§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith), CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS, in the Chair.]
§ (In the Committee.)
That clause 1 stand part of the Bill.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
I do not quite wish to move to report progress, but I want some explanation upon this clause. It seems to me it is a very dangerous clause. Under the existing law in Ireland since 1836—for 60 years that law has lasted—the constabulary in Ireland have been prevented from interfering actively with all cases of game and Excise prosecutions. That, I venture to say, in the circumstances in, winch the constabulary individually are placed, was a very reasonable prohibition. It existed for 60 years, and this clause, now brought in by a private Member in a private Member's Bill, proposes to enact that Statutes which create that prohibition shall not apply to the Wild Birds Protection Act, 1894. That is a very serious change in the public law of Ireland, and I think if the constabulary in Ireland are to be allowed to take a man up because he is in a field, for instance, on the plea that he is looking for wild birds, when perhaps his real object is game, there might be very serious questions arising. I thought it was right that I should put this matter before the Committee. I do not undertake the responsibility myself of preventing this Bill from passing, but I bring this matter before the notice of members of the Committee, and if the Committee thinks that a Bill of this serious and great importance, for employing the Irish constabulary on a matter of this kind, is a Bill which ought to pass in this way, of course it is with the Committee that the responsibility rests.
§ MR. BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I think I can explain to my honourable Friend. Under the old 512 Acts the constabulary were prohibited, and I think quite rightly, from, interfering in any question affecting game. Recently these Acts were introduced, and wild birds have been held to come under the legal appellation of game, and therefore the constabulary were prohibited from applying the law. It is in order to remove that doubt that this Bill has been introduced. I will point out, in the first place, that it does not cast on the constabulary the duty of carrying out these Acts unless the local authority which is now about to be created in Ireland in particular districts desires that the birds should be protected, and therefore, if they do not desire the assistance of the constabulary in carrying out the Acts, the Acts will not be enforced. It they do, my honourable Friend, as a Home Ruler, will desire that they should have the power to use these Acts. Under the present Acts, as they are not enforced in Ireland, very unfortunately it happens that those who are prohibited from destroying these wild birds in England often go over to Ireland in order to secure plumage, and so the wild birds are gradually being destroyed.
§ MR. CALDWELL
My honourable Friend is altogether mistaken in thinking that in Ireland there is no law of this kind. The law in Ireland is the same as in England in regard to the protection of wild birds, and any person may prosecute under the powers given the same as in England. The only difference is that in Ireland you cannot employ constabulary for that purpose. You can employ other agents in Ireland, the same as in England.
§ Progress reported.
That the Bill be, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Bill, was, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at 12.15.