HC Deb 03 June 1839 vol 47 cc1291-2

The second reading of the Metropolitan Police Bill having been moved,

Colonel Sibthorp

opposed the motion. He objected to several clauses, particularly that which gave to the police a despotic power to enter houses.

Mr. Hume

objected to some clauses of the bill, particularly to that by which the police magistrates were to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund. This was to place them on a footing with the judges. An annual voting of the money by the public would be a much better principle. He hoped the hon. Baronet who announced his opposition to the bill at a future stage would at once state what were his main objections to the bill. Various vague and unfounded reports were in circulation, and it was very desirable the public mind should be disabused concerning them.

Mr. Fox Maule

would not enter into the details of the bill now, as he thought that had much better be done in committee. Of this, he apprehended there could be no doubt: that it was absolutely necessary to the public comfort, that there should be a well-regulated police. When he introduced the bill, he was perfectly well aware, that it would expose both the Government and himself to a considerable degree of obloquy; but that he was ready to submit to, if the measure would conduce to the comfort of the metropolis. The hon. and gallant Member had alluded to a despotic power of entering houses, which he assumed to be given to the police by this bill. He (Mr. F. Maule) was not aware of any such provision. There was a clause which empowered them to enter gaming-houses under certain circumstances.

Mr. Wakley

thought, that the course that the government was pursuing with respect to this bill was so irregular and uneven, that he hardly knew how to treat the subject. The bill purported to be for the establishment of a uniform system of police throughout the metropolis; but, in its present form, would it have that effect? The bill, when introduced, excited great alarm in the city, as it attacked the privileges of the citizens, which had existed since the time of Alfred, and this in a greater degree than had ever been attempted by a Tory Government. The citizens instantly put the screw on the Government, and now the city of London was exempted from the operation of the bill, as the first fourteen clauses of it had been struck out. If the bill was good for the metropolitan boroughs, it was equally good for the city, and if it was not to be applied to the latter, it might not be so applied to the former. He saw no necessity for any bill of the kind.

Mr. Fox Maule

stated, that there was this necessity for the bill, namely, that the Metropolitan Police Act expired within a very short time.

Captain Wood

was strongly opposed to the bill, as it tended greatly to increase the powers of the police, and was, in some respects, republican in its tendency.

Bill read a second time.