HL Deb 10 July 1883 vol 281 cc921-7

Order of the Day for the Report of the Amendments to be received read.

Moved, "That the Report of the Amendments to the Bill be now received."—(The Lord Chancellor.)


said, he wished to ask the Government whether, after the general announcement made last night in "another place" of a general massacre of Bills, some of them being of great importance, there was the slightest chance of the present measure being passed this year? If there was no likelihood of the Bill passing, was there any use in making their Lordships go through this performance of a species of Parliamentary goose step?


said, the noble Marquess had given him no Notice of the question.


said, he only wished to know, would the Bill be pressed forward in the House of Commons; if not, what would be the use of that House passing it?


, in reply, said, it was very difficult to answer a question of the nature of this one, put to him by the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury); he might, however, state that the Government were very anxious to pass the Bill, and when it came before the other House they would have the means of forming an opinion as to the time which the measure would be likely to occupy, if it were persevered with. If it were to be taken for granted that Bills introduced into their Lordships' House could not pass in "another place," their Lordships would be discouraged from passing any Bills at all. He hoped, now that their Lordships had gone so far with it, they would go through with the Bill to the end, and deal with it with that fairness and candour which had hitherto been exhibited in its consideration. If it was not likely to occupy a great deal of time there was a fair prospect of its being passed into law this Session.

Motion agreed to.

Amendments reported accordingly.

Clause 3 (Assistance in the recovery of stolen articles to be given by pawnbrokers).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendment made:—In page 1, lines 9 and 10, leave out ("given to") and insert ("left with.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 (Duty of pawnbrokers to answer police inquiries respecting stolen articles).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendment made: In page 2, line 7, after ("possession") insert ("received after the date stated to be the date of the robbery").

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 (Pawnbrokers to enter in pledge book distinctive marks on pledges).


, in moving an Amendment, to the effect that a pawnbroker should not be compelled to enter in his pledge-book as distinctive marks any inscription, mark, initial, monogram, or crest, or, in case of jewellery, any peculiarity of setting, and should otherwise so describe such articles as the more readily to secure their identification, said, he had mistaken the scope of the clause on a former occasion, as he thought pawnbrokers would come under it, whether articles were pawned or not. This fact, and the Amendment of the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack, made the clause much better than it was at first; but he must remark that he could not accept the clause as it now stood in the Bill, as the latter part of the clause would make it almost unworkable. Everyone knew how difficult it was to describe the marks on plate, jewellery, and other similar articles accurately; and if a pawnbroker and his assistants were required to make entries of such marks as were mentioned in the Bill, he felt certain the work would not be performed in an efficient manner. It was also difficult to decipher the monograms and crests on rings and watches—perhaps their Lordships would examine their own watches and rings—because persons in the trade were always anxious to bring out something new, and it was scarcely to be expected that pawnbrokers would be able to decipher the peculiarities of certain kinds of letters, or know the meaning of various crests. Their Lordships, he felt sure, would appreciate the fact that the labour would be immense in describing carefully all the marks, monograms, crests, and so on, as prescribed by this clause. If they went to any of the large pawnbrokers' shops, they would find very extensive stocks of rings and other kinds of jewellery marked in the most extraordinary way; yet, by the clause, an entry of such marks was to be made in a book. It was necessary that the business of a pawnbroker should be done swiftly; therefore it would be al- most impossible for him, or his assistants, to describe each article taken in pledge in the way prescribed. Then, again, he believed it was a fact that 75 per cent of the articles which were pledged went out again into the hands of those who pledged them within six months. Under these circumstances, he thought the clause would be quite strong enough without the words he proposed should be left out. It might be said that the Bill, stringent as it was, was intended to deal more with dishonest persons than upright, respectable pawnbrokers; but he thought he might venture to say that the pawnbrokers, generally, bore a high character, and the business was one which was conducted as honestly and straightforwardly as any in the country. If their Lordships looked at the clause carefully, they would see it did not matter whether the pawnbroker was honest, or the reverse—he would, all the same, have to carry on his business under the great difficulties he had mentioned. He was sure that if the clause were put into a workable state it would be carried out by all respectable pawnbrokers honestly, and to the letter. They would not expect the clause would be effective if passed in its present form; and he felt sure, if it went to the other House unaltered, it would destroy all chance of the Bill passing into law. He hoped, therefore, that their Lordships would agree to the Amendment he now moved.

Amendment moved, in page 2, line 29, to leave out from ("upwards") to the end of the clause.—(The Lord Henniker.)


said, he could not accept the Amendment. The clause had already been modified, and he did not think it desirable to make any further concession. It was very important to provide as well as they could for the identification of stolen articles. The proportion of discoveries was very small, when compared with the number of stolen articles which passed through the hands of pawnbrokers. The enumeration of the points to which the noble Lord opposite (Lord Henniker) objected would direct the attention of pawnbrokers to the kind of marks which would be most likely to lead to identification. He did not see what objection there could be to require the pawnbroker to enter any inscription, mark, or initial which might be on the article, and, in the case of articles of jewellery, any peculiarity of setting. He was sure that, in the latter case, the pawnbroker who did not recognize any peculiarity in the setting would not be liable to penalties. He hoped the House would adhere to the clause as it stood.


said, the vast majority of those who would be affected by the Bill were upright and honest tradesmen; but, unfortunately, there were certain members of that body who were the reverse of this description. Unless the Bill were made clear, definite, and specific, short cuts would be found, and means devised by the latter class for evading its provisions and rendering them nugatory. Honest members of the trade suffered from the practices of the less scrupulous. Having gone carefully into the whole question, he was of opinion that nothing short of the Bill before the House would be effectual in meeting the requirements of the case they had in view. The Bill was the outcome of the deliberations of a Committee of their Lordships' House extending over two Sessions; and, since then, every argument that could be urged by the trade had been heard. It was an open secret that the Bill was of a less stringent character than it would have been, had it been presented immediately after the Report of the Committee last year. Under these circumstances, he looked with apprehension to any alterations in the Bill.


, in supporting the Amendment, said, he hoped, their Lordships would not unnecessarily multiply the details which had to be inscribed in the books of the pawnbroker regarding the articles pledged with him during the year. If their Lordships imposed various duties on pawnbrokers beyond what they were accustomed to discharge, it would be as little in the interest of the poor, who were chiefly the pawners, as as of the pawnbrokers themselves.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 30; Not Contents 34: Majority 4.

Selborne, E. (L. Chancellor.) Richmond, D.
Somerset, D.
Bedford, D. Lansdowne, M.
Grafton, D. Northampton, M.
Camperdown, E. Carlingford, L.
Derby, E. Carrington, L.
Granville, E. Cottesloe, L.
Kimberley, E. Digby, L.
Morley, E. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Northbrook, E.
Redesdale, E. Monson, L. [Teller.]
Spencer, E. Penrhyn, L.
Sydney, E. Ribblesdale, L.
Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Alcester, L.
Ampthill, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) [Teller.]
Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.)
Sudeley, L.
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Truro, L.
Bath, M. Boston, L.
Hertford, M. Brabourne, L.
Salisbury, M. Colchester, L.
Colville of Culross, L.
Carnarvon, E. Denman, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Egerton, L.
Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)
Fortescue, E. Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.) [Teller.]
Lathom, E.
Mount Edgcumbe, E. Hopetoun, L. (E. Hopetoun.)
Ravensworth, E. [Teller.]
Lamington, L.
Selkirk, E. Norton, L.
Wharncliffe, E. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Gough, V. Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Hawarden, V.
Sidmouth, V. Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)
Amherst, L. (V. Holmesdale.) Winmarleigh, L.

Resolved in the negative.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 6 (Detention of persons offering stolen articles).

On the Motion of The Earl of LIME-RICK, the following Amendment made:—In page 3, line 3, Sub-section (3), at commencement of sub-section, insert—("Where a Court of Summary Jurisdiction grants a certificate that there was reasonable cause for suspicion.")

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11 (Power to search for stolen articles).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendment made:—In page 5, line 10, leave out ("which appear to him to have been stolen").

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12 (Extension of the Pawnbrokers Act, 1872, to pledges of over ten pounds).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLER, the following Amendments made:—In page 5, line 15, after ("person") insert ("carrying on the business of a pawnbroker"), and after ("who") insert ("in the course of such business"); in line 16, leave out ("and shall") and in line 17, after ("advanced") insert ("and shall in respect thereof").

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Bill to be read 3a on Thursday next; and to be printed as amended. (No. 141).