§ Order for Consideration, as amended (by the Standing Committee), read.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
moved the recommittal of the measure in respect of Clauses 39 to 44, which made it a criminal offence for any boy or girl under sixteen to buy cigarettes or cigarette papers, or to be seen smoking cigarettes in a public place. He said he was not taking this course with any idea of hostility towards the Bill, which, generally speaking, was one that in his opinion should receive the support of Members in all parts of the House; indeed, he believed the Under-Secretary for the Home Department would be the first to admit that in pressing it forward he had received material assistance in Grand Committee from hon. Members on the Opposition side. His action, therefore, was not dictated by any dislike of the Bill; it was due rather to the idea that certain clauses were open to misconception, and he desired that the House as a whole should consider their bearing. The clauses he referred to were numbered 39 to 44, and these made it a criminal offence for any boy or girl under sixteen years of age to buy any cigarettes or cigarette papers or to be seen smoking a cigarette in a public place. He would like to draw attention to the arguments 42 by which these drastic proposals were supported. They seemed to him to suggest a kind of flavour of immorality attaching to the smoking of cigarettes by boys and girls. It had been sought to support the general provisions of the Bill by reference to the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords which in 1906 examined into this question. He had read that Report, and he ventured to say there really was no ground at all for any such opinion. In his view a more tenable ground of objection was that cigarette-smoking by young people was very unhealthy. A great deal had been said about the injury done to the constitution of children by the practice, but if they examined the evidence he thought they would arrive at the conclusion that the objection on that ground was not so strong as it was generally thought to be. There were two witnesses on whom the House of Lords Committee mainly relied—Professor Sims Woodhe d and Sir William Broadbent, and neither of these gentlemen was able to assign any specific evil to cigarette-smoking, although both agreed very strongly that it was bad for everybody, and certainly for the young. But when people talked of it as inflicting a terrific injury on the health of the youth of this country there seemed to be some danger of exaggeration. He did not himself believe that either of those gentlemen—Sir William Broadbent was unhappily no longer with them—or any other medical man would maintain that cigarette-smoking was worse, for instance, than habitually keeping children out of bed until a very late hour; yet no one proposed to make it an offence for a child to be seen in the streets after a certain hour at night. He also doubted very much whether cigarette-smoking was as bad for children as excessive indulgence in sweets. Professor Woodhead said that bad as the smoking of tobacco was for young children the smoking of brown paper was a great deal worse, yet, oddly enough, that was not to be made a criminal offence. He was not offering these observations with any idea of advocating cigarette-smoking; he was not himself a cigarette-smoker. He did not doubt that children were very much better without cigarette-smoking, and certainly indulgence in it to an 43 excessive extent must be bad for them. He agreed that it was a bad habit, and that in some cases it did real harm. They therefore had in it the first requirement of legislation; they had an evil to cope with, but before they passed the legislation they must consider whether it was going to do any good. The question was not whether tobacco or cigarette-smoking was an evil for the young, but whether their legislation would cure it. To arrive at a decision on that point they must first ask themselves: Why did boys and girls smoke cigarettes? Why did they smoke this filthy stuff, which was not even tobacco, which they bought at the rate of five for 1d., and which was even nastier than brown paper? The reply to that question was that they smoked out of bravado, and not because they were going to get such pleasure as the ordinary smoker claimed to obtain—although, personally, he had never been able to see where it came in; they smoked in order to swagger and pretend that they were older than they really were. If it were made a criminal offence there was a risk of encouraging the boys who now smoked to smoke more than ever. This was not a matter for the criminal law at all, and it was important that that law should not be applied to a subject to which it was not properly applicable. And it was even more important to avoid saying: "We disapprove such-and-such a practice; we will therefore make it a criminal offence for people to indulge in it and will bring them before the criminal Courts." That would be very likely to bring the criminal law into disrepute, and it was a procedure too which was bad in itself. It was for that reason mainly that he was opposed to this group of clauses.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The noble Lord is now discussing the clauses themselves. I must point out that in moving the re-committal of the Bill a Member is not entitled to discuss the merits of the clauses, but merely to give reasons why they should be sent to a Select Committee.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he very much regretted that he should have transgressed the proper limits of order, but what he was anxious to show was that 44 these clauses required further consideration before they were passed into law, and in order to obtain such consideration they should be sent to a Select Committee with power to hear fresh evidence. There was one proposal which required to be very seriously considered; and that was the provision that the parents of a child brought before the criminal courts should also be required to attend. If they compelled a parent to come to a court to hear a case against his child, they would fine that parent the amount of a day's work, if not inflict upon him more serious injury. They ought to consider very carefully before they made this a criminal offence. There was one passage in the evidence given before the Lords Select Committee which the House would do well to carefully consider. Sir W. Broadbent was asked whether smoking led to drinking, and he replied that in his opinion the two habits went very much together. Smoking was not merely an incentive to thirst, but it encouraged self-indulgence, and self-indulgence in one thing led to self-indulgence in another. It amounted to this, that the evil of cigarette smoking in the opinion of this distinguished doctor was not so much an actual physical evil as that it led to self-indulgence when its twin led to moral degradation. They ought, therefore, very carefully to consider before they passed a law which would in fact apply to a child the criminal law for the correction of what was merely a moral offence. It was on these grounds he desired to have this group of clauses further considered. Everybody admitted that cigarette-smoking was bad for children; everyone would agree that if parents did their duty they would stop their children indulging in it, but it was a very different thing to make it a criminal offence. He therefore trusted the House would agree to send these clauses to a Select Committee for further consideration, in the hope that they would be moulded in such a form as to avoid the injurious results which he feared would follow their enactment as they now stood.
§ *THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL,) Yorkshire, Cleveland
said the ruling of the Speaker had rendered it unnecessary for him on that occasion to discuss the merits of that part of the Bill which dealt with juvenile smoking, but when the time came for considering those clauses the Government would have no difficulty in showing both their necessity and their practicability. So far as the necessity for inquiry was concerned, the matter had been carefully considered by three committees. There was the well-known Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration in 1904, which took evidence on this very subject and came to an unanimous and emphatic conclusion that legislation was necessary for the suppression of juvenile smoking. Two years later the other House appointed a Select Committee specially to deal with the subject. That Committee took much evidence from medical witnesses, schoolmasters, and social workers of all kinds, and it again unanimously and with equal emphasis recommended that legislation practically on the lines of this Bill should be adopted. In the present session they had had prolonged discussions in the Standing Committee on the Bill. That Committee devoted three and a half sittings to the consideration of these clauses alone. The attendance of Members was full; the clauses were most minutely and carefully examined, and though they were opposed by only a very small group of Members the opposition was keen and active and not a point escaped consideration. The closure was never moved throughout the sittings of the Committee. Surely there was no need for further consideration by a fourth Committee. The noble Lord agreed that juvenile smoking was an evil, and the only point therefore, was whether the legislation proposed would cure it or not. That was a matter for the House. If the House thought the clauses unsuitable it had the remedy in its own hands and the clauses could be modified or rejected, but the noble Lord had adduced no new facts or fresh considerations showing that the matter required further examina- 46 tion by a committee. He ventured to suggest indeed that the real object of the noble Lord in moving this Resolution was rather to display at the earliestpossible moment his objection to this part of the Bill than to secure its acceptance by the House.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
had much pleasure in supporting the Motion of the noble Lord. He did not think the Under-Secretary had advanced any strong arguments against it. He had told them the matter had been considered by a Departmental Committee as well as by a Select Committee of the House of Lords, but was that any reason why the House of Commons should not have its own Committee to inquire into a matter which vitally affected all classes of people? Surely it was a new doctrine to propound that because the House of Lords had come to a certain decision, that must be accepted as the basis of legislation by the House of Commons. He did not think that that argument would hold water with many hon. Members on the Government benches. This was an extremely important matter, and before they converted the practice of cigarette-smoking by young people into a criminal offence they ought to have the whole question carefully considered by a Committee of their own House. It was not sufficient to look at it from a medical point of view. There was also the question of practicability to be borne in mind, as well as its relation to the interests of the working classes. Before they decided to make a man a criminal because his son of fifteen smoked cigarettes they ought to have strong evidence laid before a responsible tribunal to show the necessity for legislation of that nature.
§ MR. RAWLINSON (Cambridge University)
reminded the House that he spoke against the whole of these clauses on the Second Reading of the Bill and he need not repeat his views on that occasion. But he desired to point out that in this matter they were making an entirely new departure, and in his opinion they had altogether failed in this ill-considered Bill to deal with the means by which they could most effectively stop cigarette-smoking by boys 47 under sixteen years of age. Let him cite one concrete example to show the inadequacy and weakness of their proposals. Let them consider what would be the operation of the Bill in country districts. It would be the duty of a policeman to summon a boy found smoking before a Petty Sessional Court several miles away—to bring him, and possibly his father, before a Court for the first time. And that Bench would have no power to inflict any punishment at all, but merely to warn him that if he was caught again, it might be with a cigarette in his pocket, he might be fined 5s. That was an undignified position in which to place the Courts of law. Surely it was possible to invent some less clumsy method of dealing with the evil.
There was a German method of dealing with a question of that kind. For instance, in the case of riding a bicycle without a light, they did not hale the offender before a Court, but served him with a notice to pay a shilling or something of that kind, and if he was guilty he paid the shilling and did nothing more. Some such system as that might possibly be evolved in this particular case. What he submitted was that it might be possible to have a Committee with practical experience of sitting in petty sessions, an experience which seemed to be absent from the gentlemen who drew up this Bill, and they would know the unworkability of these clauses. He pressed the House strongly to allow the matter to go to a Committee to see if they could not discover a better way of securing what the House wished to be done, viz., the stopping of smoking by boys under sixteen, than by invoking the criminal law. He hoped the Government would see their way to accede to the Motion, and that some way would be devised for carrying out what they wished to see done, viz., that juvenile smoking should be put an end to.
§ *MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said he agreed with the noble Lord and with the last speaker as to the seriousness of making a new crime, especially in such a matter as this. If the Bill had been one to make it a crime for anybody to smoke up to the age of sixty he might have thought better of it. He thought 48 the idea of making it penal for a boy to smoke when all his elders were smoking in his presence was horrible. If the fathers of the country were so strong against smoking, let them set the example of not smoking. It was bad for all, young and old, and he was not sure it was not worse for the old than, for the young; old people died of it, and young people did not. When the Government weakened the parental authority they weakened a very good authority, and the child could then be led astray on all hands. They did not want boys forbidden to do this and that by statute, but boys who had learnt to do their duty and to do as they were told. Anybody who had attended the discussions of that House knew how matters were rushed and how there was no time for proper consideration, and he thought the arguments of the last speaker were quite sufficient justification for referring this matter back to a Committee. He thought the Bill would be ridiculous in its present form. It forbade cigarette-smoking, but when they reached the last part of the clauses in question it forbade other things. It did not, however, forbid smoking a big cigar, and it might be said it was a Bill to legalise the smoking of big cigars by little boys. That was what it amounted to; the little boy could get a big cigar, and the Courts must decide what was a big and what was a little cigar. The little cigar was illegal, even for a great big boy of nearly six feet. The Bill as it stood was simply absurd, and he hoped the House would pause before rushing down that steep incline of interfering between parents and their children. Already children had been taught by law to think that there were other people in the country superior to their parents. The father might think it a good thing for his son to smoke, and why should the boy not say he was smoking because his father thought he should? The law in future would forbid a boy to smoke a cigarette, but it would permit him to drink a glass of rum, and the boy would say the law did not forbid him to drink a glass of rum, but only his father, and that if the Government thought it wrong to drink rum they would have passed a law to that effect. He would not go through 49 all the vices by which little boys were beset, but the Bill amounted to legalising all these other vices. If they once interfered in this way with such details they would be, in effect, legalising all these other vices. He thought most earnestly and seriously that it would be a good thing if these clauses were referred to a Select Committee, where the whole matter might be argued out at length and in detail. He was not prepared to defend smoking; he believed it was a vile practice, which he learnt when he was young and gave up again in a few years when he had a little more sense. It was true the Government only proposed a reprimand in the first instance, a 5s. fine in the second instance, and 10s. in the third, but if the 10s. was not forthcoming—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman is now discussing the clauses of the Bill. He should give reasons for sending these particular clauses back to a Committee and not discuss particulars now. They will come later.
§ MR. LUPTON
said he only wanted to show how serious the matter was if it might lead to a boy being committed to prison for non-payment of a fine.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said he would support his noble friend if he went to a division. He did not propose to discuss the clauses or the wider question opened by the hon. Gentleman in regard to whether smoking was wholesome or not. He did not share his views either as to the un-wholesomeness of smoking or as to the excellent results following from nonsmoking habits. They were asked, and reminded by Mr. Speaker that it was their whole duty to consider, what reasons there were for the adoption of the Motion of his noble friend. The Under-Secretary said the noble Lord had given no reason, but the hon. Gentleman on the other hand had given no adequate reason for adhering to this procedure. He had told them he would later on justify these clauses. He (Mr. Long) had often said in that House that he believed the Standing Committees were being rendered a positive danger by the amount and the quality and character of the work referred 50 to them. Everybody who had spoken in that debate had dwelt on the fact that they were creating a new crime, and they were deliberately proposing to make it a crime which would be recorded against children of tender years and be to their discredit afterwards that they should have indulged in the habit of cigarette-smoking, as to which they knew very little when they were induced by their companions to take to it for the first time. The Under-Secretary had referred to the inquiries held by Committees of the other House, and said he knew of medical men, and so on; but what he had failed to meet was this. It was asked by his noble friend that the clauses should be referred to a Select Committee for two reasons, one being, as he gave abundant evidence in his speech to show, that there was great ground for further consideration before a decision was arrived at, and the other that evidence could not be considered by the House itself on the Report stage. The Under-Secretary ignored the fact known to everybody that the Report stage of a Bill was almost an impossible one for the raising of new matter and for the making of proposals which frequently required, not only further consideration, but for their good presentment to the House detailed examination, which was only possible when those in favour or against could address the House more than once. He was astounded that this Government and the Party which supported them should be prepared, on such a very limited examination of the facts, to create a new crime out of what he believed was a very unwholesome practice, but nobody hitherto in his senses had thought that a child ought to be considered as a criminal because he happened to smoke a cigarette. In his opinion it was grandmotherly legislation of the worst possible kind, and he agreed with the hon. Member for Sleaford when he said that if they wanted to improve the morality of the younger generation they would not do it by legislation of that kind. They would not only not improve it, but they would do something worse. They would undermine their strength of character if they taught them that by indulging in this practice they were making themselves criminals, when they ought to teach them 51 to follow the precepts and examples of those older than themselves and avoid such practices, which they were told on good authority were very injurious; but he was bound to say that, notwithstanding the fact that a large number of boys were to be seen smoking cigarettes, he had not come across any evidence—and he did not know where the doctors got it from—to prove that there was any sign amongst our men of a deterioration of strength as a consequence of this habit. However that might be, he believed there was abundant evidence to show that they could deal with it effectively without making it a crime. There would be no
§ chance for the consideration of any alternative proposal on the Report stage, and if his noble friend went to a division he should certainly support him, for he believed the Motion was in the interests of the mass of the people of the country, in regard to whom he thought it was most unfair that the House should pass legislation of this kind which had not received, either in the House or in the country, the consideration which its importance justified.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 44; Noes, 164. (Division List No. 241.)53
|Ashley, W. W.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Guinness, Hn. R. (Haggerston)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Heaton, John Henniker||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hill, Sir Clement||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Joynson-Hicks, William||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Kimber, Sir Henry||Walsh, Stephen|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Younger, George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lupton, Arnold|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Magnus, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Lord|
|Fell, Arthur||Nolan, Joseph||Robert Cecil and Mr. Bowles.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cowan, W. H.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Cox, Harold||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r.)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Crooks, William||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Curran, Peter Francis||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barker, John||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Higham, John Sharp|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Dobson, Thomas W.||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Hodge, John|
|Boland, John||Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hudson, Walter|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Essex, R. W.||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Everett, R. Lacey||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Ferens, T. R.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Fuller, John Michael F.||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Fullerton, Hugh||Kincaid-Smith. Captain|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Glover, Thomas||Lambert, George|
|Clough, William||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Griffith, Ellis J.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Grove, Archibald||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex. Harwich|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Gulland, John W.||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Radford, G. H.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Raphael, Herbert H.||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis||Redmond, William (Clare)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Rees, J. D.||Summerbell, T.|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhmpton||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Ridsdale, E. A.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Marnham, F. J.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Thome, G. R. (Wolverhampton|
|Massie, J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Toulmin, George|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Verney, F. W.|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Rose, Charles Day||Wardle, George J.|
|Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard)||Rowlands, J.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Myer, Horatio||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Nicholls, George||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|O'Brien, William (Cork)||Sears, J. E.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|O'Malley, William||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Snowden, P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Steadman, W. C.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
, said the new clause on the subject of overlying was one which was moved as the outcome of a very long discussion on the subject in Committee upstairs in substitution for a clause which found a place in the Bill on its first introduction. There were every year about 1,600 deaths of infants from this cause in England and Wales, and it was impossible for the State altogether to ignore this terrible rate of mortality. That admirable Society, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, had long urged that legislation should be passed on this subject, and they found the Coroners throughout the country repeatedly calling attention to the grave rate of mortality among infants due to this cause and appealing to Parliament for law in regard to it. The hon. Member for Portsmouth last year introduced a Bill having this as one of its chief objects. The clause as it originally stood made overlaying an offence under all circumstances, and it was punishable by a fine of £10, but if the parent or other person who was responsible could be proved to be under the influence of drink at the time, then the penalty was increased. The Committee upstairs deliberated at great length on the subject, and it was generally of opinion that a clause of that character was somewhat too harsh. Overlying was regarded as usually an accidental occurrence, for 54 which no real blame could be attached to the parent. It was thought, that, although it might be desirable that parents should not take their infants to sleep in the same bed with them; they must face the conditions as they were and realise that great numbers did so. Personally he rather doubted whether it was necessary for this custom to continue. In Germany, which had a poorer population on the whole and a colder climate, overlaying was regarded as an offence, and the result had been that within the last few years the deaths from this cause had almost disappeared; they had been reduced to the most minute proportions, and what was possible there ought not to be impossible here. However that might be, he felt it his duty to Stall in with the generally expressed desire of the Committee. At the same time, hon. Members on the Committee felt that where it could be proved that the overlaying was due to the drunkenness of the parents it was impossible for the law to close its eyes to the circumstances. There were some remarkable figures which indicated that these deaths added to the heavy toll taken by the drinking evil in this country. The Registrar-General's figures showed that the deaths from this cause were twice as numerous on Saturday nights as on other nights in the week. Further, the Medical Officer for the County of London had sent him some figures covering the period 55 1901–1907, showing that these deaths were 50 per cent. more frequent in weeks in which there were bank holidays than in other weeks, and the House could draw its own conclusions from that fact. The existing law permitted the parent to go home in a state of incapable intoxication, to lie on the infant and smother it to death, and in practice there was no means for imposing any penalty in such circumstances. In 1906, in England and Wales there were 1,453 inquests on infants suffocated, and only one verdict of manslaughter was returned by a coroner's jury. The present law was inadequate, because where it applied at all it was too harsh, and the juries would not permit persons to be tried for manslaughter on this charge, nor would the juries in the Assize Courts condemn them. It was the wish of the Government to impose a new penalty of a lighter kind, and that was the purpose for which he now begged to move.
New clause—Where it is proved that the death of an infant under three years of age was caused by suffocation (not being suffocation caused by-disease or the presence of any foreign body in the throat or air-passages of the infant) whilst the infant was in bed with some other person over sixteen years of age, and that that other person was at the time of going to bed under the influence of drink, that other person shall be deemed to have neglected the infant in a manner likely to cause injury to its health within the meaning of this part of this Act.'"—(Mr. Herbert Samuel.)
§ Brought up, and read a first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
said that, as the Under-Secretary had stated, they had had very considerable discussion on this question in Grand Committee, and he was one of those who thought the clause as originally drafted contained a very great hardship on the poorer classes, and he added his voice and influence in favour of the reduction of the penalty which the original Bill proposed. He thought the hon. Gentleman, after discussion upstairs, promised to meet them on the point, and he thought those who were or the Grand Committee practically agreed to 56 accept a clause providing that it was limited, as this was limited, to parents who took their children to bed with them and overlay them while under the influence of drink. Whether or not the clause in working ought to be limited to habitual drinkers or to a woman or mother under the influence of drink was a question. He considered that the new clause proposed by the Under-Secretary was a great improvement upon the clause originally introduced in the Bill. For those reasons he should support it.
§ MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)
said that, as he understood the point, the offence at which this clause struck could only be dealt with under the present law on a charge of manslaughter, and the necessity for this clause was that juries were very properly reluctant to convict upon so serious a charge in such cases. There might, however, be instances which were clear cases of manslaughter and nothing else, and it was very important that they should clearly understand whether it would be competent if this Bill passed to indict guilty persons for manslaughter. It was true that the present law would remain, but the new clause now proposed would, to a great extent, override and supersede it. It seemed to him that they might be running the risk of reducing a possible punishment for even so gross an offence as manslaughter to the much lighter punishment suggested in this clause.
§ MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
pointed out that if a person committed an indictable offence it would be possible to proceed against him or her under the ordinary law even if this clause became law.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
drew attention to the latter portion of the clause which contained the words "injury to its health within the meaning of this part of the Act." The words "this part of the Act" were intended to be read with and applied to this new clause. He thought the fears of his hon. friend the Member for Norwood were groundless. He desired to make a few remarks upon the clause itself. His right hon. friend had told the House 57 that there was a general consensus of opinion on the Grand Committee in favour of making the overlying of children whilst under the influence of drink a crime, but it should not be overlooked that a great majority of these cases were accidental. It could not be alleged that overlying was done purposely. To bring a woman who had caused the death of her child in this way into Court in order to prove her innocence was a very harsh proceeding. He was glad that that proposal had been dropped and that the clause had been modified in the way suggested by the Under-Secretary. Who was going to prove that a person was under the influence of drink at the time of going to bed? In the case of an habitual drunkard what was now proposed might be a reasonable provision which could be enforced, but personally he objected to all this kind of legislation if it could not be enforced. No good object could be gained by bringing in a large quantity of Bills, and going to the country and asking the electors to look at the number of Bills the Government had passed. They wanted measures which could be put into force when passed. This was a proposal which they could not enforce. How could they prove that a parent was under the influence of drink at the moment of going to bed? People did not remain under the influence of drink for ever, and the length of time a person could be considered under the influence of drink depended very largely upon his state of health and upon the quantity of drink he had consumed. Some people who might be said to be under the influence of drink might be all right after an hour's sleep. Take, for example, the case of a woman who took three glasses of beer and went to bed at ten o'clock. She might overlie her child on the following morning, and how were they going to prove that she was under the influence of drink at the time the offence was committed? This proposal would undoubtedly inflict a very great hardship upon the working classes. He could understand such a proposal being applied to habitual drunkards. There were very few people indeed in this world who had not been slightly under the influence of drink once in their lives. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Simply because an un- 58 fortunate woman for once in a way took a little too much to drink and to her great sorrow and regret smothered her child she was to be haled before a Court of law, and rendered herself liable to three months' imprisonment with hard labour. She rendered herself liable to be brought before a Court of law upon a charge of having wilfully taken the life of her offspring owing to being in an inebriated state. He was rather sorry that his right hon. friend below him had committed himself to the clause. He agreed that the proposal now under discussion was better than the original clause, but he nevertheless hoped that the Government would not insist upon its being adopted, because it would inflict a great hardship upon innocent people. There might be cases where this kind of thing was deliberately done, and three months' hard labour was not severe enough. The ordinary law should be allowed to take its course. It had been said that the ordinary law would take its course, but the fact should not be overlooked that the tendency of the jury would be to inflict punishment under this clause and not under the ordinary law. He hoped the Government would not press the point.
§ MR. BRAMSDON (Portsmouth)
said that some time ago he brought in a Bill dealing with this subject on behalf of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Coroners' Society, and the British Medical Association. That Bill was brought forward on account of the large number of deaths which were continually occurring in connection with this question. He was a coroner himself, and had dealt with hundreds of these cases. Perhaps he would be allowed to say that from time to time he had felt very much grieved when these cases came before him, because he was unable to do anything to save the lives of those poor little children. The cause was a preventable one, and they ought to try and stop this kind of thing. He thought they would be able to stop it very largely by the adoption of this clause. Personally, he was sorry the larger measure would not be placed upon the Statute-book. He did not think the public would object to the passing of a clause which dealt 59 olny with the case of children who died through the neglect of their parents whilst under the influence of drink. If a parent went to bed under the influence of drink and a child lost its life through overlaying, that, parent ought to be called upon to answer for that offence. The hon. Member opposite had said: "Why don't you bring up a charge of manslaughter?" In a long experience extending over thirty years he had never heard of a conviction for manslaughter under those circumstances. It was very difficult to prove gross and culpable negligence, and he questioned whether any conviction in which that had been proved had taken place during his time. A measure of this kind would not prevent the charge of manslaughter being put forward where it could be shown to be a very serious case. If a child died in this way they could still prefer a charge that the child had undergone unnecessary suffering, and the parent could be proceeded against as having caused the child unnecessary suffering. It was not a small offence to cause the loss of the life of a child through carelessess and negligence on the part of the mother. With regard to the suggestion that the proposal should apply only to habitual drunkards, he did not think that even the hon. Baronet opposite, who was always very clever in his argument, would support that proposition. Everyone was aware that infant mortality was high enough as it was, and if by the passing of this measure they were able to confer a great benefit on infants they ought to pass it. He hoped it would bring about the saving of a great number of lives.
§ SIR HENRY KIMBER (Wandsworth)
said that this was a clause which might fairly be inserted in the Bill, provided it did not save delinquents in serious cases from being proceeded against on the greater charge of manslaughter, to which, under the ordinary law, they were liable. Notwithstanding what the hon. Member for Portsmouth had just said in his interesting speech, he ventured to say that that charge could not be brought under this Bill. In Clause 14 and also in Clause 15, there was a very proper proviso that in the case of offences under those clauses the operation of the ordinary 60 laws by indictment should not be prevented. If the Under-Secretary for the Home Department would be good enough to put a similar proviso at the end of this clause to save in serious cases the right of indictment for manslaughter, or even for murder, he thought the clause would be unobjectionable.
§ THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. CHERRY,) Liverpool, Exchange
said the hon. Member for Wandsworth appeared to be under a misapprehension with respect to the new clause. He thought it would be possible, in grave cases, to charge the offenders with manslaughter. He would point out that under the Interpretation Act of 1889 it was definitely provided that where any acts or omissions constituted an offence under a particular statute or under the ordinary law, it was possible to proceed in every case either under the statute or under the ordinary law. The ordinary law provided that a person could not be prosecuted twice for the same act. If a person violated this section, he or she might be proceeded against either under the section or, in a grave case, for manslaughter.
§ MR. CHERRY
said the noble Lord shook his head, but he could assure him that that was so. The Government would consider the matter between now and the subsequent stages in another place.
§ SIR HENRY KIMBER
If that be so, why is it necessary in Clauses 14 and 15 to insert a special proviso?
§ MR. CHERRY
said he would deal with that proviso when they came to it. He did not think it was necessary at all, but it would do no harm. The Government would consider the matter before the Bill went to another place, and if it appeared to them that a proviso was necessary they would deal with it. The great advantage of the new clause was that an offender might be proceeded against not by indictment, but before the magistrates, and summarily convicted. Juries would not take the serious view that in these cases it was manslaughter, and the result was 61 very serious from one point of view, for offenders escaped punishment altogether. If they allowed this to be an offence which the magistrates could deal with summarily, they enabled slight: penalties to be imposed, which would check the evil.
§ MR. CARLILE (Hertfordshire, St. Albans)
said it appeared to him that the Under-Secretary in explaining this clause had shown that the provisions he proposed to insert in the Bill were inadequate. The hon. Gentleman did not give any statistics to show what proportion of the 1,500 children whose lives were lost every year were lost as the result of intemperance. The hon. Gentleman was most destructive to his own clause in his reference to the deaths in Germany. Whereas in Germany these deaths were very numerous years ago, they had now almost disappeared. Did the hon. Gentleman think that this new clause, dealing as it did with drunkenness alone, was going materially to reduce the appalling number of fatalities of infants? Why did not the hon. Gentleman stick to his guns and retain in the Bill the clause which was in it when the measure was introduced? In the new clause they had very little prospect of the evil's disappearing—very little prospect indeed of its being affected at all, except in the case of those who were proved at the time of going to bed to be in a state of intoxication. They might be absolutely sober at the time of the overlying of the child. The drunkenness might have passed away, and the sleep following the drunkenness might be the absolute cause of the overlying. It seemed to him that the hon. Gentleman need hardly have troubled to move the new clause. It really was trifling with the whole matter. He deeply regretted that the hon. Gentleman had not seen his way to keep in the Bill the original clause which said—If any person causes the death of an infant under the age of three years by overlying it, that person shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding ten pounds, or, if the Court is satisfied from the evidence that the person who caused the death was under the influence of drink at the time, to a fine not exceeding twenty-five pounds, or alternatively or in default of payment of such fine, or in addition thereto, to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for any term not exceeding three months.62 That appeared to him to be a clause which would have been likely to reduce the evil.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he did not think the Attorney-General for Ireland appreciated the point which had been raised with reference to the drafting of the clause. The point was that some hon. Members were afraid that the effect of the new clause would be to make it compulsory in all cases where an infant was suffocated, and the person causing the suffocation had gone to bed under the influence of drink, that the person should be convicted not of manslaughter, but of neglect of the child. It was merely a question of drafting, and not a question of the Interpretation Act at all. The new clause took away all other offences and made it the duty of the Court to convict of the offence described in the clause, and that alone. Had the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Government draughtsman considered the clause from that point of view, and were they satisfied that that was not likely to be the effect of it? Why had not this offence been described as one of cruelty, as in certain other cases under Section 12? That was also a drafting point which he hoped the Government would consider.
§ MR. CHERRY
did not think that any difficulty arose in this matter. The new clause could not in any way prevent a prosecution under any other Act, because neglect in itself was an element in manslaughter just as much as in the statutory offence created by this Act. The words in the new clause were "shall be deemed to have neglected the infant," and, for whatever purpose, neglect might be the material issue. He assured the noble Lord that the Government would have the point considered most carefully, and if any real difficulty was likely to arise they would in another place make any Amendment that might be necessary.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS (Manchester, N.W.)
said that the gravamen of the charge was that the person was under the influence of drink at the time at which the accident took place. But it was quite possible that the woman might have gone to bed at ten o'clock under 63 the influence of drink, that the effects of the drink might have worn off about three or four o'clock in the morning, that she might have got up perfectly sober, and then have gone back to bed again and that the accident happened after that. He understood that the original clause contained words that the drunkenness was at the time of the overlying.
§ *MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said it appeared to him that if a child was suffocated when in bed by being overlaid, some person was to be prosecuted if that person went to bed under the influence of drink. But there might be three or four persons in the bed, as was often the case in the slums where there was only one bed in the whole house. The mother might go to bed perfectly sober and someone else might come to bed not quite sober. The mother might suffocate the child by overlying, and the person who went to bed under the influence of drink might have no direct connection with the cause of the death of the child. There had been a good deal of talk about the mildness of the penalty, but so far as he could make out, far a conviction on indictment the punishment was to be imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for any term not exceeding two years, or for six months on summary conviction. Surely that was severity enough in punishment for an accident. He considered that a maximum penalty of £5 or one month would be ample. It was said that 1,600 babies were overlain in one year, that was one child out of 600. That was not an enormous number; if it had been one child in 100 that might have been more serious. They did not want the criminal law to be used for jumping on poor unfortunate people who were fond of their children. They suffered enough when they lost their children; but on the top of that they were to be dragged to Court and subjected to severe penalties.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
moved the omission in line 5 of the clause, of the words "of going to bed." He suggested to the Under-Secretary that he should accept this Amendment.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
seconded the Amendment. As he understood the hon. Member for Hertfordshire that was the intention of the original clause. It seemed to him that the penalty should fall on the person who committed the offence when she was drunk. Hon. Gentlemen would not wish to inflict a penalty on a person who was in drink at ten o'clock at night, but who committed an offence at six o'clock on the following morning, when she might have been perfectly sober. The Amendment, he thought, would meet another of the wishes of the promoters of the Bill and of people with ordinary common-sense ideas—that the person who committed an offence under the influence of drink, and not after the drunkenness had passed away, should be liable to punishment.
Amendment proposed to the proposed new clause—
To omit the words 'of going to bed.'"—(Mr. Joynson-Hicks.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed new clause."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that if these words were omitted the prosecution would be required to prove, first, the minute or hour at which the child died; and secondly, when the mother, who was under the influence of drink when she went to bed, became sober. It would, he contended, be perfectly impossible to prove either of these things. The clause with these words omitted would be quite unworkable, and for that reason he asked the hon. Member not to press his Amendment.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG (Antrim, S.)
said that the Court, under the clause as it stood, would be bound to convict a person of causing the death of a child if she went to bed under the influence of drink, although she might be perfectly sober when the child was overlaid. It seemed to him, therefore, that the words proposed to be omitted might give rise to very serious injustice.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said that the hon. Gentleman would lose nothing if he accepted the 65 omission of these words. Of course, there would be cases where if a person went to bed under the influence of liquor it gave rise to the presumption that she was still under the influence of the drink when the suffocation of the child took place. But supposing a case where the drunkenness had passed off at four in the morning, then they would have to prove a wholly irrelevant set of circumstances.
§ MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
said that the magistrate who was examining into the facts would surely not convict a woman if it was proved that she was sober at six or seven o'clock in the morning when the child died.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
moved to insert after the word "drink," the words "so caused the death of the infant." This was, he said, a drafting Amendment making, he thought, more clear the fact that a woman going to bed under the influence of drink should not be held to be guilty of a statutory offence; and the fact of a child being overlaid accidentally should not be made a statutory offence. If the words he proposed to insert were added to the clause it would be made perfectly clear that she must have overlaid the child when under the influence of drink.
§ MR. LUPTON
seconded the Amendment. He was glad the hon. Member had adopted the suggestion he had offered, and he believed that it would remove all ambiguity.
Amendment proposed to the proposed new clause—
In line 6, after the word 'drink,' to insert the words 'and so caused the death of the infant.'"—(Mr. Joynson-Hicks.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that the Government could not accept the Amendment. The clause already was one which it would be very difficult to enforce and the Amendment would make it impossible to put it in operation. They could never prove that the woman, so 66 caused the death of the infant. No one was there to watch the infant die. If the infant died from suffocation and the woman went to bed under the influence of drink, the presumption was that the death was due to that and she must advance evidence to refute it. He thought if there was to be any penalty at all upon overlying in cases of drunkenness they must have a clause in the wording which had been put on the Paper; any addition or complication would make the clause unworkable.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
said he really could not conceive that it could be the intention of the Government that a person who had not caused the death of an infant—whom the magistrates did not think had caused the death of an infant, and whom the jury found as a fact did not do so—should be convicted. Yet even if the jury found as a fact that the woman had not caused the death of the child at all, a conviction was bound to follow unless the words which had been proposed were put in the clause. There was no doubt about it from the drafting point of view; unless they put in these words such a result must necessarily follow. He challenged any legal Member sitting on the other side of the House to say that if he were sitting as a judge in a case of this kind, if the section were not amended he would not have to charge the jury that the offence was not causing the death of the child, but getting into bed drunk and the child being subsequently suffocated. He trusted that the Under-Secretary would see his way to accept the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman had been very reasonable in regard to the clause, which he heartily supported as against the original clause as it stood upon the Second Reading. The hon. Gentleman had distinctly improved the clause, but he could not conceive that it was the intention of those who framed this section to convict a person who was not guilty of causing the death of the child. The point put by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire was perfectly correct, although he put it in a joking way. The wife might go to bed perfectly sober and look after the child then perfectly well. The husband might afterwards come to bed the worse for drink, and have nothing 67 to do with the child, who might be accidentally overlaid by the wife later on, and yet the husband was to be made liable for the death of the child. It was a reductio ad absurdum, and unless these words were put in the case might happen. An hon. Member had said that there was some method by which the wife could arrange not to overlie the child. He would take his word that it was so, but at the same time he thought that if it was, they should have heard of it before. It amounted to this, that if a husband came to bed the worse for drink and had nothing to do with the overlying at all, yet, unless the Government accepted this Amendment, he would be liable to be taken before the justices and convicted. He pressed the Government very strongly on this subject, although he had supported them by his silence as far as he could, as the most effective way of doing so. The intention of the Government, he took it, was simply to punish the people who went to bed the worse for drink and thereby caused injury to the child, and not by putting these words in to make the magistrates find contrary to the facts or judges to direct juries in a way in which no judge should have to direct them. They were making a great change by this Bill, and an hon. Member had pointed out in an eloquent speech the great difficulty he had found in getting juries to convict women under these circumstances. They were taking away from the women the safeguard of a jury which they enjoyed at the present time, and making them liable to be dealt with by the magistrates; therefore, it was more important that they should make it absolutely clear what the offence was, and that it should be put in black and white in the Bill that it was only the person who caused the death of a child who should be punished for it. The Court should find out whether it was the case that the death of the child was caused by a drunken person, but they were entitled to infer from this clause that the fact that a drunken person was in bed with a child which was suffocated caused its death, unless these words were inserted.
thought there would be a great deal in the remarks of the hon. 68 Gentleman if the effect of the clause was to make the offence manslaughter, because then one must prove that the cause of the child's death was negligence. All that this clause provided, however, was that the person who had done this act of going to bed under the influence of drink should be deemed to have neglected the child in a manner likely to cause injury to its health. That was not manslaughter, and they did not introduce all the elements of manslaughter. His hon. friend had pointed out that they were cutting down this offence, but they did not want to cut down the offence of manslaughter, and if it could be proved that drunkenness was the cause of the death of the child the offence of manslaughter was still open, to be charged. But they made it an offence to do something which was likely to cause injury to health, and it was a matter of fact whether a person went drunk to bed so as to neglect the child in such a manner. That was the foundation of the clause which otherwise was unnecessary, because they did not want it to punish a person who it could be proved had caused or contributed to the death of the child.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the hon. Member for the Radcliffe Division of Lancashire contended that no judge or jury would convict anybody because he or she went to bed drunk if through someone else, who was sober, coming to bed a child died. He would, however, call the attention of the hon. Member to the remarks of the Attorney-General for Ireland, who said that the intention of the Government was to punish a person who went to bed drunk, whether the child died from that cause or not.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that was the whole of their point. The hon. Member for Radcliffe said that a person should not be punished for going to bed drunk, but, he must see that that would be the effect of the clause which said—Whilst the infant was in bed with some other person over sixteen years of age, and that that other person was at the time of going to bed under the influence of drink, that other 69 person shall be deemed to have neglected the infant in a manner likely to cause injury to its health.Unless these words were inserted the mother might go to bed with the infant under the influence of drink; she might be sober at six or seven o'clock in the morning when the accident happened, or the husband might come to bed sober and by accident overlie the infant, but the effect of this would be that the mother would be liable to a penalty of three months' imprisonment, because when she went to bed she was slightly under the influence of drink, and nobody would have any alternative but to say that the jury should convict because the clause said that the other person must be deemed to have neglected the infant
§ in a manner likely to cause injury to its health. Therefore, if they could once prove that the mother went to bed under the influence of liquor at eight o'clock in the evening she would be deemed to be guilty of an offence at six or seven o'clock in the morning. He did not think that even this House of Commons would wish to make her punishable under those circumstances. He therefore hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a division, and that they would have the support of the hon. Member for the Radcliffe Division.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 45; Noes, 170. (Division List No. 242.)71
|Ashley, W. W.||Hamilton, Marquess of||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hill, Sir Clement||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Houston, Robert Paterson||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Keswick, William||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Kimber, Sir Henry||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birminghm||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Lupton, Arnold||Younger, George|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Marks, H. H. (Kent)|
|Fell, Arthur||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joynson-Hicks and Sir FrederickBanbury.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Gardner, Ernest||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Guinness, Hn. R. (Haggerston)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Cleland, J. W.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Ambrose, Robert||Clough, William||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Clynes, J. R.||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Gibb, James (Harrow)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Glover, Thomas|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Cooper, G. J.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Barker, John||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gulland, John W.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Cowan, W. H.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Boland, John||Cox, Harold||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Crooks, William||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Curran, Peter Francis||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r.)|
|Brace, William||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Brigg, John||Dobson, Thomas W.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Henry, Charles S.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Essex, R. W.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Everett, R. Lacey||Hodge, John|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Ferens, T. R.||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield||Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard||Snowden, P.|
|Hudson, Walter||Myer, Horatio||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Napier, T. B.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Jackson, R. S.||Nicholls, George||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Nolan, Joseph||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Summerbell, T.|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Nuttall, Harry||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||O'Malley, William||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Lambert, George||Radford, G. H.||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Raphael, Herbert H.||Toulmin, George|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')||Verney, F. W.|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Rees, J. D.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Ridsdale, E. A.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Rose, Charles Day||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Rowlands, J.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Marnham, F. J.||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.|
|Massie, J.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
§ *MR. WALTER GUINNESS (Bury St. Edmunds)
moved a new clause providing that in all cases where children were brought before a Court charged with an offence which rendered them liable to be sent to an industrial school, it should be the duty of the Court to give notice in writing to the parent or guardian of such child of the powers which might be exercised by the managers of the certified school in the event of a detention order being made in respect of such child. He had put this clause down at the request of the London County Council because it was apparent to those responsible for the administration of the Industrial Schools Act that there was a very great amount of ignorance among the parents as to the very stringent powers vested in the managers. The new clause was not quite in the form it was intended to be, but if the House agreed to the principle and gave it a Second Reading he proposed to move an Amendment to make it run as follows: "Where a child or young person is brought before a Court charged with an offence which renders it liable to be committed," etc. There were two classes of parents which this 72 new clause affected. There were the parents who, though careless and neglectful of their children, were not criminal, but who were quite willing to allow the State to take the responsibility of educating their children in these schools. It often happened that more than one child of such parents was admitted into these schools, and it might sometimes be thought by the parents having a knowledge of the excellent education given therein that it was better for their child to be educated there and taught a trade than that the child should be educated at the public elementary schools. Of one thing there could be no doubt. There were a large number of parents who were only too anxious to get their children into these schools. This year there were 100 cases in which children were admitted to these schools under Section 16 of the Act, under which children were charged by their parents with being out of control. The education at the industrial schools cost about £21 per head, and it was very desirable to prevent children being sent to the schools unless it was absolutely necessary. The object of the new clause was that the parent should be informed of the real state of the law; that he 73 should be made to realise that in sending his child to one of these schools he forfeited all control over him, and that the managers of the school were at liberty to apprentice the child or dispose of him by means of emigration without consulting the parent. There were neglectful parents who still had some affection for their children who would under those circumstances do their best to prevent their child being brought up to be sent to these schools. There was another class of parents who had a directly harmful influence on their children. It was often found that whilst children were in the schools their parents came down and interfered with them, and that frequently the managers had to send these children away to other schools, sometimes as far away as Manchester, in order to remove them from the influence of their parents. Then there was the tramp or criminal parent who regarded the education given as a valuable asset of which they were quite ready to take advantage when the child arrived at a wage-earning age. It frequently happened that when a child was apprenticed out its parents tramped down, sometimes as far as Wales, and told the child tales of hardships, or lured him away with a tale of higher wages to be obtained elsewhere. It was important that these parents should realise that they were liable to a fine or imprisonment if they interfered in any way with their children. He hoped the Government would accept the clause he now begged to move.
Where a child or young person is charged or brought before a Court with the intention of being committed to a certified school it shall be the duty of the Court to give notice in writing to the parent or guardian of such child or young person of the powers which may be exercised by the managers of the certified school in the event of a detention order being made in respect of such child or young person."—(Mr. Guinness.)
§ Brought up, and read a first time.
§ Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
pointed out that the object of this new clause 74 was that the parents of children brought before a Court should have information as to what the control by the managers of certified schools meant. The hon. Member had quoted one class of case which he himself did not think was quite relevant. That case was of the parent who wished to get his son into an industrial school, and who knew too much rather than too little, and who was only too eager to obtain the advantage given at the cost of the State. That was a case which need not be taken into consideration. But there was the case of parents who, under Clause 16 of the old Act and the corresponding clause of this Bill, brought their children before a Court in order to get them into these schools, but who, he thought, did not always fully realise what they were doing. They thought their child would be punished by being sent to a school for a time, and then they could get him again when they pleased, and were not to be deprived of his services as a wage-earner till, perhaps, the age of sixteen. That was certainly a case which ought to be met. Then there was the drunken parent who had not understood that the child had been taken from his control, and who came down to the school and sought to entice the child away. In that case, also, something might be done, but not on these lines. The clause, as it appeared on the Paper or as it was proposed to be amended by the hon. Member, was not workable. No child ever came before a Court with the intention of being committed to a certified school. The intention might be in the mind of the Court or the persons bringing the child, but it was impossible to say what course was to be taken until all the evidence was before the Court and the inquiry had taken place. They would have to make inquiry in order to see whether it was a suitable case in which to send the child to an industrial school. The hon. Member proposed by his clause that whenever a child was charged before the Court, if it was an offence rendering him liable to be sent to an industrial or reformatory school, notice should be sent to the parent. But that would cover any charge, as, for instance, the riding a bicycle on the footpath; but if a boy below the age of sixteen were charged with that offence, no one would 75 dream of sending him to an industrial school, although technically he might legally be sent. It would be absurd to send a long-winded notice to the parent and terrify him by saying that if the boy was sent to a reformatory or industrial school he would be kept there possibly until the age of sixteen, and afterwards be under the supervision of the managers. The last time he was a spectator in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, a boy, a perfectly respectable telegraph boy, was charged with the not very grave offence of kicking a football in the street, and fined half-a-crown. It would be absurd in such a case if, as soon as a charge was made against a boy in such circumstances, his parents were to be served with such a formidable notice. He thought the House would recognise that the proposal was not practicable. Only 3,000 children were committed to reformatory schools every year. Out of the tens of thousands charged, there was only a small proportion for whom this clause was really necessary. He suggested to the House the acceptance of an Amendment which he was very ready to put down to Clause 59, which said that where a child was brought by his parent before the Court as being uncontrollable, and it was desired that he should be sent to an industrial school, the Court, if satisfied on inquiry that it was in the interests of the child, might order him to be sent to an industrial school. He thought words could be inserted making it clear that it should be fully explained to the parent, before action was taken, what it really meant for him and his child if the latter were sent to an industrial school. Secondly, in regard to the case of children who had been sent to an industrial or reformatory school, what steps should be taken to inform the parents as to the extent to which their position was abrogated? He did not think that was a duty which ought to fall on the Court. The Courts of Summary Jurisdiction were bodies kept busily engaged, and it was rather an unnecessary burden to impose upon them to require that they should send in every case a notice to this effect. He thought that it should be the duty of the managers, or possibly of the local authorities, in cases where children were committed to the schools. The Home Office would 76 consider, in consultation perhaps with the local authorities, the best form of notice that might be drafted and uniformly used throughout the country for this purpose, and take steps to provide that this notice should be supplied to the local authorities and local managers of schools who might desire to use it. The clause, as it stood on the Paper, was really not satisfactory, and he thought the course he proposed on the whole was the better one.
§ MR. WALTER GUINNESS
, after the explanation of the hon. Gentleman, asked leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. WEDGWOOD (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
moved a new clause providing that if any person gave, or caused to be given, to any child under the age of five, any intoxicating liquor, except upon the order of a fully qualified medical practitioner, or in case of sickness or other urgent cause, he should, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding £3. He had moved a similar Amendment in Committee, and it had been lost by one vote, partly perhaps because he had not stated the case as strongly as he ought to have done. The objection was taken to his former Amendment in Committee that there might be some poor uneducated woman who would give alcohol to a child in a case of sickness such as measles, and might thereby render herself liable to be fined. He had felt the weight of that objection, and to meet it had amended the clause by the addition of the words "or in case of sickness." He thought that met the whole of the objection which had been raised before the Committee. Another point which had been raised was that it would be very difficult to obtain evidence of cases where drink was given, to children, and that it would consequently be very difficult to obtain convictions. That, of course, was a very strong objection to legislation, and in general he should be extremely anxious to see that any legislation when passed was capable of easy and universal application; but he thought there were exceptions to be made to that general rule, and these exceptions were 77 particularly applicable in cases of cruelty to children. If hon. Members looked at the Bill they would find that throughout it there were cases where it would be difficult to obtain evidence and to secure convictions. That was part of the difficulty of dealing with cases of cruelty to children. For instance, there was the question of mental and moral damage to children made punishable under the Bill. In all these cases, dealing with children, there were bound to be cases when the greatest difficulty would be found in obtaining evidence and getting convictions. Besides, there were three important considerations to be taken into account relating to this particular clause. In the first place, the law and public opinion, as Mr. Albert Brassey had pointed out, were constantly acting and counteracting upon each other. No doubt public opinion now recognised that it was a bad thing to give alcohol to little children, and educated public opinion had caused the bringing forward of this clause. If the clause were passed into law, then the law itself would counteract again upon uneducated public opinion, and it would lead, not so much to prosecution, as to a more educated and more progressive form of public opinion. Another very important consideration should, too, modify the condemnation of the clause on the ground that it was difficult to obtain evidence. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it would not be necessary to bring cases before the police court at all. Police court proceedings would not be in the least necessary. The clause, if passed into law, would strengthen the hands of all sorts of different people who visited homes where children were given drink, and who were at present unable, he would not say to enforce their views, but to back them up even with arguments which carried weight. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and district visitors, people who were so constantly increasing the sphere of their activity, would have their hands strengthened by the knowledge that the practice of giving gin to children to keep them quiet, and of giving sups of beer out of a sort of genial good-nature, was forbidden by law, and not merely discouraged or forbidden by the best medical evidence in the 78 country. The fact of their being able to say that would strengthen their hands in the right direction. The third reason which seemed to him to carry some weight, and made the difficulty of obtaining evidence of minor importance, was that there were plenty of cases where even now the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children managed to get convictions, where children were given alcohol, but they had to do it in a roundabout way, and the decision depended on what views the magistrates might take of doubtful interpretations. They had to consider, in the first place, the bench before which the case would be brought, and they had also to work up side issues and get evidence upon them, instead of upon the direct question whether drink had been given to a child. There were plenty of cases where the Society had managed to save children from alcohol, but in every case by indirect methods. It was obviously bad legislation when one had to attain one's end by roundabout methods. If it had been done until now in a roundabout way, it was an improvement on the existing state of the law to make it direct and simple and easily understood by parents, by the National Society, and by the benches of magistrates. There was a genuine need for preventing the giving of alcohol to little children, and there would, he thought, be few people found to deny that medical opinion was unanimous on the question that alcohol could only be required for little children in cases of severe burns. But however that might be, there was no necessity to bring before the police court any parent who gave alcohol to children under the erroneous supposition that it was good for their health in cases of sickness. It was bad for a child's health to have alcohol given to it. There had been cases in which children had been actually killed by being given alcohol. That sort of thing should not be permitted. It was bad for the health of the children; it might cause the death of children; and in addition children were initiated at a ridiculously early age into habits which might cause the utter ruin of their lives. He begged the Under-Secretary for the Home Office to give his support, as he had done in Committee, to the clause.
§ MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)
, in seconding the Motion, said the House was anxious to protect children from being sent to public-houses to procure drink, and this clause sought to prevent parents or others from giving children drink. To his mind the latter evil was greater than the former. He had seen parents giving children drink in public-houses, and he had always felt that he would like to thrash such parents, but had refrained, of course, as that would have been taking the law into his own hands. It might be argued that there would be difficulty in getting a case against the parent. He cared not whether there was a case or not. He wanted the clause put in in order to be an intimation to parents that if they persisted in doing this they would be brought within the meshes of the law. He thought it would have a good moral effect, and from that point of view he was prepared to support the clause. An exception was made if the child was ill, and the advice of a doctor was taken. Every Member of the House, whether a temperance reformer or not, was bound to admit that strong drink would have a detrimental effect upon the health of the child. Inasmuch as the age was only five years he hoped the Under-Secretary would, at all events, agree to some modification along the lines of the clause. He supported it, on moral grounds alone, as an intimation to parents that if they would persist in doing this thing they could be prosecuted.
New clause—If any person give, or cause to be given, to any child under the age of five any intoxicating liquor, except upon the order of a fully-qualified medical practitioner or in case of sickness or other urgent case, he shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding three pounds."—(Mr. Wedgwood.)
§ Brought up, and read a first time.
§ Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
§ *MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
hoped the Under-Secretary would pause before he added another crime to the over-burdened Statute-book. He sympathised entirely with what his hon. friend had said as to the culpable 80 character of giving liquor of any description to small children, but there must be something in the intention. Crimes were being multiplied regardless of intention. When Lord Macaulay, a name he believed held in great honour, particularly on that side of the House, was called upon to put together a Penal Code, in the definition of almost every crime he began by saying "whoever of intention." Here they had abolished intention. Intention had nothing whatever to do with the offence. The clause dealt with children under the age of five. Only recently he had seen, with extreme regret, a parent put a glass of wine to the lips of a child at a wedding when the health of the bride and bridegroom was being drunk. He thought it extremely wrong, and excessively foolish, but there was no intention of committing any offence. Yet under this clause the parent might have been found guilty. Again, who was to judge whether the case was one of sickness? He remembered a case in a remote part of Wales in which a country doctor was brought in to attend a small child who exhibited symptoms of an extremely common character. The doctor evidently did not know what was the matter with the child, and said: "Try whisky." That he thought was ignorance, but a mother who heard a doctor give advice like that might afterwards, in perfect good faith, give a little whisky to a child in a case where there was no real sickness, and without any intention of doing any harm to the child or of breaking the law. Section 14, was, he thought, a terrible and unjustifiable clause in the case of poor people. An unhappy mother who could not afford servants or anybody to look after the children, and had to do everything for herself and earn her living, was liable for an offence if the child burnt itself, and if in good faith she gave it liquor. If offences were multiplied in this way a parent's life would become a far from happy one, and affectionate and well-meaning, but unwise, mothers and fathers might find themselves in jail.
§ LORD R. CECIL
earnestly hoped the Government would not accept the clause. He could not think the hon. Member had considered the whole effects of the clause when he moved it. The 81 hon. Member who had just spoken had alluded to several cases which it would be perfectly monstrous to treat as criminal. The mover and seconder had pointed out with great candour that the clause would not be effective, but it appeared to him that it was objectionable on several other grounds. What possible ground was there for saying it was a criminal offence to give a child intoxicating liquor when it was four years and eleven months, but not when it was five years and one month. The thing was an absurdity. If there was anything in the theory that intoxicating liquor was always necessarily a poison to all children under five, it was equally true of children under seven, and, indeed, of children probably much older. There was no medical support for the opinion that five was the age which finally settled the question whether or not alcohol was poison to human beings. It was not very long ago since medical opinion was very different on this point. It was only a few years ago that it was quite common for weakly children, when there was no question of sickness, to receive regularly as a medicine or a tonic, or an article of food, some form of alcohol. If that was a perfectly legitimate medical opinion a few years ago, it was an outrage that now the House of Commons should turn round and say it was a criminal offence. Under Clause 12 there was a very comprehensive enactment indeed. Negligence which caused unnecessary suffering or injury to a child's health was a criminal offence already, and if it could be proved that giving alcohol to a child was under the circumstances likely to be an injury to its health, it was already a criminal offence. Why should they go on and select this particular form of injudicious treatment of children and make it an additional offence? He could conceive no reason except the rather unreasoning hatred of alcohol which prevailed in the minds of some hon. Members opposite. Whatever might be the true view as to alcohol it would be a matter of the greatest possible regret if hon. Members insisted on making the Bill a vehicle for their particular fads on one particular question. He hoped the Government would not 82 accept the Motion, and that if they did the House would reject it.
§ MR. MACLEAN (Bath)
said the number of children who were made drunk in this country was enormous. It was perfectly true that under a certain clause in the Bill, if it could be proved that anything given to the child was causing or was likely to cause injury, the parents could be punished, but it would have to be proved that the child was drunk before a conviction could be obtained. He could give a case in which an officer of the Children's Protection Society went to a house near Dublin, and in a room found two children, one five and the other three, both drunk. How had they been made drunk? By their father and mother, who wanted to keep them quiet while they went out. He had another case in which a father took his child, aged four, to a fair, where it was given such a large number of sips of whisky that it was seized with convulsions and died, the coroner's verdict being "Alcoholic poisoning given by mistake." He would like to raise the age not to five but to ten. He had a third case, where a tiny girl of seven was taken, perfectly innocently, by a friend of the family to a public-house. She was afterwards found in a bye-lane near the village, struggling along with her hands upraised, saying: "I am drunk! I am drunk!" These were not stories, they were facts. If small doses of laudanum were given to children, what an outcry there would be. Yet the effects were the same. It was time the House of Commons advanced along with medical opinion. Sir William Broadbent had said—Children should never know the taste of any alcoholic drink, and stimulants ought to be absolutely forbidden during school life.Sir Thomas Barlow, who gave evidence before the Select Committee on Physical Deterioration, said—It is immensely difficult to give statistics, but it is easy to give illustrations. In a boy, aged about ten, whom I had under my observation for several weeks, there was well marked evidence of gin drinker's liver and abdominal dropsy.He had for a long time carried to his father, who was a cabman, his daily meal, of which some spirit was one of the constituents. The cabman had given 83 the boy little sips of spirit, and he had got to like it. This was an immensely important thing for the assets of the State, the children of the country. Those who were opposing the clause were doing so from very proper motives, and he believed they were quite as kind-hearted and sympathetic as himself towards children, but they wore woefully mistaken in their opposition to anything which interfered with the liberty of the subject. There were two subjects, and the child was as much entitled to protection as the richest citizen. He knew these things went on. He thought they ought to give child life a chance of living free from poison, at any rate, up to the age of five years.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
said the hon. Member opposite appeared to him to have proved too much. He wished to point out that in all the cases cited by the hon. Member they could get a conviction under Clause 12. For purposes, therefore, of present debate they were considering only those cases where the administration of drink had not produced and was not likely to produce any ill effects. As regarded all the other cases where actual harm had been, or was likely to be produced, they would undoubtedly weaken the Bill by this clause. The Court would turn to this clause, and say it was evident that there was no intention of convicting under Clause 12, because here was a special clause dealing with the administering of drink. He hoped the House would pause before adopting such a clause as this. He wished to remind the House that Clause 12 applied not merely to cases of injury to health actually caused, but also to any act done which was likely to do such injury.
§ MR. JOHN WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)
suggested that the clause should not be pressed. He made the suggestion more particularly on account of the speech which had been made by the hon. Member for Bath. The hon. Member had used as illustrations cases where definite injury to the children was proved, and he was sure there was not a single hon. Member of the House who was not prepared to strengthen the law in 84 any direction which experience had shown to be necessary for the purpose of punishing parents who had injured the health of their children in that way. He did not agree that that was the principle of the new clause, which was very drastic indeed. It provided that—If any person give, or cause to be given, to any child under the age of five any intoxicating liquor, except upon the order of a fully-qualified medical practitioner or in case of sickness or other urgent cause, he shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding three pounds.Who was going to prove the urgent cause, and who was a better judge than the parent as to whether a little stimulant was required? The suggestion now put forward was unwise, and might injure some of the best and kindest parents in the world. Under no circumstances would he give a vote for this clause. He could quite understand, if a child's health suffered through administering alcohol, they ought to be able to punish not only the parents, but also those who suggested the administering of alcohol; but the idea that a good mother should be subjected to the punishment suggested in this clause because she had given the slightest drop of stimulant to her child was absurd. Many of the best parents who were considered most temperate often did this. To contend that because a person dropped three drops of brandy into a teaspoon and administered it to a child he was to be fined £3 was a most outrageous suggestion. [Cries of "No, no."] That was the meaning of the words "Except upon the order of a fully qualified medical practitioner, or in case of sickness." How were they going to prove that? The most drunken mother would be able to say that the child was sick, and there must be some proof of sickness. All the woman who took her child to the public-house would have to do was to declare that she had given her child intoxicating liquor because she believed it was sick, and then she would escape from the whole intention of the clause. He quite agreed with the object which the mover and seconder had in view, and they were all anxious to do all they could to protect child life. In his opinion this clause would not secure the object aimed at.
§ MR. GULLAND (Dumfries Burghs)
contended that the case to which the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent had alluded would be amply safeguarded, and such cases as he had quoted would be quite outside the purview of the Bill. The giving of alcohol to children under five years of age was doing an immense injury by vitiating the taste of the child in after life. He agreed that the limit of five years was too low, and the mover of the Amendment was very moderate in putting it at that age. Five years was the school age for infants, and that was the reason this limit had been fixed upon. Hon. Members opposite had spoken as if everybody who had children were good parents, and as if all mothers were kind to their children. Later on they would come to the case of infant life protection, where they would find that children were under the care of many other people besides parents who were not always too anxious that the children in their charge should be well brought up. It was to protect the children against this particular class of people that a clause of this kind was necessary. The giving of alcohol to young children generally arose from ignorance and stupidity, and the intention was frequently to silence the child and enable it to sleep in a dosed condition in order that the parent might go out of the house for hours. That was not a right thing for anybody to do, and he thought they ought to bring to the notice of such people the knowledge that if they did that kind of thing they would be punished for it. He could not agree that this clause would do any harm to any well-intentioned parent. In this case their aim was to protect the interests of the children, and for that reason he thought this clause was necessary.
§ *MR. LUPTON
thought that this attempt to make a short cut to improve society would, in the long run, prove to be the longest way round. He considered that this was a piece of grand-motherly legislation. What was the use of the parent, the schoolmaster, and the parson, if the policeman was to be called upon to do all this kind of work? It seemed to him that 86 the proposal would not accomplish the object they had in view. Within the lifetime of people now living a large number of persons had taught that alcohol was not in itself harmful, and in Spain and other countries they frequently gave children beer in order to make them strong. Temperance advocates had, however, succeeded in greatly advancing public opinion, and they were now proposing to cause a revulsion of feeling by proposing to make it an offence to give a child plum pudding with a little brandy sauce. This was a monstrous clause. It would be considered an offence at a wedding when drinking a toast to allow a child to drink a glass of wine. The mistake was having any wine at all upon such occasions. Even in the House of Commons hon. Members took wine, and until public opinion excluded wine from all these functions they ought not to make it an offence to administer intoxicating liquor to children in this way. He looked upon this proposal as an example of legislation gone mad.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
trusted the Under-Secretary would not agree to this clause. The hon. Gentleman in the speech he made upon the introduction of the Bill admitted that it did not go as far as many people desired on both sides of the House. He further stated that it was largely a consolidation Bill intended to pass by general consent. If the Government accepted clauses of this kind he thought they would find that the passage of their measure would be attended with considerable difficulty. He did not think that any of the arguments addressed to them by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House had proved that this clause was necessary. The hon. Member for Bath had quoted the opinion of an eminent doctor to show that it was undesirable to give alcohol to children. But why prevent a child having it at four years and eleven months, and not at five, six, or seven years? If they were afraid of giving alcohol to children at that age on account of the tendency it might have to make them drunkards in after life, surely they ought not to stop at five years of age. He thought that so far as regarded any good the clause might do, they would 87 get all the good under the existing Clause 12. The hon. Member for Dumfries, who took great interest in these matters and had given a great deal of assistance in the Grand Committee upstairs, had protested against any idea being held that these words were aimed against a particular class of intoxicating liquors. If they were going to prevent the giving to children of intoxicating liquors because they were sometimes going to keep a child from crying, why not prevent the giving of other narcotics which were advertised under the name of patent medicines? If the hon. Gentleman succeeded in carrying the Second Reading of this clause, it would be their duty to move many Amendments of that character in order that the effect of the clause might be properly carried out, and in order that all narcotics might be forbidden to children. He thought they should all stand in the same category. If a child had been out in the wet and came in drenched, and if the parent put a few drops of alcohol into its hot water or hot milk, believing that it was a good thing to prevent sickness, there was nothing in the clause to prevent the parent under those circumstances from undergoing the penalty laid down by the clause. In that case the alcohol was only used as a preventive. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill not to accept this clause, which, if accepted, must lead to considerable discussion after it had passed the Second Reading.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said he did not conceal his view that this question was one of the most difficult to decide that had arisen in the discussions on the Bill. There was no doubt an evil now prevalent in the abuse of alcohol in this connection. There could be no question that the constant giving of sips of alcohol to infants must affect their physique, and must in course of time be likely to give them a trained taste for that liquor. He did not think it was possible to deal with the case by means of the clause in this Bill, which repeated the existing law in regard to cruelty to children. They had to prove that the parent had wilfully ill-treated the child. No one had more experience in this matter than the hon. Member for Bath, and he had told them that a 88 Court of law would not convict under this section unless the child had actually been made intoxicated by the alcohol administered. This matter was discussed in Committee, and after full consideration the clause proposed by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme was defeated, but by only one vote. It was defeated not so much because the hon. Member had omitted to provide for the case of sickness, but because many hon. Members thought that they ought never to put on the Statute-book a law which they were not able fully to enforce in every case. There was no doubt that the difficulty in enforcing a clause of this kind would be very great. In public-houses and public places no doubt they might be able to enforce the law, but in the homes of the people he did not think they would be able to deal with one case in fifty that occurred. The hon. Member spoke of inspectors dropping in and finding out what was being done. Parents or guardians of children would not give alcohol to children when inspectors wore present. It was urged in the Standing Committee that it was most undesirable to place on the Statute-book provisions which wore likely to become to any large extent a dead letter. He gave full weight to that consideration, which he thought was a real and a serious one. The considerations on either side were somewhat fairly balanced, but on the whole he should himself have liked to see a provision of this character in the Bill. He thought it would strengthen the Bill and make it more useful. This matter was essentially one for the House of Commons to decide, rather than for the Government to press upon the House one way or the other. This Bill was more than, and better than, a Government Bill. He thought he might claim that it was a House of Commons Bill. It was a measure in which many Members on both sides of the House had taken the greatest interest, and in the perfecting of which they had given unstinted aid. He had to remember what the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said, namely, that in his view, if this clause were put into the Bill, it would lead to prolonged discussion. Already time was running on very fast, and he hoped hon. Members would bear this consideration in mind. The Government would leave the matter open to the 89 House. It was really a matter which the House should decide for itself. For his own part, feeling personally that the clause was a good one, but at the same time that it might imperil the passage of the Bill and arouse further opposition, on a careful balance of the many conflicting
§ considerations, he would feel himself compelled to vote against the clause.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 123; Noes, 103. (Division List No. 243.)91
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Gulland, John W.||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton |||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Ambrose, Robert||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Barker, John||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Higham, John Sharp||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Hodge, John||Sears, J. E.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Boland, John||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Hudson, Walter||Snowden, P.|
|Kowerman, C. W.||Idris, T. H. W.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Brace, William||Jackson, R. S.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Brigg, John||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Kekewich, Sir George||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Clough, William||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Tomkinson, James|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Toulmin, George|
|Cox, Harold||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Verney, F. W.|
|Crooks, William||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Vivian, Henry|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.||Maclean, Donald||Wardle, George J.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancra, N.||M'Micking, Major G.||Weir, James Galloway)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Maddison, Frederick||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Marnham, F. J.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Nuttall, Harry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Wedgwood and Mr. Summerbell.|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Glover, Thomas||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Radford, G. H.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F.||Cave, George||Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan|
|Ashley, W. W.||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Elibank, Master of|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Everett, R. Lacey|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cleland, J. W.||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Clynes, J. R.||Fell, Arthur|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Fletcher, J. S.|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||Gardner, Ernest|
|Brooke, Stopford||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston|
|Byles, William Pollard||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hamilton, Marquess of|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Massie, J.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Molteno, Percy Alport||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Henry, Charles S.||Murray, Capt Hn. A. C. (Kincard.||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Hill, Sir Clement||Myer, Horatio||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||O'Malley, William||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Paulton, James Mellor||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wyndham, Ht. Hon. George|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Rees, J. D.||Younger, George|
|Lupton, Arnold||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Ronaldshap, Earl of||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. John Ward and Mr. Joynson-Hicks.|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
§ LORD R. CECIL
moved after the word "liquor" to insert the words "or other substance containing any narcotic or any other thing likely to be deleterious to the health of the child." The House had now decided that a parent, even if he or she did it in ignorance, merely gave to a child under the age of five years never so small a quantity of intoxicating liquor, he or she was to be deemed guilty of a criminal offence. He was not going to go back on that principle, which appeared to him to be one of the most wrong which the House of Commons had ever arrived at; but it could only be justified on the ground that it was a crime for a parent to do anything which would hurt the health of a child, even though it were done in ignorance. Anybody who had looked at this question at all must be aware that far more injury was done by injudicious feeding of children than by any question of the use of intoxicating liquors. Hundreds of childrens' lives were sacrificed every year, without any doubt, by the giving to them of patent foods and patent medicines, which were under any circumstances little better than poison to the child. Many of the patent medicines and foods most widely advertised wore regarded by all competent judges as absolutely fatal to any child. Anyone who looked into the statistics of infant mortality, as he had had occasion to do, must be well aware that children did die of these artificial foods and patent medicines. If the House was going to lay down the principle, as it had done, that any parent who gave what he or she genuinely regarded as a food, but which, 92 in the opinion of the House, was deleterious to the health of a child, was to be guilty of a crime, then they must in the name of logic and common sense carry out that principle to the fullest extent, and say that wherever a parent gave anything in the form of medicine or food to a child which was deleterious to its health, then that parent was guilty of a crime. He thought it would be perfectly outrageous to confine it to one form of poison. If they applied it to intoxicating liquor they were bound to apply it to all other forms of narcotics or sedatives, and say that none of them ought to be given to children except under the orders of a doctor. He begged to move.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
seconded the Amendment. The House had decided that it was a criminal offence to give, however innocently, any sort of alcohol to a child under five years of age, but he would point out that parents were in the habit of giving to the child before going away from home a drop of alcohol for the purpose of its acting as a sedative. There were many other sedatives than alcohol which were equally injurious. For instance, opium, of which they heard so much from hon. Gentlemen opposite as administered in other countries; and he could assure those hon. Gentlemen that opium was very deleterious to children under five years of age. If it was a criminal offence to administer alcohol then it should be made equally a criminal offence to give opium, which was so freely administered to children in this country. He had no sympathy with making criminals of people who did not intend 93 to do any harm, but if the House had decided that a parent who gave alcohol, however well-intentioned his or her motives might be, was to be deemed guilty of a criminal offence, then he wished that that should apply to the administration of every other drug. People would use sedatives sometimes, and the more alcohol was ceasing to be used as a sedative the more were drugs so used, and more harm was being done by drugs in this country than was ever heard of in connection with alcohol.
In line 2, after the word 'liquor' to insert the words 'or other substance containing any narcotic or other thing likely to be injurious to the health of the child.'"—(Lord R. Cecil.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. WEDGWOOD
said that personally he had sympathy with the Amendment, but at the same time, obviously, in dealing with a question of this kind, the support in the House behind this measure would not cover the much wider field which the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone and the lion, and learned Member for Cambridge University would seek to give it. He thought the Amendment had been moved to a certain extent from that point of view as a wrecking Amendment, and he did not think that they on that side of the House should give effect to what the hon. Members intended, however much they might sympathise with the object of the Amendment.
§ MR. BOWLES
said he was bound to say that the speech of the hon. Member had produced a most painful effect on his mind. Here was an hon. Gentleman coming down to the House as champion of the poor poisoned babes under five years of age, and he had so worked on the feelings of hon. Members that the House had, against the better judgment of the Under-Secretary, enacted that any parent who gave alcohol to a child under five years of age, except under circumstances which appeared to him would be very seldom realised, should be haled to a Court, if the law were carried out, as a criminal. And yet when it was proposed to extend the clause beyond alcohol 94 to other poisons, the evil of which could not be denied, the champion of the children opposed it. If the House was to be honest with itself, and if any sort of respect was to be expected in the country for the decision come to in regard to this part of the Bill, they were bound to see that this new departure should be a real departure. For his part, he agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University, in that he thoroughly objected to making criminals of a vast number of persons merely because in their opinion what was good for their children they administered in certain circumstances. While he entirely disagreed with that, he supported the Amendment, but if they were going to interfere they ought to do so with some reasonable and rational notification.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said the case of alcoholic liquor was already distinguished by the law from all others, because it was prohibited by law to sell spirits for its own consumption to any child or young person under sixteen, and it was forbidden to sell any other kind of alcohol for its own consumption on the premises to a child under the age of fourteen. Therefore the law already drew a distinction between this and all other cases. They could not put into an Act of Parliament words so vague as those which the noble Lord proposed. It would be leaving it to the Court in each case to determine whether giving an infant a patent medicine which contained something of a narcotic character was or was not deleterious to the child. How could a Court of summary jurisdiction determine a question of that sort? They would, if the Amendment were accepted, have cases touching trade interests of vast importance carried from Court to Court to determine whether this or that syrup was or was not deleterious. If anything of that sort was put in an Act of Parliament, he submitted it ought to be done only after very careful inquiry by experts as to the foods or medicines which were deleterious, but this Amendment would be unworkable in practice and he asked the House to reject it.
*MR. STUART WORTHLEY
said the short answer of the Under-Secretary was that the Court already had to decide any number 95 of cases exactly on this question of what was likely to cause danger or injury to the health of a child. Of course, the prosecution was bound to proceed by calling expert evidence and would do so, and it might be that by the light of that evidence the Court would arrive at its decision. He therefore thought the hon. Member's contention failed. He considered that probably the only difficult question might be whether the narcotic was present in sufficient quantities to injure health. But that again was a question which medical evidence would be abundantly sufficient to decide.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that the Bill was brought forward on the ground that the Government wished to improve the conditions of child life, but now the Under-Secretary came down and said he could not accept this Amendment, because the sale of alcoholic liquors to children had already been prohibited, and therefore they would have to prove that these other substances were injurious to the health of the child if his noble friend's Amendment were accepted. But surely if they wished to save the child life of the kingdom they were not going to be turned from that object because they would have to prove that a drug was deleterious. The argument of one hon. Member in regard to the last Amendment that although it could not be carried out it would teach the parents something also applied to this. It would teach the parents what drugs were deleterious, and therefore the hon. Gentleman who used that argument ought to support the Amendment. The hon. Member for Bath, to whose speech a short time ago he listened with interest, had given them a harrowing description of the sufferings, which he said were within his own knowledge, of two children who were given alcohol in order to render them insensible, while the people who were in charge of them went out to amuse themselves for long hours; but the hon. Member did not get up to support this Amendment, although exactly the same thing would happen as took place in the case which he so graphically put before them. He would like to ask the hon. Gentleman what explanation he had to give of why it was a right thing for a person in charge of a child to give that child a drug and go out, while it was a wrong thing if the effect was produced by 96 alcohol. The arguments advanced on the other side of the House proved that it was not the health of the child that was desired by hon. Members, but that they were acting as the so-called advocates of temperance. He thought if they were going to take up time with this grandmotherly legislation, which although he was opposed to it, the House of Commons had adopted, they should make their measures as reasonable and consistent as they could be made. He therefore supported the Amendment. Surely hon. Gentlemen opposite were not going to expose themselves to the charge that they would allow the child life of the kingdom to be injured by drugs, and not by alcohol.
§ MR. RIDSDALE (Brighton)
said he noticed that the whole of the discussion had proceeded on the assumption that alcohol was the only intoxicating liquor. The noble Lord's Amendment proceeded at all events on those lines, but he was bound to say that when he voted against the clause as he had done just before, one of the main reasons in his mind was that he saw a whole vista of substances that might possibly come under the definition of "any intoxicating liquor." But what constituted an intoxicating liquor? One could get drunk on other substances besides alcohol. One could get drunk on methylated alcohol; one could get drunk on methylated spirits; one could get drunk, he believed, although he had never tried it himself, on Mrs. Winslow's soothing syrup. Many of these decoctions which were given to children with the object of preventing them crying contained a certain amount of alcohol, and it seemed to him that they had already done everything the noble Lord desired by having passed this clause.
§ *MR. REES
suggested to the noble Lord that his Amendment was very incomplete because, deplorable as it was that alcohol or narcotics should be given to children, indigestible foods were equally injurious [Laughter]. He was sorry to arouse the laughter of the House by a statement which anyone accustomed to child life knew to be a matter of a very serious character. He would not give a list of the substances which were so injurious as to make their administration criminal, 97 but he thought the noble Lord might include a number of highly indigestible substances, a list of which might be given in a schedule to the Bill. He thought, however, he might begin with beef and mutton which grateful and comforting
§ to the adult stomach were poison to the little insides of children of tender years.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 62; Noes, 172. (Division List No. 244.)99
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F.||Gardner, Ernest||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Glover, Thomas||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hamilton, Marquess of||Rees, J. D.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bull, Sir William James||Helmsley, Viscount||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hill, Sir Clement||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cave, George||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Houston, Robert Paterson||Tomkinson, James|
|Clynes, J. R.||Jowett, F. W.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Joynson-Hicks, William||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||Kimber, Sir Henry||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Younger, George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-n-Furness||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Lord|
|Fell, Arthur||Magnus, Sir Philip||Robert Cecil and Mr. Bowles.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nield, Herbert|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Cowan, W. H.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cox, Harold||Higham, John Sharp|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.||Hodge, John|
|Astbury, John Meir||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Horridge, Thomas Gardner|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hudson, Walter|
|Barker, John||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Beauchamp, E.||Elibank, Master of||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Essex, R. W.||Jackson, R. S.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'd||Everett, R. Lacey||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Ferens, T. R.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Boland, John||Fletcher, J. S.||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Kincaid-Smith, Captain|
|Brace, William||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Fullerton, Hugh||Lambert, George|
|Brigg, John||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington|
|Brooke, Stopford||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Byles, William Pollard||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Gulland, John W.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Clough, William||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Maddison, Frederick|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launcest'n|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Marnham, F. J.|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Massie, J.|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Toulmin, George|
|Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard.||Rowlands, J.||Vivian, Henry|
|Myer, Horatio||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Napier, T. B.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester||Wardle, George J.|
|Nuttall, Harry||Sherwell, Arthur James||Waterlow, D. S.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Weir, James Galloway|
|O'Malley, William||Snowden, P.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Spicer, Sir Albert||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Stanger, H. V.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Steadman, W. C.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Radford, G. H.||Summerbell, T.||Wood, T. M. Kinnon|
|Raphael, Herbert H.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Wedgwood and Mr. Maclean.|
|Ridsdale, E. A.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan. E.)|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
moved to add after the Words "intoxicating liquor" the words "within the meaning of the Intoxicating Liquors Act." He pointed out that at present they had only the words "Intoxicating liquor," which might mean anything or nothing. It was true that intoxicating liquor was defined in the Intoxicating Liquors Act, but the definition would not be incorporated in this Bill unless this Amendment were made. Therefore, he was only carrying out the intentions of the movers of the clause and the House in moving it.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
thought his hon. friend would be well advised in accepting this Amendment in the proper form. There was not such an Act as the Intoxicating Liquors Act. The proper words would be "within the meaning of the Licensing Acts, 1828 to 1906." Under the Inebriates Act the meaning of intoxicating liquors had been held to be wider and to cover other things besides alcoholic liquors.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
, upon the spur of the moment, was unable to say whether his, or the words of the Under-Secretary, were the correct words, but he was willing to move the Amendment in the form suggested.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In line 2, after the word 'liquor' to insert the words 'within the meaning of the Licensing Acts, 1828 to 1906.'"—(Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ LORD R. CECIL
asked the House to consider carefully what it was doing. Surely the hon. Member did not want the House to say it was an offence to give a baby a drop of brandy, or what was more common in years gone by, a little port wine—with the very best intention, because it was always given with the best intention in the world—but that it was not an offence to give a baby an enormous amount of narcotic drugs under the name of soothing syrup. A large number of babies' lives were sacrificed every year by the giving of medicine containing narcotics.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he was only discussing the definition of intoxicating liquor. If "intoxicating liquor" was left without a definition it would include all these narcotic drugs. It was surely a most ridiculous thing to say that a person could poison a baby to any extent, so long as liquor which paid excise duty was not used. That was an absurd position to take up, and the House would be wise to reject this Amendment and leave the clause as it stood.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
, speaking from recollection, thought that a better definition of intoxicating liquor would be found in the Inebriates Act than in the Licensing Acts. The question here was a question of deleterious alcohol, and that was better defined in the Inebriates Act, where the definition included certain noxious drugs as well as alcohol. He desired to emphasise the difference between the definit on in the two cases. In the one case the definition was confined to liquor which had to pay excise duties, in the other it was more widely extended. It would raise again some part of the question raised on the previous Amendment as to whether the House thought alcohol was more deleterious than drugs. It was interesting to know that the fear of opium was not so great in the House as the fear of alcohol, but at the same time he ventured to submit that they ought to deal with the question of intoxicating liquor being given to a child, and not the question of whether it was an excisable liquor or otherwise.
MR. DUNDAS WHITE (Dumbartonshire)
said the discussion of the last few minutes had impressed him with the danger of the House drafting clauses as they went along. He objected altogether to this system of legislation. If intoxicating liquor was to be defined, it should be defined in the section. The fact had been overlooked that this Bill applied not merely to England, but also to Scotland and Ireland, and if the definition of the Licensing Acts were to be incorporated, they also would apply to Scotland and Ireland. For that reason he was inclined to favour the suggestion 102 of the hon. Member opposite that the definition of the Inebriates Act which applied to England, Scotland and Ireland, should be taken. He protested against this method of legislation, which in his opinion would, in the long run, land Scotland and Ireland into considerable confusion in the administration of this Act.
§ MR. BOWLES
thought the House was entitled to know what was the definition of intoxicating liquor. The House had passed an Amendment making it a crime to give a child any intoxicating liquor without a single hon. Member defining what he meant by intoxicating liquor. He joined with his hon. friend opposite in protesting against this system of legislation. They were asked to confine "intoxicating liquor" within the definition of the Licensing Acts. The Under-Secretary had referred to those Acts. Would the hon. Member say what was the definition.
§ *MR. CHERRY
said the definition referred to in the Amendment occurred in the Licensing Act of 1872:—"Intoxicating liquor moans spirits, wine, beer, porter, cider, perry, sweets, and any fermented, distilled, or spirituous liquour which cannot, according to any law for the time being in force, be legally sold without a licence from the Commissioners of Inland Revenue.
§ MR. CHERRY
replied that as he understood, it was interpreted to mean English wines. The hon. Member should remember that this Amendment was not moved by the Government; it had been sprung upon the House, and if it were accepted, he promised that full consideration should be given to the matter in another place. If it were only a question of drafting, it would be dealt with.
§ MR. FELL (Great Yarmouth)
said the question had been discussed entirely with reference to alcohol, but it must be within the knowledge of the hon. Members that light wine mixed in water was frequently given to children of four or five years of age, because in many 103 places water could not safely be drunk. Claret or cider was considered safer. There was many a village in Devonshire where a man would not risk allowing his child to drink the local Water. Members of the House had not thought, he confessed, that "intoxicating liquors" covered such things as elder wine or cowslip wine, or liquors of that sort, given to children at Christmas. The proposal was so utterly preposterous that the House should say that the clause could not be passed in its present form.
§ *MR. NAPIER (Kent, Faversham)
suggested that the Amendment should be withdrawn, and that the Government should undertake to bring up a definition, when the Definition Clause was reached, to meet the case. Otherwise, they might go on discussing this matter for an in-terminable length of time without giving any real consideration to it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
moved to amend the clause by inserting in line 3, after the words "medical practitioner," the words "or nurse."
In line 3, after the word 'practitioner,' to insert the words' or nurse.'"—(Mr. Rawlinson.)
§ MR. RAWLINSON
moved to insert after the word "sickness," the words "or apprehended sickness." That would meet the case of the hon. Member below the gangway who had pointed out that a parent might give his child, under the age of five, alcohol in genuine apprehension of sickness. An example had been given by his right hon. friend. A child might come in exceedingly wet, and, fearing that it might catch cold, the mother might 104 give it a certain amount of alcohol. Under those circumstances it would be "apprehended sickness." The hon. Member below the gangway had pleaded guilty to having committed that offence on some occasions, having given the child three or four drops of alcohol because he "apprehended sickness," and thought the alcohol would be in time to prevent it. He submitted that the Amendment which he proposed was a reasonable one.
In line 3, after the word 'sickness,' to insert the words 'or apprehended sickness.'"—(Mr. Rawlinson.)
§ Question proposed "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. WEDGWOOD
said the hon. Member had stated his case forcibly, and he would accept the Amendment.
§ Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, be added to the Bill.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he would like to call the House's attention to the Clause which was proposed to be added to the Bill. The two Amendments which had just been accepted, were Amendments of which he himself entirely approved, but he did not know whether there was any legal definition of "nurse.'
§ LORD P. CECIL
said he did not see the words "fully qualified," nor did he know what they would meen. The nurse would be anyone who undertook the duty of nursing the child, and if that were so it would always be an order of the nurse, because the alcohol would only be given by the nurse. In the case of "apprehended sickness," it would mean that anybody in charge of the child, whenever they apprehended sickness, would give the child liquor, which was undefined at present, and, therefore, would certainly include alcohol and other 105 things as well. Though he agreed that these Amendments were perfectly necessary in order to prevent the impossibility of working the Act, yet he thought their insertion must have shown the House how utterly impossible this legislation was, and he hoped that they would see
§ their way not to accept the clause as amended.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 140; Noes, 85. (Division List No. 245.)107
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Gulland, John W.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampt'n|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Barker, John||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bennett, E. N.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex. Romf'rd||Higham, John Sharp||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Hodge, John||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hornimnn, Emslie John||Rose, Charles Day|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Rowlands, J.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Walter||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Brace, William||Hyde, Clarendon||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Brigg, John||Jackson, R. S.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Snowden, P.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Kekewich, Sir George||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Lambert, George||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Clough, William||Lehmann, R. C.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lewis, John Herbert||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Cox, Harold||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Tomkinson, James|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Toulmin, George|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N)||M'Crae, Sir George||Vivian, Henry|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Maddison, Frederick||Weir, James Galloway|
|Elibank, Master of||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Ferens, T. R.||Marnham, F. J.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.|
|Findlay, Alexander||Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard||Wiles, Thomas|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Myer, Horatio||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Napier, T. B.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster|
|Glover, Thomas||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Wedgwood and Mr. Summerbell.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Nuttall, Harry|
|Greenwood, Hamar (York)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Bignold, Sir Arthur||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex F.||Boland, John||Collings, Rt. Hon. J. (Birminghm|
|Ashley, W. W.||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Collins, Sir W. J. (S. Pancras, W.)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Byles, William Pollard||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinsd|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cave, George||Courthope, G. Loyd|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Curran, Peter Francis|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Jardine, Sir J.||Rees, J. D.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Jowett, F. W.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Fell, Arthur||Joynson-Hicks, William||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Fetherstonhangh, Godfrey||Kimber, Sir Henry||Scott, Sir S. Marylebone, W.)|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Verney, F. W.|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Lupton, Arnold||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Gretton, John||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Walsh, Stephen|
|Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Massie, J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Molteno, Percy Alport||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nield, Herbert||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Harwood, George||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Connor T. P. (Liverpool)||Younger, George|
|Hay, Hon. Claude (George||O'Malley, William|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Paulton, James Mellor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Bowles.|
|Henry, Charles S.||Pease Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Hill, Sir Clement||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
§ MR. RAWLINSON
moved to amend the first clause of the Bill by omitting the words "one or more" from the provision requiring notices to be given by persons receiving infants for reward. The question raised by the Amendment was whether, when only one child was taken in for reward, the enactments and clauses, which were very useful where a large number of children were taken in, should apply. The kind of adoption which probably everyone wished to encourage, was that where a husband and wife with no children were prepared to adopt one child as theirs. A husband and wife who did that would not, of course, submit to their houses being registered, and would not submit to inspection. The effect of the application of these clauses to them would be that they would decline to accept children at all. When the Bill was introduced these words "one or more" were not in. The Government felt the importance of exempting these people who chose to adopt one child only. They felt, he presumed, that the machinery of the Bill was not calculated well to deal with that particular class of home. It was true that since the Second Reading a majority of the Committee was in favour of the change and the Government had yielded to them, but the object of the Bill would be frustrated by applying the necessarily harsh rules of notice and so forth to cases where some respectable couple adopted one child, and really wished to make it theirs. The effect of the Amendment would be that the notice 108 as to name, age, and sex of the child, and the name of the person receiving it should only be given when two or more children were taken in for reward. His reason for bringing the Amendment forward was that the clause as it stood would defeat its own object and prevent those desirable people from taking in a single child, because they would not submit to these restrictions. A person who took in one child was not likely to make a profession of it in the same way as those who took in two or more. It was against the professional taker-in of children that the clauses of the Bill were aimed, and the Government might well go back to the original form of the Bill and exempt from its harsh provisions those who took in one child only.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
seconded the Amendment and appealed to his hon. friend to accept it. Unless he did, great hardship would be incurred in many cases. He knew several cases, two especially, where husband and wife had adopted a child, and in one case it was forgotten in the neighbourhood that it was an adopted child and it was looked upon and treated as the real child of the parents.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said he could not tell. It would be a stigma on them I and on the child, because if a couple 109 adopted a child two or three years old, as a rule by the time it was five the whole thing was forgotten and the child was regarded not as an adopted child but as the real child of the parents. Seeing that this was an alteration of the original clause of the Bill he was sure the Government would be well advised to accept the Amendment.
In paae 1, line 8, to leave out 'one or more.'"—(Mr. Rawlinson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that this was not an Amendment which the Government could accept. They were hearing what would probably be the last echoes of a very long controversy. For more than twenty years those interested in the subject of infant life protection had been divided into two camps—those who advocated the inspection of one-child homes and those who objected to that inspection—and the former had steadily been gaining ground. There were, it was true, some considerations on either hand, but in his view those in favour of the inspection of those homes far outweighed the others It was urged in the first place that the same protection was necessary for a single child in a home paid for by reward as in the case where two, three, or four children were kept together. It had been proved by the experience of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and other bodies that the cases were numerous in which these single children were treated with hardship and suffered from neglect, and cases had been known in which evilly disposed women, in order to take advantage of the provisions of the old law which exempted one-child homes, would take in a series of children singly, one after the other, each of which was found to disappear under more or less suspicious circumstances, and none of which could have the protection of the law because they were only taken in one at a time. On the other hand, it had been urged that to take in one child was not a business. It was not a baby farmer who took in one child. These Acts were 110 intended to strike at baby fanners, and it was said that if these homes were inspected where a child was taken in, not as a business, but perhaps out of kindness or goodwill, although its maintenance might be paid for, it would be rendered more difficult, if not impossible, to find a sufficient number of homes. Institutions like some of the rescue societies which found places for many of these nurse children, said that it would be exceedingly hard to find respectable homes, because people would not submit to a harassing official inspection. As the hon. and learned Member had said, the Bill was introduced in the form of the old Act of 1897, without including one-child homes, but he had said distinctly, on the introduction of the Bill, that the Government did that, not because they thought it was unnecessary to extend the Bill to one-child homes, but in order to keep the question open pending inquiry by a Select Committee of the House. For himself, he had previously come to the conclusion that one-child homes ought to be inspected but that exemptions should be allowed in cases where the children were inspected by the officers of charitable organisations who had placed them where they were, and in the case of respectable houses which the local authority could individually exempt as not requiring inspection in the interests of the children. But he had felt that this long controversy was not likely to be settled by the mere obiter dictum of the Minister in charge of the Bill, and consequently he had asked the House to appoint a Select Committee on the subject The Committee was appointed, and he and the chief Opposition Whip had taken pains to ascertain that none of its members had any preconceived views on the question. They all approached it with an open mind. The Chairman of the Committee was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rushcliffe, and the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone, whom no one would accuse of being consumed with too great a zeal for official inspection, was also a member. The Committee fully considered the subject and reached a unanimous conclusion that it was desirable to include these homes. This was the paragraph in their report—In the opinion of your Committee the body of facts laid before them by those who urge 111 the extension of the Act was not displaced by any contrary evidence. Having regard to the serious amount of evil thus brought under their notice, they recommend that the provisions of the Infant Life Protection Act, 1897, should be extended to homes in which not more than one infant is kept in consideration of periodical payment.That was the award of the Committee which was in the position of an arbitrator between two contending parties. The Standing Committee upstairs had willingly accepted that award, and without a division and with very little discussion the Government Amendments to bring in the one-child homes were accepted. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said nothing to show that the conclusion arrived at by the Standing Committee was wrong, and he trusted that the House would reject the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
In page 1, line 8, to leave out the word 'seven,' and to insert the word 'five.'"—(Mr. Rawlinson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'seven' stand part of the clause."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that this Amendment stood much on the same footing as the previous one. The age had been left at five in the Bill because that was the limit in the Act of 1897. The point had been referred to the Select Committee which had unanimously reported after hearing the evidence that the age should be above five, and that was the reason why "seven" had been inserted.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said the next Amendment standing in his name dealt with the amount of information to be given. It had been urged by the Poor Law authorities that fuller information than that which was provided for by the Act of 1897 was necessary. It was known that sometimes these children 112 ultimately came upon the Poor Law, and, therefore, it was necessary that the guardians should be able to trace who were the persons legally liable for their maintenance. On the other hand, it should be remembered that the more inquisitorial these inquiries were the more harassing the inspection became, and the greater was the temptation to make false statements. Several proposals were made in the Standing Committee but were withdrawn because he had undertaken to consider the matter carefully and confer with the Local Government Board. He had consulted the Local Government Board, and the Amendments on the Paper had been put down in consequence. He now proposed to omit the words "age, and" and to insert after the word "sex" in line 19 the words "and date and place of birth." He begged to move.
In page 1, line 19, to leave out the words 'age and.'"—(Mr. Herbert Samuel.)
§ Question, "That the words 'age and' stand part of the Bill"—put, and negatived.
In page 1, line 19, after the word 'sex,' to insert the words 'and date and place of birth.'"—(Mr. Herbert Samuel.)—
§ Agreed to.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
said that under the circumstances he did not propose to move his next Amendment. He wished to say, however, that the more inquisitorial and the more harsh they made the inquiries the more would be the tendency to defeat the object aimed at.
In page 3, line 21, after the word 'writing,' to insert the words 'one or more.'
In page 3, line 21, after the word 'persons,' to insert 'of either sex.'
In page 3, line 25, after the word 'may,' to insert the words 'if satisfied that the interests of the infants are properly safeguarded.'
In page 3, line 27, after the word 'infants,' to insert the words 'subject however to the
obligation to furnish periodical reports to the local authority.'"—(Sir. Herbert Samuel)—
§ Agreed to.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
moved to leave out subsection 4 of Clause 2. He understood that it was desired to give power to the local authorities, where children had been placed out to nurse by responsible societies, to allow the societies to visit and inspect for themselves instead of the local authority. That was distinctly a good provision, and it was provided for under the subsection which they had just passed. Consequently he did not see why it was necessary to have this subsection in. It gave to the local authority power to render the Act nugatory altogether, and they might decide against having an inspection of any home. It would not be necessary for them in that case to give any explanation of their conduct. They were now being asked to pass a Bill which was in the main a good one, and which was going to effect a considerable revolution in the child life of the country. In view of those facts, why should they give this enormous power to local authorities? Local authorities had not come out very well during the last few months, more especially boards of guardians. The recent scandals which had been disclosed were present to the minds of hon. Members, and he could not see why they should go further by allowing the local authorities to have absolute carte blanche in this matter. He hoped the Under-Secretary would be able to show that the arguments he had advanced were wrong, and if he could not do so this subsection ought to be omitted. He begged to move.
In page 3, line 31, to leave out subsection (4) of Clause 2."—(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
remarked that when the hon. Baronet made a proposal for the extension of inspection 114 he could not help drawing attention to the fact, for it was the first time such a remarkable circumstance had occurred during his experience of Parliament. He wished to point out, in the first instance, that the local authority had distinctly laid upon it the duty by Clause 2, subsection (1) of inspecting under all ordinary circumstances. They could not say by a stroke of the pen: "We will exempt all these homes in our district." The hon. Baronet said the local authorities might neglect their duty. He might say that he had been in communication with the Local Government Board on that point, and he understood that they would take steps administratively to see that this part of the Act did not become a dead letter. The Government would require the necessary information to be supplied to them in order to show that the Act was being properly administered. The hon. Baronet had said that this subsection was unnecessary because it was already covered by the proviso of subsection (2); but that only allowed the local authority to exempt nursed children where they had been put out to nurse by philanthropic societies. But there were many other cases to be dealt with. There was the case of the middle-class man who went to India and left a child in care of some friend, paying for its board and lodging. They did not want the machinery of this Bill for a case of that sort. Then there was the case of a widower who put his children out to nurse in his own neigh ourhood, and in that instance they might not want inspection. It was quite reasonable to allow some latitude to local authorities to exempt cases from inspection. His next Amendment would safeguard the clause, because he proposed to insert words providing that this exemption might only be allowed in the case of homes "which appear to them to be so conducted that it is unnecessary that they should be visited." He thought those words met the very legitimate desire of his hon. friend who wished to draw as tightly as possible the inspection of these homes. He hoped the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said it was very seldom that he differed from the hon. Baronet 115 the Member for the City of London, but he respectfully did so on this occasion. The Under-Secretary had referred to the Report of the Select Committee, and unquestionably some of those who sat on the Select Committee were very much impressed by certain arguments used in favour of not extending the Act to one-child homes. A part of the evidence which impressed him very much was that in certain number of cases individual children were taken in from motives of affection, and that in those particular homes the home atmosphere was preserved in a way which should be encouraged. Granted the most perfect inspection in the world, they could not secure by inspection quite that atmosphere which would exist naturally in a certain number of homes, and once they discouraged people of that kind from taking in children they were doing an injury which no machinery or official arrangements could possibly, or altogether adequately, compensate. That was an argument which was pressed very strongly on the Select Committee, and it was in view of that evidence that they drew up the following clause in their Report—They are, however, of opinion that some of the objections urged by the witnesses against extension deserve serious consideration. Your Committee believe there are a large number of these one-child cases, where the infant is received from motives of a real affection for children in general, or for some child, or parent, in particular. Where this element of a home atmosphere exists it is of vital importance that nothing should be done by Act of Parliament, or what would flow therefrom, to chill or impair it. On a careful review of this aspect of the case, your Committee are of opinion that some power should be given to the local authority to exempt, on such terms and condition as it may think fit, any particular home in their district from inspection, or to make arrangements for any such inspection to be made by a properly constituted benevolent society if the local authority are satisiied that the interests of the child will be safeguarded.Personally he was exceedingly grateful to the Government for carrying out so fully as they had done by this subsection that paragraph in the Report of the Committee, and he hoped his hon. friend would not think it necessary to press the Amendment to a division. He was convinced that this subsection was one of the most valuable in the Bill.
§ MR. H. J. TENNANT
said he agreed with what had fallen from the noble Lord that there should be some means of exempting those one-child homes in order not to imperil the family atmosphere which one wanted to see encouraged as much as possible. The only doubt he had was whether the local authority was the proper authority to decide which homes should be inspected his hon. friend the Under-Secretary had made it his business to think out the question whether the local authority was the right one to give the verdict. He would have felt more comfortable if his hon. friend had made himself or his own officials the arbiter which homes should be exempted. There could be no doubt that some local authorities were extremely lax. He did not wish to give them too much power or to increase their laxity, nor did he wish that there should go on things which they all deplored, and which this Bill was drafted to try to put a stop to. He would have liked to see inserted in the clause the words "with the sanction of the Secretary of State," or some words of that kind, to keep the local authorities up to the mark.
§ MR. NIELD (Middlesex, Ealing)
associated himself with the remarks of the hon. Member opposite. There was very strong reason for giving discretionary power in this matter. There was for example, the case of a child from India, where the conditions of service were such as to render it necessary that the child should be looked after in this country. He knew of several cases where ladies had opened—he would say not kindergartens, but infant schools to which the children of people in the Indian service could be sent. It was obvious that such a home should be exempted. He thought some means should be found in the central department at Whitehall of indicating to the local authority the type of case which should fall within the exemption. He suggested to the Under-Secretary that subsection (4) might be amended by the insertion of the words "for the special reasons recorded by them," and that in each case of exemption they should be able to guard against the dangers which had been referred to as possible in cases 117 where exemption was granted at the mere request of a person.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he had not changed his opinion as to the multiplication of inspections. On the contrary the older he got the more convinced he was on the point. He agreed with the hon. Members who had expressed the opinion that the local authority was not the proper authority to deal with these cases. One local authority might exempt too many and another might wisely exempt none at all. There should be a general rule which would enforce the exemptions on similar terms all over the country. In deference to the arguments of the Under-Secretary he asked leave to withdraw the Amendment. He asked the hon. Gentleman to consider whether he could not make the Home Office instead of the local authority the authority for giving exemptions. The Home Secretary could arrange that there should be a consistent plan of all over the country.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 3, line 33, after the word 'district,' to insert the words 'which appear to them to be so conducted that it is unnecessary that they should be visited.'
In page 3, line 36, after the word 'visit,' to insert the words 'or examine.'
In page 4, line 23, after the word 'who,' to insert the words "after being given an opportunity of being heard.'"—(Mr. Herbert Samuel)—
§ Agreed to.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
moved to leave out Clause 4. He said the clause empowered the local authority to fix the number of infants that might be kept in a dwelling in respect of which notice had been received. In his opinion the local authority was not the authority to fix the number. He did not say that a number should not be fixed, that a plan should not be required, and that conditions should not be laid down as to the sanitary arrangements of the house in which the infants were kept. What he said was that the Home Office was the proper authority to make the regulations. If all the local authorities were modelled 118 on the lines of that of Birmingham he would not object, but they were not all so enlightened. Different localities might take different views, and it was surely desirable that the regulations should be made by a central authority with the view of securing something like uniformity. The number of cubic feet of air space required in one district for proper health was just the same in another district. He did not know why the local authorities were to have this power. The Bill was a long one, and it surely would have been possible for the hon. Gentleman to define the conditions under which infants might be kept. Under these circumstances he hoped the hon. Gentleman would consent to the omission of the clause. Any new clause that might be necessary to give the Home Office power in the matter could be inserted in another place.
In page 4, line 27 to leave out Clause 4."—(Sir Frederick Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 4 stand part of the Bill."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said this was a clause which merely reproduced the existing law. He was bound to say that it would be a very difficult thing for a central Government Department to say how many infants should be kept in any particular house or cottage. Circumstances differed in different places. The number of infants that might be kept in a house would depend on the number of adults living there. A cottage might be so overcrowded with adults that no children should be kept there at all. There might be another cottage of the same size where, the conditions in regard to adult occupants being different, three or four children might be comfortably accommodated. It was impossible by a general rule laid down by a Government Department to deal with all these various circumstances. The hon. Baronet must remember that these homes were numbered by tens of thousands. The machinery of the central Government could not deal with these problems. It appeared to him, however, that the clause needed amendment, seeing that 119 the Bill now extended to one-child homes. The clause said—It shall be the duty of the local authority to fix the number of infants under the age of seven years which may be kept.…It seemed to him to be unnecessary to make that a duty. He could not agree to omit the clause, but agreed that it might well be made optional.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
suggested that if he withdrew his Motion to leave out the clause, the hon. Member might accept the Amendment standing in the name of his hon. and learned friend, the Member for Cambridge University. The clause would then run that the local authority might fix the number of infants under the age of five years which might be kept in a dwelling.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 4, line 27, to leave out the words It shall be the duty of.'"—(Sir F. Banbury.)
In page 4, line 27, after the word 'authority' to insert the word 'may.'"—(Sir F. Banbury.)
In page 4, line 38, after the word 'immorality,' to insert the words 'criminal conduct.'
In page 5, line 4, after the word 'apply,' to insert the words 'either to a justice or.'
In page 5, line 11, after the word 'and,' to insert the words '(a) If the order was made by a justice, the order may be enforced by the visitor or by any constable; and (b) if the order was made by the local authority.'
In page 5, line 34, after the word 'directly,' to insert the words 'or indirectly,'"—(Mr. Herbert Samuel)—
§ Agreed to.
§ *MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said he wished to propose an Amendment to Clause 11, which dealt with exemptions, by inserting after the word "purposes," the words "or to any religious or charitable society which shall pay any person for keeping an infant, or the person so employed; provided that the society has appointed a person who shall visit, inspect, and report to the society on the state of such infant at least once in three months." This Amendment was designed to protect the interest of such institutions as the Presbyterian Orphan Society and the Protestant Orphan Society—institutions which did a great deal of good work in the way of looking after orphans, not within homes and 120 buildings maintained by them, but by employing other persons to look after the orphans. If these institutions came under the definition of "institutions" in this section his Amendment would not be necessary; but as it was more than likely that the Presbyterian Orphan Society and the Protestant Orphan Society would not be considered institutions for the protection of child life within the meaning of that section, he hoped that the Amendment would be accepted. He thought it would militate hardly against these societies if all the conditions imposed by the first eleven clauses were made applicable to them. A system of inspection similar to that laid down in the Bill had been in force from the time of the inception of these institutions. As he understood the clause, as it stood at present, these two institutions would not be exempted under Section 11, and their inspectors would have to be approved of individually by every Poor Law Union in the North of Ireland in which orphans of the societies were boarded out. In view of the fact that the inspection by the societies' inspectors had always been I carried out carefully and satisfactorily, he thought it would be a great hardship to impose on them the burden of having their inspectors approved of by all the local authorities. Again, presuming these societies did not come under the exemptions provided in Clause 11, every house where an orphan was boarded out would have to be subjected to the regulations contained in the Act. He submitted that that was quite unnecessary, seeing that these associations existed for the express purpose of providing for the boarded-out children being well looked after. He hoped that the hon. Member in charge of the Bill would be willing, at any rate, to provide that such institutions as he had named could receive a certificate of some sort from the Local Government Board, or the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, that they were institutions of a proper kind to be exempted from the regulations under the Act, and that I thereupon they should be so exempted.
§ MR. NIELD
seconded the Amendment, for which he said his hon. friend I had made out a good case. The societies mentioned by the hon. Member for 121 Antrim existed for the express purpose of rescuing orphans and boarding them out under proper inspection to see that the work of the foster parents was properly discharged. Immediately after the words which it was proposed to add, there were the words "boarding-schools." Like the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill he held that the houses in which the orphans were boarded were not boarding-schools in the sense used in the previous subsection. There, again, was the case of the child of Indian or colonial parents who by their circumstances were compelled to make arrangements that their child should remain the whole year through with the ladies who conducted the establishment, and it would be a very unfortunate thing if the words "boarding-schools" were to be restricted to schools proper, that was to say, schools where the scholars went away at the end of the school term, and did not apply to the schools of those ladies who had the children not merely during the school term but throughout the whole year. There were a number of such persons—some of them connected socially with the highest circles of Indian and colonial life—and it would be a great hardship to them to have themselves put into the same category as all the institutions at which this Bill was levelled. Therefore, he sincerely hoped that there was nothing in the mind of the hon. Gentleman with regard to the words "boarding-school," and he hoped he would make it perfectly plain that it should not cease to be a boarding-school because it continued throughout the whole twelve months. He begged to second.
In page 7, line 9, after the word 'purposes' to insert the words 'or to any religions or charitable society which shall pay any person for keeping an infant, or the person so employed provided that the society has appointed a person who shall visit, inspect and report to the society on the state of such infant at least once in each three months."—(Mr. Charles Craig.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that perhaps he might be permitted to answer first the question which was put to him by the last speaker, although it was not 122 strictly germane to this Amendment. "Boarding-school" was qualified by words referring to sufficient elementary education being provided. These words were inserted to prevent baby farms from calling themselves boarding-schools for the purpose of evading this Act. On raising the age from five to seven years, the question of the boarding-school came in. He should say that a boarding-school in which the child was kept all the year round and had no holidays was more of a boarding-school, and not less, than the one where the children went home for the holidays, and, therefore, would be exempted by the terms of the Bill. Coming to the Amendment, the hon. Gentleman was right in saying that the societies which he contemplated were not covered by Clause 11. They were not institutions within the meaning of subsection 1, but the case which the hon. Member had in mind was precisely the case which Clause 2, subsection (2), was intended to cover. It did not arise only in Ireland, but also in England and Scotland, in which countries there were many charitable societies which received children, and instead of keeping them in institutions boarded them out with good foster-parents, and inspected them from time to time. To meet that case and avoid duplication of inspection a provision had been inserted in Clause 2. That clause, as it now stood, covered the case which the hon. Member had in mind. The only difference between that, clause and the Amendment was that the hon. Member proposed to exempt these charitable and religious societies from any control or supervision whatever. He had given no definition of a charitable or religious society. He had spoken of a certificate from some central authority such as the Local Government Board, but had provided for none in his Amendment. If the Amendment were carried, any organisation which called itself a religious or charitable society, no matter how bogus it might be, would be able to exempt itself entirely, and all the infants under its care, from public control or supervision. As the House was well aware, unfortunately discoveries were made from time to time that societies which described themselves as philanthropic and charitable were often the reverse 123 and were organised for the sake of the persons who managed them, who did not scruple to treat with neglect and even cruelty the children who came into their hands. They could not, in a Bill of this sort, exempt altogether any body which called itself a philanthropic or religious institution. He was bound to say also that it was improper that this exemption should go into this clause, because the latter dealt only with institutions in which the children were boarders.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
Yes, it does. The hon. Member went on to say that he thought that was the only interpretation, of the words "Hospital, convalescent home or institution especially for the protection and care of infants, conducted in good faith for charitable or religious purposes."
§ *MR. CHARLES CRAIG
thought there was a great deal of force in what the Under-Secretary had said, but he did not think that his objections applied to societies such as the two he had mentioned, and although a subsection of Clause 2 had been mentioned it left it to the local authority to deal with inspection.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said they might exempt all the homes of any particular society from being inspected.
§ *MR. CHARLES CRAIG
said the hon. Member must remember that there were a great many of these local authorities. In his own county of Antrim there were six local authorities, and in the Northern counties of Ireland there were, taking them together, perhaps thirty or forty local authorities who would have to be consulted in the case of each of the two institutions he had named. It seemed hard that an institution of this sort should have to get exemption under this particular clause from thirty or forty local authorities. These institutions had been doing their work so well for so many years that it seemed unnecessary now to throw upon the local authority the duty of in- 124 specting houses which were thoroughly well inspected by these institutions at the present time. The hon. Member said that the production of the certificate was not included in the Amendment, but he hoped he would see his way to accept it as it was. At all events, he trusted he would accept a modified Amendment which provided that the Local Government Board in Ireland should give a certificate. He wished to move as an Amendment to his Amendment to add: "and provided that such religious or charitable society shall have obtained from the Local Government Board a certificate that it is a fit and proper institution to be exempted from the provisions of this part of this Act" That seemed to him to get over the difficulties raised by the hon. Gentleman, and such well-known societies as the two he had mentioned would, he was sure, be exempted at once by the Local Government Board in Ireland. It seemed to him that no possible harm could be done, whereas he fell that by putting these restrictions on these two societies and many others, they would restrain rather than stimulate their ardour. He begged to move.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he proposed to second the Amendment to the Amendment. He was glad his hon. friend had moved it, because in regard to the original Amendment he was rather taken by the arguments of the Under-Secretary, which he felt were so cogent that he could not vote for his hon. friend in regard to it, because it was evident that there were many people who, under the guise of the words "charitable institutions," used the institutions as a means of earning their own living, and did not always carry them on in the spirit in which they should be carried on. That was the argument of the Under-Secretary, and he felt that it was so true that he was inclined to think he should for once be obliged to desert his hon. friend, but the addition he now proposed demolished the objections of the Under-Secretary. He had been contending during the whole of the evening that the Local Government Board or the Home Office was the proper authority to decide whether a body should be exempted or not. There were no great numbers of charitable or religious 125 institutions which undertook the guardianship of children, and it would be perfectly easy for them to apply to the Local Government Board, and this would provide a uniform system all over the United Kingdom, lender these circumstances he hoped the hon. Gentleman who had shown a spirit of friendliness to reasonable Amendments from that side of the House would accept this one, which would in no kind of way interfere with the spirit of the Bill, and would render the task of the local authority easier. He was not enamoured of local authorities and would prefer that the matter should go to the Local Government Board who should decide once for all whether all over England, Scotland, and Ireland these associations should be exempted. He earnestly hoped that the Amendment of his hon. friend would be accepted.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
At the end, to add the words 'and provided that such religious or charitable society shall have obtained from the Local Government Board a certificate that it is a fit and proper institution to be exempted from the provisions of this part of this Act.'"—(Mr. Charles Craig.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added to the proposed Amendment."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
thought the Amendment moved in this form required careful consideration. The hon. Member had not put it upon the Paper, and, therefore, there had been no opportunity of consulting the Local Government Board upon it. Nor could he say that that Department would welcome so difficult and invidious a duty as that of saying that one society should be exempt from the provisions of the Act and that another should not. If the hon. Member would be good enough to withdraw the Amendment now, as it could not be accepted without consultation with the Departments concerned not only in England but in Scotland and Ireland also, he would give it his consideration and deal with it, if necessary, in another place.
§ MR. CHARLES CRAIG
, upon the undertaking of the hon. Gentleman, asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Proposed Amendment to the Bill, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
moved the rejection of Clause 13, for the purpose of asking the Under-Secretary whether on reflection he did not think that the penalty under this clause was a very stringent one and one which might fall very harshly on innocent persons. He had no sympathy with the professional beggar, or with those who hired children for the purpose of begging, but he had great sympathy with persons who might be affected by the other ten lines of the clause. The question he wished to ask was how the hon. Gentleman defined the word "allows." He assumed that he meant "wilfully allows." That was to say that the person having the custody, charge, or care, of the child was fully acquainted with the fact that the child started out to beg. Let him take a concrete illustration. Let the hon. Gentleman assume that there was a widow who kept herself and her two or three children by her needle. The children went out into the street to play, and without her knowledge solicited alms, by singing or playing or performing, and brought themselves under the terms of this clause. It struck him that it was a great hardship to inflict on the widow anything like the penalty of £25 or three months imprisonment. The woman in that case had no guilty knowledge that the children were out for the purpose of begging. Although subsection (2), to a certain extent qualified his objection he did not think it in any way removed it. His attention had been recently called to the latter part of the clause by one of the best known London police magistrates, who pointed out to him the complete ignorance of many persons charged with these offences, and who said it was all very well to say that they were given the opportunity to prove the contrary, but that they did not know what to do in order to prove the contrary, and that very few of them knew what was meant when they were asked to give evidence. All he wished was to be assured that this clause would not be applied in such a case as he had suggested. He 127 wished the Government to be careful not to allow a clause of this sort to apply in any case to a poor woman or other person who had the custody of children, who had no place except the one room in which they lived and slept, and who had to go out in the streets to play. In such cases a penalty of this sort would be extremely harsh, and, therefore, he hoped the Under-Secretary would be able to assure him that it should not apply. He also hoped that in any case the hon. Gentleman would accept some Amendment to differentiate such cases. He would be satisfied if the hon. Gentleman inserted "wilfully." In such a case as he had mentioned where the children could not be under the eye of the person nominally in charge of them it would be a great hardship if the person under whose charge they were, who did not wilfully incite them to beg, was rendered liable to such a penalty as this. He begged to move.
In page 9, line 13, to leave out Clause 13."—(Mr. Akers-Douglas.)
§ Question proposed, "That subsection (1) of Clause 13 stand part of the Bill."
pointed out that subsection (1) of this clause was precisely the existing law, with the one exception that the age was raised from fourteen to sixteen in the case of boys, and that the penalties in this clause were precisely those of the Act of 1904 for this offence. He was quite sure that the law of 1904 was right, because it was passed when the right hon. Gentleman opposite was Home Secretary, and therefore charged with the supervision of legislation of this character. Subsection (2) was new, and showed what was meant by the word "allows," and also put the burden on the parent to prove that though the child was found in the street begging it was not the parents' fault. One of the great difficulties which was now felt in the working of the present Act upon this point was that, although it was well-known that a disreputable parent knew that his child was in the street begging, but he acquiesced in and profited by his doing, unless it could be 128 clearly proved that the parent had instructed or incited that child to beg, certain Courts would not convict. The Government had been strongly urged to insert subsection (2) and to throw the burden of proof on the parent. If that subsection were deleted it would be extremely difficult to secure convictions in proper cases. After all, the parent was responsible for the custody of the child, and when a child was found begging in the street was shown to be there for that purpose, the burden of proving that the child was not allowed to be there for that purpose ought to be on the parent.
§ MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
thought the speech to which the House had just listened was one that might have come from a strong Conservative. The hon. Gentleman's argument was that because the Act of 1904 inflicted penalties on a parent for allowing his child to beg, the House must be bound for all time by that Act. No doubt the House acted quite rightly and properly in passing that Act, yet, nevertheless, he thought this penalty of £25 might work very harshly indeed, not on those who induced their children to obtain charity from the unwary, but on parents ignorant of the law and of what they had to prove in order to escape this severe penalty. He, therefore, thought it might be mitigated and that justice would be met by the punishment of those really guilty, and in avoiding injury to those who only allowed their children out in the streets to play.
§ MR. MACLEAN
pointed out that the penalty in the Bill was the maximum penalty; that not only was there this penalty in the Act of 1904 but also in the Act of" 1889, both of which Acts were the result of the legislation of the Party opposite. It was delightful to realise that this legislation was the product of both the Parties in the House. The major position of children's legislation was due to the present Lord Chief Justice, who brought in the Act of 1889, and also supported the Act of 1904. With regard to the point that arose when a child was allowed to be in the street by its parents, and was found begging, this clause put the onus upon the parents to 129 show that they had not sent the child out to beg. So far as his own personal experience was concerned, he could most emphatically confirm the statements that over and over again inspectors of various kinds had the greatest possible difficulty in dealing with just that class of person to whom the right hon. Gentleman on the front Opposition bench had referred a little while ago, namely, the class of person who professionally sent out children to beg. He thought it was that class of person that this subsection was aimed at. For himself, after careful consideration with magistrates and others, and with police officials of very great experience, personally he was quite certain that if this clause passed in its present form a very great deal of good would be done in clearing the streets of children who were sent out by persons, not their fathers and mothers alone, who got quite a large livelihood out of the miseries of little children in our public thoroughfares.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
desired to support the right hon. Gentleman who had moved the Amendment, and he thought that they could hardly have stronger evidence of the non-party character of this debate than the fact of his having submitted an Amendment to this very clause. To send out a child to receive money might be improper, but was it proper in such circumstances that a person should be liable to a penalty of £25, or three months' imprisonment? He submitted, without the slightest hesitation, that it was an excessive and ridiculous punishment, to pass upon such a person. It was so easy to excite prejudice against one who sent out a child for the purpose of making money out of him; it was so easy to appeal to sentiment, which, if he might say so with respect, frequently attracted that House as well as other audiences. But the subject should be looked at from the other side and from the point of view of the people who did this sort of thing. Where a father or mother was ill or in want of money, was there any very great harm at Christmas time in their sending the children out to sing carols and bring a little money into the family exchequer? He submitted that the case should be dealt with more equitably. He had very 130 little sympathy with this class of legislation which made sentimental appeals to them to make things criminal offences because they disliked them. He would have great pleasure in supporting his hon. friend in his objection.
§ *SIR J. JARDINE (Roxburghshire)
said there was such a thing as right sentiment, and recent legislation had endeavoured to prove to people that the proper place for children was in the school and not in the street singing or doing other things with the object of getting money. It was clear from the wording of the clause that £25 was the maximum fine. No doubt cases had occurred in which wicked people had been using children for the purpose of putting money into their own pockets, and not for the benefit of the children themselves. If an aggravated offence were proved, the magistrates would be justified in inflicting a high fine in order to take that money away from the person, who had wrongfully gained it. The clause, however, did not impose such high penalty in ordinary cases, and he had no doubt from his own experience that magistrates would often let the offenders off with a fine of 10s. 6d. according to the circumstances knowing as they did that justice had to be tempered with mercy.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
moved the omission of subsection (2) of Clause 13. He said he rather disagreed with his right hon. friend so far as subsection (1) was concerned. He was rather inclined to support that subsection because it carried out the old principle of the English law that a man was innocent until proved to be guilty. They were, of course, all desirous of stopping people hiring young children and making a living out of their begging, but they ought to prove a person was guilty before they punished him. It ought to be assumed in this as in every other case that a person was innocent till he was proved to be guilty. This subsection did absolutely the reverse. It said that—If a person having the custody, charge, or care of a child or young person is charged with an offence under this section, and it is proved 131 that the child or young person was in any street, premises or place for any such purpose as aforesaid, and that the person charged allowed the child or young person to be in the street premises or place, he shall be presumed to have allowed him to be in the street, premises or place for that purpose unless the contrary is proved.That was absolutely contrary to the principle of the English law. He challenged anyone to deny that it was one of the virtues of the English law that a man was taken to be innocent until proved to be guilty. Why should that principle be changed in this subsection? The Under-Secretary had already said that it was very difficult for the police to punish a person who they knew allowed a child to be in the street, because they could not absolutely prove that the parent or person in charge of the child had insisted on the child going into the street. He rather doubted that. He thought the police knew perfectly well whether people were in the habit of sending their children out. It was always difficult to prove a crime, and there must be many instances where there was no legal proof. That, however, was no argument for passing a clause which would inflict a great hardship upon people who really did not deserve any punishment. The age limit, it had to be remembered, had been increased to sixteen, and the clause would apply principally to the great cities. A boy of sixteen in London was no child. In nine cases out of ten he knew nearly as much on many subjects as any hon. Member in that House. It could not be said that a London boy of sixteen was a child, forced to do things against his wish. A widow who had to earn her own living might send her son, fifteen and three-quarters years of age, to a street where she had seen a notice "Boys wanted" in a shop window to see if he could get the situation. The boy might see a benevolent gentleman or lady and beg. Under this subsection the widow would be deemed to have sent the boy out to beg and be liable to a fine of £25 unless she could prove that she did not send him out to beg. How could she do that? Probably she would not know anything about his having begged, and how would she know when she sent him out that he was going to beg? This 132 kind of legislation was certain to inflict great hardship on many innocent people. The hearts of hon. Members opposite rather ran away with them. Their kindly feeling was so great that it did not allow them to exercise their cool judgment, and see that by endeavouring to remedy every evil under the sun they might be inflicting great hardship on many innocent people. He could not conceive that the House would allow such a clause to pass. He did not believe it would do much good, because the people who made a living by sending children out to beg, and whose guilt it was so difficult to prove, would soon get over a provision of this sort, and they would never get the real professional. But they would inflict a very great hardship on a great number of innocent people, and believing that on maturer reflection the House would leave out the clause, he had much pleasure in moving its omission.
§ MR. R. DUNCAN (Lanarkshire, Govan)
said it was not too often that he saw eye to eye with the hon. Baronet, but in this case he felt constrained to support him. The Bill all through was an experiment, and they all desired that the main principle should be carried out of protecting young persons and seeing that they were safeguarded and became respectable citizens. But here, as elsewhere, they had to draw the line, and it was a matter of common sense where they drew it. He supposed this particular subsection had been passed rather hurriedly. It seemed very loosely drawn. Surely a person might be a man or a woman, but the person was called "he," and where a widow had a number of children, they were classed as being under the guardianship of "him." They must consider what the mother's duties and responsibilities were. She was, by this subsection, presumed to be guilty of sending a child out to beg if the child went out into the street with her permission, perhaps for some laudable or innocent reason. The law was always assumed to aim at fair play, and it was assumed that a person was innocent until he was proved to be guilty. Here the poor mother or father was assumed to be guilty without its being proved.
In page 9, line 24, to leave out subsection 2 of Clause 13."—(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. CHERRY
said the hon. Baronet would not be surprised that the Government could not accept the Amendment. It was quite true that according to the ordinary practice of the law a man was presumed to be innocent until he was proved guilty, but there were many cases under the existing law where, owing to the difficulty of formal proof of particular facts the onus of proof had been by legislation shifted to the accused, and this was a case of the kind. It had been done in the case of the adulteration of food, and of dealing with stolen property where the person in possession of stolen property was presumed to have stolen it unless he could explain where it came from. There were hundreds of instances where any person of ordinary knowledge would have no moral doubt whatsoever that the child had been begging with the sanction and knowledge of the parent and that the money which the child received went direct to the parent, but still the police would have an almost impossible task in proving knowledge of the fact that the child was begging. The object of the second subsection was really to make the first one workable. The common sense of magstrates might be relied on not to convict in cases where there was the slightest suggestion of innocence on the part of the person. Instances constantly occurred where a child was begging day after day. The knowledge of the parent might be very reasonably presumed, and the onus might be shifted on to him of showing that without his knowledge the begging took place. For these reasons he asked the House not to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
moved to omit Clause 14. It had been coniderably amended in Committee, and it had been improved from his point of view by those Amendments. But, in spite of the Amendments, it was a clause 134 which the House should not pass. It was entirely a new piece of legislation, and was wrong in principle and wrong in desirability. It was no offence to leave a child in a room with an unguarded fire or an unguarded kettle. It was only where the child was killed or suffered serious injury from being left in that position that it became an offence. The fact that the child was injured was in itself probably sufficient punishment for most careless people, and to impose a fine of £10 was rather an objectionable form of legislation. But one went a step further. If the child was killed there was already a remedy, the person in charge being guilty of manslaughter. It had slipped out from the hon. Member for Portsmouth, who spoke with experience as a coroner, that there was great difficulty in getting a jury to find a verdict of manslaughter against a mother. The object of the section was to remove the question from a jury and leave it to be dealt with by magistrates. He objected very much to that, and would much prefer the verdict of a jury who were much more likely to know the circumstances of the particular person and whether he was guilty of negligence, than a magistrate who might or might not have preconceived views on the point. The section was aimed solely against the ordinary poor person. It was an extraordinary thing that this Parliament certainly hit harder and more harshly against the working classes than probably any Parliament we had had for a longtime, and that there was hardly anybody who could voice the feelings and expressions of that class. Their representatives were very rarely present on these occasions, and those who carried on these discussions were men like the hon. Member for Bath, whose whole-heartedness nobody doubted. He was afraid on this Bill he was in the position throughout of advocatus diaboli, for the real working classes of the country were so very little represented in that House—he did not mean the trade unionists, but the real people who worked, on whom obviously a great injustice was being inflicted. The clause simply hit poor persons. No rich person would be likely to be hit by a penalty of £10—it would be nothing at all to him—but it was a glaring injustice that a person who had gone out 135 and left a child somewhat carelessly, and without taking what some magistrate might think reasonable precautions against the risk of the child getting burned or scalded, should be fined any sum up to £10. She could not find the money and would be sent to prison and the children would have to be provided for by the State. The section, although amended and improved was still crude, and was one which the House should not affirm.
§ MR. CARLILE
, in seconding, said the clause as it stood seemed to deal only with one side of the dangers in connection with burning. One of the principal dangers was the inflammable nature of the clothing worn by young children, which was so frequently the cause of their being burned to death. The expression "open fire grate insufficiently protected" seemed to be very vague. A woman might be working in another room and she might leave the open fire carefully covered by an efficient guard which some other person might remove in her absence. The result might be that a young child left in the room was burned to death, and then the mother in the next room, unconscious of what had happened, was to be held responsible and liable to the penalties imposed by this clause. [Cries of "No, no."] It seemed to him that those facts ought to be carefully considered, and the position of a mother in those circumstances should be safeguarded against the interference of a third party. He also thought that some provision should be made for condemning the highly inflammable character of clothing worn by young children.
In page 9, to leave out Clause 14."—(Mr. Rawlinson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that this clause was one to which the Government attached the greatest importance, and he regarded it as one of the most valuable features of the Bill. 136 It was a most necessary clause. There were in England and Wales every year over 1,400 cases of children being burned to death from unguarded fires, and the statistics disclosed only a small proportion of the suffering which arose from this cause.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that he did not think lamps were included, but the statistical tables were not very clear. There were many cases of children being severely burned and permanently injured, although not attended with fatal results. The coroners of the country were continually drawing attention to this matter. He quoted expressions of opinion on this subject from the coroners of West Bromwich, Manchester, Liverpool and Dublin, and, so far as one could judge from the expression of opinion in the country generally the clause was heartily approved of. Cases might occur in which well-to-do persons who had children burned to death would be prosecuted for not taking precautions of this kind. He did not think the clause would be oppressive as applied to poor persons. When the Bill was before the committee he had displayed on the table a fireguard which could be bought for a shilling, and surely the saving of a child's life was worth a shilling. It was a monstrous thing to say that a person was entitled to leave a child alone in a room with an unprotected fire without taking any precautions of any sort and to be held in no way responsible if it was burnt to death. The hon. Member opposite said they were now introducing a novel principle in law, and that it was an unheard of thing to provide that an act which was in itself not criminal should become criminal if disaster followed. Although he was not a lawyer he could quote a number of instances of this kind. A workman 137 shovelling snow or stones from a roof was not subject to any penalty for that act, but if he killed somebody he was liable. If a gate-keeper left a gate open on a railway he was not liable to a penalty, but if somebody was killed in consequence he was. Then there was the case of the Peculiar People, who in the case of illness of a child failed to summon a doctor. If death ensued they were liable for manslaughter, but if the child recovered there was no penalty. Another example might be drawn from the Dangerous Performances of Children Acts. If no accident happened there was no punishment provided by the law, but if a child was injured the employer of that child became liable to penalty. Therefore, what was proposed in this clause was by no means a new procedure; it followed many well-established precedents. This was the only way in which they could deal with the matter. An Amendment was moved in Committee to the effect that landlords should be required to provide fireguards, but in many instances there might be no children at all in the lodgings or in the house. And of course it was not practicable to inspect all the tenements in the country in order to see if fireguards were provided. Neither could they deal by this legislation with the use of inflammable material for clothing. In the first place, it would be out of order in the Bill to deal with flannelette, because it was largely sold, not only for children's clothing, but for clothing generally, and they could not discriminate in the case of a particular material between cases when it was to be used for children's clothing and for other purposes. Inflammable materials would have to be dealt with, if at all, by separate legislation. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of this clause said he did so because it would be hard upon the parents to have a prosecution of this kind added to the agony of losing a child. He would like to point out that for every person, who was brought into Court under this clause there would be at least ten other parents who would be saved the agony of losing their children. One case brought into Court, even if no penalty was inflicted, would be the means of bringing to the attention of thousands of persons in that particular district the fact that the law required the taking of proper 138 precautions. Therefore this was a most humane clause, not only for the children, whose helplessness made the strength of their appeal, but for the parents as well.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he was not going to argue as to the number of cases because he had not the figures, but he felt bound to say that he was very much struck by the fact that the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill was extremely vague as to the number of cases in which death or injury due to the absence of a fireguard had occurred. The hon. Member had told them that some differentiation had been made in regard to other causes in the compilation of the figures, and that he was enabled to attribute 1,400 cases to this one particular cause. He did not think it ought to go forth that those figures were allowable unless they were officially presented to the House. He was not going to say one word about the imposition of such conditions upon a household. Those remarkable proposals were considered before the Committee upstairs, and he would not say anything about the general policy which the House had deliberately adopted. At the same time, he believed that the provisions which the House had been considering would startle many people out of doors. To the inhabitants of many villages the knowledge would come with great surprise that the Government was imposing upon them conditions of which they could have but little knowledge unless one of their number was summoned and punished as an example to the neighbours. The hon. Member had said that this was not class legislation, but he ventured to challenge that statement absolutely. It might be necessary legislation in face of the statements which had been made and in face of the information of which the Home Office was in possession. Certainly it was true that hundreds of lives were lost because the parents did not take adequate steps to protect their lives, and it was time for Parliamentary intervention to put an end to so scandalous a state of things. It did not follow that the legislation which the Government were proposing was of the right kind. How could the hon. Gentleman pretend that this was not class legislation? The hon. Gentleman said that 139 the clause applied to all householders. That was perfectly true, but what made it class legislation was not the enactment of the clause—that was an academic affair—but the penalty attached to it. How could the hon. Gentleman pretend that the effect of this clause was the same in the case of the rich man as in the case of the poor man? He did not mean "rich" as the word was often, used, and as it was used the other day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in describing multi-millionaires. How could it be said that a clause like this which imposed a fine of £10 was the same in the case of the rich man as in the case of a working-man?
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he was not suggesting that a penalty of £10 would be imposed, but that the argument of his hon. friend behind him was correct that in the case of a penalty of 10s. or 5s. instead of £10 the burden on many of the people to whom the Act would apply would still be a great matter. The hon. Gentleman sought refuge in the fact that it was only a maximum penalty of £10. But supposing the magistrates reduced the penalty to 1s. that would add a burden to the ordinary small householder which might be felt a great deal more than a fine of £10 to a rich man. He thought that made the clause class legislation and nothing else. He himself believed that this was a kind of class legislation which was thoroughly bad. He believed that if it was true that parents were guilty of the gross neglect which the hon. Gentleman said they were guilty of, the proper, courageous, and honest course for Parliament to take was not to impose fines of this kind surrounded by all sorts of difficulties, but to alter the law in regard to manslaughter. If it was true as the hon. Gentleman had practically told the House, that children met their death through the neglect of their parents, let the offenders be convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison. He did not challenge the facts given by the hon. Gentleman, but until the penalty was made the same all round for rich and poor they could not escape 140 the charge that this was class legislation pure and simple. He did not hesitate to say that this clause quite apart from its merits and the general principle underlying the Bill, was one unjust to the poorer classes in this country.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that £10 is too severe a penalty and that it ought to be made manslaughter?
§ MR. H. J. TENNANT
said he could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He thought the light hon. Gentleman was mistaken in the attitude he had adopted towards this clause. It seemed to him to be almost impossible to make laws for the prevention of accidents which should be equal in their incidence as against rich and poor. This clause was absolutely equal in its incidence. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten to read one part of the clause which said that not only must the fire-grate be sufficiently protected, but that reasonable precautions must be taken against risk of burning. He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would be the first person to admit that the working classes were as anxious as the rich to protect their children against that risk. If they were going to try to protect the lives of those children, it followed that they must invent some means of doing so, and that the means must operate equally as against rich and poor. It had been said that the burden was heavier as against the poor. They could not help that; it was the fault of circumstances. He thought it was straining the point too much to say that this was class legislation. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested the increasing of the stringency of the criminal law. He did not himself think that that would do. He thought that a penalty of the kind proposed by this Bill would be much more likely to make people take precautions for the protection of the lives of children than any other course which they were likely to enact.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the hon. Gentleman opposite had said this was 141 not class legislation. In his own house the hon. Member would have a fire-guard or a well-paid nurse, but in the house of a country labourer there would be no fire-guard. He had not seen the 1s. guard which had been referred to, but he did not think it would be efficient very long. If a 1s. guard was put in a labourer's cottage it would be broken almost immediately, and a labourer receiving 14s. a week would not be able to get another one. What reasonable precautions would the labourer have to take to meet the requirements of the clause? When the mother went upstairs to clean the bedroom the children would be left downstairs in the only room in which there was a fire. A child would begin to play with the fire, and it would get burned. That child was in a different position from the child of the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman would have a nurse and an efficient fire-guard costing not a 1s. but £2 or £3. He maintained that this was class legislation, because it put an obligation on poor people which they were not able to carry out. Nobody deplored more than he or his right hon. friend did that children died under these circumstances. He could not believe that any Member of the House supposed that the passing of this clause would diminish the number of deaths from burning. What the clause would do would be to put on fathers and mothers who were already suffering grief and pain for the loss of a child the pain of being taken before the county bench and of having to pay out of their small earnings for not having taken proper charge of the child, besides being subjected to the odium of the charge.
§ MR. WYNDHAM (Dover)
said he was sorry to differ from the hon. Member for Berwickshire, who was deeply interested in these matters. In his defence of the clause the hon. Member went nearer than anyone else to show how totally illusory and unworkable it was. The clause consisted of two parts. The first part dealt with the fire-guard, and the second with "taking reasonable pre-cautions." As it must be administered if it became law, any person having the care of a child would be required to have a fire-guard, and if he had a fire-guard of a certain cheapness and pattern, all would be well. Nobody would be ex- 142 pected to buy an expensive guard. Some enterprising firm would put a cheap fire-guard on the market, and a parent if he got such a fire-guard for 9d. or 1s. would not trouble himself further. In the second part of the clause, reference was made to "taking reasonable precautions" if there was no fire-guard. How could a parent take reasonable precautions against a child being burned? What kind of law was to be applied according to judicial precision? It might be pleaded that telling a child not to go near the fire was a reasonable precaution. They all agreed that the loss of a child by fire was a terrible thing, but he did not think it could be met by the clause as it stood. The Minister in charge of the Bill had said that there was nothing novel in the clause, and he cited certain curiosities of the law in regard to the difference between murder and manslaughter in cases arising from death by fire. The clause would introduce into every poor home a curiosity of the law far more extravagant than any now existing. The Minister in charge of the Bill also urged that the clause would be a most effective way of warning the careless of the terrible penalty which they would incur, not that provided for in the Bill, but in the remorse they would feel for the rest of their lives if a child died on account of their neglect. That was the most effective plea which the hon. Gentleman had put forward; but the parent might say that he never thought of that or what risk he was incurring in not having a fire-guard. Mothers were accused of being nervous and fidgety, but if they were as careless as was alleged by some, no child would survive beyond five years of age. The difficulties in the homes of the poor arose from the distraction caused by other duties than the constant care of the children by the mothers, the difficulties of the dinner having to be cooked, etc., and if any failed through negligence it might be because this clause added to the stock of distractions that they might be haled up before a Court of Justice and have a black mark put against their name of having been guilty of the manslaughter of their child. It might be possible that the amendment of the law of manslaughter would touch those who were callous custodians of their children, but 999 out of 1,000 143 parents were not callous, but simply distracted by the cares of home.
§ MR. BRAMSDON
said he disliked very much repeating in one evening what had been said two hours before, but as he was the only coroner in the House at present—there were only two of them—who had had practical experience of this terrible question he might be allowed to say a few words in explanation of the reasons why he supported this clause, in the hope that he might throw a little light on the subject under discussion. He had held inquiries concerning hundreds of cases of the death of children by burning, and his heart had bled at seeing the horrible spectacles brought before him. His experience was similar to that of every coroner in the United Kingdom. The clause came before the House with the approval and sympathy of every coroner, and he ventured to say that if hon. Members could only come round with him a few times when engaged in his official duties they would support the clause. This was not a part of the Bill which affected the poorer classes only. He had held inquests on the children of well-to-do people, and that was an argument in some cases in favour of increasing the penalties rather than of making them less. There was a well-known case not very long ago in which the parents, having gone out, locking the door, the children were seen a little while after at the window burning, and the neighbours were unable to get up to the children, and nothing could be done to rescue them. The fact was that the parents were away gossiping, and had taken no particular care of the safety of their children. He remembered the Lord Advocate telling, during the Second Reading debate, of a somewhat similarinstance having taken place in Edinburgh. Was nothing to be done to stop that sort of thing? Let them call it grandmotherly legislation, and talk of the cost of a fire-guard as a burden on the poor if they liked, but surely it was desirable to try to stop the saerifice of child life, and the shilling fire-guard would do much in that direction. He was present when his hon. friend had produced a specimen fire-guard in Grand Committee. It was a very good guard, and in his opinion would be very effective. 144 He had never held an inquest on the cause of death of a child from burning where there had been a fire-guard in the house. If the presence of a fire-guard in a house would be the means of saving child life, ought they not as legislators to do what they could to save the children? His hon. friend had objected to the number of cases of death of children by burning which had been quoted. He thought the House was aware that the clause under discussion formed the second clause of the Bill which he had introduced last year. The figures were correct, and resulted from the inquiry made by the National Society for the Protection of Children. During the last year hundreds of resolutions were passed at meetings throughout England begging the Home Secretary to introduce this measure and pass it into law; and he knew very well that there had never been any opposition to it at any meeting where the subject had been properly explained. He believed that the magistrates were most careful in the administration of the law, and that they could be trusted to pay the utmost attention to the circumstances of the parents and the amount of carelessness proved against them.
§ SIR SAMUEL SCOTT (Marylebone, W.)
said he did not intend to follow his hon. friend in his argument in support of the clause. His reason for rising was to ask a question of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill, as he thought this clause was somewhat vague. The clause said—If any person over the age of sixteen years who has the custody, charge or care of any child under the age of seven years," etc.The hon. Member was aware that in many cases in the houses of the poor the mother who had been all the day looking after the house and the children had to go out to do some shopping, and the little children were left in charge of an older child when they came home from school—a child who might be only twelve, thirteen, or fourteen years of age. If a child under seven was left in charge of a person under sixteen years of age, and anything happened to it, was a child of ten, twelve, or fourteen liable to a fine of £10? What was the meaning of the words "custody, charge or care"?
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said the words "custody, charge, or care" appeared in all the Cruelty to Children Acts, and were well understood. In such a case the parent would be liable.
§ MR. WALSH (Lancashire, Ince)
said if there was any one clause in this Bill upon which any person could give a definite vote, it was this clause. A point had been raised that this was class legislation, but that did not seem to him to be of importance at all. The question was, was it legislation that was required, was it legislation that was wanted? He thought that it was. For a good deal more than a score of years the coroner for North-West Lancashire had urged upon Parliament the necessity for legislation, as there had been scores and scores of cases of children who had come to the most terrible deaths, viz., that caused by fire where it had not been properly safeguarded, and the little inflammable shirt had caught fire. It seemed to him that this clause would do good if it developed a higher sense of parental responsibility. He did not think it would lead a great deal to parents being summoned or brought before Courts, but the result would be that every parish council, every district council, and all the authorities of that kind would co-operate to bring to the notice of parents the new condition of things. Up to now there had been no authority on the part of anybody. Coroners had protested and cried aloud in vain, as they had no power to enforce anything, nor had any other person. If, however, some definite public authority could come to the assistance of parents and warn them to realise their responsibility, then he thought they would see, if not the end, a great decrease in this awful mortality. He had had some considerable difficulty in reconciling himself to several aspects of this Bill, but this was one to which he could not think that there would be any serious objection, because it had purely and simply for its object the saving of infant life. There was some attack to the effect that Labour Members were not there in large numbers to safeguard the interests of the working classes, but surely if there was one matter upon which the working classes were unanimous, it must be upon the necessity for such a measure as this. Upon the disputed 146 medical point as to whether a very small drop of intoxicating liquor might or might not do a child harm, or whether juvenile smoking would cause national deterioration, there would be a good deal of room for difference of opinion, but on a clause like this he did not think any person who knew the conditions of life of our large and crowded centres of population, and who knew the fact that year after year hundreds, if not thousands, of children's lives were sacrificed, because of the difficulty under which the household was carried on—he did not think there could be any room for difference of opinion as to the necessity of a clause such as this, and he for one would have the heartiest possible pleasure in supporting it.
§ MR. THEODORE TAYLOR
did not think he could allow this discussion to go by without saying one word about the flannelette question, which, as had been stated, was a very great cause of death to women and children. Flannelette was an article largely worn by all classes of the community, but particularly by the poor, and he was glad to find that the Under-Secretary had given some attention to the question in regard to it. He would, however, urge upon hon. Members that the question must be dealt with, because there were methods of making flannelette non-inflammable. He was not there to advocate any particular means, but there were methods known to science by which that very inflammable article of children's dress could be rendered innocuous in that respect. He thought the hon. Member was quite right in saying that it would be found to be the case that the major part of the 1,400 children's deaths was due to that material, and that if their clothes had been treated with one or other of those processes the accidents would not have happened. He knew what he was talking about and he thought the public authorities and Parliament should take note of the fact that there were now known to science methods of making cotton clothing absolutely non-inflammable. If some law could be passed by which no inflammable article of clothing of that kind should be allowed to be worn by children in particular without the necessary treatment it would be a very great boon to humanity. He believed in this Bill and in this clause, and if in 147 addition to this measure some further provisions relating to the protection of children's clothing from taking fire were to be adopted by and by they would save a great many additional lives. As the hon. Member for St. Albans had said, these burnings did not all come from fires alone, they came from lamps, matches, and all kinds of things, but still this was a way of preventing part of this great loss. He was sure, however, they ought to go further.
§ *SIR W. J. COLLINS (St. Pancras, W.)
said that perhaps he might be allowed as a hospital surgeon who had seen a great many cases of burning of children, fatal and non-fatal, to add a few words. Even in the non-fatal cases there was nothing more painful to witness than the serious distress and disturbance caused by burning or scorching, but he wished to put in a word of warning in regard to this clause because he was not sure that there were not some hon. Members who assumed that the 1,400 cases of deaths of children from burns and scalds would be entirely obviated by it. On going round his wards that day he found two cases of burning or scalding of children, of which he inquired the cause. The first was a case in which the child had been left in a room alone with a box of matches, and using the matches had set fire to its clothing, and that would not be prevented by this clause. In another case the child took hold of a saucepan containing boiling fluid and upset it over itself. Therefore, hon. Members who assumed that these 1,400 cases of death could all be prevented by the clause were drawing somewhat upon their imaginations. He agreed that the clause might be a step in the right direction, but he thought that giving the opportunity to the working classes who had to be away during the day to put their children into creches where they could be managed and taken care of was the more correct mode of solving the problem.
§ *MR. REES
said that this was obviously not class legislation because it applied equally to all, and it was equally obvious that it could affect only the poor. He denied that all the coroners were in favour of the Bill and quoted from a letter to The Times from the coroner of Surrey to the contrary effect. This was the third crime created that night, and he 148 really thought it was worth while asking the Under-Secretary regarding the figures to which he referred. One of the coroners, in an interesting letter, examined the statistics which had been published for 1904, and the total was 1,122 for the whole of England and Wales, including adults, and showed that these figures related by no means only to the cases of scorching or burning to which they had been assumed that night to refer. It was not, therefore, superfluous to intervene, not for the purpose of supplying information, but for the purpose of asking for it from the quarter from which this very important proposal for good or ill was about to proceed. What was a poor woman to do who had only one room and three children? While she was nursing one child and cooking the dinner, another might fall into the fire. Was it an offence for her to allow them to remain in the only room she had. [An HON. MEMBER: She is there herself.] She was there herself, and was nursing one child and cooking the dinner. If one child cannoned up against another, and they hit the kettle and overturned it, was this unfortunate woman to be made liable? Surely it was necessary to take into account the special circumstances of poor people to whom legislation of this class had particular, indeed exclusive, application. After all was said and done, he himself did not believe that a screen that was anything but a pretence could be bought for a shilling. But if it could, it was not fair to legislate for poor people in this way. From what he had seen of the poor he thought this clause would hit them rather hardly. He therefore hoped the Under-Secretary would be kind enough to enlighten him upon the figures which he had given, and say if the coroner of Surrey, London, and the Duchy of Lancaster was right in his observations upon the statistics which had been read to the House.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
admitted that this clause was a fair sample of the Bill. The speeches that had been made in favour of it were strong speeches to the effect that the evil existed. The sympathies of the House had been excited by the pictures painted of the child who suffered from burning, but the figures given by the Under-Secretary were given in a very loose form. Even 149 the number of accidents from burning resulting from open fires was very much in doubt, and the figures put forward by the Government could not be supported. It was easy to draw a terrible picture of little children under seven years of age being burned, and nobody was more anxious than himself to prevent any injury to children by burning or otherwise. But the point he wished to make was that this clause would not remedy the evil, but on the contrary only work a great injustice on the real working people of the country. Some hon. Members seemed to think that the Bill made it an offence to leave a fire unguarded so that if the local authority knew of it they could come to the particular house and say "You have acted improperly, you must have your fire guarded by a guard, price 1s., on the recommendation of the Home Office." That was not the fact at all. There was no suggestion of that. It was not made an offence to leave a fire unguarded. What was done by this clause, the very worst form of legislation, was to say that if one had the misfortune to leave a fire unguarded, and one's child was severely injured, then the parent who had not the sense to prevent her child being burned in her absence, and who had already been sufficiently punished by the injury done to the child, was to be summoned and subjected to penalties. Legislation of that kind would not prevent children being burned, and when they were the parents were to be brought before the police court and sent to gaol. He
§ ventured to submit that that kind of legislation was thoroughly bad, and that the House ought to oppose the section. Further than that he did not believe in the saving clause which said that if a fire was properly guarded there should be no offence. He believed fireguards existed, but he did not believe any benefit could exist in the homes of the poor, either from the utility or the purpose of such fire-guards. He was no expert in fire-guards, but he knew something about children, and he knew that a 1s. fire-guard would not last very long in a house full of children. But apart even from all that, a fire-guard would not in his opinion prevent injury to children from burning. This, however, was not his real reason for objecting to this measure. His objection was that he did not believe the House would protect children from injury of this kind by making more criminals. One hon. Member had spoken from the point of view of the evil as seen by the coroners of the country. He himself spoke from the point of view of one who had seen the inefficacy of criminal law in the case of laws of this kind. He, therefore, asked the House to hesitate before they added another senseless crime to those with which the Courts had now to deal. He attached great importance to this as, in his opinion, this was an extremely dangerous clause.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 177; Noes, 30. (Division List No. 246.)151
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bramsdon, T. A.||Curran, Peter Francis|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Brigg, John||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Agnew, George William||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Byles, William Pollard||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Elibank, Master of|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Essex, R. W.|
|Barker, John||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Clough, William||Everett, R. Lacey|
|Beacuhamp, E.||Clynes, J. R.||Fell, Arthur|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Ferens, T. R.|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Bennett, E. N.||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Findlay, Alexander|
|Black, Arthur W.||Cooper, G. J.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Brace, William||Cox, Harold||Furness, Sir Christopher|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Glover, Thomas||Maclean, Donald||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Callum, John M.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||M'Crae, Sir George||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Steadman, W. C.|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||M'Micking, Major G.||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Gulland, John W.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Marnham, J. F.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale||Massie, J.||Summerbell, T.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E)|
|Harwood, George||Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Myer, Horatio||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Napier, T. B.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Tomkinson, James|
|Henry, Charles S.||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Toulmin, George|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wadsworth, J.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nuttall, Harry||Walsh, Stephen|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Hodge, John||Paulton, James Mellor||Wardle, George J.|
|Holden, E. Hopkinson||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Hudson, Walter||Radford, G. H.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Raphael, Herbert H.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Jackson, R. S.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Jowett, F. W.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Roberts, Sir John H. (Denbighs.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Lambert, George||Rose, Charles Day||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Rowlands, J.|
|Lehmann, C. R.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Fletcher, J. S.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gretton, John||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Houston, Robert Paterson||Younger, George|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Rawlinson and Mr. Carlile.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Nield, Herbert|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool|
§ SIR F. BANBURY
moved to leave out Subsection (2) of Clause 16. He had every sympathy with the first subsection of the clause, and had nothing to say against the penalty to be inflicted. He thought the second subsection, however, was unnecessary. It said that—For the purpose of this section a person shall be deemed to have favoured the seduction 152 or prostitution (as the case, may be) of a girl if he has conduced thereto by knowingly allowing the girl to consort with or to enter or continue in the employment of any prostitute or person of a notoriously immoral character.He objected to that subsection, firstly, because it was opposed to the whole principle of the English law that a person should be deemed to be innocent until proved to be guilty. There was no one 153 who would not agree that the favouring of the seduction of a girl under sixteen was a very serious offence, but there was no reason why the law should be altered and a person charged with such an offence deemed to be guilty instead of having to be proved to be guilty. Secondly, he objected to the last five or six words of the subsection, viz.: "or person of a notoriously immoral character." What did they mean? If the father of a girl under sixteen allowed her to go into the service of a family, and one of the family happened to be a person of a notoriously immoral character, he would be deemed to be guilty, and would be liable to two years hard labour. The onus of proof was not put upon the prosecution. Who was to prove what the words "of a notoriously immoral character" meant? A number of people in the House held different views as to what was notoriously immoral. Some people had very strict views and others were a little lax; and to insert vague words of this character into a Bill and attach a penalty of two years hard labour seemed to him legislation which should not be allowed to pass. There was no definition of the words in the clause. He presumed the Under-Secretary did not know what they meant, and that it would be left to Judges to interpret them. Consequently they would have all sorts of interpretations. One Judge might hold a person who drank to be a notoriously immoral person and another Judge might take another view altogether. He hoped, if the hon. Gentleman was unable to accept his Amendment, he would put in some Amendment of his own defining what he meant by "notoriously immoral." Personally, he thought it was almost impossible to define what was meant.
In page 10, line 24, to leave out sub-section (2) of Clause 16."—(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. CHERRY
said it appeared to him that the second subsection made the clause very much more definite. It really gave a definition which was very much needed of the word "favour." The first subsection ran—If any person having the custody, charge, or care of a girl under the age of sixteen years encourages or favours the seduction or prostitution of that girl, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two years.Then the second subsection which the hon. Baronet moved to omit sought to define what "favouring" meant. It did so in language which was clear and distinct; and he could not see any ambiguity in it. It said—For the purpose of this section a person shall be deemed to have favoured the seduction or prostitution (as the case may be) of a girl if he has conduced thereto by knowingly allowing the girl to consort with or to enter or continue in the employment of any prostitute or person of a notoriously immoral character.It would be necessary to prove that the child was not only allowed to go into the employment but also that the person in charge of her knew the character of the person into whose employment she had been allowed to go. That disposed of the first objection of the hon. Baronet that the subsection shifted the onus of proof. He could not see that it did so at all. On the contrary, it required very strict proof. The hon. Baronet also objected to the words "or person of a notoriously immoral character." He asked for a definition of them. They were almost identical with words in the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, and during the twenty-three years that Act had been in force no question so far as he was aware had arisen as to their interpretation. Anyone understood them, and if they attempted any definition they would only involve themselves in very much more difficulty. Instead of the second subsection being in any way cumbersome, he thought it made the clause very much more definite.
§ LORD E. CECIL
said he did not understand that his hon. friend desired so much to strike out the whole subsection as to draw the attention of the Government to the last five or six words of it. He could not quite agree that the second subsection made the first more definite. It was quite true it gave an instance of one particular kind of offence under the first subsection, but it did not put into clearer language the whole of what was contained in the previous subsection. On the contrary, the word "encourages" was left without any explanation whatever, and even the word "favours" was only defined to the extent that one particular instance of favouring was given in the second subsection. There was no complete definition. He could not therefore agree that the second made the first subsection more definite, but that was relatively a little point. He felt a little nervous himself about the concluding words "or person of a notoriously immoral character." They were alarmingly vague. If any old woman in the country sent her daughter up to London to go into service and in the place where she went there turned out to be a person of a notoriously immoral character, she would be liable under the subsection, although, living in the country, she knew nothing about it; all the word "knowingly" applied to was that of allowing the girl to consort, and "with a person of a notoriously immoral character" was the description of the person. Otherwise, there would not be any sense in putting in the word "notoriously." It would be enough to to say "knowingly consort with a person of an immoral character." It did not make a person any more immoral because she was notoriously immoral, nor did it make her any more dangerous company for a young girl.
§ MR. H. J. TENNANT
suggested that the word "knowingly" governed not only the "allowing of a girl to consort with," but also "of enter- 156 ing and continuing in the employment of a person of a notoriously immoral character." He was not sure whether the word "knowingly" meant knowing that the character of the person was immoral or knowing that the girl was entering into the employment of a person of that character. The phrase was certainly one of a very vague character. There were two objections to this kind of legislation. There was the chance that grave injustice would be committed by a person being regarded by a tribunal as of a notoriously immoral character who would not be so regarded by the ordinary man in the street. There was much more serious risk that the words were so vague that the police authorities would not endeavour to put them in force, and they would remain as a vague menace on the Statute Book, which by reason of its not being employed became more menacing to those who had to act under the statute. The Attorney-General for Ireland had quoted the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, and said that somewhat similar words had not given rise to any difficulty. He had not made any study of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, but his impression was that no proceedings had been taken under those words, and he suggested that the clause would be not less effective, but much less dangerous if the last six words were struck out. If there was any other kind of person that the Government really had in their view against whom girls ought to be protected, let them say what was in their mind. Of course, he quite understood the danger of allowing young persons of either sex to go into the company of reputed thieves, but that was a different matter and was dealt with by other sections of the Bill. What they had to guard against was consorting with prostitutes; the other words carried no definite meaning, and the Government would be wise to agree to their omission.
§ MR. MACLEAN
said with regard to the words "notoriously immoral," he had 157 before him the section of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, where they occurred. No difficulty whatever had arisen from the words "known immoral character." The words used in this clause were stronger. No cases had arisen, as far as his experience went, on the construction of these words, but he had known many cases under the section.
§ LORD E. CECIL
I think the hon. Member has great knowledge on this point. Will he allow me to ask him whether he knows of any case in which these words have been enforced for the purposes of the section?
§ MR. MACLEAN
said he remembered a case of a girl or woman being of known immoral character so as to bring her within the section. It was disposed of without any difficulty at all. He did not say difficulty might not arise, but in those cases in which he had had experience no difficulty had arisen.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he was not really enlightened by the explanation of the Attorney-General. The right hon. Gentleman said that subsection (2) was an interpretation of subsection (1.) He should
§ say it was nothing of the sore. Subsection (1) was exceedingly clear and subsection (2) defined one word only. Under subsection (2) a person was deemed to be guilty until he was proved to be innocent, whereas in subsection (1) he was deemed to be innocent until he was proved guilty, which was the English law. The Attorney-General passed that by and did not reply to the point at all. What he really objected to were the vague words at the end of the section, "a person of a notoriously immoral character." The Attorney-General had not attempted to define the words, but had referred to an Act passed twenty-three years ago, and he could not say whether any case had arisen under the Act to show whether there had been any difficulty in determining what the words meant. Even the hon. Member for Bath could not say that any case had arisen. He should have to go to a division unless he got an explanation from the Government or a pledge that they would define the last six or seven words of the subsection.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 164; Noes, 29. (Division List No. 247.)159
|Aclaud, Francis Dyke||Brace, William||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Agnew, George William||Bramsdon, T. A.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.|
|Allen, A. Aclaud (Christchurch)||Brigg, John||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Byles, William Pollard||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Essex, R. W.|
|Barker, John||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Evans, Sir Samuel T.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Everett, R. Lacey|
|Beauchamp, E.||Clough, William||Ferens, T. R.|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Clynes, J. R.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Findlay, Alexander|
|Bennett, E. N.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Black, Arthur W.||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Cooper, G. J.||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Furness, Sir Christopher|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Lupton, Arnold||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Lyell, Charles Henry||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Glover, Thomas||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Maclean, Donald||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||M'Callum, John M.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Crae, Sir George||Steadman, W. C.|
|Gulland, John W.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Gurdon, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Brampton||M'Micking, Major G.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hn. L. (Rossendale||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Marnham, F. J.||Summerbell, T.|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Massie, J.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Harwood, George||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Murray, Capt. Hn. A. C. (Kincard||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Tomkinson, James|
|Henry, Charles S.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Toulmin, George|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Nuttall, Harry||Verney, F. W.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Paulton, James Mellor||Walsh, Stephen|
|Holden, E. Hopkinson||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wardle, George J.|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Hudson, Walter||Radford, G. H.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Raphael, Herbert H.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Jackson, R. S.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Rees, J. D.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Whittaker, Rt. Hn. Sir Thomas P.|
|Kearley, Sir Hudson E.||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Roberts, Sir John H. (Denbighs.)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lambert, George||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Younger, George|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Rose, Charles Day|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Rowlands, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Joseph Pease and Master of Elibank.|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F.||Gretton, John||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Guinness, W. E. (Bury S. Edm.)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Helmsley, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm'gham)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Frederick Banbury and Mr. Fell.|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Nield, Herbert|
§ And, it being Eleven of the Clock, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.
§ Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee) to be further considered Tomorrow.160
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 31st July, adjourned the House, without Question, put.
§ Adjourned at two minutes after Eleven o'clock.