HL Deb 03 March 1902 vol 104 cc132-50


Order of the day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill is so closely connected with the Bill which became law in 1900, and which was presented to this House by Lord James of Hereford, that I had hoped that the noble and learned Lord might have seen his way to introduce this Bill. But he has not been able to do so. I believe, however, that I have his good will in the matter, and I trust that may also have his support. I am sorry that it should have fallen to a person like myself to introduce this Bill, but I hardly know what good a Bishop is doing in this House if he fails to do his best to help forward good and useful social legislation of this kind. I am emboldened to make this attempt by the fact that, having been closely connected for many years with the profession of education, I find there is a very strong feeling among leading men in the educational world that it is high time that some such measure as the one now before your Lordships should be brought in. I hold in my hand a memorial in favour of the Bill from 463 men in the front rank of the educators of the country, including professors, tutors, heads and fellows of colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, and the head masters of a great proportion of the public schools throughout the country. These men, to whom your Lordships entrust the education of your own sons, are not sentimental as a rule. Many of them are very good sportsmen, and I hope they may imbue your sons with their own principles and opinions on this subject. I trust that, a, memorial of this description will have some weight with your Lordships.

The Bill is drawn, almost word for word, on the lines of the Act of 1900, and is, I think, a natural corollary of, and a logical deduction from, that Act. The Act of 1900 was a thoroughly good Act, as far as it went, but experience shows that it has had a very limited scope, and I can find only two instances in which it has been put into operation. One was a case in which a man was fined at Tottenham because he had coursed a rabbit twice. On the first occasion the leg of the rabbit was broken, and he coursed it again with a broken leg. It was for the second offence, your Lordships will observe, and not for the first, that the man was punished. For the first act of cruelty he could not be touched. The other case was still more curious. A fishmonger was fined for overcrowding a tank containing 700 carp, so that we have here a sort of beginning of legislation against overcrowding. So far as I can make out, these two cases constitute the extent of the practical operations of the Act of 1900.

This Bill prohibits the hunting, coursing, or shooting of any animal which, to the knowledge of the person so acting, has been kept in confinement and is released for the purposes of such sport. It will thus prohibit the hunting of the carted stag. Under the Act of 1900 you may not behave cruelly to any wild animal in captivity, but if you release that animal you may behave as cruelly as you please to it and the law cannot touch you. [Lord JAMES of HEREFORD dissented.] We are all profoundly grateful for the high and gracious example which has dealt a death-blow to the hunting of the carted stag, but the practice will no doubt survive here and there throughout the country for some years to come, as belated and discarded fashions are apt to survive in some corner or other. The Bill will also prohibit the practice of pigeon shooting, which, as far as I can gather, is a screen for betting. I find in the rules of one pigeon club that any one who is not a member of the club and goes to the course for the purpose of betting, must pay £1 to enter. I think that indicates pretty clearly the sort of visitor expected. Speaking on the subject of pigeon shooting, the late Lord Randolph Churchill said that in his opinion the sight of a pigeon ground, abounding with feathers and blood of wounded birds was, without exception, the most horrible and repulsive sight possible to imagine. In his account various discreditable details are added, but as they probably refer to foreign and not to English grounds, I pass them over. It may be objected that the Bill will interfere with the shooting of the stock pheasant, with which, as I am given to understand, some wealthy men stock their preserves just before what they call a big shoot. But there is a proviso that it shall not apply to the hunting or coursing or shooting of any animal which has had at any rate two months liberty, and if a shorter interval is needed to meet the case of pheasant shooting, that can be secured by an Amendment in Committee.

The last type of sport with which the Bill deals is the coursing of the bagged rabbit, a practice which is absolutely cruel, and brutalising in its effect. This is a sport which possibly very few of your Lordships know anything about, as it belongs to the seamy side of our population. I hold that it is a form of sport which does discredit to the English people, and I venture to ask your lordships' attention to two or three examples of it, in order that we may have the facts quite clear in our minds. I will read an account, of a coursing of bagged rabbits that took place yesterday morning on Tottenham Marshes:— Having been informed that there was rabbit coursing on Tottenham Marshes on Sunday mornings, I went yesterday to see if it was a fact, and I found it was. I arrived on the Marshes about 10 o'clock, and several hundred people, young workmen chiefly, assembled after a short time for the sport. They had with them about one hundred dogs. The rabbits, which I was informed numbered fifty, were brought on to the grond in bags in a cart, and were chased in different parts of the Marshes at the same time. The courses were started by the owners of the dogs keeping them in hand while a man took a rabbit to a given distance, and, after holding it for a little while in front of the dogs, released it. I was pitiable to hear the squeals of the rabbits as they were caught by the dogs. I am told this pastime goes on every Sunday and lasts from 10.30 to 1 o'clock, when the public-houses open and are quickly filled with the coursers. I come now to a case from Birkenhead. The following is the evidence of a shipowner and a man of position there. In January of last year he was desirous of putting a stop to what he understood was going on the neighbourhood in an enclosed ground attached to a public-house, and he says:— On January 24th and 31st I attended these grounds. After paying half-a-crown gate-money I entered and found a crowd of about 150 to 200 men on the ground, a good many book-makers being among them. A large hamper containing rabbits was carried on to the ground, which was enclosed so that no rabbit had a chance of escape. They were taken out of the hamper and swung in the hand of a man who ran forward fifty yards before liberating them. The yelling and shouting of the crowd, and the yelping of the dogs filled the rabbits with terror. They were very quickly caught and torn asunder by the dogs. This gentleman gives further details of a revolting character which I will spare the house. The practice is not merely local; it is a cancer that is spreading through all the great centres of the population. A credible witness, a respectable working man, furnishes me with accounts of what took place recently at Gateshead and Newcastle. He was present at coursings of bagged rabbits in May and June of last year, and gives revolting details of what took place. He adds that on one of these occasions More than half of the rabbits were torn from the dogs alive and thrown to a boy not more than nine or ten years of age to be put to a lingering death. The boy carried the injured rabbits back, and to kill them he swung the rabbits and hit their heads against the box. So your Lordships can see the sort of influence on the young which this barbarous practice is exercising. This same witness says:— I was present on July 13th at a similar meeting in Gateshead, and again on July 20th. On Christmas Day last I attended another of these exhibitions held in the same place. Not only on Christmas Day but on New Year's day there was a repetition of the same scene. That is what takes place on the banks of the Tyne. I have another witness, a Justice of the Peace for the County of Northumberland, and an old army officer, who writes to me as follows— The hideous cruelty is not confined solely to the coursing ground, for in the training of young dogs I have seen a man take a rabbit, deliberately break one of its legs, and then put it on the ground for the puppies to run after.


What is the name of that gentleman?


I do not think he would have any objection to my mentioning it. His name is Colonel Coulson. He says this is a common practice when training dogs, and that this is one of the cruelest forms of sport that exist. These bagged rabbits are frequently injured in transit; sometimes among them there are does heavy with young, sometimes they die a lingering death; they have no chance of escape, and revolting scenes are witnessed upon the course. He goes on to say that on the banks of the Tyne the better class of miner will have nothing to do with these meetings, which are attended only by the scum of the pits, and that the lowest class of publican alone gets up these disgraceful betting contests. I am told that about 2,000 rabbits are used for coursing matches every week on the banks of the Tyne near Newcastle. Turning to the part of the Kingdom nearer my own diocese, I hold in my hand a letter from the venerable Bishop of Llandaff, in which he expresses the hope that this Bill will obtain a large majority. In the South Wales newspapers of February 19th, there was an account of rabbit coursing which was held on February 17th, at Caerphilly, not far from Cardiff. There was an enclosure, for which the entrance fee was; sixpence. About 1,000 people assembled, including betting men with coloured cards in their hats, three-card tricksters, dice manipulators, and so on. Above the din of the shouting men and barking dogs could occasionally be heard the plaintive cries of rabbits. The rabbits were brought to the ground in a cart containing fifteen bags or sacks, in each of which three rabbits were tied up. Eventually there was a great uproar, and one of the rabbits was brought forth. It was carried out about 50 yards and then dropped on the ground. On both sides stood a long line of men with howling dogs. Every gap in the hedge was filled with people, and the poor creature had no chance of escape. The description goes on to give revolting details of what happened on this occasion at Caerphilly. To take another instance or two. As I was travelling from the West of England this morning I found in the South Wales Daily News an account of what happened only on Saturday. In one place 3,000 people assembled, and the stakes were £50. The dogs were, no doubt, well known in the neighbourhood, and they were to kill, I think, twenty-one rabbits. According to the newspaper report, they coursed these rabbits with such vigour that one dog died on the ground from exhaustion, and the other died in the evening. At Caerphilly last Saturday two dogs were put on to course these wretched rabbits for a stake of £40. A large crowd assembled, and the coursing went on with all sorts of revolting details. After the competition was over for the £40, there succeeded other races for stakes of £1 each. It is stated that rabbits which, in some cases, had escaped from the dogs were pursued by onlookers and brought back to be torn to pieces by the animals. I do not think I need say any more to commend this part of the Bill to your Lordships' acceptance.

My position in the matter is a very simple one. I hold that we, as a legislative assembly, cannot, with any show of decency, legislate for the wild animals in a menagerie, for performing dogs, and for the unhappy creature in his scarlet coat on the hurdy-gurdy, and yet turn a deaf ear to the cries of all these suffering animals, and refuse to see the brutalising consequences of this kind of sport. A philosophic observer reading the Act of 1900 would say, "See what care English legislators take to prevent cruelty to animals"; but if this Bill is rejected, I think he might fairly say, "What a fuss you make about the mint and cumin of legislation, while you turn your back on the weightier matters of the law, like political Pharisees." Our fathers and grandfathers long ago put an end to cock-fighting and bull-baiting, but I venture to think there is not one of your Lordships who would not think that both cock-fighting and bull-baiting were manly and reputable sports compared with the coursing of bagged rabbits. This kind of brutalising sport is one of the phenomena connected with what we may call the new heathenism of some of our great and neglected populations in the large cities which have grown up, and it behoves us to act, not only from the spiritual and moral side, but from the legislative side also, if we are to have any hope of curing this great cancer which is eating so deeply and so widely into the national life. I contend that the clergy, and other workers for the good life of the people, are cruelly handicapped so long as we tolerate these things.

I see that my noble friend Lord Newton has given notice of his intention to move the rejection of this Bill. I cannot but hope that the facts I have put before the House may have, to some extent, modified his view concerning it. I venture to think he put down his Motion without having before his mind all the facts, from winch I have given your Lordships only a selection. I know the noble Lord is a keen and genuine sportsman, and I cannot imagine any sportsman to whom these things are not revolting. I therefore indulge the hope that he may, after all, support the Bill instead of opposing it. Indeed, though I am aware there are prejudices against any legislation that seems to touch English sport, I cannot but feel that these exhibitions are so revolting that anyone who has the true instincts of an English sportsman will be desirous of wiping off this stain on sport and of putting a stop to disgraceful practices which are spreading through all the great centres of population.

My Lords, I will detain you no longer. As I look round the House I cannot think of any class of Members who would naturally support these degrading exhibitions. No humanitarian would oppose the principle of this Bill, no great lawyer would oppose it; and I cannot imagine any genuine sportsman opposing it with a good conscience. If there be any other class in the House likely to oppose me, I am unable to define it; and so I beg to move "That this Bill be now read a second time."

Moved, That the Bill be now read. 2a.—(The Lord Bishop of Hereford.)


My Lords, in asking your Lordships to reject this measure, I desire to acknowledge, in the fullest possible way, my sense of the conviction and the sincerity of my right reverend friend in bringing it forward. He is obviously so convinced of the benefits which will result from this Bill that it is with some difficulty that I screw myself up to the pitch of dealing what I am afraid is likely to prove a mortal blow to the measure. I assure the right reverend prelate that I oppose the Bill upon purely altruistic principles. If the Bill were to pass I should be one of the persons who would benefit by it, for I happen to live in the neighbourhood of a manufacturing town, and am subjected to considerable inconvenience, amounting almost to persecution, at the hands of people who attempt to take, and very often take, my rabbits for the purpose of coursing. I hope, therefore, my right reverend friend will acquit me of any selfish motive in opposing the measure.

My first objection to the Bill is that it appears to me to be improperly described. It is said to be a much needed extension of the Will Animals in Captivity Protection Act, 1900. I submit that this is a misleading description, as the Act in question dealt with animals kept in menageries. Neither will I admit that the Bill is accurately described as being for the protection of cruelty to wild animals. As a matter of fact, this is a measure distinctly directed against particular forms of sport which, in the opinion of the Bishop of Hereford, are both spurious and cruel. For my part, I should be extremely sorry to have to define what was spurious and what was legitimate sport. I think it is one of those things that might well be left to a jury of editors of sporting papers or one of the august tribunals which pronounce opinions on the subject.

The only matter which we need concern ourselves about this evening is that of cruelty. I take, first the case of stag-hunting. I do not know whether I am more thickheaded than any one else, but I confess. I have never been able to see that it is any more cruel to hunt tame deer than so-called wild deer. If the question could be put to the animal itself, I believe it would have no hesitation in preferring to be hunted as a tame deer with the certainty of having its life spared, rather than as a wild deer with the possibility of its being killed. A Member of this House has assured me that he is acquainted with a deer which is so accustomed to hunting that it habitually trots home with the hounds. I myself occasionally present deer to a neighbouring pack. I am absolutely impenitent on the subject, and I propose to continue doing so until my right reverend friend passes his Bill and puts me in prison for three months with hard labour. I turn from stag hunting, which, in my opinion, requires no defence at all, to pigeon shooting. So far as I am concerned, I have no sympathy with pigeon shooting. There are many objectionable circumstances connected with it, and I believe that persons who indulge in it are commonly supposed to suffer from what the late President of the Transvaal Republic would call moral and intellectual damage. It is not a pastime in which I indulge myself, but the question to my mind is—is it an unjustifiably cruel proceeding?. Is it really a more cruel thing to shoot pigeons than it is to shoot tame pheasants or tame partridges? Does it stand in an altogether different category from what my right reverend friend would call legitimate sport? Everybody must recognise by this time that sport in this country is becoming more artificial every day. Every form of game is at this moment an article of commerce. We import pheasants and partridges, and we buy deer. We go so far now as to buy fish, turn them into ponds, and fish for them afterwards. No doubt before long legislation will be proposed against that. The right reverend Prelate alluded to the practice, which I believe is not very extensive, of obtaining supplies of live birds from purveyors when a person has not a sufficient number of pheasants in his woods and is expecting a distinguished friend for a few days shooting. Though I do not regard the shooting of pheasants bought from dealers as a practice worthy of much admiration, it is certainly not an offence which should be punished by fine or imprisonment. How can anybody who indulges in shooting at all, and particularly in the artificial form of sport which is so prevalent at this moment, vote conscientiously against pigeon shooting on the ground that it is, to use the language of my right reverend friend, spurious sport? What we have to consider is the question of cruelty, and there is probably more cruelty involved in a complete day's covert shooting than in an afternoon's pigeon shooting.

I now pass to the most important matter in the Bill, namely, the coursing of hares and rabbits. With one or two exceptions, the coursing of hares in enclosed grounds has conic to an end, but I believe that hares coursed at such meetings have just as good a chance of escape as the hares coursed on the plains of Altcar. I do not think it is necessary to say much upon the subject of coursing hares in enclosed grounds. The difficult subject to deal with is that of rabbit-coursing, and I admit that it is by no means easy to make out a case in favour of rabbit-coursing. At the same time, I find it hard to believe that such horrible cruelties as have been spoken of by the right reverend Prelate are perpetrated in connection with rabbit coursing, and, so far as I am aware, it is open to any of the numerous societies which exist for the prevention of cruelty to animals to attend the meetings, and if unnecessary cruelty is inflicted, to institute proceedings against the persons responsible. The law is already strong enough for that. I do not think we can take it for granted that the cruelty is really as great as would appear from the extracts which the right reverend Prelate has quoted. I very much doubt whether there is any more cruelty in rabbit-coursing than in rabbit-shooting. I go so far as to contend that it would not be consistent on the part of those who habitually shoot or indulge in field sports, which in this country are becoming more artificial every day, to support a Bill which is directed mainly against the amusements of the working classes. Of course, all sport is cruel more or less, and those who, like my right reverend friend, never enjoy field sports of any kind may consistently support the Bill. But what is the case with the majority of us? My conscience is not clear; my withers are not unwrung; and I am so convinced that nearly every Member of this House is in the same boat that I cannot imagine that your Lordships will find it consistent with your conduct to vote for this Bill. I oppose the Bill chiefly because it is a piece of class legislation. My right reverend friend has alluded to certain demoralising sports which have been put an end to. That is quite true. But what is the difference between those sports and the ones you are now asked to deal with? Those sports were sports in which all classes of the country took an active interest, which was the case with cock-fighting and bull-baiting. The sport in question is essentially the sport of the working classes. Is it, then, fair for us, who have the opportunity of indulging in whatever form of sport or amusement we like, to dictate to those persons who are not so fortunate? Mainly on the ground of consistency I move that the Bill be read a second time six months hence.

Amendment moved— To leave out 'now,' and add at the end of the Motion, 'this day six months.'"—(Lord Newton.)


My Lords, I have so seldom occupied the time of this House during the many years that I have sat in it that I trust you will accord me your indulgence on this occasion. I quite agree with my noble friend in deprecating the bringing forward of this Bill in your Lordships' House. It affects all classes of the community, and your Lordships have not the opportunity of judging what the feeling of the country is with regard to it. If we are to have a Bill of this sort let it come from the representatives of the people. It is rather a curious coincidence that the three speakers on the Bill to night are at the present moment members of the same Committee, and I cannot say that what has taken place augurs well for the unanimity of that Committee. I willingly admit that the right reverend Prelate, who sits by my side on the Letting Committee, is most courteous, but there is a great gulf between us. The right reverend Prelate receives many letters at that Committee, and so do I, but they are very different. Many of mine are addressed to me by the working classes, and the writers nearly all say, "I wish you would tell the Bishop of Hereford what we think of him." They ask. "Why does the Bishop of Hereford interfere with our sports? We do not interfere with the varied devotional exercises of the clergy on Sundays, and we don't want them to attempt to legislate on our recreations during week-days." I must say that I have great sympathy with that view. The right reverend Prelate, in moving this Bill, informed your Lordships that he had received a memorial in support of it from a large number of those interested in education. I have taken the trouble to examine that memorial, and I find that 40 per cent. of the names attached to it are those of clergymen. I think it is very undesirable that the clergy should take such an active part in this matter. I think the gentleman who acted as honorary secretary in connection with this memorial is named Stratton, and, although the right reverend Prelate has told us that his main object is to prevent cruelty to animals, I am afraid those who support him and urge him on are more concerned in stopping the sport of their countrymen than in preventing cruelty. Only a few days ago this Mr. Stratton wished to stop the Eton beagles. Many of your Lordships have been at Eton, and I have no doubt those who think that the Eton beagles ought to be stopped will support this Bill.

The right reverend Prelate has referred to the cruelty of stag-hunting, but he has said nothing about the disappointment and the discontent which would be caused in many parts of the country if stag-hunting was done away with. Personally, I have given up stag-hunting, more from consideration for my own neck than out of sympathy with the stag. But if stag-hunting were abolished, not only would the farmers and many members of the poorer classes in stag-hunting districts suffer, but men of business who hunt with stag-hounds in the neighbourhood of London would be unable to enjoy a day's sport, from which they return—as I did in my youthful days when I had my military duties to perform—with renewed vigour, clearer eye, and alert brain. There has already been very doubtful legislation of late years as to the definition of a place, and the right reverend Prelate's Bill would make it far more difficult to understand what a place is. He does not tell us what the area of confinement is. I do not know whether a deer in a park would be considered a wild animal or not. If not, it comes to this, that no person owning a deer park is on any account to hunt, course, or shoot deer in his park. With reference to the provision in the Bill which would make it illegal to shoot pheasants which have not been turned down two months, I would call your Lordships' attention to the curious experience of a friend of mine. A gallant General who is now in South Africa went to stay with a friend not far from London, who turned out 1,000 pheasants for shooting a day or two beforehand. At the first volley of the guns the birds rose and flew off to a neighbouring wood belonging to another landowner. How is it possible in such a case for that landowner to tell by looking at the birds whether or not they had been turned down so as to decide that they must not be shot at for a couple of months? How can a man discriminate between a pheasant which has been at large for two months and one which has not?


The phrase in the Bill is "to his knowledge."


I do not see how he can tell.


If he does not know, he is safe.


I cannot find anything in the Bill on this point.


Sub-section (a) of section 2 provides that— Any person who either takes part or assists in the hunting, coursing, or shooting of any animal, which has to his knowledge been kept in confinement, and is released for the purpose of such hunting, coursing, or shooting, etc.


The chief sport to which the right reverend Prelate objected was rabbit-coursing, and he gave us several instances of what he called the intense cruelty involved. I do not live very far from Newcastle, and, whatever the cruelty of the sport, I object to the miners who engage in it in the neighbourhood of Newcastle and Gateshead being described as the "scum of the pits."


I quoted the words of an informant who expressly said that all the best part of the mining population would have nothing to do with the sport, but only the "scum of the pits."


The right reverend Prelate spoke of 2,000 rabbits a week being killed on Tyneside, and that shows, I think that a considerable number of miners do attend the rabbit-coursings. My point is that the miners who attend are not the scum of the pits. The Bill would not only interfere with an extremely popular sport, but would withdraw many raid its from the food of the people. I am constantly receiving applications from my poorer neighbours for rabbits. There is nothing they like more when sick; and if the coursing of rabbits is stopped, a source of food for the poorer classes will. In done away with. In support of this Bill, the right reverend Prelate quoted Colonel Coulson. To everyone who lives in the North of England, the name of Colonel Coulson is familiar as an opponent of all kinds of sport. He even opposed otter hunting, and his supporters are faddists of a somewhat extreme type. For my own part, I object to the Bill as putting an end to a sport in which my poor neighbours are interested, and which they cannot better for lack of means. I can afford to have a grouse moor, a deer forest, and anything I like, and why should I deprive my poorer neighbours from trying their skill by shooting at trapped birds, whether they be pigeons, starlings, or sparrows? The right reverend Prelate constantly alluded to the cruelty of this kind of thing, but I do not think that either shooting trapped birds, or coursing rabbits is more cruel than the sports in which most of your Lordships indulge with the greatest freedom. I ask you to consider this matter in a broad and sympathetic spirit, remembering that physical courage and love of sport have been for centuries the distinguishing characteristics of the British race. My noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, in a speech a few days ago, said that the war had shown that physical courage had welded all classes together. Physical courage and love of sport are, to my mind, inseparable, and foster one another. That being so, I ask your Lordships not to destroy such sports as the poorer classes, unable in this matter to enjoy the facilities of their richer neighbours, are able to pursue. If you wish to reform the sports of the poorer classes, you can best do so by your own example. If you wish to create discontent, to cause class hatred, and have social disorder in this country, the best thing to do is to support the Bill now before the House.


My Lords, as I have not the honour of sitting on the Betting Committee, I may be able to introduce a little fresh water into what appear to be its rather divergent currents. I quite recognise that this Bill endeavours to peg out a fresh claim in the interests of humanity, and if I could see my way to agree with the principle of the Bill, I should take no exception to its coming from the right reverend Bench. I am not at all sure that I concur with my noble friend Lord Durham, or with the noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill, who see in the measure the first parallel of a general attack on field sports. The right reverend Prelate guarded himself by saying that the Bill aimed at the so-called spurious sports, but here we are met with the difficulty of defining what is legitimate, and what is spurious. There are some people who look upon sport as Lord Macaulay's Puritan looked upon bear-baiting, disapproving it, not because it gave the bears pain, but because it gave the men pleasure; but although one of his correspondents was displeased at the loud laughter of the men at a rabbit coursing in Tottenham field, there was nothing of this sour mind in the Bishop's remarks. There is a widespread impression that stag-hunting is a cruel sport, and perhaps a few words from me, as I had some little experience in connection with au institution which has been much criticised, may be of some use in clearing away false impressions. The right rev. Prelate spoke of the death-blow given to stag-hunting by doing away with the Buck Hounds, and extended to them none of the glorifying clemencies of epitaph. Although the King has very properly given up stag-hunting in Berkshire, on account of the great increase in house property there, it is going on very flourishingly in many parts of the country. I am not prepared to take an affidavit that there are not disagreeable moments for the deer that are kept for hunting. Accidents will happen; but the whole opposition to the Queen's Buck Hounds, as manifested at the time I had charge of them, rested entirely on some very exceptional cases. The whole object kept in view in any well-managed and well-organised pack of stag-hounds is to avoid anything like disaster to the deer. The whole sport depends upon tins. I can assure our critics that the deer are as great favourites at stag-hunting establishments as the horses and the hounds; indeed, they are objects of universal interest and genuine attachment. I have met Mr. Stratton once or twice, and had some pleasant talks with him, and I am surprised to hear that he wishes to do away with the Eton beagles. What I understood he objected to was the hunting of carted deer. If I had thought stag-hunting anything like the cruel sport it has been represented to be, I hope I would have had the courage to give up my appointment, which I may say was a very pleasant appointment to me, and which I enjoyed very much. I agree with my noble friend Lord Newton that it is not more cruel to hunt the carted stag than the wild deer. The carted stag is always fit, whereas the wild deer is hunted when fat. Even if I agreed with the principle of the Bill, there are points in it which I believe would render it unworkable. The word "kept" in the Bill is very awkward; so, too, is the question of area consti- tuting confinement which is involved. I should be very sorry to see stag-hunting included in a Bill of this sort. Rabbit coursing has already been dealt with by my noble friends, but this Bill would stop any shooting at bagged rabbits. We should render ourselves liable to prosecution for allowing our sons, home-from Eton or Harrow, to have a shot at a bagged rabbit. I will not enter-into the altruistic argument of my noble friend opposite, which may easily-be taken too far, but I agree that a great number of people who lead very hard-working lives and do not get much amusement would suffer if this. Bill were passed into law; and if the right reverend Prelate goes to a division, although I am in sympathy with the humanitarian ideas winch have led him to put it before your Lordships, I shall vote against him.


My Lords, I admit the humanitarian views of the right rev. Prelate, but I believe that on the subject of the cruelties of stag-hunting he has imbibed exaggerated opinions. I have myself had a good deal of experience of the sport, and I have never in my life seen anything approaching cruelty in it, but plenty of enjoyment to all classes. With regard to rabbit-coursing, I am ready to endorse all that has been said by my noble friend, Lord Durham. If rabbit-coursing is the only sport that can be indulged in by the lower classes in the country, in which I and my noble friend are interested, I do not see that it is the duty of your Lordships to discourage it. I think the correspondents of the right rev. Prelate must have exaggerated the cruelty of rabbit-coursing. It is ridiculous, of course, to say that all sport is not sometimes cruel. No doubt, it is at times, but we must consider whether the cruelty involved is not counterbalanced by the advantage the country reaps from it. It seems to me that this measure attacks the pleasures of the poor far more than those of the rich, and I shall, therefore, most cordially support the views of my noble friend who has moved the rejection of the Bill.


While I entirely concur in the humane objects. of the right rev. Prelate, I feel that many of your Lordships must experience a difficulty in voting for the Bill. Lord Durham seemed to complain because many of those who signed the memorial in support of this Bill were clergymen. Well, after all, is it very surprising that, if clergymen have reason to think that a certain practice is not conducive to the moral welfare of tile people, they should wish to see it abandoned? I do not think that justifies their being charged with being indifferent to amusements and sports of a healthy kind. I hope the right rev. Prelate will not go to a division unless he has reason to think he will receive sufficient support to avoid misconception as to the result of such a division. I think that the right rev. Prelate has done good work in raising this discussion, as he has drawn attention to possible abuses and put people on the alert for checking them.


My Lords, as I have listened to the Various criticisms, I have felt that almost every objection which has been taken to the Bill has been either based on a misunderstanding of it, or might have been easily met by an Amendment in Committee. I am still of the opinion which I entertained when I entered the House this afternoon, that it is high time something should be done in accordance with the principle of the Bill. I desire to see the masses of our people brought wider such influences, that they will be able to get their pleasure without desiring to kill something and exulting in it. There is a very excellent substitute for the hunting of the tame leer in the drag-hunt. We have time testimony of many first-rate sportsmen in favour of the well-managed drag-hunt, and as your Lordships know, many good sportsmen join in it; and science is equal to supplying mechanical pigeons for those who enjoy this sport which would be quite as difficult to hit as live pigeons. The statements I read to your Lordships have been declared to be exaggerated. The noble Marquess who suggested this had no ground for saying so. I desire to assure the House that I have taken the greatest possible pains to secure that nothing which I have brought forward should have about it any tinge of exaggeration. What I have read are plain, unvarnished accounts by credible witnesses. Lord Durham deprecated legislation of this kind being initiated in this House because your Lordships are not sent here by the masses; but there is something to be said on the other side. Surely tins House, which is in an independent position, and in no danger of going beyond the demands of healthy, public opinion, might very well initiate useful social legislation of thus kind, although I should be very glad to see such a measure introduced into the other House, and I hope if that course is adopted, that it may have the support of His Majesty's Government, and may be favourably received when it arrives in tins House. I recognise, however, that the House is not likely to lend me any great support on this occasion. Therefore I am content to withdraw the Motion for the present, mid to await a better opportunity.

Amendment and Motion, by leave of the House, withdrawn.