HL Deb 21 December 1888 vol 332 cc935-7

Commons' Amendments to Lords' Amendments, and Commons' reasons for disagreeing to one of the Lords' Amendments, considered (according to Order).


said, he would ask their Lordships to agree to the Commons' Amendments. There were only three. In Clause 4 the Commons' had re-inserted after the words "public concern," "and the publication of which is not for the public benefit." He did not understand that their Lordships, upon a previous occasion, felt very strongly on this point; and he hoped their Lordships would now agree to these words. The next clause was one moved by Lord Waterford, making, under certain conditions, a speaker whose speech was reported liable for the words spoken as if he had himself written and published them. That clause had been struck out, and, having regard to the very extensive change it would make in the law, he was not indisposed to agree to its omission. In Clause 9, which placed the power of granting a fiat for criminal proceedings against a newspaper in the hands of the Attorney General or a Judge at Chambers, the House of Commons had struck out "the Attorney General."

Moved, "To agree to the Commons' Amendment on Clause 4."—(The Lord Monkswell.)


said, he thought the alteration was an unfortunate one. Still, he would assent to the Motion.

Motion agreed to.

Moved, "Not to insist on the Lords' Amendment inserting Clause 5."


said, that the clause was not originally inserted in the Bill, but was inserted by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Herschell), and subsequently amended by a Motion proposed by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Waterford). Though he voted in favour of the clause, still it no doubt made a very considerable alteration in the law, and it might be desirable that the subject should be more fully considered and dealt with in a separate Bill.


said, he was placed at a disadvantage owing to the absence of both the noble Lord who proposed the clause, and the noble Lord who moulded it, and also by the period of the Session at which they had arrived; but he felt the House would do well not to insist upon the clause. It was rather hard that the House of Commons should, owing to the peculiarity of their mode of disposing of business, have given practically no time for a reasonable discussion on their Amendments. The change entailed by the clause was undoubtedly very large; it was quite a new one, and required the most careful consideration, and they might very easily, if they adopted it without consideration, inflict hardship. It proposed to make a speaker liable for a report of his speech, unless he proved that such report was inaccurate. Public men were exceedingly well reported when the reporters were near them; but there was no limit to the extraordinary statements attributed to a speaker when the reporters were at the other end of the room. It would, he thought, be necessary to provide better machinery than that contained in this clause in order to carry out its object; and this might best be done by a separate piece of legislation, after having watched the Libel Amendment Bill in practice, and having seen whether any evils arose. If evils did arise, doubtless they would be able to induce the House of Commons to join with them in providing the necessary remedies. He, therefore, hoped that their Lordships would not insist on this clause.

Motion agreed to.

Amendment to Clause 9 agreed to.

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