HC Deb 28 May 1830 vol 24 cc1199-201
Sir R. Vyvyan

in moving for a Return of the number of persons employed in the Police of the Metropolis, said, he took this course from understanding that there were about 6,000 persons employed under that Act. It appeared to him that the measure altogether was one inconvenient to the public, and he trusted that when those papers were laid on the Table there would be such an expression of the sentiments of the country, that the Ministers would refrain from further increasing that body of men. All the parishes mentioned in the schedule of the bill were, he believed, already under its operation, and Government had the power of extending it ten miles round the metropolis. He hoped however, before there was any Order in Council to that effect, Ministers would allow the country to reconsider the subject. The hon. Baronet concluded, by moving "That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would cause to be laid before the House the number of men employed in the Police of the Metropolis under the Police Bill of 1829, distinguishing the grades of the persons so employed, and the specific number of each grade, together with the Pay and Allowance of all the persons employed; and also all the General Orders issued by the Secretary of State since the formation of the Establishment."

Mr. Spring Rice

seconded the Motion. He was persuaded that the more the subject was considered, the more the country ought to rejoice in the changes that had been made; and with respect to expense, the property that was saved was more than equivalent to any additional expense by which the measure had been attended. He considered that this was a most constitutional force, and that the force it had superseded was one of the most anomalous, inefficient, and useless that had ever existed. He was not averse from the Motion, for he was satisfied that the more information we obtained concerning the Police, the more the public would be convinced that the change which had been made was a good one.

Mr. Lennard

supported the Motion. He admitted that the new establishment had already been more useful than he had anticipated, but he was yet to learn that the old system could not have been so modified as to have produced equally beneficial effects. The hon. Baronet was, perhaps not in the House when the Police Bill passed, or he would have recollected that the hon. member for Bristol, and himself, had given to that Bill a strenuous, though ineffectual opposition. He was ready to acknowledge that this force, which was a sort of military body, might produce no mischief under the present Secretary of State, but in the hands of a different Minister it might be dangerous. It was a force on which the House ought to look with constitutional jealousy, and he hoped that the hon. Member who had now moved for these Returns, and other hon. Members who had opposed the Bill, would keep a watchful eye over it, or it might turn out very disadvantageous. As long as it was in the hands of an honest Minister like the present, it might do no harm; but in other hands it might be made the instrument of evil.

Motion agreed to.

Sir Robert Peel,

who came into the House as these observations were concluded said, if he had been in the House when the hon. Baronet moved for these Returns, he should have taken that opportunity of stating that on this subject he was prepared to give the House the fullest information. All the orders which had been issued, both general as well as secret—if there were any, but in fact there were none,—he should be most willing to lay on the Table of the House. There was no sort of information connected with the Police that he was not ready to give. In order, however, to make the Returns to be laid on the Table complete, the House ought to know to what extent the Police had been brought into operation, and what was the extent of the districts it guarded. He would therefore move for an account of the number of districts to which the Metropolis Police had been extended, specifying the number of parishes, and the population of each parish according to the last Population Returns, with the total amount of the population embraced within the districts of the Police.

Mr. Lennard

said, he had made no al- lusion to secret orders, for he did not suppose that any such had been given.

Sir Robert Peel

said, if there had been any he should have been glad to have produced them, for he was convinced that the efficiency of the Police would be increased in proportion as it was exposed to the scrutiny of the House.

Lord Encombe

said, if the Metropolitan Police were to be conducted on the same principles ns that at Brighton, it would be purely a military body.

Sir Robert Peel

knew nothing of the Brighton Police, except having seen the men. He had readily given all the assistance in his power to such towns as chose to form a police like the Metropolitan Police; but he had taken no other part in their proceedings, though he hoped, that every provincial town would form such a Police.

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