time and place to be named in such summons (such time not being less than two days from the date thereof); and every such summons shall be served on the party offending, either in person or at his usual place of abode; and, either upon the appearance or the default to appear of the party offending, such magistrate or justices may proceed to hear the complaint; and upon proof of the offence, by confession, or upon the oath of one or more cre- 1986 dible witnesses (which oath such magistrate and justices are respectively hereby authorised to administer), may convict the offender in a penalty of not less than 5l., nor more than 30l., as to such magistrate or justices may seem fit; and if the amount of such penalty and the cost of the proceeding, which shall be assessed by such magistrate or justices, shall not be forthwith paid, the same shall be levied by distress and sale of the goods and chattels of the offender, and such magistrate or justices shall grant warrants accordingly.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he was of opinion that the proposed clause would not accomplish the object which the right hon. Gentleman had so clearly explained—namely, to protect the rights of the proprietors of the principal metropolitan journals. In that object he (Mr. Whiteside) entirely concurred, but it was to the clause to be moved by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) that he should give his support, being of opinion that it was unjust to visit with restrictions any journal—he did not care what journal it might be—on account of its success. He regarded, therefore, the clause of the hon. Member for Pontefract more as a matter of benefit to the community than to any particular paper. But he confessed that it appeared to him that the Committee was now called on by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do what was never done before—to limit the blessings of printing, and stifle the electric telegraph as far as possible. Of this he was satisfied, however, that the clause was wholly impracticable. He agreed in the argument used by the right hon. Gentleman, and which had been used elsewhere, that a newspaper, though it did not invent news—yet sometimes, he should say, otherwise—though it did not invent the facts which occurred at Vienna, if any facts did occur there—still, it carried the intelligence with great speed and industry, and with his consent it should be paid, if that were possible, for its extraordinary diligence and speed in carrying facts. But, what was the meaning of a copyright in news he could not imagine. News must exist, and half-a-dozen men might carry news from Vienna, but one might carry it more rapidly than another, and the proposition should be to pay the particular journal which, by zeal and activity, got the news the soonest into this metropolis. He admitted that original articles of great ability appeared in the principal newspapers, but it was a compliment to quote them, and a testimony to the talent and ability with 1987 which they were written. But it might be said that original articles were not so much the matter of transcriptions as the striking descriptions of the battle of Inkerman and other battles, inserted in two of the leading metropolitan journals, written, he was happy to say, by two of his countrymen, and which were systematically pirated; and in Dublin the clubs received telegraphic despatches conveying the substance of any article of interest in an hour or an hour and a half after it was written. But how was that to be stopped? Of all the extraordinary devices which ever entered the head of a financier for effecting that object, this clause was certainly the most extraordinary. Whether one man had stolen the ideas of another was often a difficult question to determine with respect to a literary work; but when several men had obtained any particular fact at Vienna, and the editors of newspapers had commented on that fact, then the question would arise whether one had stolen it from the other; and according to this clause the editors of the Examiner, the Spectator, and the Press—all men of great talent—might be summoned before a magistrate to find out whether they had stolen their ideas from the editor of The Times or the editor of The Morning Chronicle. Then, to try the question, there had been selected, throughout the country certainly, some very curious literary tribunals, and he must take that opportunity of expressing his desire that Ireland should be exempted from the Bill, for, much as he respected the stipendiary magistrates, he should be indisposed to place at their control the press of that country. It was impossible to find men so unfit for the duty proposed to be imposed on them. He was not speaking disrespectfully of them, for assuredly they were never intended to decide questions of copyright. It appeared to him that every provincial editor, unless that merciful and charitable feeling adverted to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer should enter into the minds of the London editors, might find himself taken before a magistrate, who might easily be satisfied of the violation of copyright, and fine him from 5l. to 30l., and thus the provincial press might easily be suppressed. The Copyright of Designs Act had been adverted to, but he was not aware himself of any analogous provision to the one proposed, and the proposition to give up men's minds and ideas to the judgment of police magistrates was intolerable. If this clause 1988 were to be enforced, let it be enforced by a more competent tribunal; there might not be much objection, perhaps, to the tribunal which was now said to be the greatest in the land—he meant a county court. Questions of copyright might then be submitted to juries, which were generally disposed to take a lenient view in such cases; but it would be entirely out of the question that two stipendiary magistrates in Ireland, or two county justices in England, should be allowed to decide whether a local journal, to the politics of which they might be opposed, had invaded the copyright of a London journal. The right hon. Gentleman would not be able, and, moreover, he ought not, to carry a clause to that effect. Did the right hon. Gentleman intend to include the press of Ireland? That was a question which he might call a puzzler. Would it not be hard that a London newspaper should not be looked into for ten or twelve hours after its arrival in Dublin, lest any one might extract the intelligence it contained? Even if the Dublin newspapers published intelligence of their own in the morning, a question would arise whether it had not been stolen from a London morning paper, and would have to be determined by a police magistrate. His view was that it would be right for them to protect good news and valuable commentary if they could do so, but they could not, and it was useless, therefore, to make the attempt. If this section passed, one body of men, the lawyers, and the country attorneys especially, ought to return thanks to the House for the mine of wealth that would be opened to them, as every newspaper in the empire would be brought into a police office. He submitted that if the right hon. Gentleman would remove the objection as to weight which affected a particular journal, he would do well to take the advice given him a few hours ago, and to leave the question of copyright as it was. The great journals here did not suffer so much as they supposed from the grievance which it was now sought to redress, and the effect of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal would be, that all the respectable provincial journals would perpetually be fined, and the London journals would be worried by a law which they did not desire. He should, upon these grounds, oppose the clause.
§ MR. PHINN
said, the first question to be decided was, whether it was desirable that there should be a copyright in news, when newspapers had gone to great ex- 1989 pense and made great exertions to obtain it? If they thought it was desirable, they then came to the second question—whether the means proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for that purpose ought to be adopted? The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) had put extreme cases, for he had pictured cases which were extravagant and absurd. Now he (Mr. Phinn) would put a case the other way. The morning papers went to more expense and made greater exertions in order to collect intelligence than any other newspapers in the world; they had agents and correspondents all over the globe, in every great capital, and in many of the secondary towns, and the English public were supplied with news very often long before Her Majesty's Government were prepared to communicate it to the House. The Times, or The Morning Chronicle, or The Morning Herald, might be obtained at six o'clock in the morning, and by half-past eight or nine a newspaper might be printed and circulated through London, containing all the leading articles, and the chief intelligence, political, literary, and legal, published in those journals, at about one-third of their cost. Was not this a great wrong, and ought it not to be redressed? Would not the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) exclaim against spring patterns in cotton being pirated and offered to the London houses at half their proper price? He admitted that the morning papers might exaggerate the grievances under which they suffered, but the effect of a system of piracy such as he had described would be to diminish their circulation, to lessen the object for which they incurred expense and made exertions, and so to diminish the value of the article which they supplied to the public; he was now, therefore, pleading for the public rather than for the proprietors of newspapers. All public men sometimes fell under the lash of the press, but he believed our newspapers were, on the whole, the best conducted in the world. God forbid that they should ever resemble the newspapers of America. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman that the remedy proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not a good one. He thought twenty-four hours was too long a period for copyright in news to continue, as six or eight hours would produce the same practical effect. Distance as well as time was an element 1990 in the question. The London newspapers would have reason to complain if a newspaper pirated from themselves were circulated in London, but if the news contained in them were telegraphed to the Dublin or Edinburgh newspapers there was no competition, and they would not sell a copy the less in either of those places. He certainly thought some means ought to be adopted to repress the piracy which he knew would be committed upon the morning journals. [Mr. BRIGHT expressed dissent.] The hon. Member for Manchester might shake his head, but he (Mr. Phinn) knew that preparations were at that moment being made in London to publish at a cheap rate the principal leading articles and the most important intelligence contained in the morning papers by ten o'clock. With regard to the means by which this grievance ought to be redressed, he admitted that he was not willing to devolve upon police magistrates a new and arduous duty for which they were most inadequately paid. The Legislature was every day heaping upon public functionaries new and unpopular duties which they had never contemplated when they had accepted their appointments. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was right in saying that they must trust to the forbearance, moderation, and discretion of the newspaper proprietors for the efficient working of the clauses. He believed that they would not think it worth while to institute proceedings except in cases of systematic piracy, continued week after week. There was considerable difficulty in the choice of a proper tribunal for the trial of questions of this kind. If there were a summary jurisdiction there must also be a power of appeal; but he supposed no one would wish an appeal to be given to the quarter sessions. He was not sure, like the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside), that the county courts would not be the best tribunals for the purpose, as there would be an appeal from them to the superior courts, and by those courts the principles upon which the law was to be administered would be settled. He regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not proposed a newspaper code; but as the House would by this Act give great opportunity for the commission of piracy, he hoped, however impracticable they might think this clause, that they would not reject the principle upon which it was founded—namely, that some protection ought to be given to newspaper 1991 proprietors, who expended much money and much trouble for the service of the public.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he quite agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) in thinking that it was impracticable to establish a copyright in news. One argument advanced by the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) in favour of the present clause had certainly astonished him—namely, that they might trust to the moderation of the proprietors of newspapers that they would not exercise the right they might acquire by this Bill in a rigorous spirit. He knew it was the fashion to praise the press, but he very much doubted whether, in the exercise of power, the proprietors of newspapers displayed a spirit which showed them to be exceptional to their species. But, in addition to the objection to the clause on principle, the Committee must see that it was totally objectionable in respect to its practical operation. It not only provided against the pirating of a whole article, but also against "any colourable abridgment or alteration of the same." Now, it would require the most critical mind to describe what a colourable abridgment of a newspaper article was. What was a newspaper? An ephemeris —an insect of the day—which, having performed all its functions, in a few hours disappeared. It could not for a moment be put on the footing of great works—such as those of poets, orators, and historians. To place on the same level with the writings of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) the correspondence of a newspaper from Vienna and Berlin would be most preposterous. He protested against investing editors and proprietors with such extensive powers on the ground of trusting to their moderation and forbearance.
said, he entirely agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken as to the want of force in the argument advanced by the Chancellor of die Exchequer—namely, that he was prepared to trust to the good feeling of the editors of newspapers in carrying out this clause. Without reverting to the able remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen, who, he believed, had shown that the clause could never be practically carried into effect, he thought there was another ground of objection to the clause. He could not understand on what ground any man was to 1992 claim a copyright in an anonymous article in a newspaper. The law of copyright applied to works of durable interest, or, at least, to works on some independent and continuous subject, the authors of which were known; and he thought it impossible to legislate on the same principle with respect to such works and to ephemeral and anonymous articles in newspapers. It was absurd to say that there was any copyright possessed by proprietors of newspapers in articles appearing in their journals, when they all knew that in nine cases out of ten they were not written by the proprietors, or were even purchased matter. But, while he considered it objectionable to attempt to enforce a copyright in the case of newspapers, when they had no possible means of ascertaining in whom such a right existed, he still retained a strong opinion against the whole measure. He believed the inevitable result of it would be to produce such a revolution in the newspaper press that, for the sake of the public and for the sake of the respectable portion of the newspapers themselves, it would be absolutely necessary to make new laws altogether on the subject of the press. If this Bill passed into a law they ought to require a signature to every article in order to determine who were the responsible persons, and thereby maintain the stability of the respectable portion of the press, and counteract the inundation of mischievous papers which must inevitably follow such a law. He believed, from all the information he had been able to acquire, that the effect of this law would be to ruin the whole of the respectable portion of the provincial press. Without referring to the discreet or indiscreet use required from the proprietors of London papers of the power that would be vested in them, he believed that the respectable portion of the provincial press would cease to exist—a press which in some places, in point of talent and circulation, equalled the press of London, and that in their stead they would have an inundation of small publications which would become the curse of the country; he therefore trusted the Committee would reject the clause.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, he did not think that the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) had advanced any great argument in favour of the clause now before the Committee. He remembered the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) once made an observation to the hon. and learned 1993 Member that he liked his principles and admired his speech, but he could not vote for his Resolution. So the hon. and learned Gentleman now said he liked copyright in newspapers, and approved the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but that he did not like his plan. But that was the very question the Committee had to consider. The question before the Committee was not a mere question of abstract justice but of practical policy. A gentleman, now no more, was examined before the Committee, who, he believed, was at that time editor of The Daily News. He stated that the proprietors of that journal had reason to complain that, after they had been at great expense for the transmission of Indian news, the country papers had taken it from them without any acknowledgment, and he thought that a short copyright would put an end to such practices; or that, at any rate, their permission should be obtained. He (Mr. Gibson) recognised a sort of abstract justice in this claim, but he was perplexed as to how they were to act upon it. Before Parliament made a law to meet an evil, it ought to be satisfied that the evil was of sufficient magnitude to make a remedy necessary. The Electric Telegraph Company, of which the hon. Member for Stoke upon Trent (Mr. J. L. Ricardo) was Chairman, was charged that very day in The Times with acts of a piratical character, by selling news extracted from The Times to the local papers in the provinces. He would leave it to his hon. Friend to explain to the House the proceedings that had taken place under his presidency. But it appeared to him strange that if this operation was of so oppressive a nature, the London morning papers should now come forward for the first time to ask for a remedy. He should like to know whether the House would have heard anything about it if it had not been for the Newspaper Stamp Bill? If a copyright was proper to be had, the proprietors of newspapers ought to have it whether there was a stamp duty or not. The provincial papers took as much now from the London papers as they were ever likely to take; and, if it were necessary that they should be punished for that offence after this Bill should be passed, it was equally necessary that they should be punished now. But this clause was in reference to the pirates who were to come. They were possibly "looming in the distance." Let us wait and see whether they came or not. He was one of those 1994 who did not believe that there was this great army of pirates approaching against the London press. He was therefore prepared to abide his time, and see whether the emergency was so imminent as to necessitate this great change in their legislation. He doubted likewise whether, practically, it would be possible to accomplish the protection proposed for a narration of facts. It appeared to him from the article in The Times newspaper of that morning that they had great doubts themselves whether the Bill would be of any practical benefit to them. If it would be of no benefit to them—they being the parties who made the largest expenditure for news—it was clear that neither they nor any other London proprietors cared much about it. Indeed, they as much as said that if the halfpenny tax were only removed from their second supplements, the other newspapers might plunder them as much as they pleased. Thus, by the by, The Morning Chronicle, The Daily News, and all their other morning contemporaries, it appeared, might be plundered as well as themselves, if the cheap postage of 1d.. for any size or weight were granted to The Times. Only concede this boon, and they would bid defiance to piracy. This apprehension of piracy, therefore, could not be very well founded. The editor of The Daily News, in his evidence, also stated, that nobody could complain if a provincial paper announced, as a fact, that a London journal said so and so. Now, here was a copy of the "morning express," which was sent down to Manchester that day by the hon. Member for Stoke upon Trent's company, and which was described as piratical:—9 a.m., April 30. The Post believes that despatches were received on Friday from General Canrobert, and on Saturday from Lord Raglan through the new submarine telegraph, stating that the bombardment of Sebastopol by the allies had not been attended with such success as to justify an assault.Was the statement that The Post thought or believed that such and such a despatch had been received to be considered as piracy? Well, this was the form of the announcements generally made by the Electric Telegraph. They ran thus:—"The Times says so and so—that Sebastopol has been taken," for instance. These were matters the circulation of which it would be impossible to stop. The London correspondent of a country newspaper searched the contents of all the journals, 1995 and telegraphed down to the provincial editor such portions of the news published in the metropolis that morning as he thought fit. The provincial editor received his intelligence from his correspondent, but did not know whence the latter had obtained it. The correspondent was a collector of the news brought to London by The Times from Vienna or elsewhere; he telegraphed what he read and heard; and, therefore, to make a provincial editor personally responsible, merely because he inserted a paragraph communicated by an independent source, and which might have appeared in some London morning journal, would be perfectly monstrous. Again, the power of evasion would be so great that it would be impossible to enforce the law without creating all sorts of vexatious litigation—a consideration surely forming a valid argument against any new legislation. Literary publications were, no doubt, entitled to a copyright, if they contained a series of letters—"Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures," for instance, or any other—provided the proprietors registered those particular compositions, which, being produced from the mind of some individual, were entitled to the same protection as books. The right, however, to narrate a fact, when that fact had been previously narrated by somebody else, was a totally different thing. It was to be hoped, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, seeing the difficulties incident to the subject which had occurred to the House, and considering that the danger sought to be guarded against was altogether prospective, would consent to postpone, for the present at least, the extension of a copyright to newspapers.
§ LORD LOVAINE
said, that this was the first time in the history of this country when a copyright was asked for articles of the most ephemeral description, which were witten one day and forgotten the next; and certainly if the press of our day needed this protection it must have become weaker than it used to be. Recollecting what the daily newspapers assumed to be their functions, how they controlled, or attempted to control, Ministers of State, and interfered even in the operations of the army, affording information to the enemy on points which it was of the highest importance should be concealed from him—in which reprehensible practice, according to the statement of a late Cabinet Minister, they could not be restrained—it was rather 1996 curious that they should come before the House at that particular moment in the attitude of suitors seeking a copyright as a protection. It was a question whether, according to the law of England, any man had a right in another's wrong; for it was notorious that the press circulated calumnious accusations and vituperative charges against individuals who had no means of clearing themselves in the eyes of the public. Those charges were reiterated from day to day—some of them had even been repeated in that House in the face of the most solemn denial; and was it fitting that a right of property in articles of that character should be entitled to the protection of the law? Again, magistrates by the law of this country were not allowed to decide the commonest question of right—such matters must be referred to a jury; and yet in a case of this importance, where the newspapers exercised enormous and irresponsible powers, it was proposed that they should be permitted to go before such a summary tribunal to enforce their alleged rights. Why should not the persons whose characters were assailed and aspersed by the press have an equal right to go before a stipendiary magistrate, and obtain damages against the proprietor of the journal that had injured him? But further, it was the printer or publisher of a newspaper who was to sue for the penalty provided by this clause. Why should it not rather be the editor, the person who could prove by whom the articles the right involved in which was asserted were originally furnished? This Bill also proposed to relax the existing law for protecting private character from the anonymous libeller. Journalism in this country required the exercise of as much talent and ability as any other profession, and why, therefore, should not those who pursued it bonâ fide as an avocation do so boldly and openly before the world, claiming the credit and reputation due to them for the articles they contributed, instead of meanly skulking behind the shelter of anonymous writing? He would beg to propose the insertion after the words, "any colourable abridgment of the same," of a proviso limiting the operation of the clause to such original articles, paragraphs, communications, &c., as were signed by and published under the true names of the writers, with the exception of articles from foreign countries relating wholly or partially to the public policy of such countries,
said, that the noble Lord could not move his proviso until the Committee had decided whether the clause should be read a second time.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
Sir, there are, no doubt, considerable difficulties involved in the question of a newspaper copyright; but at the same time, it would have been very improper if my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing a measure like the present, had not attempted to deal with it. The subject is one which should be discussed upon its real merits, and stripped of all that species of misrepresentation in which hon. Gentlemen so much delight to indulge. There is nothing at all about news in the clause, and all these humorous statements which have been made represent that the clause is directed entirely to one object, whereas it is directed to another and a totally different one. If any one were desired to put his finger upon that portion of the literature of the present day in which, as a matter of composition, he may take a just pride, he might surely point to that which is called the ephemeral literature of the day—as if on that head it were less deserving of encouragement—and he would find that the greatest labour, expense, and anxiety are employed upon these sources of information. I desire hon. Members to ask themselves this question—is any one prepared to deny that, as soon as the change proposed by this Bill is effected, he does not expect that, day by day, a flood of publications will issue forth unstamped, paying no price for original matter, and feeding entirely upon the present established newspapers? I will ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) whether he does not expect that there will be established newspapers appearing within a few hours—probably within one or two—after the publication of the London newspapers, containing the most important articles and communications, which the London press has gathered with infinite labour and vast expense? My attention has been directed to this subject from the personal experience I have had. Two or three years ago there was started a paper called The Politician, which appeared regularly every day, at half-past nine o'clock in the morning, and ready for the breakfast table. That paper consisted of all the leading articles in the morning newspapers, published some two or three hours earlier, and all the most important articles and state- 1998 ments of those papers. The newspapers combined in a body to put down that journal, but from the state of the law there was great difficulty in effecting that object, and I think it could hardly be accomplished. Now, what is the proposition of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer? It is divided into two parts—first, the right of copyright which it gives; and then the remedy that it applies. I certainly agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester with regard to the remedy, that a great deal may be said in opposition to it. But the same may be said of every proposal which desires to accomplish that which cannot be attained without the sacrifice of much that we have been in the habit of considering as necessary to justice. A prompt, speedy, and economical remedy is desired, and in proportion as we desire this we must give up much of the dignity and what we have been accustomed to connect with the due administration of justice. It is said in the clause that there shall be a property in every original article, letter, paragraph, communication, and composition which shall be for the first time published in every newspaper in this country. This clause is distorted by representing that it introduces the word "news." This is the criterion of the offence:—If any person shall, within twenty-four hours after the first publication of any original article, letter paragraph, communication, or composition in any such newspaper, print and publish any copy of such original article, letter, paragraph, communication, or composition, or of any material part thereof, or any colourable abridgment or alteration of the same.Now, the identity of the pirated copy with the original is to be ascertained in the same way as it is now ascertained with regard to larger and more costly publications—namely, by the identity with the language in which the communication is made. If the language of the original communication and that of the pirated copy are so plainly identical and so nearly resembling each other that it is impossible to mistake, that will be a common-sense criterion in the one case as in the other as to the fact of piracy having been committed. I am surprised to find my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. J. G. Phillimore) putting his finger upon the words "colourable abridgment," because, if my hon. and learned Friend is conversant with the law, he would know that these are the words 1999 which enter into every expression of the law as it now stands on this subject. The remedy is one that my hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) ought to be the last to object to, since it is taken from an Act framed by a Manchester Protectionist—I refer to the Act of Parliament brought in to protect copyright of design. Yet you have no difficulty in committing to a stipendiary magistrate, or two justices of the peace, the difficult question of copyright of design, while you have a difficulty in trusting these justices with the opportunity of detecting what every man of common sense could point out, the piracy of a paragraph or article allowed to be copyright, and allowing them to say whether the language is not the same, or whether the language of the one does not so nearly approach to the language of the other that it might be said the one is a piratical abridgment or a colourable imitation of the other. I think that any justice of the peace could discharge that duty, and that this is the proper occasion for not allowing the present state of the law to pass without alteration, and to introduce some improvement in the existing state of the law. I think my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done nothing more than his duty. If, however, the Committee should generally think that the public interests do not require him to proceed further, he will no doubt be content with having suggested the improvement, and will not further press it.
said, that after the last few words which had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General, it was almost unnecessary to continue the discussion, because he thought they could pretty well conjecture what was the meaning of those words. The real point they had to consider was, whether they could draw a distinction between news and original matter in a newspaper. He did not imagine that on the principle of the clause there was any great difference of opinion between Members on any side of the House. They had admitted a copyright in books, whether published anonymously or otherwise: and they ought consequently to be prepared to admit a copyright in all original compositions properly registered, whether anonymous or no. On the other hand, he supposed it would not be affirmed that the mere circumstance of making public a fact which had already taken place was a fair subject for a copyright. The ques- 2000 tion was, whether they could, by any legislative ingenuity, draw a distinction between the statement and the comment, between the simple narrative and the inference founded upon that narrative. He had not heard from the supporters of the clause the slightest attempt to solve that problem, and for his part be believed it to be absolutely insoluble. Admitting that a copyright could be recognised in the case in which an article had been copied word for word, how could it be recognised in the case of a colourable change of an article? They could not trust to mere similarity of argument, or to mere identity of ideas upon questions which were at one and the same time engaging the attention of hundreds of thousands of persons in the country. In that House itself they found every day Members, completely unconnected with one another, striking out the same line of argument, and working out that argument very nearly in the same language. He (Lord Stanley) had the honour to be a magistrate, and he confessed he should feel extremely perplexed at being placed in so invidious a position as to be called upon to decide so intricate and complicated a question. If you were to give a copyright of twenty-four hours, what would be the result? He would suppose a case that he himself had written a letter to a morning paper, which he wished also to appear in an evening paper of the same day. Why he and the printer of the evening paper could be legally made amenable, as the clause now stood. If you could distinguish between news and original matter, which seemed to him to be impossible, he would support the principle of the clause; but the distinction seemed to him one impossible to be drawn: he thought, therefore, the clause, if passed into a law, could not be administered; and should oppose it accordingly.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he hoped that before the Chancellor of the Exchequer withdrew the clause, he would give the Committee an assurance that he would devote his best consideration to devising some mode of reconciling different opinions on this point. There were few persons who did not feel in their hearts that some alteration of the present law was needed.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, that the great evil to be apprehended from the omission of some such clause as this from the Bill was, that the establishment of a cheap press, living piratically upon the existing newspapers, would lower the character of 2001 English journals, and would destroy their superiority in obtaining extensive and accurate information, and in calling forth talent of the highest description for the public service. It could not possibly answer for newspapers to lay out large sums of money in obtaining intelligence from a considerable distance, if it were immediately to become the property of the public, or of individuals interposing between the public and the journal originally publishing it. The provincial papers, he considered, could not be deteriorated by the passing of the clause, as had been argued, for of course all the respectable provincial newspaper proprietors would make their arrangements with the London papers, who went to the expense of obtaining valuable intelligence. They would pay their fair share of the outlay so incurred, and it would be only fair that those who did not pay should go without the news until it became generally known to the inhabitants of the locality. The outlay for obtaining intelligence was enormous, and the sums paid. for original compositions for our best newspapers were of very considerable amount; but what journal would consent to incur these heavy expenses if their best compositions could be immediately pirated by a swarm of cheap publications. Some time ago there was a weekly paper which made for itself a large circulation by getting early copies of all the other weekly papers, and transferring their best articles to its own pages. This no doubt would be the case with regard to the daily papers if the stamp were taken off, and the result would be a great falling off in that liberality and disposition to incur expense for intelligence or for talented compositions which now characterised our press. This would completely overbalance every advantage which the press might receive from the repeal of the stamp duty. At present the stamp duty did render it necessary that there should be a certain amount of capital and intelligence forthcoming for the establishment of a newspaper, and a certain degree of talent displayed in its management, but, without some such clause as this, all would be pulled down to one common level. Much had been said of the American journals; but he should be very sorry to see our journals brought down to their level, either in news, original composition, or in anything which conduced to the value and dignity of the press. With regard to anonymous writing, it was not generally from any desire on the part of 2002 the writers that such a system was adopted, but simply to suit the convenience of those arrangements by which several writers were made to co-operate together for one purpose, the editor or proprietor being put forward as the responsible person. It must not be forgotten that the letters of "Junius" were anonymous contributions to a newspaper; as were the letters of "Runnymede," which in their time had also produced considerable political effect. Coming to more recent times, was it not the articles in the press which had first created that impression on the public mind with respect to the conduct of the war which had called for and compelled the inquiry now in progress; and had it not been for the press, should we ever have had a chance of unravelling any of the causes by which our gallant army in the Crimea had been brought to so sad a pass? The country was under great obligations to the newspaper press, and its progress was an object which every Englishman ought to prize and endeavour to promote. With regard to the difficulties which it was said stood in the way of enforcing the law of copyright, these, he was of opinion, might be met. The legal opponents of the clause allowed its abstract justice, though why it should be called "abstract" justice he could not see, since it affected the pockets and interests of a large body of respectable persons. The Chairman of the Electric Telegraph Company (Mr. J. L. Ricardo), he perceived, was about to follow him, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman would tell them how his Company came by the news which it disseminated over the country. Was it their own agents who collected news for them at Vienna, and did they then communicate it to the leading journals? If it was not so, he did not see what greater right they had to make a profit of this news than a clerk in the Post Office would have to take advantage of the contents of any private letter which came under his notice; but if it were as he had described it, he could not sufficiently admire the generosity of the Company who spread so much news gratis throughout the country. He hoped some mode would be devised of establishing newspaper copyright, otherwise the House would inflict an injury on the press which would go far to destroy the benefit intended to be conferred on it by the abolition of the stamp.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
said, he could not allow the insinuations contained in the 2003 latter part of the hon. Member's speech to pass without an immediate answer. The hon. Member seemed to think that the despatches which passed through the telegraph were intercepted by the Telegraph Company on their way to the papers, and used by them for their own purposes. Now, the principle on which the Electric Telegraph Company had always been conducted was, that every despatch intrusted to them was delivered to the person to whom it was addressed, without any one, except the clerk through whose hands it passed, being aware of its contents. So soon as any intelligence, received in any manner, was published in the newspapers, it was immediately transmitted by the Electric Telegraph Company to every part of the country. When the list of the killed and wounded at the battle of the Alma arrived in this country, before half an hour it was transmitted by the telegraph to every principal town in the United Kingdom—to Aberdeen and Glasgow on the one hand, and to Plymouth and Exeter on the other; and he should certainly look with very great alarm on the passing of any law to prevent the transmission to all parts of the country of news of such universal interest. The Electric Telegraph Company purchased a copy of The Times, in which such intelligence was recorded, and they telegraphed it down to every town in the country; but, if they were not to do that, if there were no telegraph, then The Times would be sent down five or six hours after, and the article itself would be extracted and posted in the Exchange-rooms, or wherever the place might be, just exactly in the same manner as it would have been had the Electric Telegraph Company transmitted it. The only difference was, that the public saw the intelligence some hours before they otherwise would do, and the injury done to the papers was the same; it was neither more nor less, and the public enjoyed all the benefit of the transmission by telegraph. It was a distinct rule with the Electric Telegraph Company, that nothing should be transmitted that had not been previously printed in the newspapers. The Company did not take on themselves the responsibility of transmitting anything on their own authority, but, as had been explained by the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), they stated that they transmitted from The Times, The Post, or The Herald, certain intelligence of great interest which the public ought to know at once. He thought that the 2004 Committee ought to pause, even if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not set them the example of pausing, before they passed any such law as that involved in the present clause. It was not for the interest of the Telegraph Company that this clause should not pass into law; he as a public man should vote against the clause, but, as far as his private interest as chairman of the Telegraph Company was concerned, nothing could be more advantageous than that this clause should pass, because the public must have intelligence, and if one corn merchant wanted the prices of wheat at London or Dantsic, others also must have it, and if the Company were not allowed to transmit from The Times the prices current, to take which, of course, under the present clause, would be piracy, in such a case each individual merchant would have to transmit a private message for the prices. This would be of great advantage to the Telegraph Company, but a great disadvantage to the commercial interests of the country. He did not share in the alarm of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox), and he must confess that he could not understand why taking the stamp off rendered copyright protection necessary now if it was not necessary before. They had been told by the hon. and learned Solicitor General that Manchester would be flooded by a number of small newspapers containing the news of the London papers; but these small newspapers could not afford to have intelligence transmitted through the telegraph; they could only take it from the Manchester papers, which must, as at present, obtain their intelligence at some cost, and from them, at third, not first hand, the cheap papers would be obliged to take their intelligence. But, when the hon. Member for Oldham, in these days of penny encycloædias and cheap publications, told them that because papers were cheap they must deteriorate the press of this country, and that their articles must be injurious, he (Mr. Ricardo) had mistaken the hon. Gentleman's liberality in these matters, for he apparently did not think cheapness compatible with utility. He (Mr. Ricardo), so far from thinking that this measure would render the periodical papers cheap and injurious to the morals of the people, believed nothing would tend more to elevate their morals. He believed, moreover, that the public could discriminate between what was good and what was bad. They were the best judges of what they ought or ought not 2005 to buy and to read, and it was not for that House to decide for them.
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General, speaking with more candour than courtesy, had disposed of all the arguments used on his (Mr. Bentinck's) side of the House against the clause, by stating that they were mere "misrepresentations which Gentlemen on that side of the House delighted to indulge in." Without troubling the House with a repetition of these arguments, he would tell the Solicitor General that it was he who had misrepresented the arguments used on his (Mr. Bentinck's) side of the House. The Solicitor General had also stated that part of the due administration of justice must be put on one side, in order to carry out this clause. This, coming from so high a legal authority, was a conclusive argument against the clause, and after such an admission there could be little doubt as to how the Committee would deal with it.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Milnes) had by his notice on the paper raised so many puzzling questions for the Government, that he was afraid his hon. Friend wanted to coax them to try some other scheme, and he (Mr. Bright) had risen to express an opinion that, as the Government had already so many puzzling questions before them, they had better not unnecessarily involve themselves in another. The Committee, he believed, agreed that all persons who carried on, or were connected with, newspaper making, should do so in a way which would be remunerative to themselves, but it did not follow that it should be made remunerative by a clause so embarrassing as the present. If they took the paper which of all others had done most to circulate intelligence, which had expended the largest sums to obtain it, and which of all others was, from the value of its information, most liable to piracy, the House would find that there was no necessity for a clause of this kind, for it had been for years the most profitable business speculation that any number of men could have followed. He alluded, of course, to The Times. It had no reason to complain of this measure, neither had it made any complaint, but it had used this question as a leader to complain of something else which might be a grievance. At this moment, with The Times at 5d., surely, if there had been any chance of success, a paper could have been brought out at 2d., paying the stamp, 2006 and containing all that one desired to see; but such a paper could not be established, and, if it could, it could not restrict the sale of The Times. He (Mr. Bright) coming from Manchester, could not obtain The Times till he reached Rugby or Wolverton, and when in town, residing in St. James's Street, he could not obtain it till twelve or one o'clock, and one day, when he sent from his club to buy one, the newsvender told the boy he could not get a copy, and that he would give him 1s. for every copy he could obtain. Here, then, the House had a paper bringing news from all parts of the world, and nothing had hitherto withheld parties from pirating its leading articles and communications, publishing them in a paper at 2d., and paying the stamp. This had, indeed, been attempted by several papers, but had failed; one of them had been audacious enough to take an office next to The Times, but they did not let The Times know what they were going to do; and even made a contract to obtain steam from the boilers of The Times; so that they were going to obtain the steam of The Times in more senses than one. This paper, if it came out, did not last for many days, and he defied his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox) to point out an instance in which an attempt of this kind had succeeded. They had heard a great deal said about the American papers, and he generally found that when Gentlemen were in a difficulty as to what they should say on this question, they always had a kick at the American papers; he was sorry that he had not with him a paper which he had at home, containing a list of 300 persons employed on The New York Tribune. They had no copyright in America, and they never heard any complaints of piracy from The New York Herald, The Courier, and other American papers; the whole thing was a delusion, the people liked to buy what they wanted at first hand—this was so in America, and would be the same in this country. The piracy question had been got up for the moment for the purpose of preventing Members of this House from looking with favour on the Bill brought in by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or that which was introduced by his predecessor the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). The last time he (Mr. Bright) addressed the House on this subject, he read a paragraph from The Globe, copied from a Cambridge paper, which was hot on the subject of piracy, 2007 and it stated that those gentlemen who had been most concerned in the repeal of the stamp were preparing to bring out a paper, to engage in this buccaneering kind of business, and by inference charged him (Mr. Bright) and hon. Members who sat near him with this intention. The paragraph was placed in a prominent part of the paper, and everybody could sec the indignation which existed in the mind of The Globe, if The Globe had a mind, as to the question of piracy, but he took the liberty on that occasion of pointing out to the House that The Globe was the most expeditious, universal, and incessant pirate they had in this country. This clause, if passed and carried, would suppress The Globe altogether; and what did The Globe say when it was proposed? It looked at the question then from an entirely different point of view. That paper published a leading article against this clause infinitely more forcible and more logical than anything it had said before in favour of such a provision, showing conclusively that the clause would be most injurious, and, if it were operative, most unjust. The concluding paragraph was very judicious, and entirely agreed with his view of this matter. The Globe said—Our own opinion is, that the reputation of journals for priority of intelligence, and originality and vigour of writing, will prove their best protection. There is no pirating such a reputation; and little fear from piracy for those journals which have not acquired it.The Solicitor General had made some allusion to piracy which he said was being practised in the city of Manchester, and The Times of that morning had an article in which great indignation was evinced at a threepenny paper there which published news appearing in The Times. That paper was about the size of The Globe, and would no doubt be published at a lower price when the stamp was abolished; but he would undertake to say, there was no person connected with The Times who would declare that one single copy of that journal the less was sold in Manchester in consequence of these smaller papers which took portions of its news. It so happened that the paper in question had the news of the battle of the Alma just one day before it was published in London, and The Manchester Guardian, The Manchester Examiner, The Leeds Mercury, and papers of that class, frequently had very energetic and able correspondents in some portions of the Continent, so that it did not follow 2008 that because early news was published in Manchester it must necessarily, therefore, be taken from the London papers. A piece of intelligence appearing in the Manchester press might have come direct from Vienna, though it might be almost the same as that in The Times; and was The Times to be armed with power to send down to Manchester, and drag these respectable editors before two justices of the peace? The whole question had been torn to pieces, and shattered by the discussions which had taken place that evening; and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would agree with the Committee, and the Committee would agree with him, that the Bill should pass without any of these obnoxious clauses. He was satisfied that, if adopted, they would, if not inoperative, be injurious, and that next Session they would come before the House for repeal.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I apprehend, Sir, there is no doubt that, by the law as it at present stands, newspapers do enjoy a copyright for the original articles and other paragraphs inserted by them. In law, I conceive, it makes no difference whether a publication is anonymous or appears with the name of the author. It is a new doctrine—new to me at least—which I have heard preached to-night, that it is necessary, in order to enjoy a copyright, that the name of the author should appear. Take, for instance, the case of an encyclopædia. An encyclopædia publishing anonymous articles unquestionably enjoys the same copyright as a poem, a history, or an original work published with the name of the author. It has, however, been found in practice that the greatest difficulties exist in enforcing the legal claim to copyright which a newspaper enjoys. A newspaper proprietor can neither, in effect, apply to a court of equity for an injunction to prevent the publication of an article, when that publication is so ephemeral, nor can he, with any probability of success, enter an action for damages. In introducing a measure, therefore, by which the number of cheap newspapers would be largely augmented, it was felt by Her Majesty's Government to be a matter of common justice to the proprietors of existing newspapers to give them an effectual remedy by which their present rights might be enforced. With that view the clause now under the consideration of the Committee was prepared and submitted to them, as it was thought but just to guard 2009 the rights and interests of existing newspapers. But, Sir, after the manner in which that proposition has been received on both sides of the House, I do not consider it is incumbent upon me to urge the matter further, and I shall not, therefore, press the clause upon the Committee. The object which I had in view was, that this question should be fairly considered by the Committee, that they might see what was the existing state of the law, and how far it met the circumstances of the case. If they believe that there is no danger of considerable abuse, and if they prefer to wait until the effect of the present measure has been felt and developed in practice, so as to see whether any additional remedies are needed, I can make no objection to that course, and therefore I shall not think it necessary to press this clause.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I am very glad, Sir, to hear the right hon. Gentleman has come to the conclusion of withdrawing the clause. He has told us that as the law now stands newspapers have a right to copyright. No doubt there are many rights which exist at present, but which are never asserted. There is the right of free warren, for instance. I know many individuals who possess that right, but I do not suppose there is any one who would exercise it. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) has spoken of our press as compared with the American press, and has alluded to the fears of those who apprehend that very injurious consequences are about to ensue to our press in consequence of this measure becoming law. Now, I believe myself that the tendency of this alteration in the law is to assimilate the press of this country to the American press. But the tone of the American press is not occasioned by laws of this kind, but that tone is lower than the tone of the English press because it is the press of a younger country, and, therefore, there are many influences at work in England which have elevated, and which will raise for a considerable time, the tone of the English press. But the tendency of this legislation is no doubt to lower the tone of the English press, because that tendency is to lower its enterprise, the amount of capital invested in it, and the degree of talent enlisted in the exercise of its functions. We have, however, at the present moment opportunities of counteracting to a certain degree what we may consider the injurious effects of the proposition of the Govern- 2010 ment in this particular case. I think we are bound, if we do not admit a copyright—and I am myself opposed to any such admission, because I think that, in the first place, it is on a great scale impossible, and in every respect vexatious—I say, I think we are bound to facilitate as much as possible the competition of the newspaper which invests and employs a larger capital, and which engages a greater amount of talent than all those journals which are in a very different and contrary position. My own opinion is, that the proposition of The Times newspaper, which has been alluded to this evening by one or two Members in a certain spirit of derision, is a just and sound proposition; and if you say that you will give no copyright to a newspaper at present existing, you are bound to facilitate in every possible manner its means of competition with all other journals which may pirate its news and its intellect. At the proper time, therefore, I shall support that Amendment which will propose that newspapers should circulate by the post without any limitation as to weight. I think, under these circumstances, you will be able to remove to some extent the injustice which must necessarily be committed, and which no one can doubt in theory exists as regards the newspaper which invests capital and engages talent, when placed in opposition to the journal which does neither the one nor the other. But, practically, will it happen that an established London newspaper existing on the present scale will suffer by this kind of competition? I doubt it. At the present moment—as has been remarked almost to surplusage in this discussion—the system of piracy exists. At a club you may receive information of what occurs in this House this very evening. You can get the condensed news of the debate there, but does that prevent you from taking in the morning paper which gives you that debate more at length and more authentically? The same thing occurs when you come to compare the circumstances of a distant town with those of the metropolis. The public will, depend upon it, always go to the fountain head. There is no possibility by any piracy, or by cribbing in the contemptible mode in which all these forms of larceny are executed, of your competing with the original article—that which appeals to your sentiment, your reason, and your sense of utility in a thousand ways in which the stolen article is deficient. And I feel persuaded that we 2011 shall not in the long run lower the tone of English journalism provided we study, by every possible means, to facilitate the communication of intelligence. I am asked to give a copyright in news. Now, my idea is, that it is my duty to facilitate the communication of intelligence, and, in order to facilitate the communication of intelligence, I must not give a copyright in news, but rather devise some mode by which intelligence can be circulated so that the largest number of people in the country can become acquainted with it. An hon. Gentleman, anticipating that the principle of copyright in newspaper literature might be conceded, has ventured to maintain that the only condition on which that principle ought to be conceded is, that no copyright should be allowed in the case of anonymous literary compositions. By the present law of England, we do not in point of fact give a copyright to an anonymous writer, because it is the possessor of a copyright, and not the creator of a copyright, who by our laws possesses a vested right in the composition. I am far from inclined to throw any discouragement upon the proposition of my noble Friend the Member for North Northumberland (Lord Lovaine); indeed, I have more than once had the pleasure of conversing with him on the subject. No doubt there is something that recommends itself to every manly mind in the principle that every one should be responsible for the sentiments he expresses, but if you come to practice, it is very doubtful whether you will be able to secure that result. What law can you devise by which you can secure that the writer of a leading article in a journal should certainly be known to every one who reads that article? You may pass a law making it incumbent that a name shall be signed to each article in a newspaper; but what name will appear? How can you secure that it will be the name of the writer? No doubt there are circumstances under which such a law would increase the authority of the press. The writer who bears an illustrious name would not hesitate to sign it, and thus increase the influence of the article and the circulation of the journal; but the writer who does not bear an illustrious name, though he may sign one that may become celebrated, will hesitate before he signs it; and you may have a formal and technical signature, but one utterly inoperative for the purpose you require, and the result will be far from bringing under your scrutiny and supervision the names of those you suspect 2012 or wish to become acquainted with. My noble Friend has spoken to-night of what he terms the calumnies of the public journals of this country. My noble Friend thought himself justified, no doubt, in the remarks he made, from certain circumstances which may be fresh in his mind and memory; but I think, on the whole, that my noble Friend expressed an opinion that cannot be justified with regard to the newspapers of this country. That they may be arrogant, that they may employ the liberty which, fortunately for this country, they possess, in a manner which some of us may often regret, is very possible; but that the general tendency of their labours is to maintain the public spirit of the country and to guard and uphold the public liberties, I think no impartial person can for a moment doubt. Several hon. Members, and particularly an hon. Gentleman opposite, have referred to-night to anonymous writing. Why, Sir, anonymous writing is not the exception, but it is the rule of the literature of this country. It does not apply to political literature alone, but it applies, on the contrary, to the whole of the literature of the country. Who wrote Thomas à Kempis? Nobody knows. Who wrote the Whole Duty of Man? Now, there is a book which every one of us ought to have studied—which for generations our predecessors have studied—which has had more editions than any book in the world, and which is not a scandalous book, a libellous book, or a political book, but which is an anonymous book. I noticed some anonymous works that occurred to me when the hon. Gentleman was speaking, and leaving the higher order of literature—religious literature—Thomas à Kempis and the Whole Duty of Man—let me ask who was the author of Waverley? An anonymous writer. Who was the author of Robinson Crusoe? An anonymous writer. Who was the author of A Vindication of Natural Society? Why, one who became afterwards one of the most brilliant ornaments of this House, to whom we are always referring as the most eloquent of orators, the most profound of sages, and if we mention him as a statesman it is only to abuse the Whigs for not having placed him in the Cabinet—I mean Mr. Burke. What are the most brilliant performances of political literature? What are those works that were written by one who in this House occupied the highest post, whose name will ever be remembered, and whose oratory, 2013 though a tradition, still lives in the memory of the nation—I mean Lord Bolingbroke. What are Lord Bolingbroke's works? All those works which we are continually quoting are anonymous. When told of anonymous writing, I referred naturally to the most brilliant and permanent creations of the imagination—and I remembered that one of the finest poems in the English language—the Essay on Man—was an anonymous work. Really, therefore, when we remember these instances which have only this moment occurred to me, and recall the hundred other examples which might be collected, it is too absurd, in speaking of anonymous writing, merely to appeal to the leading articles of a newspaper, or to the political letters to which the hon. Gentleman has referred. I cannot help thinking that in effecting a very great change, which in its original conception I believe to have been just, but which, as applied by the present Government, seems to me to be uncertain, cumbrous, and unsatisfactory, we have in this instance to combat and meet a difficulty which it is in vain for us to cope with. We cannot give to the rumour, or to the whisper of the day or of the hour, even if authentic, the same permanent privileges which we would give to an epic poem or to one of those histories which are possessions for ever. We are bound to give to the communication of intelligence the utmost facilities which the law will permit, and the provisions of this Bill, which are to limit and restrict the circulation of newspapers or works, on which so much intelligence is expended, so much talent employed, and so much capital employed—the attempts to restrict the privileges of the Post Office according to the weight of the paper, by singling out the particular qualities which make it interesting to the multitude, are, I think, not to be tolerated. But while you assert that all the news a journal circulates, all the charms of thought or expression it may diffuse, cannot have that miserable privilege and monopoly of a few hours which has been suggested, while you assert that that would be incompatible with our civilisation and the age and manners in which we live, at the same time it is intolerable and not to be endured that we should by artificial restrictions hamper the circulation of intelligence. Let me impress upon the Committee that it is our interest that the newspapers in this country should be supported by the capital and fed by the intelligence 2014 of the country, because it is only by this mode that we can retain the superiority of the English press, and maintain that superiority over the American newspapers to which hon. Members have so often referred during this discussion.
§ LORD LOVAINE
said, he must beg to explain that he had not proposed to compel the authors of any articles, except those who claimed the right which would be conferred by the present clause, to sign their names. No man was more ready than himself to acknowledge the talent which was displayed by the writers in the public press, but it was the maxim of English law that no man could have a right in another's wrong, and upon that principle lie thought that leading articles in a newspaper which contained libellous matter upon individuals ought not to come within the protection of the law.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, he did not think that the Essay on Man, referred to by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) was published anonymously, and as to Thomas à Kempis, he would beg to inform the right hon. Gentleman that it was written by Thomas à Kempis, the author of another treatise entitled De Imitatione Christi.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he was sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman disagreed from him, but he had in his possession a copy of the first edition of the Essay on Man, and he could state that it was published anonymously. Who Thomas à Kempis was he thought no one had ever known, but if the hon. and learned Gentleman could inform him he would be much obliged for the information.
§ Clause withdrawn.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he would now beg to bring forward the clause of winch he had given notice. He felt himself in a peculiarly difficult position in moving this clause, because his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had, in dealing with another subject, anticipated almost everything he had intended to say with regard to it, and compelled him in a great measure to rely upon his arguments. The immediate object of the clause which he held in his hand was to take as the measure which might be transmitted through the post for 1d. a standard rather above that of the paper which had the largest circulation. He might be asked why he had chosen dimension rather than weight. To that he would reply that in such cases weight was uncertain, and if 2015 the Act became one of a permanent character, under the competition which it might give rise to there might arise circumstances connected with the manufacture of paper itself which would render weight no criterion as to the amount of matter contained, and he had, therefore, felt it to be his duty to shape this clause in accordance with the 17th of Victoria, cap. 3. He found that his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he brought in a Bill to alter the Stamp Act, had thought that it was only justice to take as the measure for transmission by post the dimensions of the largest paper then in circulation, and he (Mr. Milnes) now asked the Committee, in altering the present law, to take as the measure of dimension the largest paper at present in circulation. It had been said that it would be much better not to enter on the question of weight or dimension, but to allow any daily paper to be transmitted by post for 1d., without regard to its weight or size; and it had been argued that by confining that concession to the daily papers it would be without the range of possibility that any very extraordinary weight would be imposed upon the Post Office. In reply to that opinion, the argumentum ad absurdum had been used, and it bad been asked whether, if the editor of a newspaper chose to wrap himself up in a copy of his own journal, he would be conveyed through the Post Office for 1d.; but the argument which really most weighed with him was, that he did not see how such a concession could be made to the daily papers alone without acting most injuriously and unjustly upon and against the provincial and weekly papers, and upon that consideration he had felt that he could not fairly argue the question upon the ground of conveying the daily papers through the post for 1d. without any limitation whatever as to their size. He hoped that the Government would not have any objection to lay it down as a principle that the daily papers of the metropolis, which had by their diligence, exertion, and ability raised themselves to the position of distributing over the whole length and breadth of the kingdom an amount of intellectual matter never produced in the same way in any other nation, should enjoy a full share of justice, and that their chances of circulation should not be diminished at a moment when power was being given to very large papers to 2016 circulate an unlimited number of copies within a certain radius without going to the expense of a stamp. This was, he thought, a matter of simple justice to newspapers which Members of that House had become accustomed to look upon almost as political rivals, and of which it was impossible, however one might disagree from the principles contained in them, to think without respect. All that those papers asked for was, that they should not be placed in an unfair position, but that they should be allowed a reasonable chance of keeping up the high intellectual position which they now enjoyed. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone) stated the other day that the question of weight was at present so nicely balanced that the railways were unable to carry into the country by the early trains a complete supply of The Times; that portion of the paper containing news being sent by the early trains, and the supplement by later trains. He (Mr. Milnes) had made inquiries on the subject, and he found that, though the fact was true, the inference was entirely false. The question was one depending altogether upon the manipulation of newspapers; and now, when the circulation of newspapers was so considerably increased, in consequence of the war, the difficulty of manipulating the large number of The Times required to be transmitted by the early trains was too great to be overcome, and it was solely on this account, and not in consequence of the excessive weight, that one portion of the paper was conveyed by one train and the remaining portion by another He did not think that, if the present Bill should be passed, it would have the effect of destroying or even seriously injuring the great metropolitan journals, for he believed they had sufficient energy and power to overcome any difficulties to which they might be subjected by the measure. Hon. Gentlemen were aware that when, during the last century, a penny stamp was imposed upon periodicals, it was predicted that such publications would be destroyed; but the Spectator, though shaken temporarily, not only survived the blow, but rose with redoubled vigour; and in the very last article, in the seventh volume of the Spectator, Sir Richard Steele congratulated himself that that paper, by the buoyancy of its own merit, had attained an enormous circulation in defiance of the stamp. Although, however, the Spectator of that day, and the best periodicals of the present day, might 2017 possibly survive such an injury, it was impossible to avoid the reflection that the Spectator might have had a tenfold circulation if it had not been subjected to that stamp. He had no doubt the newspapers of the present day would derive great advantage from the abolition of the stamp which now limited their circulation, and he asked the Committee, as a matter of public policy and justice, to assent to his proposal. He did not ask a privilege for one newspaper or another, but he asked them to enable every newspaper, metropolitan or provincial, to rise to the same height of intellectual merit, to deserve the same public attention, and to exercise the same influence over the country as had been attained and were exercised by the leading journals of the metropolis. He asked them to assent to his proposal in recognition of the merit of those great newspapers which formed their daily delight. If they neglected this opportunity they might have cause for permanent regret hereafter, when they discovered that they had destroyed or damaged an important means of promoting the intellectual advancement of the country.Every periodical publication that shall be printed and published at intervals not exceeding seven days between the two consecutive parts or numbers of such publication, and the superfices of which shall not exceed three thousand five hundred inches of printed matter, shall be entitled to the said privilege of transmission and re-transmission by the Post, if duly stamped with the appropriate die of one penny: Provided always, That such publication shall be subject to the terms and conditions imposed in the third Clause of this Act.
§ Clause brought up, and read 1°.
§ MR. COWAN
said, he thought he owed an apology, or at least an explanation, to the Committee for not having pressed the Amendments of which he had given notice. Having found, however, that those Amendments were unpalatable to the Government, that they were objected to by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone), and also by the noble Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), whose manly and independent conduct on this question did him great credit, he felt it would have been very unwise on his part if he had pressed them upon the attention of the Committee. He thought, considering the various parties whose interests were affected, and taking into account also the transition state of the Post Office in connection with the duties it was called upon to discharge, that that House was 2018 a very unfit tribunal to determine what amount of weight or charge should be fixed, and that the subject was one which should be left to the decision of the Executive Government. He imagined that the Government would not be disposed to assent to the Motion of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) now under the consideration of the Committee, which seemed to be based upon the assumption that the State must convey by post any amount of weight. There were newspapers in existence, such as The Illustrated London News, with its supplements, which weighed as much as ten ounces, and if the Committee agreed that newspapers of the dimensions of 3,500 inches should be carried at a rate of one penny, he did not see why they should not go a step further, and convey such papers as The Illustrated London News at the same rate. He wished to call the attention of the Committee to the enormous weight of newspapers the Post Office now carried, as contrasted with what was the case forty or fifty years ago. He found, from an article in The European Magazine of 1808, that the number of newspapers in England in 1782 was fifty-two; in 1790, sixty; and in 1801, 135. The number of newspapers in Scotland in these respective years was eight, seven, and thirty-one; and in Ireland, three, nine, and fifty-six. The circulation of the London morning papers in 1808 was 16,000; of evening papers, 14,000; of Sunday papers, 25,000; of weekly papers, 20,000; and of others, 10,000; making, as the writer of the article observed, the "enormous number" of 85,000 newspapers, using five tons of paper in the course of a week. There was another article on the subject in The European Magazine of 1822, when the circulation of The Times was stated to be 5,700. The average daily circulation of that journal at the present time was stated to be 60,000. The circulation of The Observer in 1822 was stated to be 6,860, of The Morning Chronicle 3,180, and of The St. James's Chronicle 3,700; and the writer of the article, after referring to the circulation of other journals, goes on to observe that the result presented an extraordinary proof of the activity of the periodical press. How would the writer have been astonished if he had seen the progress that had been since made in extending the circulation of the newspapers! Instead of the consumption of paper by the London press being five tons a week, as was the case in 1808, it was 2019 now between 130 and 150 tons weekly. He believed The Times alone, published on one sheet, would consume twenty-five tons of paper weekly, and if published on two sheets, the consumption would be annually 48,000 tons. Now what was done towards despatching this enormous weight of newspapers by railway? It was stated before the Committee, which had considered the subject of the conveyance of mails by railway, that last year the average weight of the mails that left London daily was 279 cwt., of which 219 cwt. consisted of newspapers. It was clear that if the weight of newspapers sent by post continued to increase, duties would be thrown upon the Post Office which could not be properly discharged, and very considerable delay must probably take place in the transmission of the mails, notwithstanding the ingenious contrivances that had been adopted for depositing the mails at the various stations without materially checking the speed of the trains. It appeared to him, then, very important that the House of Commons should impose such a rate of charge for conveying newspapers as would duly remunerate the Post Office for the service it was called upon to perform. He believed that cheap newspapers, of a small size—about the size of those published twenty or thirty years ago—would be of great advantage to some classes of the community, for the newspapers now published, however ably conducted, were inconveniently large. If we were to have cheap papers, why should we impose so high a postage as 1d. for what perhaps might not weigh more than one ounce? He was much disappointed at the Government not taking the plan which he had pointed out to them into their favourable consideration, as he believed it would have proved beneficial to the press, to which this country owed so large a debt of gratitude. The adoption of the universal penny receipt stamp was likely to prove highly advantageous to the revenue; and this fact ought to encourage the Government to make at least an experiment in the way of cheap postage for newspapers.
understood that the principle which his hon. Friend (Mr. Milnes) wished to affirm was this—that everything in the shape of a newspaper should be transmitted through the post at the same charge of 1d., altogether irrespective of its bulk or weight. That he understood to be the principle of his proposal, because, though he took a limit, he took one that 2020 would cover the size of the largest newspaper now known, and he was prepared to increase the limit indefinitely so as to cover the largest size that could be published. He agreed with his hon. Friend when he said this was a question of simple justice; but he did not think that justice lay on the side which his hon. Friend contended for. The Committee could not deal with this question as if it were personal to any particular journal. If they did so, they would be acting on no sound basis of ascertained principle, and the result would only be inextricable confusion. He understood the principle of the Bill before them to be generally this—that, whereas formerly we had a tax on newspapers imposed on certain conditions, we were now asked to abolish that tax and substitute for it a simple postal charge. A tax, properly so called, might be in itself unequal; it might fall more severely on one class than on another; and yet that inequality, the result of the incidence of the tax, might be balanced by countervailing advantages, which would make an apparently unfair tax fair in reality. A postal charge, on the other hand, was the result of a contract between the Government and the public, by which the Government undertook for a certain compensation to perform a certain service. Now, what we were bound to observe in such a case was, that the charge imposed should always and in every case be proportioned to the service rendered. That was the fair principle of a contract, and we were especially bound to adhere to it in regard to such contracts as those between the public and the Post Office, where the latter possessed a legal monopoly. Now, what his hon. Friend proposed was to carry any weight to which a newspaper might extend through the Post Office at the same price—an unlimited weight to be carried for an unlimited number of miles. Would he apply that principle to all printed matter and to all letters as well? It was laid down clearly the other night that we desired neither to give the newspapers any advantage on the one hand, nor to put them under any disadvantage on the other, as compared with other matter passing through the post. If we carried them on terms exceptionally unfavourable we were taxing them, which the House had declared its intention not to do; if we carried them on terms exceptionally favourable we were subsidising them, which would be equally impolitic, and, in regard to other interests, 2021 most unjust. Or was it proposed to carry this principle to all printed matter and to all private documents? [Mr. MILNES: No.] Then it would be unnecessary for him to argue that question. But let the Committee recollect that a letter weighing under half an ounce was sent for 1d., while the largest newspaper printed, and weighing nearly six ounces, was to be sent also for 1d., according to the proposition of his hon. Friend. Thus the privilege given to the newspaper was twelve times greater than that given to the letter, and, in addition, there would be the privilege of retransmission. The newspaper might pass six times through the Post Office in the week; and these two being multiplied—the weight by the quantity—it would be found that we were conferring on the newspaper seventy-two times the amount of postal privilege we were conferring on the letter. He did not see any argument of justice or sound policy that could be urged in favour of such a proposal as that. If he were asked what principle ought to be acted upon in the matter, he should have no hesitation in laying it down, with this qualification in practice, that they had to deal with vested interests, and that at the present moment they could not afford to incur any unnecessary loss of revenue. The fair principle, he thought, was this—to carry a certain quantity, say four ounces, of all matter, whether printed or manuscript, for the same sum of 1d. Let there be no distinction between printed matter and manuscript letters, but let them all be carried equally at the same rate. He was speaking of what, in justice, ought to be done; but in dealing with the subject, under present circumstances, we must remember that we could not afford to lose any revenue—though, if we came to argue that point, it might be found that the additional revenue derived from letters weighing upwards of half an ounce was less than might be supposed, and, therefore, that that difficulty might not be so formidable as some people imagined. For the present, however, they must leave the postage of letters alone, anomalous as it might be. We should also have to tolerate another anomaly, and that was the privilege of retransmission. Already we were sending eight times the weight of newspaper matter through the post for the same price at which we sent manuscript matter under half an ounce, and that eight-fold advantage we added to by sending the newspapers during the week for as many 2022 times as their owners pleased. He thought, therefore, that sufficient allowance had already been made for the interests of journalism, and that, if these privileges were further extended, the Committee would only be stultifying former legislation by re-enacting privileges which they had only a few weeks before formally abolished.
§ MR. LOWE
said, he was sure that the Committee would believe him when he stated that he ventured to address them upon this subject with great reluctance, and that he should not be induced to do so did he not believe that he could give them some little information with regard to it. He apprehended the principle on which they were to decide this question was not that laid down by the noble Lord who had last addressed them. The noble Lord had argued the question as if they were about to establish a totally new principle for the conveyance of printed and written matter through the Post Office. It might or might not be right for the House of Commons to do so, but he would not enter into that subject, because it was not the question before them. The question simply was whether 1d. should be the amount of postage to be charged upon a certain quantity of matter published at intervals within a certain date? Whether that were just or unjust depended materially upon the principle which was applied in viewing the question, and he submitted that it should not be the principle which had been laid down by the noble Lord. It could hardly have escaped the Committee, and the noble Lord must himself have felt it, that his argument suffered from some amount of inconsistency, because the noble Lord was very much shocked at the disparity of carrying six ounces of a newspaper for 1l. and a letter, under half an ounce, for the same amount; but the noble Lord was not shocked at the disparity, almost equally startling, of carrying four ounces and half an ounce for 1d. They must fix upon a principle, however, and apply it strictly, fairly, and logically. The noble Lord's principle would appear to be to treat newspapers and letters as the same, and to apply the same rule of postage by weight to all. He did not gather how the noble Lord intended to accomplish this; but, if he might be allowed the phrase, he thought that the proposition was "practically impracticable. "If the noble Lord took letters as his guide, he would impose a rate upon newspapers, which, however just according to the noble Lord's abstract theory, would 2023 effectually exclude them from the Post Office. If, on the other hand, he took newspapers as his guide, and carried letters at the rate of four ounces for 1d., he would make such an enormous invasion into the postage revenue that it would be impossible to conduct the establishment upon such a basis; because, in the case of large concerns, a number of letters would be sent under one envelope, and the Post Office would lose a considerable amount of postage. If he took letters, then, as his guide, he would exclude newspapers from the Post Office, and if he began with newspapers, he would charge too little for letters exceeding the ordinary weight to permit of the establishment being remunerative. He therefore submitted that the proposal of the noble Lord was not a practical one. Let them look at this question as men of business, and what, he asked, was the fact? The truth was, that the Post Office existed mainly and primarily for the purpose of carrying letters. Those letters paid the expenses of the Post Office, and if it did not carry a single newspaper it would be impossible to diminish the expenses of the establishment in any respect, because it would be necessary to maintain it for the purpose of carrying the letters alone. Mr. Rowland Hill had given his sanction to this statement, and, therefore, there could be no doubt about it. The principle, then, he apprehended, upon which the Government had hitherto proceeded was this—here was the Post Office existing for the purpose of carrying letters, and having, as it were, a surplus facility for the purpose of carrying other matter, and Parliament, being of opinion that the conveyance of newspapers was a great public benefit, which was worthy of being encouraged, had chosen to carry newspapers at a rate infinitely cheaper than that which was imposed upon letters, and to give them the privilege of being transmitted and retransmitted through the Post Office ad infinitum. Unless the Committee would grant him that there was some public policy in carrying newspapers cheaper than letters, there would be nothing for it but to treat them both alike, and to charge newspapers at the same rate as letters. He concluded, therefore, that there was some public policy in carrying newspapers cheaply, and he imagined that the Government saw no reason for changing that principle. That was the ground upon which he had started. In a country like this, free communication, freedom of 2024 knowledge, and freedom of intelligence were the very lifeblood of the constitution. It was by such means that people acquired their information; by it the public were made participators virtually in the deliberations of that House, and every one who addressed them in that chamber had the advantage of addressing, in fact, the whole civilised world. He thought that that was no small advantage, and that it was one which the Legislature had done wisely to consider. He came next to the question, what was the limit which ought to be imposed? The limit at present was 2,295 inches. Was it enough, or was it too little? That was the practical question. He could only illustrate it by a reference to the most prominent case which existed—that of The Times newspaper—which had been frequently referred to in the course of these debates. The case of The Times was this—when it printed twelve pages, as it did three days a week, its limits did not exceed 2,295 inches, and it was then enabled to print its impressions upon a penny stamp; but when it printed sixteen pages, as it did on three other days of the week, it had to pay an additional halfpenny in the shape of stamp duty, which, upon a sale of 60,000 copies, cost the proprietors of The Times 125l.; and when to that amount was added the extra expense of paper and printing, he was told, and he believed it, that the extra supplements were not remunerative. The proprietors of The Times, however, had no choice but to publish these supplements, unless they preferred to send away advertisements. It was a necessity imposed upon them by the nature of the news and the advertisements which they published that, three times a week, this additional expense of 125l. a day should be imposed upon them. Were that a uniform charge upon the proprietors of The Times, it might be met by an addition of one halfpenny to the price of the newspaper, and then the expense would be transferred to the reader; but as the charge was only an occasional one, it fell upon The Times itself. He would scorn the notion of arguing a question of this sort with reference to only one newspaper; but the matter affected a whole class, and what was the case with reference to The Times to-day might be that—and he sincerely hoped that it would be—of other newspapers in a few years. See how the circulation of The Times itself had increased within the last few years. In 1808 it was somewhere 2025 about 5,000, in 1841 it was 11,000, and now it was 60,000. What was there to prevent the other papers doing the same thing? Upon what principle, then, he asked, should they fix a limit, upon the size of newspapers? Why insist that newspapers, after exceeding a certain size, should pay an increased amount of taxation? Upon what ground should they select a particular stage of advancement in a newspaper in order to levy a severe fine upon it? The Committee appeared to be of opinion that there was no limit to the size of a daily newspaper; but that he apprehended to be a mistake—the very circumstances of the case put a limit upon the size. First of all there was a natural limit. The news of the day and the advertisements of the day, to be followed by the news and advertisements of the next day, imposed one limit. Another limit was the quantity which a man could possibly read and get through in the course of a day; and he was certainly inclined to think that that limit had been reached already. But, besides these, there was another limit which was certain to prevent the increase of newspapers beyond a certain size. It was quite obvious—for considerations palpable enough—that it was not the interest of the daily newspaper, however large and well conducted, to raise its price above its fellows; and therefore it was that we had the publications of The Times and The Globe sold at the same price. It was not a case in which the proprietors of the former journal could raise their price, because the competition of other newspapers kept down the price to their limit. There was, therefore, always a struggle on the part of that journal to keep itself within the amount which it could publish without a loss in its circulation. There were two sources from which a newspaper derived its income—its sale and its advertisements. There were also two sources of expenditure—that which varied as the circulation, and that which was implied in filling the newspaper with the matter which it contained and that which was incurred once for all. It was quite evident, therefore, that while the price of the former item increased, and that at which the newspaper was sold remained the same, the paper might grow at length to such an extent that the "circulation" alone would cease to return a profit. Under those circumstances, it was absolutely necessary to put a limit to the increase of the circulation. That point The Times had reached. The 2026 hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) had himself mentioned the difficulty of getting a copy of The Times, and the premium at which copies of that paper were; and how did he account for it? How did they account for the fact that a newspaper proprietary, influenced alone by a regard for their own interest, should neglect to supply the article in which it dealt? The reason was obvious, that matters had come to a point when The Times was necessitated to contract its circulation. Their apprehension was, lest the increasing the circulation should become the means of a loss; and any loss would be very serious, because it would be immediately multiplied by 60,000. That was the state in which things were now with respect to that paper, and at which every paper sooner or later must arrive. There being then a natural limit to the size of a daily newspaper, he asked the House whether it was worth while, merely for the purpose of raising a halfpenny more, to throw these embarrassments and difficulties in the way of the natural and legitimate increase of the circulation of newspapers. He would not advert to any other considerations than those of justice, but he did think that the morning newspapers of the metropolis, of which there were six, stood in a very different position from the rest of the papers of the country. They were the fountains of intelligence, from which all other papers circulating in these realms extracted their information. The original matter came from them which was disseminated through a thousand channels. He did not complain of that; he believed it to be the natural law of such things, which the very publicity of newspapers rendered inevitable. He would not go into the question of copyright, the Committee having offered so decided an opinion upon that point, but he must say that, ill his opinion, some description of newspaper property was fairly entitled to a protection of this kind, for he thought that where gentlemen, for instance, were sent to the Crimea to write home accounts of the progress of events, it was an invasion of literary rights that, before the ink with which such intelligence was printed was well dry, the intelligence itself should be transferred to the pages of an evening paper, filling up whole columns, and it was confusing right and wrong not to say so. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) that they were subjecting existing newspapers, particularly the 2027 morning papers, which supplied the great mass of information, to a most severe and unfair competition, though he had no sympathy with the feelings of the proprietors of country newspapers, who had petitioned the House in a sort of Protectionist spirit. He thought there was no justice in their complaint, and was glad the House had not listened to it, but if they recognised the principle of treating newspapers invariably in the Post Office, they ought not to violate that principle in the case of the largest newspaper, employing the most capital, and from whose labours and expenditure the public derived the greatest benefits. He did not ask them for a copyright, for he never wished to see one; but he did think, when they were imposing a postage upon newspapers, the question they ought to consider should not be so much a question of simple postage as of imposing it equally on all. It was of the greatest consequence that the newspapers of the country should be kept up to the high standard at which they now confessedly stood, and the way to keep them up would be to allow those newspapers upon which the most money and the greater talent were expended to circulate in the country districts with as much freedom and as little expense as possible. He asked for bare justice, and he would only add, as an allusion had been made to hon. Members truckling to the press, that if it would ill become hon. Members to truckle to the press, still less would it become the press to truckle to hon. Members.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
I had some difficulty, Sir, in understanding precisely what the proposition was, until I heard the hon. Member who has just sat down. It is simply this: that there is a case for relief to The Times newspaper—I do not know that any other large paper was mentioned—in respect to transmission through the post; and that whereas The Times, with its double supplement full of most profitable advertisements—now pays a freight of 1½d. for carriage through the post, for the future it shall only pay for the carriage of the same profitable cargo the sum of 1d. In other words, that ½d. shall be deducted from the public revenue. I ask the Committee, is this a case for relief? Now, I am prepared to make this proposition to The Times. I will pay that ½d. freely for the extra sheet of advertisements, if they will give to me the money which they receive from their advertising connection. I will bind myself legally to that bargain— 2028 to pay the ½d., if I may receive the money paid for advertisements. There is no doubt it is a great benefit to the public that the Post Office should carry what the public wants as cheaply as possible; but I contend that we must have regard to what can be done in the way of cheapness, and that we are not to tax the public to carry The Times newspaper, or any other paper, by offering to do it at a less charge than it costs. If we can carry a periodical publication the size of The Times and its double supplement for 1d. without loss, we can carry all other publications of the same weight and the same size without loss; because the Post Office cannot take into consideration the contents, but merely the weight and the bulk. And, therefore, there can be no loss in carrying all, if we can carry The Times without loss at this rate. Then, I ask my hon. Friend (Mr. M. Milnes), why does he not propose to carry all? And if he cannot carry all, I say, why is the public to be taxed to carry a large newspaper full of profitable advertisements? What has been the course in reference to The Times newspaper? I am prepared to carry it at the lowest possible charge at which it can be carried, so as to cover the costs to the public. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer took the stamp off the first supplement to The Times.Formerly The Times and a single supplement had to pay a tax of 1½d. to go through the post; and not only that, but, in order to have the postal privilege, it was required to pay the 1½d. upon its whole impression. For the future, only those particular copies that go through the post will have to pay the tax; and that is a considerable relief, by exempting a large proportion of the impression from that duty. The return of ½d. stamps, only issued during 1854, gave something over a total amount of 20,000l. a year. Well, that stamp was taken off; nobody objected to it; but what was the effect? Did the public get any benefit? Did not everybody pay 5d. for The Times as usual? Was the expense of printing The Times, of getting it up, or collecting the news, greater than before? Not at all. If they paid the same, and got the same price for their paper, where, I want to know, went this 20,000l. a year? I say that that was a great boon to The Times. It was granted; nobody objected. But when they come here and tell us that The Times newspaper is injured, and has a claim for relief, I say it is a monstrous appeal, and that this House 2029 ought to resist it. I, for one, most certainly, shall record my vote against the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract, because I am sure that if you repeal this second supplement stamp, you will be merely granting to the proprietors of a very prosperous commercial establishment a certain portion of the public revenue. If you do so, you had better vote them the sum at once, and say—"The Times is an institution, and ought to be supported at the public expense." If, on the other hand, it can be shown to me that all printed matter can be carried at this rate, I shall be most happy to hear it; the lower the better. But this 3,500 inches, though it may include The Times and its double supplement, may not include the largest newspaper; for I am informed that The Illustrated London News, weighing occasionally ten ounces, has a much larger amount of printed paper—5,000 square inches, at least. Then The Illustrated London News will come and say, "Why not carry our 5,000 inches for a penny?" In fact, there is no limit to it. In future, I would advise that we should allow 1d. to frank no more than it does at present. The Times will be in no worse, but in a better, position than before. And let The Times and its authorities, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, consider for the future, in reference to the advantage of the public revenue, what is the greatest amount of printed matter which can be carried for the charge of 1d.
§ MR. E. BALL
said, that he hoped his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester would excuse him if he did not take his advice. The right hon. Member said, that The Times had no claim on the House in this matter. The House, however, had to consider whether the Post Office could not carry a paper of that size without incurring loss; and in his opinion it did not cost the Post Office 1d. to convey any copy of The Times. Should that House resolve to put a tax on The Times. higher than on any other paper, a great many copies of The Times would doubtless be sent by the railways, and the Post Office would thereby incur great loss. He considered that the right hon. Member for Manchester in arguing this question had deviated from that line of policy which he had ever advocated. It would be recollected that he and the Gentlemen with whom he acted had always said that they ought not to consider the cost of a material to the producer, but only how the pub- 2030 lic might be supplied at the cheapest rate possible. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends, for the purpose of indoctrinating the public mind with that notion, used to have two great poles, with a large loaf on one and a little loaf on the other, and asked the public which they would prefer? This came home to the senses of the poorer classes, who were more influenced by this illustration of the advantage of free trade than by all the arguments the right hon. Gentleman and his friends addressed to them from the platform. Well, he (Mr. Bail), taking the same line of argument, now said they could have a paper, which was the best conducted, which contained the greatest amount of information and incurred the greatest expense in obtaining it, which required a larger capital than any other newspaper, and circulated more extensively; and if they could obtain such a newspaper at the same rate as any other, it was clearly the duty of the right hon. Member for Manchester, on his own principles, to call on the House not to impede its sale by restrictions. Then, again, a great many persons who passed a portion of their time in the country like himself (Mr. Ball) would be deprived of a great advantage if they were not allowed to have The Times. If The Times. was the sun of the press, and all the other newspapers were satellites moving round it and deriving their light from it, why should they not have the sun itself in preference to the satellites? The people in country parts ought not to be deprived of the advantage of seeing The Times in consequence of a heavier tax being put on it on account of its size. It must not be supposed that he had any personal interest in The Times. for he was one of those with respect to whom The Times. had not been very indulgent, and in what he said he was solely influenced by a sense of justice and what he considered the true policy of the country. He certainly thought that The Times had effected a great deal of good, and he had heard an excellent man, whose duty it was to attend to the sick at Scutari, after describing the horrors of that dreadful place, observe that there were only two strong lights penetrated there to gladden the darkness—one being the presence of that excellent lady Miss Nightingale and the other blessed women who went out with her, and the other the contributions procured by The Times. newspaper. Therefore something was due to The Times. for the country was indebted 2031 to it for a knowledge of those things which were enacted in the Crimea, the representation of which given in The Times. was not overcharged; but only served to raise the veil under which such a mass of cruelty and mismanagement was concealed. He was disposed to think that the increased charge proposed to be put on The Times. would, by checking the transmission of that paper through the post, cause a loss to the Post Office revenue.
§ MR. WARNER
said, he must protest against the idea that the Post Office had anything to gain by the conveyance of newspapers. It was only in consequence of the legislation of past years, creating a sort of vested right in existing newspapers to be carried by the post, that the present arrangements could be defended. At the same time, he thought it would be a great injustice to attempt to tax a large paper more than a smaller one.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he feared that, if the proposition of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), that a uniform principle should be applied to the postage of newspapers and other articles carried through the post were practically enforced, nearly the whole of the present system would have to be abolished. If they compared the rates of charges on letters, newspapers, books, and other printed publications, not being newspapers, they would find the discrepancy so great that, if it should be the pleasure of Parliament to reduce them to a uniform scale, it would be necessary to sweep away all existing rates, and commence de novo. The Bill before the Committee was, therefore, limited to carrying into effect, with the smallest possible alteration of the existing law, what he had understood to be the desire and wish of the House, namely, that the compulsory newspaper stamp should be converted into an optional one. In framing the Bill, then, all the existing anomalies—to which he was by no means blind—had been retained, and the Bill was founded on the maintenance of the existing law with respect to superficial inches, the rule being that a newspaper on one or two sheets might contain a superficies of 2,295 inches for a stamp of 1d., and any number of additional supplements, containing 1,148 superficial inches, at the rate of one halfpenny stamp for each. The rule now in existence was the result of legislation two years ago, by which the charge on newspapers had been diminish- 2032 ed, a penny stamp being substituted where stamps to the amount of three-halfpence were before necessary. The effect of the measure now before the Committee would be, that the proprietor of any newspaper would be at liberty to stamp what portion of the circulation of his paper he thought fit; and, with respect to the remainder of the impression, it might be circulated through the post, but not without the impression of a stamp. This change in the law would confer considerable benefit upon all existing newspapers, namely, a relief from the charge of a compulsory stamp upon a considerable portion of their circulation, and they would also be otherwise benefited by the measure before the Committee. His hon. Friend proposed that they should alter the present law as to the limit of superficial inches, and that with respect, not to all periodical publications which were included in this measure, but with respect to others published at intervals not exceeding seven days, they should raise the limit carried by 1d. to 3,500 inches. There was nothing said in the clause with regard to anything beyond that limit, and he did not understand what it was proposed should be the charge upon a newspaper which exceeded 3,500 superficial inches. He could understand the argument that a newspaper should be treated as one publication, that a charge of ld. should carry a newspaper, whatever its size might be, and that all the present rules with regard to superficial inches should be abolished; but that was not the proposition now before the Committee. It was simply a proposition, for which no particular reason had been assigned, to raise the limit carried by 1d. from 2,295 to 3,500 inches. As far as he could gather from the speech of his hon. Friend (Mr. M. Milnes), no specific reason was given for that particular limit, except that it was rather more than the present limit, and would include some newspapers which were not now included; but it would exclude other newspapers which printed a greater quantity of matter than 3,500 inches. He must say, therefore, that unless the Committee were prepared to throw aside that jealousy with regard to revenue which had been expressed in many quarters upon the second reading of this Bill—unless they were prepared not only to sacrifice that portion of the revenue which would necessarily be lost by the abolition of the compulsory stamp, but also that further portion which would be 2033 sacrificed by an offer on the part of the public to carry at a lower rate a greater weight and quantity than were carried at present, there seemed no reason to alter the existing law. One other argument had been adduced in favour of an alteration of the law, to which he would shortly call the attention of the Committee. It had been urged that as a portion of a newspaper was given gratuitously to the subscribers, as no additional charge was made beyond a certain weight or a certain number of superficial inches, it was therefore unreasonable that an additional charge in respect of that portion should be made by the Post Office. But the question as between the newspaper and its customers with regard to price was wholly indifferent to the Post Office; all that the Post Office looked to was the bulk and the weight of the article conveyed. It was utterly indifferent to the Post Office what the price might be, or whether the article bore any price at all, or was given away gratuitously, as was the case with certain newspapers which consisted wholly of advertisements, and were sent to Members of this House, and circulated merely for the sake of giving currency to those advertisements. With regard to newspapers of that sort, the Post Office was put to identically the same trouble and expense as if it were conveying the most highly priced newspaper, as their weight was the same, and they occupied the same amount of space; therefore the argument derived from the gratuitous distribution of a portion of a newspaper containing the advertisement sheets, which, being uninteresting to the majority of readers, did not occasion a corresponding increase of price, proved, when examined, to he totally destitute of foundation. Newspapers at present enjoyed a most remarkable privilege with regard to transmission by the Post Office as compared with other printed matter and with letters; they were now in an extremely favourable position with regard to the charges for their transmission, and if any attempt were made to render the system more uniform, such a change would redound, not to the advantage, but to the detriment of newspapers. At the same time he admitted that the present system was full of anomalies, and if it were reduced to uniform and consistent principles it must necessarily undergo a considerable change. The change now under consideration was limited to a single point, and he would strongly urge upon the Commit- 2034 tee to allow this measure to pass and to see the effect it produced—and he admitted that it would operate a change of great magnitude and importance—before they embarked in other and different changes. If at some future time it should appear that the law did not work well, they would then approach its improvement with the advantage of knowing by experience what had been the effect of the measure they were now about to pass.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, the right hon. Gentleman had told them they were about to try an experiment, but he thought it was an experiment which would be tried at the expense of a single establishment. He had objected the other day to the whole conduct of the press, because it was a system of stabbing in the dark, but he equally objected to that House stabbing that establishment in the dark; for there could be no question, after the debate which had taken place, that this was an attack upon a single establishment. If they passed a law burdening one cotton manufactory which produced a greater quantity of cotton than another, they made a direct attack upon that individual manufactory; and this was a precisely similar case. They were going upon a very dangerous principle; they were beginning to indulge private pique under pretence of public virtue. They attacked The Times—they were afraid of it; go where they might, upon what railway they pleased, every man was reading and abusing The Times; but, instead of standing up boldly against it, they gave it this dirty stab in the dark. They pretended that it was of immense importance to preserve the good and able writing which appeared in The Times; how was it preserved? It was preserved simply by that newspaper being a very profitable concern; but if they lowered the profit of the concern it could not employ able men to write in it, and it would dwindle down to the same twaddle as the Morning Herald. He would endeavour to do justice even to an enemy, and he should, therefore, vote against what he thought was a private attack, under pretence of public virtue, against a single establishment.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES ,
in reply, said, he should take the sense of the Committee upon his proposition. He would only remind them that the strongest and most vigorous speaker who had opposed it in this debate had been that hon. Member who had raised himself to a pinnacle of 2035 great public renown under pretence that he, more than any other man, advocated the cheap and free transmission of newspapers—that he, above all others, wished that the best newspapers should circulate through all grades of society, extending to all classes the advantages which newspaper reading conferred; but who had also opposed, upon a former night, the transmission of newspapers for a halfpenny.
§ Motion made and Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 86; Noes 260: Majority 174.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he wished to know whether the provisions of the existing Act, which required securities from newspapers, would be applicable to any new description of newspaper that might hereafter be published under the provisions of the present Bill?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that if he understood correctly the Act to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred, its provisions would extend to all newspapers, both stamped and unstamped.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he thought it would be better for the public to set out in the Bill, when it should be in a state in which it would be safe for the House to pass it, a clause making it apply to all newspapers.
§ The Preamble was then agreed to, and the House resumed.
§ The House adjourned at One o'clock.