HL Deb 31 October 1911 vol 10 cc39-54


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I have to ask your Lordships' attention to the provisions of a Bill which in one sense is of the second order. It is not a Bill which raises any political controversy. It is not a Bill which excites the interest that some of the great measures which have been recently before Parliament have excited, but yet it is a Bill of very great magnitude and importance. It is a Bill which affects large interests, and I think it is a testimony to the skill of my colleague the President of the Board of Trade that he should have succeeded, first in constructing it at all, and then in piloting it through the House of Commons in the form in which it now comes up to this House. I must add that it is a Bill which necessarily affects a number of interests, and interests which are not reconcilable. It is essentially a Bill of this kind—that you should give to somebody something you take from somebody else. Therefore it is a Bill which in its essence raises small and troublesome points, and the business of a Minister is to construct it in such a fashion as to make the maximum possible advance with the least possible injustice. I do not say that nobody will complain of things that there are in this Bill, but I think in every case it will be found that the President of the Board of Trade has been right in the balancing of advantages and disadvantages.

The Bill does three things. In the first place, it goes as far as is practicable towards establishing a complete Code of copyright law; next it makes provision for international copyright—that is to say, if other nations treat us well according to a general system, we propose to treat them well, and give them the benefit of that system according to our law; and, in the third place, it lays the foundation of a uniform copyright, system throughout the Empire. The great self-governing Dominions must, of course, maintain their autonomy, but, subject to that, the Bill goes a long way to make what I believe will be a common system of copyright throughout the Empire. I will take these points in their order. The first is what I may call the domestic character of the Bill, the changes which it makes in the law as it now stands. At present the domestic law is in a great state of confusion. Ever since Lord Camden differed from Lord Mansfield in 1774 in the case of "Donaldson v. Becket" no one has quite known what that Common Law of copyright was. Yet that Common Law of copyright is still relied on. In some cases the common rights subsist only till the statutory law becomes operative, and in other cases the Common Law right co-exists with the statutory right, so that the state of confusion is difficult to describe even to a lawyer.

The subject-matter of copyright falls, as things stand at present, under four great heads. The term of copyright in each of these cases is different under the present law, and the rights conferred under the copyright when you have got it are different. For instance, copyright and performing right are treated as distinct rights. The result is that to find out what the law of copyright is involves wading through over twenty Statutes. This Bill sweeps away the whole of the Common Law and the whole of the Statute Law, with very small exceptions, and substitutes a Code. There are two Acts which will still remain operative, the Act of 1892 and the Act of 1906, which were passed for the special purpose of giving powers to stop the vending of pirated copies of music sold in the streets. These remain because they were of a complicated character and contained provisions which could not well be incorporated in this Bill. But with that exception and, I think, the exception of two other Acts, part of which it is convenient to leave standing, this Bill repeals some eighteen Statutes and also the special rules of Common Law, so that the law of copyright for the future will be comparatively simply ascertained. Then there is one other step taken of a distinctively forward character which comes under the description of domestic. That is, that copyright is extended to the right of reproduction. Performing right, for instance, becomes one of the copyrights. Then there are translations and mechanical reproductions—as, for instance, by those rolls which are so familiar in connection with the gramophone. These things are brought in in a way in which they were not, brought in before. I have described genarally the domestic side of the Bill.

I pass to the international side. As your Lordships know, in the year 1886 there was a conference of certain great Powers at Berne which established a Copyright Convention, followed ten years afterwards by the Convention of Paris; but in order to get forward it was necessary that further steps should be taken, and there was a great conference of the Powers in Berlin in 1908, at which certain principles were agreed upon of a very far-reaching and very liberal character. The essence of them was that all the technicalities in the way of obtaining copyright should be got rid of, and that there should be, as far as possible, something like a uniform standard. This country was a party to that Convention, and when the signatories returned it was necessary to see what steps should be taken in order to adapt our law to the new state of things. There had already been a Copyright Commission some years previously which had got a great deal of valuable material together, but it was necessary that the work should be taken in hand under the auspices of some lawyer of great experience, to find out what changes in the law should be made, and were proper to be made, and would require to be made, in order to bring the law of this country, and, indeed, of the Empire, into harmony with the provisions of the Berlin Convention. Lord Gorell undertook the very onerous task of presiding over the expert Committee which dealt with these subjects, and he and his colleagues produced a Report which has been the foundation of nearly everything which there is in this Bill. The general principle in dealing with foreign nations which is embodied in the Bill is this, that we let the subjects of foreign countries who publish books here take the benefit of our provision for copyright unless those foreign nations maltreat us by not giving our subjects similar concessions. On the other hand, in the case of books not published in this country, but which are entitled to international copyright in the strict and more extensive sense, then by Order in Council, if the country the subject of which seeks to get these rights gives the advantages of the new system to our subjects in that country, you can extend the application of this Bill so as to give the subjects of that country the benefit of copyright in this country for books which have been published abroad. That is the substance of the second main feature of the Bill relating to international copyright.

I now come to the third part, what I may call the Imperial side. You cannot, of course, control the self-governing Dominions. There are already some of thenm—Canada, for instance—chafing under the provisions of the Copyright Act of 1842, which was an Imperial Act and extended to Canada. We sweep away that Act and set Canada and the whole of the Dominions quite free. On the other hand, the Bill which is before your Lordships extends to the whole Empire, subject to the power of the self-governing Dominions to deal with it as they please. The reason that has been made possible is this. There was an Imperial Conference on copyright in the year 1910, to which the various Dominions sent over representatives, and in which an agreement was come to to carry out legislatively the provisions of the Berlin Conference as put into shape by the Committee over which my noble and learned friend Lord Gorell presided. There was complete unanimity at that Conference, and its proceedings were agreeable to the Conference of this year, so much so that it was not necessary to deal with the subject in any detail. The Bill, therefore, represents what has been agreed upon at an imperial Conference, and in substance its provisions are these. In order to make the Imperial Act operative in any Dominion, the Dominion has to adopt it formally, and then it becomes the law of the Dominion as well as the law here. On the other hand, there may be some Dominion which gives substantially the same rights as the Bill gives without having solemnly adopted the system. In that case it is possible by Secretary of State's Order, by Proclamation, to give the benefit of the copyright system to the Dominion which has in substance, though not in form, adopted the provisions of this Bill. In that way it is hoped that there will be a uniform system all over the Empire. The effect of that is that some Dominions may not care to go the whole way in adopting the provisions of this Bill, and others may adopt it altogether. In the case of foreign countries, some will certainly go the whole way, while others may not care to deal with us and may not care to come in. But a great step forward has been taken in putting the law into such a shape that it is easy for these things to be done.

Now, my Lords, come to the provisions of the Bill, and I will run through them very shortly. First I will describe what is done. The Statutes which are dealt with are some twenty in number, passed at various dates from 1734 down to 1906, each dealing with a separate part of the subject-matter, and varying in details in a manner which is as illogical as it is perplexing. The Statutes to which I have referred make no provision for the modern development of invention, such as the cinematograph, the phonograph, and the piano-player, all of which have an important hearing on the copyright law. The Bill practically repeals all these Statutes and also the special rules of Common Law, and places all works, so far as possible, under a uniform and amended system of law.

I will deal with the principal changes which this Bill introduces before passing to the clauses. The various subjects of literary copyright, performing right in dramatic and musical works, engravings, paintings, drawings and photographs and sculpture, which are dealt with in some five series of Statutes, are now all placed upon a nearly uniform basis. The same term of copyright—namely, the life of the author and fifty years after his death—is given to all works, with two exceptions. The reason for that is twofold. First of all, it was the term which the great Powers which negotiated agreed on as the most reasonable. Secondly, those who were representing this country were much impressed by this fact, which was dwelt on in the inquiries which were made in this country, that an author very often receives little for his books during his life. It is, therefore, right that the term of copyright should include fifty years after his death. Under the existing law each of the five series of Statutes lays down a different term. For books it is forty-two years from publication or the life of the author and seven years, whichever is the longer. If the author's books have only become famous in his closing years, the period of seven years often does not enable adequate provision to be made for his family. In the case of photographs and mechanical instrument records and rolls—the two exceptions I referred to—these are given fifty years from the time of the making of the original negative or plate.

As I have already indicated, the rights included in copyright are greatly extended. First of all, copyright is given for the first time to works of architecture and mechanical instrument records, awl also to cinematograph films as a whole—that is, as distinct front the separate photographs of which they are made up. Then general copyright is to include the sole right to reproduce the work, or any substantial part thereof, in any material form whatsoever. Then there are various provisions which are novel. The copyright in a work of art is in general infringed by reproduction in any other form of art—for instance, a painting by means of sculpture, and so on. Then, again, copyright is to include the sole right to dramatise a novel or to issue a drama in book form. Copyright will include the sole right to make cinematograph films and mechanical instrument records, rolls, &c., representing the work, or to perform it in public by means of such films, but subject, as there might arise an unjustifiable monopoly in these matters, to a certified system of compulsory licences. Copyright will include in the future the sole right of making translations. If it is desired to reserve the sole right of performing, or authorising performance in public, it will no longer be necessary, as it is now in the case of music, to print a notice to that effect on the work. Then, again, there is another advantage. Registration of copyright was a very futile thing. It was not necessary to register copyright, but you required to register before you could sue. That will not be any longer necessary. Provision is made for the innocent infringer. A person who was not aware, and had not reasonable means of making himself aware, that copyright existed will not be liable to damages, although he will be liable to an injunction and costs. After the expiration of twenty-five years—or in the case of existing works thirty years—after the author's death it will in general (except in the case of photographs, records, and rolls) be open to any one to reproduce a work for sale on condition only of giving prior notice of his intention to do so and paying a royalty of ten per cent. on the price at which he publishes the work. The object of that is, while protecting the fifty years during which the author or his executors are to have the copyright, to prevent the work from being shut out from the public.

I think I have now described the main features of the Bill. There are others which arise in such detail that it will be more convenient for your Lordships to look at them in the clauses of the Bill. I will very shortly draw attention to them. Clause 1 defines the mode in which copyright is to be obtained. It is to subsist for the term I have mentioned if the work is published within the King's Dominions, or, if the work has not been published in the King's Dominions, the author at the date of the making of the work was a British subject or resident within the King's Dominions. Then there is a definition of "copyright," the substance of which is that it is the sole right to produce or reproduce in any form.

Clause 2 deals with infringement of copyright. An "infringer" is a person who does anything the sole right to do which is by the Act conferred on the owner of the copyright. There are certain provisions which are intended to mitigate the stringency of that. For instance, take a copyright book. The Bill provides that in the case of a collection mainly composed of non-copyright matter and bona fide intended for the use of schools, it is not to be an infringement to put in a short passage or a few short passages from a copyright book. Then, again, the publication in a newspaper of a report of a lecture delivered in public, unless the report is prohibited by conspicuous notice or printed notice affixed before and maintained during the lecture at or about the main entrance of the building in which the lecture is given, is not to be an infringement. The reading or recitation in public by one person of any reasonable extract from any published work is, again, not to be an infringement, and the clause goes through a series of cases of that kind. Clause 4 enables compulsory licences to be given if a complaint is made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council that the owner of the copyright in a work has refused to republish or allow the republication of the work. I need not trouble your Lordships with the intervening clauses, which go into detail; but Clause 9 is important. Copyright is now given in architecture and architectural designs. Clause 9 provides that where the construction of a building or other structure which infringes, or which, if completed, would infringe, the copyright in some other work has been commenced, the owner of the copyright shall not be entitled to restrain the construction of the building or order its demolition. All he can get is damages, and that seems very reasonable.

Then I come to Clause 15, which has given rise to a great deal of controversy. Under this clause the publisher of every book published in the United Kingdom is to deliver at his own expense a copy of the book to the trustees of the British Museum, to the Bodleian Library at Oxford, the University Library at Cambridge, the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh, and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. I think that is the law at the present time. The publisher is also to give a copy to the National Library of Wales. The trustees of the British Museum are to have a copy of the whole book, with all maps and illustrations, and in the best form in which the book is published, but the others are to be on the paper on which the greater number of the books published are printed, and these books are only to be given if they are asked for by the libraries, other than in the case of the British Museum. It is complained that it is a burden on publishers to supply these books. So it is. But it must be remembered that publishers are getting protection and advantages under this Bill of a new kind. The term of copyright is enlarged and lengthened, and it does not seem unreasonable that they should bear this not very serious burden.

The other clauses of the Bill comprise Clause 19, which confers the new copyright in mechanical contrivances, and the provisions which relate to foreign countries and to the Dominions. The Bill falls into these three parts and comes under these three heads. It is a Bill which covers a great deal of ground and makes large changes in the law, but upon the whole I submit to your Lordships that it is a Bill which ought to be looked at as one which has been demanded for a very long time. The state of our law of copyright is disgraceful, and the Bill at any rate has this great merit, that its provisions are very simple. Then it has the further great advantage that it meets with the concurrence of other nations, and gives the hope of an extension of international copyright—a great blessing to authors and publishers alike. Finally, it is a Bill which has met with the good wishes and support of the self-governing Dominions. In these circumstances I ask your Lordships to give it a Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Haldane.)


My Lords, having had the question of copyright very fully before me on the Committee which prepared the Report on which this Bill is founded, perhaps I may be permitted to detain your Lordships a moment or two upon the Second Reading of this Bill. I think that anybody who undertook the study of this subject would be struck at once by the fact that they had to consider some twenty different Acts of Parliament, ranging from the days of George II to the present time, and dealing with all sorts of different things, and dealing with them on different footings, for different terms of years, and so forth. I cannot help feeling that when one finds the whole of these difficult Acts brought into line with modern ideas in some thirty clauses of this Bill, immense credit is due to those who have constructed it.

This Bill simplifies and consolidates the whole of the law of copyright, which has been in process of evolution for close on 200 years (apart from questions of what the Common Law was prior to that time), and it also brings into play provisions which deal with the Colonies and with foreign countries on the basis of the international agreement which has been entered into. It sweeps away all previous law, one may say, and gives the foundation for simple principles, which I think apply practically to all that is the subject of copyright. Broadly speaking, for all matters the author gets protection for his life and for fifty years after, with the exception of one or two matters like photographs and records, more or less mechanical productions, in which the fifty years dates from the time when the plate or negative was produced. It applies to the whole of the United Kingdom. It will, it is hoped, in time apply to the whole of the British Dominions, and its effect will operate throughout other countries which have joined the Union which produced the concord upon which the Report was based.

When the Bill is looked through as it was originally introduced, I think one may say that it was practically in accord with the Report of the Committee that investigated the matter, but as it emerged from the other House it contained certain substantial Amendments or changes which are not entirely in accord with the views expressed by the Committee, and are not, I think, in accordance with the views of those who uphold to the full the rights of authors in the production of their brains. In some respects it seems as if there had been rather less appreciation of property in brain product than was thought to be right by the Committee and than was proposed in the Bill as originally introduced. For instance, while copyright in works of literature is given in the Bill for life and fifty years, there is a proviso which cuts down that latter protection to twenty-five years, except so far as it concedes a percentage on the sales after that twenty-five years. There is another clause which prevents the owner of the copyright assigning the full benefit which it is contemplated he should have for his life and fifty years afterwards. The proviso to which I refer reduces that period by providing that he can only dispose of the copyright for his life and twenty-five years afterwards, and in respect of the remaining twenty-five years he can only dispose of his rights by will. That is a proviso which limits the benefit of the copyright, but it may be owing to the view that fifty years is too long a period. Those are matters which will probably have to be discussed in Committee.

There is one other clause which was not in accordance with the Committee's Report. I refer to the new development of the phonographic and pianola industry. The effect of the Bill as it now stands is that if once a licence is given to any manufacturer, other manufacturers may claim to have the right to manufacture on paying certain royalties. That, again, is a curtailing of the full rights of the author. With regard to Clause 15, the publishers claim that not only is their burden left but that it is increased, and the suggestion will probably be made that that burden should be reduced in some form, so that they should not be obliged to provide five or six copies of very costly and expensive books for the benefit of those who can well pay for what they ask. Broadly speaking, I thoroughly agree that the Bill is one which deserves to pass as a great consolidation measure, and one which improves matters in many respects, but I am sure it requires careful consideration on many details.


My Lords, there can be no controversy as to the general character of this Bill. It is a great improvement on the present state of copyright law, and has been put before us in an intelligible and simple form. There are, however, one or two points in the Bill which appear to me not to have been sufficiently appreciated in their bearing on the well-being of the great reading community. This Bill proposes to extend the copyright in respect of books from forty-two years or the life of the author and seven years, whichever was the longer period, to the lifetime of the author and fifty years after the author's death. I submit that that is a claim to an extension of the time of copyright which is not supported by any injustice shown in the past and is not required in the interests of authorship, while it is much to be deprecated in the interests of education.

The present period of copyright has amply sufficed, I submit, for the remuneration of authors as a whole. The extension of the period to fifty years after the author's death is supported on the ground that there are some cases in which authors do not become popular and their books do not sell until they are well advanced in life, and so they get little reward for what they may have produced if the copyright expires seven years after their death. I think it will be found on examination that such cases are extremely few, and few as they are, I submit that it would have been much better to have met the difficulty in a similar way to that in which the difficulty is met in respect of patents—namely, by providing for an application to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for an extension of the copyright in such peculiar cases. But this Bill, in order to meet these peculiar cases, is going to sacrifice the whole reading public. I believe that this change in the law will not be found to operate at all to the advantage of authors, speaking broadly. It will be found to operate to the advantage of publishers only, who will get an extended period of the copyright in the books which they publish.

I would like your Lordships to consider how this proposed law world have operated in the past within our own experience. Take the works of Walter Scott. Scott died in 1832, and under this proposed extension of the law copyright in all his works would have been maintained right down to 1882. Under the existing law, however, the copyright in his poems expired soon after Walter Scott's death and copyright in his novels dropped in at comparatively early dates, and there have been repeated editions of his works, especially of his poems, at cheap prices which made them accessible to the mass of the community. Take the case of the poems of Wordsworth, who died in 1850. Under this Bill copyright in Wordsworth's poems would not have expired before 1900, and his works, therefore, would not have been accessible in the same way that they have been in the last generation. I appeal to my noble friend who leads the House. The noble Viscount brought out an edition of Wordsworth prefaced by an admirable essay on the character of the poet and his place in literature, arranged on what I believe to be a rational chronological principle. If this Bill had been law, it would have been impossible for my noble, friend to have brought out the book at the time he did, and the book would have been withheld from the public for many years. There are other books now within our reach which would not have been within our reach if this Bill had been law.

Take the case of the works of Carlyle. Carlyle's "French Revolution" was published in 1837. The copyright of it expired seven years after the author's death, and we have been enabled, in consequence of the expiration of that copyright, to receive editions of the "French Revolution" edited in the most scholarly fashion, with notes on matters of another generation, providing a most admirable presentment of the work for the education of the new generation. Had this Bill been law it would have been impossible to have brought out those editions of the "French Revolution." The copyright would have been maintained down to the year 1931. So, again, with the poems of Browning. His earlier poems have been brought out, the copyright having expired, in a beautiful form, whereas under this Bill they would not have been accessible for thirty years to come. No case has been made out for this great extension, nor do I think it will operate as a rule to the advantage of authors. The authors will have sold their copyright to the publishers, who are the people really interested in this matter. I am well aware of the peculiar clause to which Lord Gorell referred, which disables an author from parting with his copyright for a longer period than his life and twenty-five years after his death. Whether that will or will not operate to the advantage of the author's family is, I think, doubtful, but it is a most extraordinary and freakish suggestion, and it is a going back upon all our usual principles of law in taking away from the author the command of his own property. The restraint is all the more peculiar because, though the author may not sell the copyright for more than twenty-five years after his death, he has power to dispose of it by will, and if he does not dispose of it by will it forms part of his personal estate, and as such I presume the value of the copyright, although unsaleable by himself, would be an asset which would come in, if necessary, in the sale of his estate for the payment of his debts. This is a clause which, I think, will require considerable examination if it is to be sustained at all. But the stronger case is, I think, against the extension of the copyright period to fifty years after death.

My noble friend below me (Viscount Haldane) referred to the complaint of the publishers that they were burdened with the cost of supplying to the British Museum and the other privileged libraries copies of the books which they publish, but it is a burden, not on the publisher, but primarily on the author. It is part of the cost of production, and is so considered and taken into account by the publisher in the terms which he is willing to give to the author. It is as much a part of the cost of publication as the cost of printing and of paper, and to suggest, as the publishers do, that it runs into their profits is an entire misrepresentation of the real facts of the case. It is merely a burden which they pass on. It is a matter of argument whether the privilege possessed by the three Universities and by the library in Edinburgh should be extended to the new University of Wales, but it should be regarded, not as a tax put upon the publishers, but as a tax primarily put upon the authors. I do think attention has not been sufficiently directed to the extended term of copyright which this Bill proposes to enact, and I hope that before the next stage is reached some of the objections to the extension may be considered.


My Lords, merely rise to say that I am not quite sure that the noble Lord who has just sat down has quite accurately represented the case of the publishers. I do not think the publishers or the authors in the least object to supplying to the Universities a few copies gratis of all ordinary books—those, that is to say, which are tolerably cheap. Their objection—and I think it is a substantial one—applies to the exceptional case of books with a very limited sale and which are very expensive. Only to-day I saw the prospectus of a book which is about to be brought out by Messrs. Macmillan, "The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton." Of this book 250 copies only are to be printed, costing thirty guineas each. It does seem rather hard to ask a publisher or author to supply free five books out of such a limited number. The Bill does, I think, appear to recognise that the present law is rather defective, because it provides that the copies for Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Dublin are to be supplied on application.


That is the law now.


With respect to Wales, the case is not quite the same. In the case of Wales, under subsection (5) of Clause 15, the Board of Trade is to be allowed to make regulations as to the books of which copies are to be delivered. I believe the publishers would be perfectly content if the same power which is now going to be taken as regards the Welsh University was also given with respect to the other Universities. I believe the original intention of the law was that only such books should be supplied to the Universities as were really useful and intended for academic purposes; but, as a matter of fact, the Universities have agents in London who apply for every single book that is published. It cannot, I conceive, be seriously contended that such a book as the "Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton" is required for any academic purposes. I hope this matter will be considered in the Committee stage, because so far as I have been able to understand the publishers have a really solid grievance. Under this Bill publishers will have to give six copies gratis of all books. In this matter of free distribution we are more liberal than other countries. In no other country are publishers required to give more than three copies; in France, the United States, and some other countries they give two; and in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Norway, and other countries no free copies at all are given.


My Lords, although the condition of the house does not lend itself to such efforts of oratory as Lord Macaulay is stated to have indulged in on a great occasion similar to this, I am sure the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill will see that there are points which must be carefully considered when we go into Committee upon this Bill. To those I should like to make one addition. Like other noble Lords who have spoken I am in this difficulty, that. the Bill having been taken in Grand Committee in the House of Commons there has not been the same publicity as is usually the ease when Bills are considered in Committee of the Whole House; and those who are interested in the subject to which I desire to draw attention are really not aware exactly of what did occur in Grand Committee.

I desire to draw attention to Clause 5, in which the position of journalists and authors under a contract of service to a newspaper is dealt with in very drastic fashion. Clause 5 lays down that, subject to the provisions of this Act, the author of a work shall be the first owner of the copyright therein, provided that— where the author was in the employment of some other person under a contract of service or apprenticeship and the work was made in the course of his employment by that person, the person by whom the author was employed shall, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, he the first owner of the copyright. It is urged upon me that that will press very hardly on some journalists. In the first place, it scarcely seems fair that a man who happens to have an annual contract or a contract to write a couple of articles a week, or one article a week, should have no protection short of an agreement, while the man who writes a few casual articles for the same journal, not being under a contract, has protection. There is no question of the right of the proprietor indefinitely to republish the newspaper, magazine, or periodical containing the work. It is a question of republishing in quite distinct form, as in the case of a book of collected articles. If certain articles which a journalist has written in a newspaper are of such. general interest that, after a short period, they are reproduced in a more permanent form, it certainly would seem very hard that their author, who is probably superior to the casual contributor, should, as he had written them while under a contract of service, be debarred altogether by law, in the absence of a definite agreement, from any share in the profits.

I urge this point on two grounds. One is that the practice as between newspaper proprietors and journalists has, I believe, been absolutely satisfactory in the past. Great consideration has been shown by newspaper proprietors in the case of works of journalists which are reproduced. The second ground is that I venture to believe that the provision in Clause 5 which safeguards the journalist where there is an agreement will really be nugatory in a great number of cases. There is hardly any man in the world so powerful as a newspaper proprietor, and it is, of course, an extreme assumption that a journalist entering upon an engagement should be in a position, before he has gained the confidence of the editor, to say that he must have an agreement safeguarding his rights in everything he wrote. I hope the noble Viscount will give his attention to this subject, which is of very wide interest, and will consider whether, by the introduction of some qualifying words, it is not possible to bring the two classes into harmony, and, without in any way injuring the interests of the proprietors, to make provision for doing by law that which by custom has hitherto obtained throughout the profession.

On Question, Bill read 2a.


May I ask the noble Viscount whether he would find it convenient to give us a fortnight before taking the Committee stage? I have consulted various noble Lords who are interested in the Bill, and if it is possible to give us a fortnight I am sure it would enable matters to go more smoothly.


I think the request of the noble Viscount is a reasonable one, and if this day fortnight is agreeable to noble Lords opposite I will put down the Committee stage for that day.

Bill committedto a Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday the 14th of November next.

House adjourned at twenty-five minutes before Eight o'clock, to Thursday next, half-past Ten o'clock.