§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Coleridge Kennard.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, this was not a Bill he could recommend the House to accept. No doubt, the subject-matter was of considerable importance; but he did not think that an Act of Parliament simply enacting that doors should open outwards was at all adequate, or the proper way of dealing with a matter of this description. Without going further, he would advise the House not to read the Bill a second time.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, he quite understood the feeling that prompted the hon. Member in introducing the Bill, and it dealt with a matter in which he was interested, since his attention was drawn to it while serving for two years on the Committee on the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. At the same time, he agreed with the Home Secretary, and did not think the subject could be dealt with by the Bill before the House. A clause in the Bill provided that doors should be—Hung or placed in any public building in such a manner as to open outwards.But what was a "public building?" According to the Bill, a "public building" meant—Any building used as a place of public amusement or entertainment, or for the holding at one time of one hundred persons, or a larger number of persons, for any purposes whatsoever.Would that include public-houses? Was the door of every large public-house to open outwards to the road, for many of them were capable of holding more than 100 persons? Did his hon. Friend mean to say he would have this stringent rule applied to every public. house in the Kingdom? He hoped the Home Secretary, after what had happened at Sunderland, would see the necessity of providing in some manner for better exits from theatres and public halls. But this Bill did not meet the exigences of the case, and the House should not be called 1833 upon at that hour to give it a second reading.
§ MR. COLERIDGE KENNARD
said, he was disappointed that his Bill did not meet the views of the Home Secretary. He was not aware that there was any objection in his mind. He well remembered that when the question was asked whether the Government had any proposal in view to meet the admitted danger, the Home Secretary said he had no intention of submitting any measure on the subject, and therefore he (Mr. Kennard) had prepared this simple Bill, to which he hoped the House would give a second reading. In Committee he would be quite ready to take into consideration such Amendments as would make the Bill useful; but, of course, the Bill was at the mercy of Her Majesty's Government, and theirs must be the responsibility of rejecting it.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
said, he thought that the Government should give some assurance that they would in serne way deal with the subject by enforcing regulations dealing with what was a very serious matter.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, if a pledge were required that the Government were addressing their attention to it, he would give that pledge; but the proper way of dealing with it would, he thought, be under the Building Act. This Bill would condemn the Houses of Parliament, and provide that the doors of the Division Lobbies should open outwards, and the responsible official of the House would be subject to a penalty, for the House was unquestionably a public building. He did not think this was a serious manner of dealing with a serious question.
§ MR. W. H. JAMES
objected to legislation in a panic. The accident at Sunderland occurred only 10 days ago; an inquiry was to be held in a few days—on Monday; and it would be an extraordinary proceeding for Parliament to legislate upon a matter of this kind before that inquiry had been hold. He bad an opinion as to that disaster in a direction towards which the attention of the House had not been drawn, and he should move that the Bill be read that day three months.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the 1834 Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. W. H. James.)
Question proposed, "That the word now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he thought the principle of open doors might be modified in Committee. The statement that this was legislation in a panic was groundless, and he hoped the Government would not oppose the second reading, but would be content to move Amendments in Committee.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he thought it was necessary to watch the Homo Secretary's words. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had said the attention of the Government was directed to this subject; but there was no pledge that they would take any action upon the matter. The Government ought to do something in the matter; and unless a pledge to that effect was given the House ought to pass this Bill.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said, he hoped the House would allow the Bill to be withdrawn. The Government had said their attention was directed to the subject, and he had no doubt they would do something.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill withdrawn.