HL Deb 24 August 1881 vol 265 cc811-3

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

Moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into Committee."—(The Lord Waveney.)


said, he had to complain of the unreasonable course that had been taken in pushing the Bill through the House without giving proper time for its consideration by their Lordships. He must appeal to those who had the conduct of it to postpone it until next Session, so as to afford their Lordships time to consider what Amendments might be made in it. For his own part, he had had no time to prepare Amendments to certain of its provisions which he considered very objectionable. As an instance of the loose manner in which it had been passed in "another place," he might mention that the Bill required the registration of newspapers to be effected on or before the 31st of July, 1881; but that date had elapsed, so that here was a Bill requiring a thing to be done before it itself had become law. Again, the Bill required an apology or an explanation of a libel within two days after its publication in the columns of the same paper in which it originally appeared. He did not see how that could work in the case of weekly newspapers. If the Bill should be passed in its present shape, great difficulties would arise in the administration of the law on the subject. He submitted that the Government should interfere with the progress of the Bill, and that time should be given for allowing Amendments to be made in the Bill upon the points he had referred to.


trusted their Lordships would not carry their opposition to the measure any furthur, and that it would be allowed to pass through Committee, seeing that it was important it should become law this Session.


said, it was only that morning that their Lordships had seen that important and complicated measure, which was in itself most incomplete, and must be amended with regard to some of the clauses, as they were out of date. Owing to its recent delivery, their Lordships had had no opportunity of putting down Amendments.


protested against proceeding with the Bill in so hasty a manner. He also thought they ought to have more time for the consideration and discussion of so important a measure.


said, he wished to point out that the Law Officers of the late Government had not, as had been asserted, approved of the Bill. He also contended that more time ought to be given for the consideration of the Bill before passing it into law. He, therefore, trusted that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill would not further proceed with it that Session. He did not object to the principle of the Bill as far as it went. Although the public were safe against libels by respectable newspapers, it was necessary to be able to exercise the law against bad ones.


also concurred in the opinion that sufficient time had not been given for the consideration of the Bill. Newspaper reporters did what they liked; and he should like to see the Serjeant at Arms instructed to shut out the representatives of The Times from the Reporters' Gallery.

Motion agreed to; House in Committee accordingly.

Clause 1 (Interpretation) agreed to.

Clause 2 (Newspaper reports of certain meetings privileged).


stated, that from the mistake of a printer inaccuracy might arise, as, in the speech of the Prime Minister eulogizing the Earl of Beacons-field, The Daily Telegraph had a false quantity:— Progreditur(i) victorque viros superominet omnes, was inserted, and the verse— Tempora mutantur nos et mutamur in illis, was almost always reported with the word " et "before "nos"—another false quantity. But truth was the great object of a report. The allusion to Marcellus by the right hon. Gentleman was just, even from one who was not his admirer, for anyone foreseeing his great career might have said—" Tu Marcellus eris."

Amendment moved, in page 2, line 21, to leave out ("accurate"), and insert ("substantially true").—(The Lord Denman.)

On question? resolved in the negative.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.


said, that before the Report was agreed to he must again submit that time ought to be allowed for preparing Amendments to the Bill, as it was one of grave importance to the public generally, and should be considered most carefully.


said, that, seeing the points complained of had not been amended, he would urge upon the Government that they should give the time asked for by his noble Friend (the Earl of Redesdale) as being necessary for the purpose.

LORD WAVENEY, on the contrary, hoped the Report would be received and agreed to, in order that progress might be made with the measure.

Bill reported, without amendment; and to be read 3a To-morrow.