HC Deb 21 March 1836 vol 32 cc438-41

The House resolved itself into a Committee on the Constabulary (Ireland) Bill.

On Clause 1,

Mr. French

wished to have the words, exempting the expense of removing trans- ported felons from the provisions of the 55th of Geo: 3rd., which it was proposed to repeal, omitted. It was an expense he did not consider the counties were fairly entitled to and one which he felt ought not to be retained. It was comparatively of recent date in Ireland; one of those numerous compulsory levies by which the grand jury rates had been swelled, and for which so many charges of extravagant expenditure had been made against the gentry of that country. Up to 1815, the charge for removing convicted felons from the gaols to the seaports for transportation had been borne by the general government in that year, chiefly on the plea of assimilating the practice in both countries. This expense was thrown exclusively on the Irish counties. This reason, however, could not now be urged; it no longer existed. Last year the English counties had been relieved from this burden, and he trusted a similar course would be pursued towards Ireland. Let the expenses, up to conviction, be borne by counties; after conviction, by the nation at large, although the expenses of removal fell heavily on the counties distant from the place of embarkation. It had reached as high as 12l. a man in the county he had the honour to represent, and in the adjoining county. It could be carried into effect at a trifling, if any expense, to Government, with so large a force at their disposal in Ireland. Twice a year, after each assizes, an arrangement might be made, by which the convicts from the different gaols could be transmitted across the island under a military guard. He threw out this suggestion for the consideration of his Majesty's Government.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

admitted the force of what fell from the hon. Member for Roscommon, and assured him it should be attended to. Under these circumstances, he trusted the amendment would not be pressed.

Clause agreed to.

On Clause 2,

Mr. Hume

objected to the principle of issuing money for such purposes out of the consolidated fund. He conceived there was no control over the expenditure, and he should next year move that the estimates for the police be laid before the House, and a vote taken for them as was done with the army and navy.

Mr. W. S. O'Brien

agreed with everything that fell from the hon. Member for Middlesex, but if his principle were good for anything next year he ought to apply it at present. He could not help calling the attention of the House to the great increase of expenditure created by the Bill over that of last year. The Inspector-General, under this Bill, was to have 1,500l. a-year, whereas last year it was only 1,000l. He could only account for this from the fact of the appointment being about to be conferred on an Englishman. Government seemed systematically to exclude Irishmen from every appointment. He instanced the Secretary for Ireland—the Under-Secretary—the Archbishop of Dublin—the Chairman of the Board of Works, and now the Chief of Police.

Viscount Morpeth

thought there was no reason for national jealousy on such a subject, as the heads of police in London were Irishmen.

Mr. Goulburn

agreed with the hon. Member for Limerick that the expense would be considerably increased, and called upon the noble Lord to give some estimate of what the expense would be under this Bill.

Viscount Morpeth

said, that the expense would not be increased by the Bill.

Clause agreed to.

On Clause 9,

Mr. French

considered this as the most objectionable clause in the Bill. Not only was the constitutional mode of appointing the constables departed from, but an unlimited power of augmentation, and, as far as the counties were concerned, an unlimited power of taxation was placed in the hands of the Lord-lieutenant. Hitherto the exercise of this power had been limited; it depended on a requisition signed by a certain number of Magistrates—the augmented force was paid for by the inhabitants of the disturbed district, and was reduced when tranquillity was restored; but by this Bill, as it at present stood, those parts of the country where no disturbance had taken place were to be saddled with a portion of the expense, and the augmented force was to remain a permanent charge on the country. To remedy his he proposed an amendment clause.

Viscount Morpeth

was perfectly willing to adopt that portion of the amendment of his hon. Friend which related to the apportioning the expense of any extra force on the districts for which it was required, and would be prepared to add words to that effect to the 22d Clause, which was the one settling how the expenses of this body were to be defrayed; but he could not agree to that part of the amendment which limited the power of the Lord Lieutenant to act, save authorized by a requisition signed by a certain number of Magistrates. He felt it was contrary to the principle of this measure, that it would have the effect of creating a divided responsibility between the Lord Lieutenant and Magistrates, which was by no means desirable.

Clause agreed to.

Remainder of the Clauses agreed to, and the House resumed.

The House resolved itself into a Committee of supply.