HC Deb 14 June 1880 vol 252 cc1992-5

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that the prior Acts had dealt only with certain classes of birds; and he now proposed by that Bill to extend protection to all during the breeding season. He wished to have the former Act repealed, inasmuch as it was found to be inoperative; many birds being excepted from its protection, and those that were protected were by no means sufficiently protected during the breeding seasons. The farmers complained that some birds were very injurious to their crops; but he (Mr. Dillwyn) begged to observe that many of the hard-billed birds, which in the autumn and winter were seed-eaters, were insectivorous in the breeding season, and then of great use to the agriculturist. The law, as it stood, would not allow certain birds to be killed or caught in the breeding season; but it did not practically much interfere with those persons who caught the birds for sale with nets or other traps. He proposed to remove all restrictions from occupiers or owners with reference to killing or taking those kinds which were, by them, considered to be injurious to the crops; and he by no means wished to see the law bear hardly on farmers or gardeners. His Bill only proposed to put a stop to capture or destruction of birds for sale during the breeding season. The Bill would, certainly affect some persons, especially the bird catchers; but it would not injure the farmer. The penalties attached to the Bill were very moderate. For the first offence, there was only a warning and a small fine. He had been careful to select the most moderate scale of penalties possible. He trusted that the House would see fit to accept the second reading. If allowed to be read, he should be happy to entertain any suggestions for amendment when the Bill was considered in Committee.

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


said, it was with great reluctance that he rose to make any observations in the form of objections to the Bill; but, inasmuch as he had been a Member of the Committee that had inquired into the matter when the last Bill was passed, he felt bound to make a few remarks at least. He was sure that it would be satisfactory that that Bill should repeal the former one. All the evidence that had been taken went to convince him that no measure for the protection of the birds mentioned in its Schedule was necessary. Protection was already afforded to those kinds of birds that were hunted and killed as game—as, for instance, waders and birds of that sort. The Bill then before them was for the preservation of the smaller sorts. He thought it would be found that its only tendency would be to create a new offence. It would affect those people who kept wild birds in cages for the pleasure they derived from their singing; and as those persons mostly lived in large towns it seemed hardly fair to deprive them of that pleasure. There could be no doubt that a certain amount of cruelty might be said to exist in the case of caged wild birds; but, at the same time, he should not like to see the persons that kept them, and could not otherwise hear their singing, robbed of that pleasure. There were also a large number of birds that supplied the markets; and if that Bill came into force he thought it would seriously affect the trade in quails, and a great number of other birds of that kind. On the whole, considering the number of objections that there must really be to the Bill, he felt rather inclined to suggest that it be read that day three months.


said, he thought the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) did not go far enough. Some protection ought to be extended to plovers whose eggs were exposed for sale to a large extent in the shops. He had hoped when the Bill came on for second reading its provisions would be extended to the protection of sea birds.


said, he hoped the House would allow the Bill to be read a second time. The hon. Baronet (Sir David Wedderburn) had said that he knew of no birds that had been lessened in this country; but he (Mr. Onslow) could inform him that the number of goldfinches and greenfinches had very much decreased in Surrey, Essex, and elsewhere. He thought, however, that quails which came from Africa and the Mediterranean ports should be made an exception to the provisions of the Bill.


said, he thought the Schedule at the end of the Bill ought to have specified more clearly the birds to be protected.


said, that a number of mischievous birds, including the sparrow and the lark, would be protected by the Bill, to the inconvenience of gardeners and the people generally. If the Bill passed and went to a Select Committee, he hoped the question as to all wild birds would be as carefully considered as it was some years ago by the former Committee.


said, the House had rather misapprehended the object of the Bill. His hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Fell) could kill as many sparrows or other birds as he wished; but his object was simply to prevent their being destroyed or captured for the purpose of sale. He quite agreed with, the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) as to the decrease in the number of certain small birds. The birdcatchers themselves had given evidence in favour of a Bill of the kind not introduced to the House, and had admitted that the little birds in the neighbourhood of large towns had got so scarce that they were obliged to go further afield to capture them.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.