HC Deb 09 April 1869 vol 195 cc557-9

Bill, as amended, considered.

MR. SYKES moved, after Clause 7, to insert the following clause:— Where any offence under this Act is committed in or upon any waters forming the boundary between any two counties, districts of quarter sessions or petty sessions, such offence may be prosecuted before any justice or justices of the peace in either of such counties or districts.

Clause added.

MR. FORDYCE moved that the Bill be re-committed, in order to exclude Scotland from its operation. He would assure the House that, in making the Motion, he was not actuated by any feeling of hostility towards sea birds; but he entertained a strong conviction that the wholesale destruction of these birds, which, according to the promoters of the Bill, was so common in England, had never extended to Scotland, and therefore to extend the provisions of the measure to that part of the United Kingdom was wholly unnecessary. It certainly was not a measure which should be unnecessarily extended to any portion of Great Britain—it was, in fact, an extension of the Game Laws, and that with a severity unknown hitherto, at all events, in Scotland. It placed a great variety of birds practically in the game list, and enacted various penalties, ranging from £1 to £2 and upwards, for infringements of the Act. In addition, one of the provisions of the Bill gave power to any person to demand the name and address of anybody else who he might think was attempting to infringe the Act; and if such person refused to give his name and address, and was afterwards convicted, he was liable, in addition to the other penalties, to be mulcted in a penalty of £2, one-half of which went to the informer. Now, this was a provision which was not to be found even in the Game Laws. It was, in fact, a bribe to policemen and gamekeepers to enforce the Act. Another provision of the Bill proposed to extend the jurisdiction of justices of the peace. Now this was directly contrary, not only to the general feeling of the people, but to the wishes of the justices of the peace themselves. And the Bill gave this extension in the most objectionable form, for it empowered the justice to convict on any evidence he might think proper to admit. Even the Game Laws bound the justices to convict on the evidence of "two or more credible witnesses, or other legal evidence." Then after the justice had convicted the offender, the Bill provided no machinery for enforcement of the penalty—in fact, it was quite evident that the Bill had not been drawn by a lawyer—it was of such a nature as to be practically inoperative in ninety-nine cases out of 100, and oppressive in the hundredth. Such being the character of the Bill, he said that it should not be extended to Scotland, without very good reasons being shown. Now, had such reasons been shown to the House? Had it been shown to the House that the number of sea birds in Scotland was on the decrease? It had not; and he believed that evidence to that effect could not be adduced. He believed that hon. Members from Scotland would agree that the number of sea birds remained very much as it was. It certainly had not been asked for, for only one Petition had been presented in its favour, while ten times as many had signed the Petitions against it.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Bill be re-committed for the purpose of excluding Scotland from its operation,"—(Mr. Fordyce,)—put, and negatived.

Bill to be read the third time upon Monday next.