§ The Duke of Wellington
presented a Petition against the Game Laws from the operative Gun-makers of London and Birmingham. His Grace expressed his conviction that, since the passing of the last Act, poaching had increased in the part of the country in which he principally resided, and this he attributed to the fact that persons who had game were enabled to sell it without any inquiry being made as to the way in which it came into their possession. He was so certain that the evils of poaching had increased, that he had determined to give up preserving game, and he was only prevented by knowing that his keepers would then be thrown out of employment. He had lost one servant in an affray with poachers, and he thought therefore that it was time to give up preserving game. He repeated, that he attributed, the increase of poaching to the last Game Act.
The Marquess of Westminster
defended the law in its present state. In fact, the Act had not been passed long enough to allow of a fair estimate being made of its merits. As far, however, as he was acquainted 167 with its operation, it had not increased poaching.
The Earl of Malmesbury
observed, that all his anticipations with respect to the effect of the recent measure had been realized. Two-thirds of the gun-makers in the kingdom were out of employment. The poacher now brought his spoil to an open market. All shooting upon sufferance was at an end. The value of the game was now looked at in shillings and pence, and nobody was allowed to shoot. It was not his wish to return to the old system; but he certainly thought that some modification of the existing law on the subject was exceedingly desirable.
§ Lord Segrave
said, that, as far as his experience went, the late Bill was a complete failure. Not only had it not remedied the existing evils, but it had increased them an hundred fold.
§ The Duke of Richmond
, as the individual who proposed the Amendment in the Game-laws, felt it to be his duty to defend it. The whole gravamen of the charge against it seemed to be, that it allowed game to be sold. It had always been sold. As to poachers, he could not believe that they had been increased. It appeared, that the gun-makers complained of want of employment. What was the cause? That they asked eighty guineas for a gun. Let them return to reasonable prices, and gentlemen would again buy of them.