HC Deb 01 March 1876 vol 227 cc1188-90

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,"—(Mr. Charley.)


said, the real object of this Bill was concealed by a new name, and to that extent it was misleading—more especially as there was another Act in existence which was known by the same title. It was formerly called the Infanticide Bill; now it was entitled Offences against the Person. It had been well described as a Bill to imprison a woman because she was not in her mind. He had received a number of letters from ladies who said that women should not be held responsible for the injuries they might inflict upon their children at the time of their confinement, because their agonies distracted them, and there was something painful in the idea of an Assembly composed entirely of men, and elected by men, legislating with such severity for the other sex. The crime against which this Bill was directed could not be stamped out by legislation. You might as well attempt to get rid of the smallpox by cutting out each pustule as to get rid of this disease in society by brutal repression. The hon. Member concluded by moving the postponement of the Committee to that day six months.

Amendment proposed to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—(Mr. P. A. Taylor,)—in-stead thereof.


said, he hardly expected that the Bill would come on that day, and if the House assented to the Motion for leaving the Chair he would consent to the reporting of Progress at once, so that more time might be given for consideration. The object of the Bill was to protect poor helpless children. This was the fourth time that it was presented to the notice of the House. In three previous years it passed the House without any opposition, and he could not understand why the hon. Member (Mr. P. A. Taylor) at the eleventh hour opposed it. The Bill was not open to the objections which had been raised by the hon. Member, because it could not touch women who inflicted injuries on their children during puerperal mania, because the acts which it would punish must have been done maliciously. The Bill rested on the authority of a Royal Commission com-posed of some of the most distinguished Members of the two Houses of Parliament.


said, that human nature was outraged by this Bill, and he should oppose it at every stage.


also opposed the Bill as an attempt to deal with a small part of a large subject.


suggested that the Bill had better be postponed at once, be-cause there was not time on that occasion to discuss this subject.

Question put, "That the words pro-posed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 108; Noes 82: Majority 26.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Friday.

Then other Orders of the Day being taken—

It being Six of the clock, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House till To-morrow, without putting the Question.