HC Deb 02 March 1869 vol 194 cc534-6

, in rising to move that leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Game Laws of Scotland said, the measure was almost identical with that which he brought forward in 1867. It would be recollected that it, along with a Bill introduced by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) was referred last year to a Select Committee. And as the Amendments which were made in the Committee and embodied in the Bill, did not give much satisfaction in Scotland, as the question of the Game Laws had made considerable advance in Scotland since last Session, and as the game question was made one of the principal questions at the hustings in that country at the late election, he thought he was warranted in bringing it before the new Parliament. The main provisions of the measure, which he now asked leave to introduce were—first, that hares and rabbits should not be deemed game within the meaning of the ordinary Game Laws: secondly, that cumulative punishments or penalties for offences under the Game Laws should be abolished: thirdly, that prosecutions under the Game Laws should be transferred from the jurisdiction of the Justices of the Peace to that of Sheriffs of counties: and, fourthly, the Bill provided a speedy mode by which tenants might obtain compensation for damage done to crops by game. The principal alteration he had to propose as contained in the Bill was in the fourth clause—namely, that which provided a speedier mode by which tenants could obtain compensation for damage done by game. He might state that with regard to this matter he had availed himself largely of suggestions thrown out by the Lord Advocate in the Select Committee of 1867, and had embodied those suggestions in that clause of his Bill. He now asked leave of the House to introduce a Bill to Amend the Game Laws of Scotland.


said, he had much pleasure in seconding the Motion made by his hon. Friend, whose Bill he accepted as a compromise. He trusted that if the measure was to be opposed by Her Majesty's Government they would take the measure in their own hands, so that they might be able to legislate upon it during the present Session. It seemed to him that, considering the loyalty of the Scotch constituencies to the present occupants of the Treasury Bench, they had some right to make that demand at the hands of the Government.


said, he thought the absence of the noble Lord, the Member for Haddingtonshire, (Lord Elcho) would tend to simplify matters, for they would now have only one Bill to consider instead of two. He was, therefore, very much indebted to him for having withdrawn his Bill and thus left the stage clear for the introduction of that of his hon. Friend, the Member for Linlithgowshire (Mr. M'Lagan). Like his hon. Friend (Mr. Fordyce) who had just sat down, he looked upon that Bill as a compromise, and he thought it might, perhaps, be a wise one. He trusted that his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate would endeavour, when the Bill was passing through Committee, to amend it by giving some additional power to the tenants of obtaining speedy compensation for the damage done by game. He could say, from his own experience at the last election, that there was no question which attracted more attention in Scotland than the question of the Game Laws, not merely among the proprietors of land and their tenants, but among the people themselves, who felt that there was a great destruction by game of food which would otherwise be available for the use of the people. Therefore, the question was removed from the position it used to occupy, as one chiefly interesting to the sportsman and the tenant. There was, doubtless, considerable injury inflicted by the unnecessary consumption of food which would otherwise be used as food by the people.


said, he could fully confirm the statements made by the hon. Members who had addressed the House upon that subject, that the question of the Game Laws was one that had attracted very considerable attention in Scotland, and he trusted that leave would be given to bring in the Bill.


said, there was no objection to the hon. Member for Linlithgowshire bringing in his Bill. He should reserve any observations he might have to make upon it until it was brought up for a second reading.

Motion agreed to. Bill to amend the Game Laws of Scotland, ordered to be brought in by Mr. M'LAGAN, Mr. FORDYCE, and Mr. ORR EWING. Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 32.]