HC Deb 08 July 1880 vol 253 cc1991-4

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Short title), agreed to.

Clause 2 (Definition of terms).


said, he was anxious by the Amendment he was about to propose to except from the operation of the Bill blackbirds, thrushes, and nightingales. He admitted that these birds were of the kind that those desirous of protecting wild birds would desire to protect most; but behind that fact a large number of persons entirely unrepresented in that House took a great interest in song birds when captured. The poor in the crowded streets of the Metropolis had not the means possessed by the rich in their country houses of enjoying the songs of birds in a state of liberty. It was a feature of the practice of training song birds that they must be captured when extremely young; just when they were beginning to fly, for unless they were taken at that time it was impossible to train them for singing purposes. There were, at least, 35,000 blackbirds and a corresponding number of thrushes taken every year in that way, which afterwards contributed to the happiness of the poor in the crowded streets of London. He was, by moving the exception of these birds, advocating the cause of the very poor; and he begged the Committee to think of the miserable and sick little children whose only plea- sure, perhaps, while lying awake, was the song of the birds he had mentioned. He knew it was an easy thing to turn the amusements of the poor into ridicule, and that it was difficult to pass from such an important subject as the House had been considering that evening to the discussion of such a question as this. But he begged the Committee to consider the Amendment with reference to the circumstances of the very poor. He appealed particularly to hon. Members for Ireland for their support; and would remind them that he had often gone with them in division when in a small minority, because he believed they were advocating the interests of the poor in Ireland. He trusted the Committee would agree to the insertion of the words "except blackbirds, thrushes, and nightingales," which he begged to move.

Amendment proposed, In page 1, line 10, after the words "wild birds," to insert the words "blackbirds, thrushes, and nightingales."—(Mr. Thompson.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


quite agreed with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Thompson) with regard to the pleasure derived by the poor from song birds; but he would point out that the birds which the hon. Member desired to except from the operation of the Bill had almost disappeared from the neighbourhood of towns. But the chief objection to the proposal, however, was that the exception in the former Act had rendered it ineffective, and the present Bill would be liable to the same breakdown if its application were restricted. He could not, therefore, agree to the Amendment.


proposed to omit the word "nightingales" from the proposed Amendment.


said, the greater number of nightingales were caught in the beginning of April; and these birds, he would add, were very migratory. Blackbirds and thrushes were not so migratory as nightingales; but an enormous number of them came over from Norway every spring. For that reason there was no particular object in preserving blackbirds and thrushes. Everybody knew that the country abounded with them, and consequently there was no reason for including them in the Bill. But there was a very strong reason for excepting them, as he had shown that a large number of the poor would otherwise be deprived of a necessary and innocent pleasure.

Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, to leave out the word "nightingales."—(Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland.)

Question, "That the word 'nightingales' stand part of the said proposed Amendment," put, and negatived.

Question put, "That the words 'blackbirds, thrushes,' be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 18; Noes 61: Majority 43.—(Div. List, No. 46.)


hoped the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) would consent to strike out the wild goose from the Schedule. These birds came in great numbers to the coast of Perthshire and other parts of Scotland, and caused serious damage to the crops.


pointed out that the wild goose got no additional protection from the measure than it had before.


said, he would not move the Amendment now, but would bring it up, if necessary, on the Report.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses verbally amended, and agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next.