HC Deb 12 February 1872 vol 209 cc216-32

Order for Second Reading read.


, on moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he had hoped the House would have taken that course without interruption, in order that they might take up its consideration at the point where they stopped last Session; but he understood that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) intended to move that it be read the second time that day six months, and he would rather reserve his observations on the measure until he had heard the objections of his hon. and learned Friend.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Ayrton.)


said, he had not seen that Bill till last Saturday, and he had now come down to the House intending to move its rejection in the strongest manner open to him. He took that course for the reason that he thought the House should be made aware of what was the character of the first Bill set down for their consideration that Session, and he would venture to say that it was such a measure as had never yet been laid on the Table of an English Parliament. What was the nature of that measure which referred to the regulation of the Parks? Professing to regulate the Royal Parks, it made an attack, of which they could find neither example nor precedent, upon the liberties of the subject. The Bill first of all referred to certain persons called park-keepers, who, although he had not time to inform himself specifically on the subject, he imagined were appointed to look after the Parks by the Ranger. He believed they were not generally ex officio police constables. The Bill was divided into two parts; in the first part of which Section 4 said that persons doing certain acts should, on conviction by a Court of summary jurisdiction, be liable to a penalty not exceeding £5; and then came a remarkable clause, providing that any park-keeper, and any persons whom he might call to his assistance, might take into custody, without a warrant, offenders in the Park where such park-keeper had jurisdiction, provided the offender's name or residence was unknown to him. That was a different thing from the case of a man being called on to give his address, and refusing to give it. Although the person might offer him his address, yet if the park-keeper did not know it he might arrest him without warrant, which was a very great and striking departure from the ordinary course of English law. The power of arresting Her Majesty's subjects without a warrant was a very serious power to be allowed to be exercised in this country. The general rule of law in former times was that no police constable could arrest a man unless an act of a very serious character was done in his presence, or unless he had some information that a felony was about to be committed. It had been the custom in later Acts to extend—he was not sure wisely to extend—the powers of the police, and to give them, under strict limitations, authority to arrest without warrant. But those powers were not at all of the same character as those contained in this Bill. They were not given to people like park-keepers, but were strictly limited with reference to offences defined by Parliament. He would now call attention to the character of the offences for which these exorbitant powers were to be exercised. The Bill itself did not profess to define the offences for which Her Majesty's subjects were to be arrested; but it left to the Ranger of the Park for the time being to draw up such regulations—and such regulations might be of the most extravagant nature, for there was no public responsibility—as he might think fit, for the breach of which Her Majesty's subjects were to be treated as though they were felons, vagabonds, or—what were regarded as worse in this country—poachers. In his opinion it was most improper to give such powers to the Ranger as the Bill proposed to invest him with, and he defied any Member of that House to produce a precedent for a Bill of this description. There was to be a power to arrest, without warrant, persons who offended against regulations which were not defined in the Bill, and which regulations were to be framed by the Ranger, who was an officer of the Crown. For such a thing there was no precedent. No doubt in the Police Act there was power to arrest for certain offences: but the offences were defined in the statute. He was also aware that under Clause 12 of the Metropolitan Streets Act, power was given to arrest without warrant, under regulations to be subsequently made; but those powers were infinitely more restricted than those proposed to be given under the present Bill. He begged to draw the attention of the House to the character of the regulations for the breach of which people were to be arrested without warrant. Under one of these regulations any person might be arrested without warrant who should disturb any animal grazing in any Park, or which might be in the waters thereof,; so that if a person were to disturb the sheep in going across the Park, or who might catch a minnow in the Serpentine, would be liable to be arrested without warrant. Certainly, if he were to put a worm upon his hook for the purpose of fishing, he would come within the terms of that regulation. The rules of a Park were defined to be such rules as might, in relation to any matters within the jurisdiction of the Ranger of the Park, be from time to time made by the Ranger, or as concerned other matters, by the Commissioners of Works. The Ranger, to whom this despotic power was given, as he had said before, was not a Parliamentary officer, neither was he subject to Parliamentary control, he was a mere nominee of the Crown; and he had yet to learn that the House of Commons was inclined to give to a nominee of the Crown power to make regulations under which Her Majesty's subjects might be arrested without warrant. He was aware that the clause went on to state that any such rules should be "under the common seal of the said Commissioners;" but he was not going to trust even the right hon. Gentleman himself to define rules for which people were to be treated as vagrants and poachers. It might be asked what could be the motive of the Government for bringing in such a Bill as this; but the answer to that question was to found in the 8th Regulation, which propoosed to enact that— No person shall deliver, or invite any person to deliver, any public address in a Park, except in accordance with the rules of the Park. That was what the Bill was meant for. What was "an address" in a Park? He supposed that by "deliver an address" was meant "make a speech," and it was a pity that it was not so said. The rules of the Park were not made, but were to be thereafter made, and the offences were to be in accordance with the rules which the Ranger should choose to make. Now, he objected to legislation of that kind. He supposed that as the Ranger of the Park was to frame the rules, he would also have power to determine what sentiments should or should not he uttered in the Parks under his control. Again, by Regulation 11, no person was to be allowed to use any water in a Park for fishing or for any other purpose; and by the 12th to bring any dog into the Park, except in accordance with the rules of the Park. Talk of the Six Acts of Lord Castlereagh, or of General Warrants, why they were nothing to the provisions of that Bill, and he could not conceive that the House of Commons would sanction such legislation as that. He was aware that the measure had been sent in the course of last Session before a Select Committee of the House, and that it had been returned in its present form; but he thought he was correct when he observed that on that Committee there was no lawyer, except the right hon. Gentleman who was the Chairman, who had been so long an absolute monarch that he had forgotten the first principles of law. For his part, it passed his understanding how anybody could recommend a Bill, founded upon such principles as the one before them, and he saw no necessity for interfering with the Parks at all. Englishmen were a very well-conducted, law-abiding set of people, and there was no necessity for irritating, provoking—and he had almost said—insulting them, by legislation such as was proposed by this Bill. Why not leave the Parks and the people alone? If this question of the Parks were to be raised at all, legislation of a very different character would be required to that of the enactments contained in the Schedule of the Bill. It would not do to legislate so as to make the Parks the exclusive preserve for one class of society. The law, with regard to our Parks, was different from that of any other country in the world, because it excluded from them all but carriage folks. ["No, no!"] Yes; no carriage but a private one was allowed to enter the Parks; but in Paris there was no restriction upon any person driving upon the Champs Elysee or the Bois de Boulogne; and there was no despotic country in the world where persons who had not a carriage of their own were refused access to the Parks. They might depend upon it that that Bill would not settle the question in a way that would be satisfactory to the public opinion of the country. Regulation 16 of the Bill proposed to enact that no person should wilfully interfere with or annoy any other person using or enjoying the Park, or any part thereof, in accordance with the regulations of the Park, or otherwise using or enjoying the same in any lawful manner. What a definition of an offence for which a man could be arrested without warrant! One man did not like tobacco, and another might interfere with his enjoying the Park by smoking, and for this he might be arrested without warrant. It would be a discredit to the House of Commons to entertain that Bill for a moment after they had ascertained its real character; and, therefore, there was no stage of the Bill at which he would not offer it every opposition in his power, and he should certainly give his vote against the second reading.


said, that having been a Member of the Select Committee to which the Bill had been referred to last Session, he felt bound to protest against the exaggerated, the ad captandum, and the romantic description of the Bill which had been given by the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Vernon Harcourt). No doubt the measure might be amended in Committee, but the attempt to regard it as an infraction of Magna Charta, or the Bill of Eights was ridiculous in the extreme. All that Her Majesty's Government desired to do by this Bill was to make such rules and regulations as would secure the greatest enjoyment of the Parks to the greatest number of Her Majesty's subjects, and to restrain those whose greatest delight was to annoy other people. The Select Committee in dealing with the Bill had, irrespective of party views, endeavoured to make it as efficacious as possible, and it had been again introduced into that House in the exact form in which they had framed it. He must inform the House that in drawing up the regulations in the Bill—which some people might, perhaps, regard as being rather stringent—the Committee had before them the regulations in force in a large number of Parks which had been formed either by corporations or by the liberality of private individuals, which were as a rule even more stringent than those contained in the Bill. Thus, by the regulations in force in Finsbury Park, in Southwark Park, in Aston Park, Birmingham, in Lock Park, Barnsley, in the People's Park, Halifax, and in other public Parks, public meetings and addresses were illegal, and in the metropolitan Parks, under a penalty of 40s. It might be politic or impolitic to prohibit the delivery of addresses and speeches and sermons in the public Parks, but in proposing to insert such a regulation in the Bill the Committee had not been acting without those numerous precedents. The language of the clause might be capable of amendment, but the thing it proposed to do was not a novelty, and to treat it as being one would be to raise a false issue. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had in his most superb way ridiculed the idea of any interference with the disturbing an animal, but did he desire that dumb animals might be worried out of their lives at the good pleasure of a number of "roughs?" It was impossible in framing an Act of Parliament to use other than general words, and a great deal must of course be left to the discretion of the magistrate before whom persons charged with having committed a breach of the regulations were brought, and from what was known of the conduct of the "roughs" whom the hon. and learned Gentleman had taken under his protection for that night only, the dumb portion of animated nature would fare very ill unless something was done for their protection. If the hon. and learned Gentleman objected to the language of the Bill, let him find words that would define exactly the weight of the stone that might be thrown at a sheep, or the thickness of the stick that might be used to strike them. As the hon. and learned Gentleman's invidious reference to the use of the Parks by "carriage folks," he might observe that Regent's Park, Victoria Park, St. James's Park, and the west side of Hyde Park were cab Parks. The Bill was simply intended to regulate those magnificent institutions their Royal Parks, which, existing nominally as appanages to the Crown, were in reality maintained for the enjoyment of the public, and he therefore trusted that the House would not be led away from that view of the matter, but would read it a second time.


said, he should also support the Bill, which could easily be perfected in Committee. He would not go into the details of the matter, but as regarded the general principle of there being rules for the regulation of the Parks, he, speaking with the experience which he had as Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works, maintained that it was absolutely essential and necessary that the Parks should have judicious regulations. There were carefully-framed regulations for Finsbury and Southwark Parks, and because the Board were not able to frame by-laws for the Thames Embankment, the public had been very much inconvenienced. Last year, however, the Board applied to the Government to put into their Bill a clause to enable the framing of regulations for the Thames Embankment. As to Hampstead Heath and Blackheath, the Board had been diligently employed in framing regulations, although they had to meet serious difficulties. He might mention, as an instance proving the necessity for some regulations, that the seats which had been placed in the Parks for the public convenience were often entirely occupied by persons lying at full length upon them. He should heartily support the Bill, which he hoped would be read a second time.


said, he was of opinion that the Bill went no further than was necessary to preserve the Parks for the recreation of the general public, and while glad that Her Majesty's Government had brought in a measure for regulating them, was afraid that, as they had done in former instances, they had rather bungled over their work. They should have made their rules in the first place, and then have drawn up the Bills applying them. Whatever the rules might be, the public ought to know their nature; and he particularly objected to power being given to the Ranger to make regulations of so arbitrary a character. But whatever the faults of the Bill might be, they could be easily amended in Committee, and therefore he should vote for the second reading of the measure. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) had been, very eloquent on the subject of the preservation of the Parks for one class of society solely, but the only times when he had seen them appropriated by one class only were when they had been invaded by "roughs" and large mobs. The people generally were entitled to the enjoyments of the Parks, and they ought to be protected in the legitimate use of them.


said, that the Bill seemed to him to be drawn up in a way that was not very unusual with Liberal Governments—that was, it totally disregarded the liberty of the subject. A person was to be liable to be arrested and kept in confinement—it was not said for how long—simply because a park-keeper did not know him; and if he refused his address he might be fined £5 in addition. He did not refer to the parties who were to be empowered under it to make the arrest, because they might be very proper persons to discharge the duties of park-keepers, but he objected to any person being liable to be arrested and kept in confinement because the park-keeper did not happen to know him. Now that was a pretty Algerine kind of legislation. And the most serious objection was, that there were no provisions for making public the regulations under which persons were to be subject to such heavy penalties. He believed that out of the offences named in the Schedule there were at least ten that were to depend upon legislation to be made by the Park authorities. He thought that, in common justice, there should be some security that the regulations should be made known to the public, for how otherwise could people know whether they were committing an offence. He could quite understand that a Bill of this kind might be necessary, but he never saw a Bill that was drawn with so little regard to the liberty of persons. A man who committed a trespass upon your ground might be arrested, but you were bound to take him as quickly as possible before a magistrate; but here a park-keeper might arrest a man on Saturday night, and he might be kept locked up until Monday morning for a comparatively trifling offence. If they must legislate upon this matter, it was very desirable that offences should be defined. What, for instance, was meant by "furious riding?" He thought that some legislation of the kind might be necessary; but he also thought that the Bill was drawn with very little regard except for one thing—that was, to have power to carry out any regulations which might be made by the Ranger, or by the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner himself, however arbitrary or improper they might be, without notice to the public of them in any way.


said, he must regret that the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), after such sentiments as he had expressed, had not concluded with the usual Motion, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, inasmuch as by so doing he would have afforded the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner the opportunity of explaining his reasons for asking the House to assent to the second reading of the Bill.


explained that he had acted under a misapprehension, for he had expected the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner to speak immediately after himself, deeming this the most convenient course. To enable the right hon. Gentleman to take part in the debate, he would now move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Vernon Harcourt.)


, remarking that the object he had in view was answered by the Amendment, said it might at first sight appear strange that the regulations were not included in the Bill, but he presumed that it would be impossible to frame regulations applicable to all the Parks dealt with by the measure. Recent experience had demonstrated the necessity of conferring powers on properly-constituted authorities, and though the phraseology of the clauses might require amendment, the House could scarcely refuse a second reading to a measure which came before it not only with the sanction of a Liberal Government, but also with the sanction of a Select Committee, which had given considerable attention to the subject.


observed that there was a great inconsistency in the Bill, inasmuch as whilst it prohibited addresses being delivered in the public Parks, there was no clause in it to prevent public meetings—such, for example, as were being constantly held in Hyde Park and other Parks. It appeared to him that if there were one abuse greater than another, it was the disturbance by public meetings in those Parks of a violent political character of the peace and tranquillity of the inhabitants of the surrounding neighbourhood. There was no doubt much in the Bill that was good, but he thought that a distinct clause should be introduced into it prohibiting such meetings accompanied by processions of a lawless and seditious character. He was by no means opposed to freedom of discussion. Nevertheless, he was in favour of prohibiting large gatherings of people in Hyde or other Parks on Sundays for the purpose of discussing political questions, as he was of opinion that such gatherings were a nuisance which interfered with the tranquillity and enjoyment of well-disposed people, and as such they should be suppressed.


said, he hoped the Bill would be withdrawn. Everybody admitted that the people of the metropolis should have some place where they could meet and discuss public topics, for in countries where such gatherings were prohibited the alternative was conspiracy, and Primrose Hill had sometimes been suggested for this purpose, yet the Bill excluded both that and every other available place. He presumed, from the restriction of the Bill to England, that the Government regarded the Irish as entitled to hold meetings in Phoenix Park, while to the English the privilege could not be safely intrusted.


, as a Member of the Committee responsible for the clause to which exception had mainly been taken, stated that the majority of the Committee deemed it absurd, while stringently protecting the sheep and wild fowl, to leave untouched the monster grievance of the metropolis. That grievance was, that at the beck of a few irresponsible and ambitious demagogues the main thoroughfares of the West End and Hyde Park were given over to mob law, necessitating the withdrawal of police from other parts of the metropolis for the purpose of preventing mischief. Hitherto the law regulating admission to the Parks had been in an unsettled state, but after the consideration of the whole question by a Select Committee, and the introduction of a Bill upon it in two successive Sessions, the rejection of this clause would imply the sanction by the House of those lawless proceedings. The object of such assemblages was not to express opinions which could be expressed in plenty of other and more suitable places, but to overawe Members of the Legislature and of the Government by marching through St. James's Street and Pall Mall. Till of late there might have been some justification for these meetings; a few Peers and wealthy men returning a great part of the House, and the public at large having no voice in public affairs, but those barbarous times had passed away. He called on the House to do away with these assemblages as a relic of barbarism akin to the show of hands at elections, and to require mob law to give way to Parliamentary law.


said, while not opposing the second reading, he regarded with some jealousy the large powers which were to be conferred on the Rangers of the Parks, and believed the Bill would require considerable modification. The regulations to be hereafter issued might, of course, be unobjectionable, but, if otherwise, there would be no means of rescinding them except by an Act of Parliament.


said, he must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works on the omission of a clause forming part of last year's Bill, which left no option to a magistrate in dealing with an unfortunate urchin who happened to be brought before him by a park-keeper for knocking down a horsechesnut, or hooking a minnow, but required him to impose a fine of at least 5s., and it might be £5. The keepers were virtually police, and were entitled to no greater powers within the Parks than the police had outside them. It behoved the Government to be cautious in trenching on the enjoyment of the lowest class of the people, who were glad to leave their miserable homes and breathe the fresh air. Under the Bill a person whose name happened to be Smith or Brown would be consigned to the station-house for the night by a keeper who was not satisfied of the genuineness of the name, and who would be put in a position of authority over men clad in flannel or corduroy, but in the receipt of higher wages than himself. It was impossible to tell what regulations might hereafter be issued. Sixty or seventy years ago livery servants, workmen, and persons carrying parcels were excluded from Kensington Gardens. He was not aware that the flowers had been destroyed, or any disorder practised which called for legislation, and if the object of the Government was to put a stop to public meetings—a question which he would not now go into—it should be openly avowed. Hon. Members who enjoyed the Parks in the season should remember that the mass of the people were confined to London all the year round. If the Parks were made so "proper" as for these people to be driven out, could order be expected to prevail if distress happened to exist? At present the metropolis, with its 3,000,000 of inhabitants, gave less anxiety to the Government than almost any manufacturing town in the country; drunkenness, moreover, being admittedly on the decrease, though in the North it was increasing. The Bill must have been brought in by the advice of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and they could not have given the right hon. Gentleman better advice for their own interests, for the measure tended to bring him a degree of unpopularity he was little aware of.


said, that while listening to his hon. and learned Friend's (Mr. Vernon Harcourt's) description of the Bill, he had been unable to identify—he could not say the Bill itself, but his own intentions in submitting it to the judgment of the House. He had been astonished at the transcendental tone assumed by his hon. and learned Friend, with the view of prejudicing the Bill in the eyes of hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House. It had been intimated, too, by the worthy Alderman who had just spoken (Mr. Alderman Lawrence) that the Bill must have been suggested by hon. Members opposite, and that it would endanger his popularity. Now, he felt bound to inform the House that he had not consulted a single Member on the opposite side with respect to the Bill, and that his sole object had been to ensure the comfort and enjoyment of the inhabitants of the metropolis in the use of the Royal Parks. The position he occupied had made him so sensible of the annoyance to which well-disposed people were subject in the use of the Parks, that he had felt himself bound to protect them from persons who, unfortunately, existed in a great metropolis like this, and who could not use anything without abusing it. He hoped, then, that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford, and any others who were disposed to share his sentiments, would dismiss from their minds all such extraordinary impressions as the statement of the hon. Gentleman conveyed. Another assertion which had been made for the purpose of prejudicing the Bill was, that the Government had framed it with a sinister design of suppressing public meetings.


said, he did not say that that was the design of the Government, but that it was the design of the Bill.


said, that if such was the design of the Bill, it must be his own design, he having introduced it and being responsible for its details. Now, the fact was that in the Bill as originally introduced by him, Clause 8 did not appear, it being afterwards inserted by a vote in the Committee against his wish. That clause seemed to him unnecessary, for reasons which he would explain, but its insertion was no reason for not proceeding with the Bill. That was not the first time that public Parks had engaged the attention of the Legislature, and it was a mere accident that the Royal Parks had not been treated by Parliament like other Parks. For some years Acts had been passed for providing Parks and places of recreation for large towns, in all of which the local or other authority was empowered to make rules for the use and enjoyment of these places, the Metropolitan Board of Works being the authority in the case of the metropolitan Parks established by local arrangement, and having power to make rules of a very comprehensive character. Why had not the Royal Parks been similarly treated? He believed that originally they were under the administration of an officer of the Crown, who had absolute authority over them, and that on several new Parks being established they had been placed under the control of the Office of Works or the Commissioners of Woods, in order to their being treated as Royal Parks. It was supposed, therefore, that the Parks under his own administration would be subject to whatever control the officer of the Crown might think fit to exercise. Now, the Royal Parks were in point of law the property of the Crown in the same way that any private enclosed park was the property of its owner, the Crown, or those who exercised its authority, having the same power as the owner of any private park. In the case of a private park it was perfectly easy for the owner to control the management of it. A private park had usually one, or perhaps two or three gates, and the owner could prescribe such rules as he might think necessary to prevent his property being injured, and to enable persons to recreate themselves without doing injury. He could easily enforce his regulations by turning out those persons who did not comply with them. The Crown, of course, could do the same thing, but for very serious practical difficulties. The Royal Parks had a great many gates, and, as far as he could, he was causing additional gates to be made in them, so as to give new facilities to the public to enter these Parks. The gates of the Royal Parks were kept open, and it was perfectly idle to say that you could enforce the powers of the Crown in the same way as the owner of a private park could exercise his powers with regard to his park. That being the case, the question was, ought the Royal Parks to be placed on a different footing from every other Park that had been established by the authority of Parliament? Ought they to be deprived of those regulations which Parliament had declared to be absolutely necessary for every other Park that it had sanctioned? It was for those who opposed the Bill to show that there was some peculiarity about the Royal Parks to exempt them from those regulations which Parliament had so often declared were essential for the advantageous enjoyment of Parks by the public. He quite agreed with the observation that the people of the metropolis were essentially friends of order and well-conducted; but among the 3,000,000 inhabitants of the metropolis there was a small percentage of ill-conducted and ill-conditioned people. A percentage of 10,000 among 3,000,000 might be regarded as very small; but if 10,000 people were to enter a park and be guilty of improprieties, and have no respect for property, he must say that the rest of the 3,000,000 would be deprived of the enjoyment of the park, which they were entitled to receive. The Government had found that that was practically the ease. Persons had been known to drive what was called a "trap" amongst peaceable equestrians without the possibility of interfering with them. And, again, much annoyance and many accidents had happened from dogs barking at horses. In fact, it was not long since that a lady was killed in Rotten Row from a mishap of that kind. He did not for a moment intend to confine the misbehaviour complained of to those who were called "roughs," because there was frequently great misconduct practised by those who wore superfine cloth coats. His wish was to be able to restrain those who misbehaved themselves, so that others might really be able to enjoy themselves without fear and annoyance. It was a mistake to suppose that the Bill had been introduced for the benefit of those who rode in carriages, because the carriage drive required, perhaps, the least protection of all. If in Victoria Park persons were playing at cricket in the open spaces, there was nothing to prevent a person from going into the middle and stopping the game. All that could be done would be to politely ask him to go away, and if he did not all that could now be done was to put him outside the Park, and having done that there was nothing to prevent his returning and repeating his conduct. No punishment could be inflicted upon him for his misbehaviour. Those instances of annoyance to those who were peaceably enjoying themselves in the Parks could be multiplied if necessary, showing the necessity for the clauses contained in the Bill, and in answer to those hon. Members who had raised objections as to its want of detail, he would remind them that the peculiarity of the Bill compared with general legislation was, that, whereas in the case of all other parks, the managers had absolute power to make rules for their regulation in order to guard against any abuse of authority on the part of the Crown, the Bill had been drawn so as to give only a limited and definite power to make rules for the Royal Parks. It was impossible to put all the details in the Act, and the object of giving power to make regulations was to give effect to that which was inserted in the Schedules. In practice, public convenience might require those rules and regulations to be changed or modified, but no rule could be made without the knowledge and assent of the Chief Commissioner of Works, who had a seat in Parliament, and was responsible to that House. It was an error to suppose that the Ranger had any power to make rules, and rules to be of any effect must bear the official seal of the Board of Works, and that House had power to question any rule so made. The power proposed to be given in the Bill to the park-keeper to take persons into custody was formed on the basis of that contained in the Metropolitan Police Act. It was immaterial to him whether or not the Committee altered it, so long as they retained power to the Park-keeper to take into custody persons who were guilty of acts of misconduct in their presence, which prevented the enjoyment of the Parks by others, the same as the police of the metropolis interfered with those who obstructed the paths and streets of the metropolis. Those were questions that would more properly arise for discussion in Committee than on the second reading. His answer to what had been said was, that the Bill was only intended to have a limited and qualified application of the principle that had been applied to every other park in the country, except the Royal Parks. At present, they were obliged to have a large force on the look-out to preserve order and prevent injury to the flowers and shrubs, for at present it was doubtful whether or not a person could be punished for plucking flowers in the Parks. Besides that, iron railings had to be placed in all directions about the Parks to prevent injury to the grass by persons riding and walking over it, and for the same reason. He introduced the Bill originally without any words relating to public meetings. He was quite content to leave the rights of the Crown in that respect to be exercised in accordance with the general law of the land. Well, hon. Members in Committee introduced a clause as to public meetings. That gave rise to discussion, and he thought he had better not proceed with the Bill, but that he should bring it in this Session, when hon. Members might consider what was proper to be done with reference to that subject. His hon. and learned Friend had stated that the Bill would put down public meetings in the Parks. It would do nothing of the kind. The Bill did not say that public meetings should not be held in the Parks. It said they should not be held except according to the rules laid down. For instance, a public meeting would not be permitted to be held in the midst of a road or thoroughfare. He did not see any reason why meetings should not be allowed as heretofore so long as they did not interfere with the enjoyment of the Parks. So little did he care for public meetings being held in the Park, that he had received notice of a meeting to be held in the Park for the purpose of reprobating his authority, and had taken no steps to prevent it. As he had taken no steps to prevent a meeting being held for the purpose of abusing himself, he thought the House might be assured that he would not interfere unnecessarily with the holding of public meetings for other purposes. He hoped the Bill would pass. He would endeavour to improve it in Committee. There were four metropolitan Members besides himself on the Committee that considered the Bill, and instead of discovering in it the terrible things described by his hon. and learned Friend they were of opinion that it was to the interest of the inhabitants of the metropolis that the Bill should pass.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 183; Noes 36: Majority 147.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.