HC Deb 27 March 1833 vol 16 cc1138-40
Mr. William Brougham

presented a Petition from Christ Church, Surrey, against the New Police Act. He said, that he was sorry that his hon. friend, the Under Secretary for the Home Department, was prevented from taking his place that morning in consequence of illness. He had been requested by that hon. Gentleman to defer presenting the last petition; but as, according to the present arrangements of the House, he did not know when he should have another opportunity, he had declined acceding to the request. The petitioners complained that the New Police Act repealed the Act of George 3rd, which gave them power to appoint their own watch; and that the force which was now established was not so effective as the old one, while the cost was nearly doubled; the parish having been watched under the old system at the cost of 1,100l., while they were now obliged to pay the Commissioners of Police 2,100l. He agreed with the petitioners so far as to say, that the persons who paid the money had a right to be satisfied that they were called on for no more than their due proportion of the burthen which the new establishment had entailed on the districts in which it had been brought into practice. In last Session, an hon. Member proposed that the subject generally should be referred to a Select Committee. If such a Motion were now brought forward by any hon. Member, he would most willingly give it his support. Such an inquiry, in his opinion, would be attended with many benefits, for at the present time, the new police in some districts was in such bad odour with the inhabitants, that the men scarcely dared appear on any public occasion. One instance he could state on his own knowledge. At the last election he was obliged to pay 130l. for Special Constables, and that in a district which was supposed to be effectively watched by the new police; and the High Bailiff' of Southwark gave as his reason for having such a force, that he had received notice, that if the new police were allowed to appear during the election, the peace of the borough would be very much endangered. Such were the complaints made by his constituents, and such had been the practical working of the system as felt by himself.

Mr. Wilks

had had many applications made to him on the subject of the new police, both in the last Session and the present. He was one who much opposed the introduction of such a force; but the Bill having been passed, he was willing that the system should have a full and fair trial. Nearly all the information that could be got by a Select Committee was already before the House by the papers that were laid on the Table every year. If, in those papers, a statement was made of the pay to the several grades of the men employed, and the expense incurred for clothing, the House would have every information before them they could wish on the subject. The only fault that he could find with the police was, that on many occasions, when they were most wanted, there was a difficulty in finding them. However, so long as they conducted themselves in the manner they had hitherto done, they ought to receive the support of the public.

Petition laid on the Table.

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