HL Deb 23 September 1831 vol 7 cc493-4

On the Motion of the Duke of Richmond, the Order of the Day for the recommitment of this Bill was read.

Lord Wharncliffe

suggested to the noble Duke the expediency of referring the Bill to a Committee up-stairs. The Bill, as it now stood, was full of imperfections. And he recommended this course with a perfect desire to make the Bill, if possible, a satisfactory Bill, and capable of working well in practice. He believed, that instead of losing time by referring the measure to a Select Committee, a great deal of time would be gained.

The Duke of Richmond

would have been disposed to resist the proposal had it proceeded from almost any other quarter; but, knowing that the noble Lord had long been anxious to promote that improvement in the laws which was the object of the Bill, he would accede to his suggestion.

Lord Wharncliffe

said, that the Bill, in its present shape, could not fail to produce perpetual dispute and litigation in the country. It would make the law a great deal worse than it was.

The Duke of Wellington

recommended that the execution of the Bill should be postponed until the present game season was over. He thought this might prevent much inconvenience, although, so far as he was personally concerned, it was a matter of indifference whether the Bill came into operation on the 20th of October or the 1st of March.

The Duke of Richmond

said, that the noble Duke had pointed out the inconvenience of making the Bill operative from the 20th of October, but had neglected to advert to the still greater inconvenience of postponing its operation. The Bill sanctioned the sale of game, and it had received the assent, he might say, the unanimous assent—for there had been no division of the House of Commons—and probably this part of the Bill would also receive their Lordships' full concurrence. Now the inconvenience of postponing the operation of the Bill was this, that during a great part, and that the busiest part of the present game season, Magistrates would frequently punish persons by fine and imprisonment for an act which both Houses of the Legislature had solemnly sanctioned. They had better submit to some inconvenience than have 2,000 persons sent to prison for what, some days afterwards, would cease to be an offence. Had their Lordships any idea of the extent to which the sale of game was carried on? One salesman came to him to tell him, that last year he had sold 20,000 head of game, and that some weeks he had sold 1,500 head.

The Marquis of Salisbury

suggested, that the sale of game might be legalized at once, and the other provisions of the Bill be allowed to stand over.

The Duke of Richmond

would rather there was no alteration in the Game-laws than such an alteration as that. The existing system gave rise to mischiefs enough, but those mischiefs would be fearfully increased if the privilege of making; a profit of the game were added to the number of privileges already complained of.

Lord Suffield

was convinced, that the measure must be passed this winter, and it was therefore with regret that he concurred in the proposition for sending it to a Committee up-stairs, which, however, he admitted to be necessary.

The Marquis of Londonderry

concurred with the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington), in thinking that the operation of the Bill ought to be delayed till the next season.

The Earl of Carnarvon

said, there was one principle which pervaded the measure to which he begged to call the attention of the noble Duke. He had great objections to leaving the amount of penalties entirely at the discretion of the Magistrates, as it would tend to produce a great inequality of punishment, according to the disposition of the Magistrate. This uncertainty was a great evil; it would be more advisable that the penalties should be fixed by the Statute, and if it were necessary to give the Magistrates some discretionary power, it would be better to do it by a separate clause allowing them to reduce such penalties by a given sum.

The Duke of Richmond

said, with the leave of their Lordships, he would withdraw his Motion, and move "That a Select Committee be appointed, and the Bill referred to it."

A Committee appointed accordingly,