Animal Rights-Humane History Timeline: Antiquity » Medieval » Renaissance » Enlightenment » Romantic Age » Victorian Age » Early 20th c.
Cruelty to Animals Bill, 1809-May-31
[1809-May-31] "House of Lords, Wednesday, May 31, 1809, Bill for the More Effectual Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals," Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time 14 (1809-Apr-11 to 1809-Jun-21): 804-8; Google Books: Online Library of Free eBooks.
[CRUELTY TO ANIMALS BILL] The house having gone into a committee on this Bill,
Lord Erskine rose, and expressed the deep satisfaction he felt at their lordships' recognition of the principle of the bill he had had the honour of submitting, by their agreeing to go into a committee upon it. He thought it unnecessary in the committee to make use of any further general arguments, in its support, though, if it were necessary, he would, from the variety of information he had received from the most respectable and the best informed quarters, give their lordships fresh reasons, and abundance of particular instances, which shewed (beyond contradiction, as he thought) the propriety, necessity, and justice of passing the bill. Was particular information wanted? He bad letters upon letters stating facts concerning such cruelties. Was evidence desired? He could bring the most unexceptionable testimony to their lordships' bar, to prove the existence of such practices as were a disgrace to humanity, to a civilized nation, and to every moral and religions profession. He had with him letters, stating the readiness of the parties to appear, from the most respectable clergymen, as well as others, not indeed saying that such cruel practices were universal, but that they were too general, and specifying many particular instances. His lordship then adverted to the inhuman and wicked practice of houghing and hamstringing cattle, of cutting the faces of sheep intended for future slaughter for the use of man, and of still more barbarous practices, such as some he could substantiate: the cutting and tearing out the tongue of so noble an animal as the horse. He stated an old act of Henry the eighth against this last crime, which inflicted a fine of that offence of 10£. to shew the sense our ancestors had of such inhumanity. Hitherto, the matter had been perhaps too much considered only as it related to animals as the private property of individuals; but he wished this bill to take a higher ground, so that the legislature should declare its opinion upon the morality of the principle, and on the duties that man owed not only to man, but to the lower world; duties so much connected with the general state of the moral feelings. He stated a variety of circumstances in favour of the bill, and alluded to many enormous cruelties practised on animals. He meant, however, to propose some amendments, to ensure the most favourable reception of the bill from those who might entertain some objections as to its practicability. He had left, to the commons the opportunity, which he did not doubt would be taken, of giving the alternative mode of punishment to the magistrate by a pecuniary fine, or a limited confinement. He intended to propose, that the magistrate should be armed with the power of summary decision, as it would be exceedingly inconvenient to oblige all prosecutions to go to quarter sessions. He begged, however that it might be remarked that there was no been, no reward whatever to be held out to, or received by any informer. He also proposed an amendment by which he wished to introduce the words "to abuse," as applicable to the maltreatment of animals. Here he referred to old statutes, and seemed to think that this word, in addition to others in use, would best convey the meaning of the legislature. His lordship then adverted to some other amendments which he intended to submit, and contended against the supposed difficulty on the part of the magistrates, in deciding upon the guilt and punishment of such offences. It was the intention, coupled with the overt act, which constituted the criminality in a variety of other cases, and he saw no difficulty that was insuperable in the application of similar principles in this instance. He had limited himself in the first instance, to what he had termed "reclaimed animals:" he now wished to amend that expression by using the word "tamed" instead of reclaimed. He did not there-fore, endeavour by legislative measures to interfere with wild animals, and kept out of the question field sports. He was so convinced of the great importance of an unanimous vote of their lordships on the subject, instead of carrying tins question by a mere majority, that he was most desirous of hearing and of receiving any information or amendment upon the bill. With respect to bull-baiting, which had been alluded to, he could not see how those who were so desirous of continuing that practice should agree to going into the committee, and thereby acknowledging the principle of the bill. If bull-baiting was a fair sport—if it was, as he had heard it stated, for the amusement of that fine animal; and if no wanton and malicious cruelty occurred, then the magistrate would have no such crime to punish the parties for committing. If, on the contrary, it was attended with such odious circumstances, the bill would give the magistrate that salutary power which he ought to possess.
The Lord Chancellor was not adverse to the principle of the bill, but thought it would be advisable to limit the object of its operation. The house would do well to proceed with measured steps in a business of this nature. He should therefore advise his noble and learned friend to confine the operation of the measure, in the first instance, to beasts of draft or burthen. If afterwards it should appear that the practical effect of the bill could be obtained on a more extended scale, then would be the time to propose the extension of it.
The Earl of Liverpool perfectly coincided in opinion with his noble and learned friend, as to the propriety of confining the bill to beasts of draught or burthen; the horse, the ass, the ox, and mule, or any other animal that might be employed to the same purposes. Any attempt to make the bill apply to every species of domestic or tame animal, might in many instances become ludicrous, and defeat the main object which the bill had in contemplation.
Lord Ellenborough could well recollect, that the measure now brought forward, was one which had engaged, to his knowledge, the attention of his noble and learned friend for these twenty years past, and which every man must allow, did infinite honour to his heart. He was anxious the bill should succeed, and he should therefore advise his noble and learned friend, to adopt the opinion of the noble and learned lord on the wool-sack, and to confine the measure, for the present, to beasts of draught or burthen. He should also beg leave to advise him, to new model his bill upon that suggestion, and in that hope to have it printed and re-committed.
Earl Darnley could not see the benefit to be derived from the bill. More cruelties would be committed on animals, upon the 1st of September next, than all those of which the bill professed to complain of, and correct.
Lord Erskine observed, that the species of animals, to which the noble lord who spoke last alluded, was different in every respect from that of which he solicited protection. As he was very anxious, that to some extent at least the bill might be allowed to operate, he should cheerfully adopt the suggestions of his noble and 808 learned friend, and shape the measure with the limitations he had advised.
The bill was then ordered to be re-committed on Friday next.
Laws Against Cruelty to Animals
highlight animal rights activists, animal welfare advocates, authors, humane educators and legislators accomplishments for animal rights, animal welfare and protection of animals.
[BCE-c485] Ancient Laws for Protection of Animals
Animal Rights Timeline: Animal Rights—Animal Welfare—Humane History—Protection of Animals • Animal Rights Activists • Animal Rights Quotes • Animal Rights Law • Humane Education • Online Library of Primary Source Historical Literature • Free Full Text eBooks Against Cruelty to Animals