HC Deb 03 March 1809 vol 12 cc1147-8

The house having resolved into a Committee upon the subject of the Plymouth Dock Police,

The Attorney-General

proposed that the chairman should move the house for leave to bring in a Bill for establishing a new Police for Plymouth Dock, for the purpose of preventing depredations upon the King's Stores. The learned gent. observed, that the king's shipping lying in the river Tamar, which divided the counties of Devon and Cornwall, facilities of escape to offenders were by that circumstance afforded, against which it was highly necessary to provide, in consequence of the number of the offenders, and the extent of the depredation. With this view, the Bill proposed the constitution of a local police or board of magistrates, who should be in constant attendance, and who, by having a certain proportion of the two counties subject to their authority, might be enabled to guard against the evil complained of.

Mr. Curwen

was always, upon constitu- tional grounds, jealous of the erection of boards of this nature, because they served to increase the patronage of the crown, which was already so enormous, and which was so systematically advancing, that in time scarcely any man could escape its grasp; because they involved an augmentation of the public burthens, which he hoped speedily to see retrenched, or the public would have reason to despond indeed; and also, because they interfered with the authority of the independent magistracy of the country.

The Attorney-General

assured the hon. gent. and the committee, that he would be the last man to interfere with the privileges, or even, if he might add, the prejudices of the magistracy, to whom he felt the country owed so much, and particularly from the circumstance of their services being gratuitous; but the establishment of a local Police was in this instance essentially necessary, and when he stated that the suggestion of that necessity proceeded from an honourable gent. on the other side of the house, the member for Plymouth, (Mr. Tyrwhitt) he supposed the suspicion of any desire to extend government patronage by this proposition would be obviated.

Mr. Tyrwhitt

corroborated the statement of the Attorney General; and explained the necessity which called for the Bill.

The motion was agreed to, the house resumed, and the chairman obtained leave to bring in the Bill.