HL Deb 27 March 1903 vol 120 cc407-8


Order of the day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill has been prepared in order to remedy certain practical defects that have been found to exist in carrying out the Act of 1894. The details will, of course, require consideration in Committee, but I do not think there is anything in the clauses of the Bill to which I need call attention on the present occasion. There is, however, one rather important proposal in the Bill. I ask that a clause may be passed enabling offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act to be dealt with on indictment for manslaughter. There is a difficulty at present in getting a conviction in the case of persons indicted for manslaughter when the real offence is one against the Act of 1894. The other Clauses of the Bill, as I have said, deal with matters which do not require to be explained now. I have a reason for them in every case, based upon the experience and working of the Act of 1894. There are two clauses in the Bill which relate to an entirely different matter and which I do not propose to press when the Bill gets into Committee. I refer to the clauses which deal with the punishment of incest. It was in consequence of representations made to me by Grand Juries in the North of England that I introduced these clauses, but as they are likely to give rise to opposition I shall not endanger the Bill by insisting upon them and shall move their deletion in Committee. Whether your Lordships think that this Bill can be best dealt with by any particular form of Committee is a matter to which I do not attach any importance, but I am quite satisfied that as regards the great majority of the clauses they propose Amendments of the law which are really necessary having regard to the defects and omissions found by experience in the Act of 1894.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Alverstone.)


My Lords, with the main part of the Bill I entirely concur. It is a measure that will require consideration, and after it has been read a second time I shall move your Lordships to refer it to a Select Committee.

On Question agreed to; Bill read 2a [according to order], and referred to a Select Committee.