HC Deb 30 April 1839 vol 47 cc677-80
Sir Matthew Wood

presented several petitions from various quarters of the city, in favour of the City of London Police Bill. He hoped he should receive the indulgence of the House while he expressed the humble expectations of the petitioners, and his own, that the bill which the Corporation of London wished to introduce for the improvement of the city police might be allowed to proceed through its different stages. The committee, to whom the usual petition for leave to bring in the bill had been referred, had refused to recommend that the standing orders should be suspended. He begged to state to the House, that the Corporation of the City of London had been deprived of the power to give the requisite notices within the time prescribed by the rules of the House, owing to their having been kept in ignorance by her Majesty's Government of their intentions—whether they intended to bring in a bill to regulate the police of the City, or to leave that matter in the hands of the Corporation. The Committee on the standing orders had refused to allow the standing orders to be suspended, and had resolved to adhere strictly to the rules of the House by a majority of one. Under these circumstances he thought it would be extremely hard if they should be shut out also by the House. The noble Lord had intimated that the clauses which related to the city police in the Bill which he had introduced would be withdrawn, and the Corporation were, therefore, now anxious to have themselves protected by an efficient police force under their own management; and the bill which they were desirous to proceed with contained clauses which would secure to the city of London as efficient a force of that description as it was possible to have. He begged also to mention to the House that there was a precedent for the motion which he had the honour to submit to the House in an Enclosure Bill, where the promoters were allowed to proceed with their bill, although they had been refused by the Committee on standing orders. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving that leave be given to bring in a bill for the improvement of the police of the City of London.

Mr. Hawes

said, that he wished to call the especial attention of the House to the petition which had just been presented by the hon. Baronet, the Member for London, for the suspension of the standing orders, He wished to state and expose the allegations in the petitions, which he should show were not consistent with strict truth. If he should be able to convince the House that the Corporation of the City of London had asked the House to interfere upon grounds which were not tenable, nor consistent with veracity, he thought he should induce the House to pause before they agreed to the prayer of the petitioners. The petitioners stated, that they had been prevented from giving the regular notices by not having been made acquainted with the intentions of Government; that in consequence of what had fallen from the Government previous to the termination of the last Session, they had not given the notices required by the standing orders, as it was as stated in the petition, impracticable to ascertain how far the interests of the city might be affected by the proposed measure. The evidence of the City Remembrancer clearly disproved that statement. On the 23rd February, 1838, Lord John Russell addressed a letter to the City Remembrancer, informing him that the Government were of opinion that the city police should be placed under the charge of the commissioners of the metropolitan police. Again, on the 26th March, 1838, the Under Secretary of State wrote to the same purpose. What did the city do? It ordered that copies of the resolutions of the Court of Aldermen, in consequence of these communications, be laid before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, and that the day and night police committee be empowered to give evidence. Members of this committee did give evidence before the police committee, and it was, therefore, not strictly correct on the part of the city authorities to say, that they were ignorant of the intentions of the Government, officially communicated; that they were not cognizant of facts which had occurred so long before the time, when the standing orders of Parliament required the notices for private bills to be given, and which had happened under their own immediate knowledge. The statements in the petitions were not more veracious in other respects, and they had shown no sufficient grounds for the interference of the House; they simply said, it was "a necessary measure." Now he contended, there was no necessity for it whatever, because the petition of the city presented to the House only a short time ago stated, that what the bill proposed to do had been most completely and effectually done, to the satisfaction of the citizens of London. The necessity, therefore, was not proved as alleged. It was clear, from what be had stated, no case was made out, and that notices might have been given. In fact, the allegations of the petition were not consistent with veracity. On this measure no one had been more misrepresented than himself, and he must add, that no public measure had found opponents so entirely ignorant of both its principles and details as the general measure for placing all the metropolis under one police. In the city petition, which was now under discussion, it was stated, that the subject of police had been well discussed and understood. How stood the fact in reference to this statement? Why, the address voted to the Crown, and carried up to the foot of the Throne with all the gew-gaw display of the city, stated, that the bills proposed to interfere with the city magistracy—a statement wholly inconsistent with the truth. Neither bill, nor any clause in either of the bills, proposed to interfere, in the slightest degree, with the city magistracy. In fact, the petition did not justify the suspending of the standing orders, and could not be relied upon.

Mr. F. Maule

was in favour of the suspension of the standing orders, upon the ground that it was impossible to leave the police of the City of London in the state in which it had been previously, or in the altered state in which it was at present, without some legal enactment.

Motion agreed to.