HL Deb 29 May 1879 vol 246 cc1407-8

House in Committee (according to Order).


said, that he had no objection to the main principle of the Bill; but he wished to point out that all legislation of this sort which interfered with labour had been preceded by careful inquiry into the conditions under which that labour was carried on. After that inquiry, they could legislate with a full knowledge of the facts. He should have preferred that that had been done in this case. He was not, however, prepared to object to the future progress of the Bill; but he would suggest that though the House had, perhaps, sufficient materials for legislation on the subject, the Government ought to so far take charge of the Bill as to put such Amendments on the Paper as would change the Bill to the form it ought to assume.


said, that it would be throwing great responsibility upon the Government if they were required to take charge of and amend every Bill introduced by a noble Lord. He did not approve of the proposed legislation; but as the House had manifested a strong disposition in favour of it, he bad offered no opposition to the second reading of the Bill on the part of the Government. At the same time, he stated that if it were to pass it must be considerably amended in Committee. He did not, however, think it was fair to put upon the Government the responsibility of introducing Amendments which would make this a satisfactory Bill. The evils attendant upon children being engaged in performances of this kind against their will were admitted, although the Bill might not thoroughly deal with all the matters relating to the subject.


thought that in making a Bill of that kind what it ought to be, the Government ought to guide the House. The Government ought to take one of two courses—if the Bill, in their opinion, was not capable of improvement, they ought to move its rejection; if it was, on the other hand, capable of being amended, they ought to propose the necessary Amendments.


said, as the Government had accepted the principle of the Bill, he should be glad to consider any Amendments proposed by them.


suggested that his noble Friend who had charge of the Bill (Earl De La Warr) would do well to postpone further proceeding with the Bill till after the Holidays; and, in the meanwhile, his noble Friend could be well occupied in revising the measure and framing in it such Amendments as he might think desirable.


had a personal interest in hoping that the noble Earl (Earl De La Warr) would carefully consider Amendments. The Bill, as it stood, put very considerable penalties and severe responsibilities upon the owner of a circus. Now, every Easter Monday a great number of people came into his neighbourhood, and a circus was erected in one of his fields; and, therefore, he was the owner of that circus, though he must venture to decline to be either responsible for the age of the children employed in the circus, or the performances in which they were engaged.


said, ho would accept the suggestion of the noble Earl at the head of the Government.


said, that the Bill did not touch some of the worst cruelty practised on young athletes and acrobats—namely, that which they underwent during their training.

House resumed.

To be again in Committee on Tuesday the 17th of June next.