HL Deb 26 February 1861 vol 161 cc930-1

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


moved the second reading of this Bill, which, he said, was similar to one that passed their Lordships' House two years ago, but too late in the Session to go to the other House. The Bill consisted of but one clause, and was of the simplest kind. At present the law gave protection to young girls between the ages of ten and twelve, and the seduction of such children was declared a misdemeanor. The object of this Bill was to extend the age by one year, so that it should be thirteen instead of twelve; and the only argument against it, he believed, was that by the old law of England females were enabled to marry at the age of twelve, and that, therefore, it was something of a contradiction to extending the protection beyond that age. But the evil was practically a very great one. Young girls were sent forth from the unions at thirteen years of age perfectly ignorant of the way in which they would be tempted, and of the life that was before them. He thought the law would, therefore, do well to extend its protection to them as female children, until they arrived at the age when they would be fit to be set free from it.


felt that such cases as had been alluded to by his right rev. Friend were indeed very deplorable, but he doubted whether they could fix any age at which there might not be some cases from which the same argument might be drawn. It appeared to him extremely desirable to avoid discussions of this kind, which were not only unpleasant but extremely detrimental to morality.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.


thought that the Bill should fix the age at fourteen instead of thirteen.


agreeing with the noble and learned Lord below that these discussions were more mischievous than otherwise, moved that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Amendment moved, to leave out("now") and insert ("this Day Six Months.")

On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion, their Lordships divided:— Contents 27; Not Contents 48: Majority 21; and Bill to be read 2a this Bay Six Months.