HL Deb 17 June 1879 vol 247 cc2-13

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.


said, that, as their Lordships were aware, he was not in the habit of trespassing upon their attention; but before they proceeded to consider the measure in Committee he wished to be allowed to say a few words. The Bill, in his (Earl Manvers') opinion, had been introduced by the noble Viscount (Viscount Enfield) with great moderation and ability, and it was not brought forward before it was required; for he believed that the small race meetings, against which it was levied, were a great evil, demoralizing to the Metropolis, demoralizing to the suburbs, and an unmitigated nuisance to all of the better class of people who resided in their vicinity. Notwithstanding that the meetings might be an advantage to a few publicans whom, as a class, he had no wish to disparage, he thought the consideration of their interests was hardly sufficient reason for the continuance of that which was a nuisance. The majority of those who attended these meetings did not know one horse from another; and if any noble Lord were to get up and say that they were calculated to improve the breed of racehorses, he could only say that he should be surprised. The noble Lord on his left who moved the rejection of the Bill, and who bore a highly respected judicial name in that House (Lord St. Leonards), told them something about vested interests, and declared that people might just as well complain of railways being a nuisance on account of the traffic and the number of travellers they brought into a neighbourhood as the sufferers from these gate meetings. Well, he (Earl Manvers) disputed that analogy altogether. Railways, it must be remembered, were made for the convenience of the whole travelling public, and where there were cases of residential injury compensation could be obtained; but no one ever heard of compensation being given through residential injury owing to these gate-meetings, by their proprietors. The noble Duke the Lord President of the Council had told them how great were the powers of the Jockey Club. He had said, moreover, that they had gone so far as to exercise their powers in the case of the race meeting at West Drayton. He (Earl Manvers) rejoiced that they had exercised those powers, and he would tell their Lordships why. Some years ago, on a very hot summer's afternoon, he was travelling from Windsor. He had taken his seat in a first-class compartment, of which he was the sole occupant, and he was congratulating himself, as it was a very hot day, on being alone, and on the pleasant journey he should have, all unconscious of the fact that it was the day of West Drayton races. The train he was in called at that station only, and on reaching it, the door of the compartment was opened, and in rushed 12 persons to occupy the seven vacant seats, without the slightest attempt at interference on the part of the railway officials. He should be sorry to characterize harshly any of his fellow-creatures; suffice it to say, therefore, that his fellow-travellers were not to be reckoned amongst the most refined of the human race. They were vinous, they were spirituous, and their language was neither classical, nor Parliamentary; but as they did not relieve him of his watch he had nothing further to say against them. Prom all that ho had heard he had no reason to suppose that the frequenters of Kingsbury and Alexandra Park were at all more civilized than the persons he had just described, and of whom he had had such an un-enjoyable experience. He thought their Lordships had heard of this Bill before, or of one very like it; and, unless he was much mistaken, the old one had been withdrawn on a sort of understanding that the matter should be taken up by the Jockey Club. That august body, however, evidently had had very important matters to deal with, for it had not found time, or had not had the inclination, to deal with the matter. They had been told that the police could put down these meetings, if ill conducted; but did they ever hear of the police interfering except in the case of a regular free fight taking place? Perhaps it was right that the police did not interfere, for if they did it was possible that they might exceed their duty. Since, therefore, neither the Jockey Club nor Her Majesty's Government were willing to take up the matter, he thought that all those who agreed with his noble Friend (Viscount Enfield) would rejoice that the Bill had passed a second reading, and would cordially co-operate with him in endeavouring to increase rather than impair its efficiency in Committee.


regretted that he was not present when the Bill passed a second reading; but he hoped the House would lend him its indulgence for a few moments whilst he made an observation or two on the measure. Perhaps no one had more right to address a few words to their Lordships on a Bill of this nature than he had, for it was only six months ago that he relinquished the position he had held as a steward of the Jockey Club. He was rather astonished, on reading over the observations of the noble Viscount who moved the second reading (Viscount Enfield), to see the various reflections he had cast upon the executive powers of the Jockey Club. His noble Friend who had just addressed them hinted that the Jockey Club was not a strong enough body to perform the duties that it had to discharge. He believed, however, that the Jockey Club was perfectly well able to deal with all mattors connected with racing without Acts of Parliament, which were really fancy legislation. During the whole of the time he had been in Parliament he could safely say that he had never known either House consent to pass any Act that was not really called for by the desires of the people or the interests of the country. This Bill, which had been brought up from the House of Commons, never seemed to him to have received the discussion in the Lower House which it ought to have received. The House of Commons treated it rather as a joke, and they might well do so, because if it was such a necessity, and if it was called for to remove such crying evils, how was it that on no single occasion had the Jockey Club received any petition on the subject? No single individual had ever made a representation to them about it. Gate meetings were, as their Lordships were aware, becoming a very considerable mercantile business, and the interest in the business was by no means strictly confined to publicans or to sinners; because he knew perfectly well that some most respectable and monied gentlemen in the country had, in the belief that they conferred considerable benefits upon racing in the country, and that they promoted legitimate sport, identified themselves with gate meetings. He doubted, if they analyzed them, whether they would not find that nearly all the meetings—Royal Ascot and Ducal Good wood amongst them—resolved themselves into some emolument, which, in some form or another, was for the benefit of individuals or for the benefit of racing. These small Metropolitan meetings would die, or had died, a natural death. They were meetings which were got up by individuals for the purpose of making money; and in the ease of Kingsbury and West Drayton, Streatham and the Alexandra Park—which meeting had been resuscitated, after having been stopped—all the meetings were at an end. Some two years ago the Jockey Club made remonstrances as to the way in which the Kingsbury and West Drayton Meetings were conducted. They said that a sufficient body of police should be employed before they could give countenance to such meetings. On the understanding that these meetings were not looked upon favourably by the Governing Body of the Turf, they fell into disrepute, and were now, he believed, done away with. He objected to the Bill, not because it sought to remedy evils to individuals or to the public, but on the ground that it was a Bill quite contrary to the general principle of legislation. If they were to take up in Parliament the question of racecourses, he considered they ought to do it with regard to the whole of England. There were large meetings at Liverpool, Manchester, York, and other places, and it would astonish their Lordships if he were to tell them the numbers of people who attended those meetings. Why did not the people of Manchester, if they objected to the race meetings, petition against them? The area of the Bill was so limited that it would only deal with the race meeting at Alexandra Park. If they wanted to make it of any value, they should apply it to every race meeting—to the whole of England. He would rather see it made to apply to every racecourse in the Kingdom, than that they should stultify themselves by passing fancy legislation. He must say that the noble Viscount who had moved the second reading of the Bill (Viscount Enfield) had shown an amount of ignorance on the subject that would lead one to believe that he had not attended a single race meeting since his father took such an important part in racing. The noble Viscount wished them to believe that the Jockey Club was so effete that they were in utter ignorance of their own duties. He could tell the noble Viscount, though he perhaps could not agree with him, that the amount of work the Jockey Club did in its own quiet way was very considerable, and that it was such a power in England that when its decisions were given they were never brought into disrepute. The noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack (Earl Cairns), in the high position he held in the Legal Profession, would be exceedingly glad if all the decisions given by him on the Bench, of which he was so great an ornament, were received by the general public with equal approval. If they wished to strengthen a body which was upheld by the public, they would not seek to legislate in Parliament for that which the Jockey Club could do unaided.

House in Committee accordingly.

Clause 1 (Definitions) agreed to.

Clause 2 (Horse-races unlawful within 10 miles of London unless licensed) agreed to.

Clause 3 (Power of justices to license at Michaelmas Quarter Sessions).


desired to say a few words with respect to the principle of an Amendment which he would place upon the Paper to this clause. He might, however, say that the noble Earl (Earl Manvers) who had first addressed them seemed to have taken a very strange view of the stage of the Bill at which they had now arrived, and had given their Lordships a number of details with respect to the inconvenience which he had experienced in railway travelling, which it was by no means necessary now to enter into. Their Lordships had on a previous occasion decided that race meetings should not take place within 10 miles of Charing Cross without being licensed by the magistrates in Quarter Sessions assembled. Although he had opposed the Bill, he accepted the principle which had been laid down upon the second reading—namely, that all race meetings which took place within 10 miles of Charing Cross must be licensed by the magistrates. He hoped he need hardly say that, although he had opposed the second reading, he did not sympathize with gate-money meetings. fie believed them to be very injurious to racing, and he believed no one would wish to uphold, or in any way encourage, such meetings. But he also believed that in introducing this Bill, and bringing forward what he considered to be a remedy against the evils of these gate-money meetings, the noble Viscount (Viscount Enfield) had included within the provisions of the Bill other race meetings which might be of a totally different character to the gate meetings which he sought to suppress. The principle of the Bill, however, having been conceded that these meetings must be licensed by the magistrates in Quarter Sessions, he was placed in this great difficulty—that the noble Viscount, in moving the second reading of the Bill, did not vouchsafe to explain its provisions. The noble Viscount confined his remarks very much to abuse of the Jockey Club, and entirely omitted to tell their Lordships how the provisions of the Bill would carry out the objects which he had in view, or the reasons why several of the clauses contained in the measure had been introduced. The effect of the 3rd clause was that the licences should be granted at any Michaelmas Quarter Sessions of the Peace. He wanted to know why the licences should only be granted at the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions? He thought that if that were done, it would cause very considerable annoyance to persons who were desirous of holding a legitimate race meeting, and not a gate meeting, within 10 miles of Charing Cross. If any persons desired to have a race meeting they would have to wait until the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions, and then the licence would not have effect until the following Lady Day. He certainly could not understand the reason of this. He could not see any reason why the licence should not take effect immediately after it was granted. If the noble Viscount had asked for a fortnight or a month's notice before the application, he could have understood it; but to say that after a licence had been granted to the persons applying they should not be allowed to hold a meeting until six months after, he could not understand. It might be that race meetings might be got up which were quite of another character to gate meetings—say, for instance, by the Household Brigade, which was quartered in London. If the Household Brigade wanted to hold a race meeting amongst themselves, where no liquor would be consumed except what they took down in their hampers, they must make up their minds—according to the Bill of the noble Viscount—to do so before the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions, and then they could not hold it until no less a period than six months had expired. He maintained that that was putting an excessive and undesirable restraint. He did not object to licences being granted by the magistrates; but he wished to point out that magistrates were magistrates at all the Quarter Sessions which were held during the year. His proposal, therefore, was to strike out the word " Michaelmas," which would have the effect of giving power to the magistrates to grant licences at any of the Quarter Sessions held throughout the year; and he should certainly take the sense of the Committee upon it if the noble Viscount could not see his way to accept it.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("Michaelmas.")—{The Lord President.)


was sorry he could not agree to the Amendment which had been moved by the noble Duke. This Bill was not intended to put down absolutely any race meetings which might take place within 10 miles of Charing Cross, supposing licences were granted by the magistrates; but it was desired by the promoters of the measure to give the public some assurance that there would be good order, sobriety, and regularity at those meetings. The Michaelmas Quarter Sessions had been named in order to make the Bill similar in the time of granting licences to the Act regulating the granting of licences for music and dancing, and two month's notice was required of the intention to apply for a licence, in order to give the public an opportunity of making objection, either by themselves or by counsel. Clause 4 went together with Clause 3, and as Middlesex and Surrey were the two counties with in 10 miles of Charing Cross where race meetings took place—for he believed there were no race meetings in Essex— he thought it right that the licensing of music, dancing, and racing, should all be placed on the same footing within the Metropolitan area. Under these circumstances, he must ask their Lordships to adhere to the present wording of the clause.


thought the noble Viscount argued as if all race meetings were gate meetings. He objected to race meetings got up by the Household Brigade, and others in the same high category, being considered as gate meetings. Music and dancing licences were granted, too, for a whole year, and he thought the noble Viscount must have forgotten that fact. The noble Viscount said there were no race meetings in Essex. That was very likely at present. If publicity was what the noble Viscount desired, it could be obtained by other means than those which the noble Viscount had provided. The noble Viscount would also do well, when they came to it, to explain what he meant by Clause 4.


said, he assumed a somewhat different position to that of his noble Friend who had just spoken. He thought his noble Friend was opposed to the Bill altogether; but, on the contrary, it seemed to him (the Lord Chancellor) that it was a Bill which deserved support, and he had voted for its second reading. But he was bound to say that he thought his noble Friend who had charge of the Bill (Viscount Enfield) would act wisely in re-considering this question as to the days for licensing. Those who prepared the Bill appeared to have been led away by the Statute of Geo. II. with regard to licences for music and dancing. In the cases of licences for music and dancing, it was right that the public should have a proper notice—a fortnight's notice—in order to be able to appear before the Quarter Sessions to oppose them. He could not help thinking that the noble Viscount had mistaken the sense of the Statute of Geo. II. The Act of Geo. II. required no notice whatever. The notice was simply a regulation made by the Quarter Sessions; and it would be perfectly competent for the Court of Quarter Sessions, even if the word proposed to be omitted was left out, to make a rule as to a certain amount of notice being given, so that any member of the public who wished to oppose the granting of a licence might have full opportunity of doing so. Unlike halls for music and dancing, race meetings were not places of continuous amusement; and, therefore, the arguments applicable to the former had no force in reference to the latter. Provided proper notice was given and no march stolen on the public, why should a licence not be granted at Whitsuntide, for instance, as well as Michaelmas, and take effect immediately it was obtained? He hoped the noble Viscount would see the propriety of leaving the question of notice to the magistrates.


said, the noble Viscount's only object was due publicity. If licences for race meetings were given at the time when the other licences for places of amusements were granted, they would have some security that a large amount of public attention would be directed to them. If, on the contrary, they were given at any Quarter Sessions, there would not be the same security for publicity. Some of the races at which the Bill was aimed were run several times in the course of the year. If officers of the Household Brigade wished to hold race meetings, there would be nothing to prevent them taking out a licence from year to year, or if they had not a licence, and wished to hold a race meeting at once, there was nothing easier for them than to go beyond the ten-mile limit.


pointed out that the most valuable stakes were those in which the entries were made some two years before the race, and the present Bill would make the period of the future race dependent upon the will and pleasure of the magistrates. If the Bill were to become law, he should prefer that licences were to be granted at one fixed Quarter Sessions, instead of at any of the four held throughout the year. If two right rev. Prelates, or a couple of Judges, now in favour of this Bill, were to ride along Rotten Bow, and test the respective qualities of their horses in a gallop, they might unexpectedly find themselves within its provisions and subject to its penalties.


opposed the Amendment. The Bill had been passed by the House of Commons, and been approved of by both the Home Secretary and the Lord Chancellor. That being the case, it was not desirable to risk the passage of the measure when it went back to the other House by the introduction of any material Amendments, especially as it was one which was in private hands.


said, if they once admitted the principle of magisterial licence, they would have to extend it to all manner of amusements in the neighbourhood of the Metropolis, to the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race, the Eton and Harrow cricket matches, and similar amusements, for they all tended to collect crowds, and were, no doubt, considered nuisances by some people.

On Question, That the word proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 88; Not-Contents 57: Majority 31.

Canterbury, L. Archp. Albemarle, E.
Annesley, E.
Bedford, D. Beauchamp, E.
Devonshire, D. Belmore, E.
Camperdown, E.
Bristol, M. Carnarvon, E.
Lansdowne, M. Coventry, E.
Northampton, M. Cowper, E.
De La Warr, E. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
Devon, E.
Ducie, E. Crewe, L.
Fortescue, E. De Mauley, L.
Granville, E. Ebury, L.
Grey, E. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)
Hardwicke, E.
Harewood, E. Emly, L.
Harrowby, E. Greville, L.
Jersey, E. Hammond, L.
Kimberley, E. Harlech, L.
Lovelace, E. Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)
Lucan, E.
Malmesbury, E. Houghton, L.
Manvers, E. Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)
Morley, E.
Powis, E. Leigh, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Lyttelton, L.
Stanhope, E. Lyveden, L.
Stradbroke, E. Monson, L.
Strafford, E. Mostyn, L.
Sydney, E. O'Hagan, L.
Waldegrave, E. Penrhyn, L.
Wharncliffe, E. Rivers, L.
Saltersford,L. (E. Cour-town.)
Cardwell, V.
Hardinge, V.
Portman, V. Sherborne, L.
Powerscourt, V. Silchester, L. (E. Long-ford.)
Carlisle, L. Bp. Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)
Hereford, L. Bp.
London, L. Bp. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Winchester, L. Bp. Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.) [Teller.]
Aberdare, L. [Teller.] Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Airey, L.
Balfour of Burleigh, L. Strathspey, L. (E. Sea-field.)
Bateman, L.
Belper, L. Sudeley, L.
Blachford, L. Truro, L.
Blantyre, L. Wenlock, L.
Boyle, L.(E. Cork and Orrery.) Wolverton, L.
Zouche of Haryng-worth, L.
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Cairns, E. (L. Chancellar.) Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)
Wilton, E.
Northumberland, D. Zetland, E.
Richmond, D.
Salisbury, M. Bolingbroke and St. John, V.
Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.)
Airlie, E.
Amherst, E. Cranbrook, V.
Bathurst, E. Hawardon, V.
Beaconsfield, E.
Bradford, E. Bagot, L.
Cadogan, E. Bolton, L.
Clonmell, E. Castlemaine, L.
Durham, E. Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.)
Ellesmere, E.
Mar and Kellie, E. Colchester, L.
Nelson, E. de Ros, L.
Redesdale, E. Dorchester, L.
Romney, E. Dunsandle and Clanconal, L.
Rosslyn, E.
Saint Germans, E. Ellenborough, L.
Selkirk, E. Gerard, L.
Strathmore and Kinghorn, E. Gordon of Drumearn, L.
Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston.) Norton, L,
Oranmore and Browne, L.
Grey de Radcliff'e, L.
(V. Grey de Wilton.) Ribblesdale, L.
[Teller.] Sandhurst, L.
Hampton, L. Stewart of Garlies, L.
Hanmer, L. (E. Galloway.)
Howard de Walden, L. Talbot de Malahide, L.
Inchiquin, L. Vivian, L.
Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.) [Teller.] Walsingham, L.
Windsor, L.
Moore, L. (M. Drogheda.) Winmarleigh, L.

Resolved in the Negative.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to, without Amendment.

Bill reported without Amendment; and to be read 3a on Friday next.