§ (The Earl of Kimberley.)
§ Bill read 3ª (according to order) with the Amendments.
§ On Question, "That the Bill do pass?"
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
moved to omit in Clause 1 the words "ground game," in order to insert the word "hares," as he thought there should be a close time for hares, but not for rabbits. When the Amendment was originally moved by the noble Earl rabbits were not included, so that it appeared to be an afterthought altering the terms of the Amendment. The only argument in favour of a close time for rabbits was the assertion that shooting them all the year round would disturb the hedgerows at a time when the winged game were on their nests. He thought such apprehensions were exaggerated; owners of land must trust to the good will of their tenants, and he believed the latter would not annoy the owners in the way assumed. If rabbits were allowed to get to a head, it was most difficult in certain soils to keep them down. The Bill was a Bill for the protection of the tenant's crops, and this Amendment, as far as rabbits were concerned, was antagonistic to the Preamble, rabbits being the only animals most hurtful to the crops. Hares were in a different category; they could at any time be totally exterminated, and as hare hunting and coursing were popular, it would not be a grievance if a certain amount of protection were granted to them.
§ Amendment moved, in page 2, line 11, leave out ("ground game") and insert ("hares").—(The Viscount Hardinge.)
THE EARL OF GALLOWAY,
while wishing as strongly as any other noble Lord to see rabbits kept down, thought it scarcely fair to move this Amendment at the very last stage of the Bill, after many noble Lords had left London in the belief that the questions raised in the measure were all settled. It was shown on the former occasion what would be the effect if farmers were allowed to set snares during the breeding time. It would lead to the extermination of winged game as well as hares.
THE EARL OF ILCHESTER
observed that if there was to be a close time for hares, it ought to be made illegal for either landlord or tenant to kill hares during that period. He hoped the Amendment would not be accepted; if it was it would supersede the Amendment which was agreed to on his Motion the other evening. If there were any amendment of this sort made it should be done in reference to the Game Laws. The noble Earl who had charge of the Bill said the other evening that his speech was an insidious one; but he hoped that his remarks were made in a straightforward manner. If they were insidious, it was because they were brought into contact with an insidious Bill. He objected to a close time for rabbits, as he thought it would be most injurious to the country. He would be glad to see a close time for winged game.
§ LORD VIVIAN
thought their Lordships would be wise in accepting the Amendment. Rabbits were such vermin that he should like to see them exterminated.
§ LORD BATEMAN
said, he was heartily sick of hares and rabbits, and wished they were all exterminated. If their Lordships devoted themselves to amending their own Amendments, they would never see an end of the Bill. He should not support the Amendment.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY,
in reference to the observations of his noble Friend near him (Lord Ilchester), desired to say that he meant nothing personal by using the word insidious, but he used it reference to his Amendment, which was moved for the protection of winged game, and had the effect of giving a close time to hares and rabbits. He (the Earl of Kimberley) had every wish to accept the Amendment of the noble Viscount, as it would diminish his dislike to the original Amendment carried the other evening; but, at the same time, he thought it right to remind their Lordships that a proviso giving a close time to hares as contradistinguished from rabbits, had been defeated in the House of Commons by the largest majority out of all the divisions that had taken place in reference to this Bill. Among those who voted against it were several loading Members of the Conservative Party, such as Lord 1024 Percy, Lord Newport, Mr. Beresford Hope, Mr. Chaplin, Mr. Wilbraham. Egerton, Mr. Birkbeck, Mr. Knight, and Mr. Biddell, so that there was every probability that the clause would be restored when the Bill went back to the House of Commons. If, however, their Lordships should think proper to accept this Amendment the Government would not stand in the way of that being done.
§ THE EARL OF FEVERSHAM
said, that hares and rabbits were very much used as food in the great manufacturing towns, and if their were no close time the supply must fall off. The Bill as it stood originally would lead to an extermination of ground game. He believed that the farmers were by no means in favour of hares and rabbits being destroyed. No fewer than 40,000,000 hares and rabbits were sold annually, representing a money value of about £4,000,000 sterling. Under these circumstances he should oppose the Amendment.
thought they would be stultifying themselves if they accepted the Amendment. He could not support it if it were pressed to a Division.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Motion, "That the Bill do pass," agreed to.
§ Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.