HL Deb 27 April 1849 vol 104 cc927-30

moved the Second Reading of this Bill.


said, that he felt it his duty to oppose this Bill. The effect of one portion of it would be to deprive many persons in reduced circumstances of the assistance which they at present derived from the services of dogs. The Act proposed to provide a general registry of the number of dog-carts within every county in England, and the species of dogs licensed to draw those carts; and in another portion it provided, that if it should appear that any load manifestly beyond its strength should be drawn by any dog, the owner of the dog-cart should be liable to very severe penalties. Another clause to which he objected, prohibited any men, women, or children from riding in carts drawn by dogs. He thought that this would inflict hardship upon many infirm and decrepit persons, who were in the habit of being drawn by that docile, well-behaved, and excellent animal—the dog. He certainly did not think that it was any cruelty to dogs to allow them to draw carts—he had frequently seen his own children riding in a dog-cart with great delight. These regulations in the Bill to which he had referred were, however, totally unnecessary, as the sixth clause enacted, that any person guilty of cruelty to animals should be made amenable to the law.


had no objection to amend the Bill in Committee, in order to meet the views of the noble Lords.


said, that this Bill was full of restrictions and penalties, and no case had been shown to exist calling for this large amount of interference. Any legislation upon this subject would, in his opinion, always prove inconsistent. Had the noble Duke never seen a very heavy man upon a very little horse? or persons urging their horses to the fullest speed, until they were ready to drop, in racing and hunting; and were not those cases of cruelty to animals equal to any of those to which this Bill had reference? He should move, as an Amendment to the noble Duke's Motion, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

After a few words from the DUKE of BEAUFORT,


put the Motion for the second reading, and declared it to be resolved in the affirmative.


said, that under the plea of putting down cruelty to animals, among other things this Bill proposed to put down cockfighting. He did not, however, think that there was any cruelty whatever in that, when fairly and properly conducted.


supported the Bill because it was intended to put an end to a very great evil. The noble Earl who last spoke had objected to the measure because he said it dealt only with those cruelties practised by the poor, and not with those inflicted by the rich. If the noble Earl would refer to the second clause, he would find it was a general one, and had reference to the rich as well as the poor. For his own part he was willing to go further than the noble Duke who had introduced the measure, and to prohibit the driving of dogs under any circumstances. By being so employed on work for which he was not fitted, the dog was exposed to a great amount of suffering.


thought that most of the vices, and cruelty amongst other vices, were not proper subjects of legislation; but improvements were to be effected by the progress of civilisation, and the changes it produced on the tempers and characters of individuals. He was convinced that to attempt to put down acts of cruelty by legislation would do more harm than good, for they could only enforce it by informers, and that sort of machinery. What greater cruelty was there practised in this country than steeple chasing? It was difficult to define what was cruelty or what was not, and it was a question that must be determined by public opinion. It was in the highest degree objectionable that they should pass a Bill of this kind; and if the House should divide on the question, he would vote against it.


considered that this Bill would interfere with a certain class of persons, and he was inclined to prevent that interference, because hundreds of persons obtained a livelihood by having their carts drawn by dogs. They were employed to draw fish and other articles in parts of the country; and in these times it would be unwise to restrict persons in gaining their bread, unless it was clearly proved that the manner in which they did so was shocking to the public, and demoralising to the people. He hoped that part of the Bill would be withdrawn.


differed from the opinion which had been expressed by the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies. To carry out the noble Lord's principle, they should not only refuse to pass this Bill, but they should move for the repeal of many laws now existing, as there was no line which they could actually draw between what was cruelty and what was not. He so far agreed with the noble Earl as to think that it would be better if these cruelties could be put down by the improved moral feeling of the community; but he did not think this a reason why they should not attempt to mitigate the evil by legislation. He asked the noble Lord would be move for the repeal of the law to prevent bull baiting? As a large class of the population was dependent upon the labour of dogs, he was not prepared to legislate on the subject; but if that clause were left out, he would give his hearty support to the Bill.


was proceeding to address their Lordships, but was interrupted by


who intimated that the second reading of the Bill had been carried.


observed that an Amendment had boon moved, that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.


was understood to say that he was not aware of the Amendment being moved.


said, he had distinctly moved that the Bill should be read a second time that day six months.

It was then arranged that the Amendment should not be then pressed, but the objection made in another stage of the Bill.