HC Deb 21 July 1871 vol 208 cc140-1

(Mr. Secretary Bruce, Mr. Winterbotham.)

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


moved the addition of a clause, providing that if 20 householders resident in the neighbourhood should sign a memorial complaining of any such offence as the Bill referred to, the officer should proceed against the person so complained of; but that nothing which the Act contained should affect the right, under the Act of Charles II., of any justice or justices of the peace of any city, borough, or town corporate, where the offences had been committed, to convict the offenders. The chief objects of the Amendment were to remove from the hands of the police the application exclusively of the Act, and to renew the powers of the Act of Charles II.


said, his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Marylebone was mistaken in supposing that the police of themselves could institute prosecutions under this measure, for the fact was that everywhere but in the Metropolis they acted under the direction of the magistrates. He felt some difficulty in accepting the whole of the clause, believing that the measure provided sufficient safeguards against any improper application of the law; but he was willing to accept the latter part of it.


said, he thought the result of that measure would be practically to repeal the Act of Charles II.—a step to which he believed the working classes would be strongly opposed.


said, he hoped that the clause would not be persevered with, as the Bill was but a temporary measure, intended to put a stop to those petty prosecutions of which they had heard so much of late.


defended the retention of the powers of the Act of Charles II.


contended that the Act of Charles II. was utterly obsolete until called into existence recently by some petty and vexatious prosecutions. The clause proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone (Mr. T. Chambers) would give the Act renewed vitality, by giving power to 20 householders to put the law in motion.


said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would insist upon his Bill in its integrity.


moved that the Chairman report Progress. He considered it disgraceful of the Committee to be found discussing a Bill of that important kind at that hour (2 o'clock) of the morning.


said, he hoped the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Hampshire would not press his Motion. He intended to bring up a new clause, which he thought would meet all objections.


said, he should support the proposition to report Progress.


said, for his part, he did not think that they would be in a much better position by renewing that discussion on another evening than by finally disposing of the Bill in Committee on that occasion.

Motion agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Tuesday next.