§ Sir Robert Peel
begged to put some questions to the noble Lord respecting the constabulary force in Ireland, and the rumoured resignation of the gallant officer who for some time past had had the chief superintendence and control over that force. As the questions which he had to put were grounded on the discussion which took place in the House at the time when the change in the law respecting the Irish constabulary was made, he begged particularly to refer to that discussion. The House would probably recollect, that in February, 1836, the noble Secretary for Ireland proposed a bill making material alterations in the mode of appointing the constabulary force in Ireland. The proposal was to transfer the selection of constables from the local magistracy to either the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, or to some officer acting under him, and having charge of the force; and, in order that no mistake might be made about the noble Lord's expressions on that occasion, he (Sir R. Peel) begged to quote the very words used by the noble Lord, which were these:—With respect to transferring the appointment of the police force from the local magistracy to the Government, although that appointment would be nominally in the Crown, it would be practically in the hands of the inspector-general. He (Lord Morpeth) contended, that such an officer as the inspector-general would be able to exercise a much more careful and a much more unbiassed choice than could be expected from so numerous a body as the local magistracy. Without imputing any improper motives to that body, without ascribing to them any other political feelings than would be found to exist in any equally numerous body of the same station in society, it was clear that the magistrates would, in most cases, be very desirous to appoint their own friends. Now, as he apprehended, the inspector-general would be influenced by motives much more unbiassed, and 1174 his only object would be to make his force as efficient as possible for the public service."*The noble Lord was followed by the noble Secretary for the Home Department, who held similar language, observing that—There was another inconvenience arising out of the present system, which it would be the object of the Bill now introduced to remove—namely, that while a great part of the police force was by common consent appointed by the inspectors, another part was appointed by the magistrates, and by this means became subservient to local interests, to party views, and to the motives and feelings of particular individuals. The object, then, of the present Bill was to place in one inspector-general the direction of the whole police force of Ireland, to give him a complete control over it, to empower him to organise it into one system, and thus to make the police in Leinster and in Connaught act under the same rules and directions. This, he thought, it would be admitted, was an object which belonged not to any particular party, or to one party more than another; it was a national object, an object which all who desired to see the efficiency of the police improved by a proper system of organization, and by that means wished to contribute to the maintenance and preservation of peace in Ireland, would be anxious to see accomplished."†These reasons had had considerable influence with him and with many of his friends, though they had entertained strong objections to the proposed transfer. The noble Lord had added, that it had been the object of Government in selecting an inspector-general, to find "some person who had been for years unconnected with any party in Ireland, and who would perform the duties imposed upon him with entire impartiality and exactness;" and when, in order to remove all suspicion, and to give satisfaction to all persons interested in the matter, the noble Lord communicated to the House the selection Government had made of Colonel Shaw Kennedy, "an officer on whose temper, discretion, judgment, and impartiality, every dependence could be placed," and appealed to him (Sir Robert Peel) to confirm the statement he had made respecting Colonel Shaw Kennedy's high character, he (Sir Robert Peel) thought himself warranted in stating, that many of the objections which might have been urged against the proposal were, to a certain extent, if not entirely removed, by*Hansard, (Third Series), vol. xxxi, p. 534.† Ibid, page 541.1175 the announcement which had been made of the appointment of a gentleman free from all imputation of party bias, of the highest integrity and impartiality. He had, therefore, concurred in the arrangement proposed, but it was with a distinct reservation. He had said, that "the appointment of police officers was a trust which, if honestly administered, he thought had better be intrusted to the hands of the representative of the Crown than to any local authority. But he made that admission on the assumption that the trust was to be administered with perfect honesty. If it were otherwise—if the power conferred by the trust were perverted to other purposes, and were employed to gratify party animosities, or to confirm political advantages, then he would say, that the efficiency of the Bill would be totally destroyed. He thought that the noble Lord should adopt the same rule in Ireland as had already been adopted in the metropolis; and that those who were responsible for the good conduct of the men should have the appointment of them; and that the Government ought in no case to interfere in the nomination of officers for the purpose of gratifying any of its political friends if Colonel Shaw were to be appointed to the head of the force, let him have the nomination of the men; and if he (Sir R. Peel) knew anything of that gallant officer, he would undertake to say, that he would exercise the power thus confided to him with honesty and discretion, and that, in a much less time than could otherwise be hoped for, a well-disciplined and efficient police force would be established in Ireland. And he felt bound to say, with great deference to the opinions of his hon. Friend, who had taken a different view of the subject, that he thought if the police force of Ireland were appointed and directed upon this principle, there would be a much stronger guarantee for its sufficiency, and freedom from all local and party prejudices, than could possibly be the case if the appointment of the men of whom it was to be composed were entrusted to the local authorities."* This principle he had conceived to be fully acquiesced in by the noble Lord, and it was this assumption that had induced him, among others, to waive any objections he might have had to the proposition. Now, it had been publicly stated that Colonel Shaw Kennedy had*Hansard (Third Series), vol. xxxi. p. 544.1176 tendered his resignation; and what he wished to ask the noble Lord, was, first, whether the same rule was pursued in the appointment and promotion of officers and men in the Irish constabulary force as prevailed in the metropolitan police force? secondly, whether it were true that Colonel Shaw Kennedy had tendered his resignation, and whether that tender of resignation had taken place in consequence of any differences between him and the Government in the execution of his public duties? and the third question he wished to ask was, whether, supposing the resignation to have been tendered and accepted, it was intended that the same principle which the noble Lord had professed to be guided by in the selection of Colonel Kennedy would be observed in the appointment of his successor?
§ Lord John Russell
could not undertake to answer all the right hon. Gentleman's questions, for he thought that with respect to the rule of appointment and promotion in the Irish constabulary force his noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland, could give a much clearer account of the matter than he could. In reference to Colonel Kennedy he had to inform the right hon. Baronet, and it was with great regret, that Colonel Kennedy had tendered his resignation, and that it had been accepted. As to the grounds on which the resignation had been tendered, he did not think he could state them without sowing the seeds of future discussion on the subject, which, in a case of this kind, he did not think desirable. With respect to the course to be pursued in naming a new inspector-general, and conducting the future management of the constabularly force in Ireland, he had only to say, that having the highest reliance on the integrity, the great good sense, and honour of Colonel Kennedy, it was the intention of the Lord-Lieutenant and himself (the parties more immediately concerned) to take the opinion of that officer in reference to the future general management of the force, before his successor was appointed, in order to ascertain what improvement could be made in that department. As to another point suggested by the right hon. Baronet he could only say that he did not not think it would be possible to introduce an exact similarity between the rules for managing the constabulary in Ireland and, those for managing the metropolitan police force. No one knew better than the right hon. Gentleman that the metropolitan police 1177 force was totally unconnected with the general government of the country, whereas it was essential that the executive in Ireland should have an immediate connection with the constabulary.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, the noble Lord had misunderstood him. He had not asked whether the noble Lord intended to consult Colonel Shaw Kennedy or not, but whether the same principles which influenced the Crown in the choice of that gallant officer would preside over the choice of his successor? On the former appointment the noble Lord said it was a matter which ought not to be used for party purposes; it was a matter, the success of which concerned all equally—one in which all must feel a common interest, and that, therefore, it would be made solely on public grounds, and exclusively with reference to the fitness of the individual. What he wanted to know was, would the same principles govern the next choice?
§ Lord John Russell
had no hesitation in saying, that the same principle would govern the appointment of the inspector-general who should succeed Colonel Shaw Kennedy.
§ Viscount Morpeth
said, the right hon Baronet had correctly quoted, he believed, the very words used by him in introducing the Bill, and in every instance of an appointment to the force since that time it had always been left in the hands of the inspector-general.
§ Sir R. Peel
inquired, whether it were the prevailing practice in the constabulary force that promotion to the upper class took place from the inferior class as the reward of good conduct?
§ Viscount Morpeth
said, that promotion to the rank of head constables was confined to those who had served as sub-constables; there was no rule whatever to make them the superior officers of the force.
§ Subject dropped.