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jectionable in point of precedent, because it would se. parale the provision for the authors and for the universi. ties, which had been jointly secured in former acts. He was of opinion, however, that the author biad, at common law, an unlimited copyright, which was restrained by the 8th of Anne. But it appeared to him that the notoriety which would arise to works from copies being given to the universities, would be an equivalent to the author for the copies he should deliver to such institutions.
Mr. Villiers stated that it was with extreme reluctance he consented to the separation of the bill; but, as he could not put his opinion in opposition to the authority upon which that proposition was made, he felt inclined to accede to it; at the same time, he gave notice that, at an early period of next session, he should move for leave to bring in a bill similar to that wliich was now to be divided.
The bill was then ordered to be recommitted ; and an instruction having been voted to the committee for divid. ing the bill, the house resolved into the committee, Mr. Wharton in the chair.
Mr. S. Smith stated his objections to the further progress of this bill at this late period of the session; and therefore moved that the chairman do now leave the chair.
A short discussion then took place, in which Mr. Ley. cester, Doctor Lawrence, the Attor ey General, Mr. W. S.nith, and Mr. W. Wynne, participated after which the Attorney General declareil, that upo i consi. deration, he was inclined to think it would be better to proceed with the whole of the bill without any division, because it would certainly be desirable that the burden should be imposed by the same measure that was to , conter the benefit. He hoped, therefore, that the amendment suggested by bis honourable and learned friend (sir Samuel Romilly) would obviate the principal objections to the bill.
Mr. W. Wynne, and Mr. W. Smith, repeated their objections to proceeding further with the bill at this late period of the session, contending that it would not be decent to pass such a measure without affording an opportunity to the booksellers, particularly in Ireland, to be heard on the subject.
Mr. Morris contended, that the measure would not at
all affect the book sellers or publishers, because it was to apply only to future publications, and those persons would in treir bargains with the authors indemnify themselves for any number of copies which they might be res quired under this act, to deliver inio the universities and other public institutions.
At this period the Speaker informed the committee that a message from the lořils was waiting, and intimated that it might be for the convenience of the house that the committee should adjoum for a short time, in order that the house may resunie to receive the message; adding, that the committee might aíterwards proceed with the bill, and that this course was consonant to the practice of the house.
The house then resumed, when a message from the lords informed the house, that their lordships had agreed to the Irish malt duty bill, the Irish drawback bill, ihe Irish spirits bill, the post-horse duty farming bill, the prize goods bill, the prize bill, the inland promissory note bill, and the Chatham lines bill, without any amendments, and to the English local militia bill with se yeral amendi ments, in which they desired the concurrence of the bouse..
Lord Palmerston presented the fourth report of the sugar-disiillation committee. Ordered to lie on the table, and with the appendix to be printed.
Mr. Wharton brought up the report of the assessed taxes bill. After the several amendments were gone through,
Mr. Fíuskisson brought up a clause to remove all doubt relative to a subject mentioned by an honourable member (Mr. Wardel) last night, providing that no person shall be liable to surcharge upon returns antecedently made, and that the surcharges shall apply to such articles only as shall be contained in such returns. This clause was agreed to, as was also a clause, providing that the bili should not extend to Scotland.
A inember, whose name we could not learn, proposed a clause, providing that when the commissioners of any districi sball bave assigned the day for hearing appeals against surcharges, and due notice shall be given to the parties, and the surveyors and assessors shall neglect to attend, it shall be lawful for the com missiogers to allow compensation to the parties for their time in attending. The clause was agreed to, and the house went into a committee on these clauses ; after which the house resumeid, and the report having been received, the bill was ordered to be engrossed, and read a third time to-morrow.
The cinque ports salvage bill went through a committee; the report was received, and the bill ordered to be read a third time on Friday.
On the report of the life annuity bill, Mr. Vansittart proposed a clause to prevent the accumulation of annua ities on the same life.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer allowed the clause to pass for the present, reserving the right of altering or rescinding it, if it should not be subsequently found to be attended with the advantages now expected.
On the motion of Mr. Huskisson, the house went into a committee on the sugar-distillery bill. The report to be received to-morrow.
The spirit duty regulation bill was read a third time and passed ; also the Irish treasury bills bill, and the Welsh coals bill.
The Irish spirit duty bill went through a committee, the report to be received to-morfow.
Sir Samuel Romilly, on the order for the second read. ing of the acquitted persons' compensation bill, declared bis intention not to proceed further with the bill in this session, but gave notice that he would bring forward the subject again early in the nexi session.
The house went again into a committee on the copy. right bill.
On the motion of the Attorney General, it was agreed that those who wished to wave their copyright, should not be obliged to give the copies of publications required by the bill; and it was also provided that those who did not give the copies required, should have no copy. right.
Mr. Abercrombię contended that the public curiosity would be more earnest by abridging the period of copyright; he proposed to limit it to twenty years, instead of twenty-eight.
Mr. Morris insisted, that the term of twenty-eight ycars was not too much for a just copyright. Tle cited the cases of Dr. Adam Smith's works, and Dr. Johnson's dictionary, to prove that most valuable works were not properly estimated till they bad gone through many editions, and had been long before the public. He therefore thouglit an extended term of copyright was desirable.
Sir Arthur Pigott thought the present period of the ses. sion too late for the agitation of this subject. He thought eleven copies too many to require, and that when no com.. plaint was made on the part of authors, of booksellers, or the public, it was unnecessary to alter the law as it stood.
Mr. Leycestor defended the proposition of tho attorney general, which was agreed to, after some observations in exception by Mr. Smith (of Norwich).
Mr. W. Wynne proposed to render the supply of copies to the universities obligatory only when called for. On explanation this dificulty was removed.
Some further conversation took place on the provision to secure the best impressions of every work to the public libraries. It was agreed that the copies so given should be on the best paper on which the work should be printed for the general purposes of sale. The house having resumel, the report was received, and ordered to be taken into further consideration on Friday.
On the motion of Sir S. Romilly, the house took into further consideration the report of the committee on the privately stcaling bill. The amendments were agreed to, and the bill was ordered to be read a third time to-mor. row.
OYSTER FISHERY. , Ms. Wharton brought up the report of the oyster fish
Sir S. Romilly opposed the bill. In the committee he had intended to propose, in lieu of the punishment of transportation for seven years, imprisonment for two ; but the bill bad passed through the cominittee, very unexpectedly to him, at an early hour this morning. His chief objection to the bill was, that the house was not sufficiently acquainted with the nature of the property which it was intended to secure. He deprecated the enactment of a new penal law, without having previously ascertained ilic precise extent of the crime, or without a complete conviction that it miglit not be committed in ignorance rather than with a malevoient design. He dwelt with considerable force on the dreadful depravation of mind to which the persons transported to Botany Bay were sub
jected, and contended, that it was of such a hature as to call loudly' for the interference of the legislature:' amter?
The Solicitor General defended the bill, as indispensa ble to the protection of private property. It was not the enactment of a new penal'statute. It was already in his opinion a felony at common law'; but from an inadvert. enice in wording the act, the protection of this property was not so complete as it was desirable that it should be. All that the bill before the house professed, was to restore the common law. With respect to the punishment, it was not greater than what was annexed to sinilar of fences.
Mr. Magens explained the way in which this property was exposed to robbery', and declared that if some means were not devised to seoure this property from depredation, the persons engaged in the fishery would be very materially injured.
Sir W: Curtis thought that the oyster beds should be more distinctly marked by buoys, lest he or any other innocent man, who was fond of oysters, should be betraya ed into the unfortunate prédicament of finding that he had unwarily committed felony. (A laugh.!)
Mr. Sturges Bourne and Sir W. Elford both supported the bill; on the principle that severe punishment was' necessary to prevent crimes of easy commission.
Mr. w Wynne pressed the necessity of distinctly marking out the beds.
Mr. Villiers dwelt on the necessity for further security to the proprietors of the beds.
Sir A. Pigott complained of being called upon to legislate on tbis subject, and to decree such severe punishments, without a much more satisfactory investigation. The common law was clear, as stated by his learned friend ; what occasion was there for the present bill? I'}" " Mr. Spencer Stanhope, while he allowed that this de scription of property required a greater guard than that which it now had, would rather that any offence against the bill should be a transportable misdemeanour instead of a felony. He wished the discussion to be adjournéd, to give an opportunity for the consideration of this suga gestion.
: Mr. Western defended the bill at considerable length. Mr. Burton was of opinion, that it might be advisable VOL. III.-1808.