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Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

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Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is an article published in The Times on 6 march 1914.

Report of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds meeting held at the Westminster Palace Hotel (London), where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave a speech.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Times (6 march 1914, p. 10)

Support for the Plumage Bill.

The Annual Meeting of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was held yesterday at Westminster Palace Hotel, the Right Hon. Lord Newton presiding. Among those also present were the Duchess of Portland, the president, H.H. the Ranee of Sarawak, the Duchess of Somerset, the Countess von Hahne, Lord Lilford, the Hon. Mrs. Drewitt, Major the Hon. Henry Guest, M.P., Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Herbert Maxwell, Sir John Cockburn, Mr. Montagu Sharpe, Lady Forester, Major Boyd Horsbrugh, Mrs. Williamson, Mr. Ernest Bell, Mr. W. H. Hudson, Miss Clifton, Mr. Hahnemann Stuart, Dr. Drewitt, Mr. E. G. B. Meade-Waldo, Mr. W. R. Ogilvie-Grant, Mr. Page Croft, M.P., Miss E. L. Turner, Mr. J. R. B. Masefield, Mr. W. P. Pycraft, Mrs. Burdon, Mr. F. W. Headley, Mr. C. E. Fagan, Mrs. Hesketh-Prichard, and Mrs. Yorke Smith.

The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the annual report, heartily congratulated the society on the remarkable success it had achieved in persuading the Government to adopt what he thought he might, without exaggeration, term their Bill. He attributed it to the fact that they had powerful friends in Government and to a growing feeling of antagonism in this country to those fashions in feathers which were so disastrous to wild bird life. The fashion in women's hats was becoming more sober and less objectionable, and birds supplying the plumage could easily be found the edible varieties. The arguments against the Bill were about as inconclusive as anything he had ever beard. They were told that if it passed the feather trade would be destroyed and that the ostrich feather trade would disappear from this country altogether. He contended that the ostrich feather trade was not threatened at all. This country, in adopting the principles of the Bill, would be only following the example of other civilized countries.

The Society's Operations.

It would be a great mistake to suppose that the operations of the society were confined solely to the promotion of the Plumage Bill, for it carried on a most admirable educational work. It conducted an extremely valuable system of observation, the value of which could not well be exaggerated, and finally it endeavoured, as much as lay in its power, to check the senseless slaughter of rare and interesting varieties of birds in this country. It was of genuine utility, and, as long as it continued to be moderate and reasonable, he believed it would continue to flourish.

Mr. Montagu Sharpe seconded the resolution, and observed that the report indicated satisfactory program in all branches. The fellows, members, and associates of the society numbered about 8,500, and they were spread all over the world. The public had confidence in the organization, and every year were supporting it in greater numbers. During the year they had received no legacies, and be hoped they would be remembered, as other societies were, by people when preparing their wills. They could most profitably spend a stun twice as large as that which was at present placed at their disposal. The special funds needed more support. The Watchers' fund was doing a great deal of good. They had 10 districts under their care, and 22 men were employed in watching. They could double the number of places dealt with if they had the money.

The Lighthouse Work.

Last year he asked for a special fund for perches at the lighthouses, and wrote a letter to The Times. In response to that appeal a sum of about £500 was received. At one place no fewer than 450 birds, migrants and of insectivorous species, were picked up in the lighthouse gallery. The engineer in charge stated that the perches were undoubtedly of value in saving the lives of considerable numbers of birds. They had an educational movement in the schools in eight counties, and had initiated public school contests. A great deal of good work might be done if the law in regard to the protection of wild birds were consolidated, and a Departmental Committee to inquire into the matter was now sitting.

The resolution was unanimously adopted.

Mr. Page Croft, M.P., moved a resolution expressing hearty sympathy with the Government Bill for prohibiting the importation of the skins and plumage of wild birds for millinery purposes, urging the speedy passing of the measure through both Houses of Parliament, and directing that copies of the resolution be sent to the Prime Minister, and to the Right Hon. C. E. Hobhouse, M.P., who was in charge of the Bill. He thought that the Mother Country should back up the Colonies in their endeavours to protect bird life. There was a very good chance of getting the Bill through quickly if the Government saw that public opinion demanded it.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle seconded the resolution, and said that it had been urged against the Bill that it would put some people out of business. That was what they wanted. If some people had not got a decent business they ought to be put out of it.

The resolution was carried unanimously.

On the motion of the Ranee of Sarawak, seconded by Lord Lilford, the Duchess of Portland was re-elected president of the society, and in the course of a short speech expressed a hope that the Plumage Bill would be passed. She hoped they would all endeavour to make it a success. In conclusion, she heartily congratulated the successful competitors is the public school competition and proceeded to distribute the awards.

Mr. L. Hardy, M.P., moved the re-election of the council and officers, a resolution which was seconded by Mr. J. R. B. Masefield, and adopted.

Sir John Cockburn moved a vote of thanks to the chairman.

Major the Hon. Henry Guest, M.P.. in seconding the resolution, called attention to a meeting to be held under the presidency of the Duke of Marlborough at Caxton Hall, Westminster, on the 19th inst., at 5.30 p.m., in support of the Plumage Bill. He observed that without a doubt there was strong hostility to the measure on the part of the trade interested, and a strong expression of public opinion was needed.

The resolution was adopted, and the proceedings termintaed.