HC Deb 21 April 1852 vol 120 cc962-4

Order for Second Reading read.

MR. DEEDES moved the Second Reading of this Bill, the object of which, he said, was to amend the laws relating to the appointment and payment of parish constables. The Bill contained no new principle; it merely consolidated and enlarged existing Acts.


said, that the Bill contained so far a new principle that it proposed to make it imperative upon every county to appoint a superintending constable for every petty sessional division. At present it was optional. To the other objects of the Bill he was decidedly favourable, inasmuch as he believed that, for a rural population, parochial constables were far preferable to a rural police; and he sincerely hoped that the clause respecting the superintending constables was not intended to be made a stepping-stone to the imperative imposition upon the counties of a rural police, or of anything similar under a different name. He would suggest to the hon. Mover of the Bill to consider whether he had sufficiently encouraged the system of parochial constables by offering more inducements to get persons to serve permanently in the force—that is, for four or five years. His great object was to have the Parochial Constables Bill made as perfect as possible, which might render unnecessary the formation of a general rural police.


said, he observed that the Bill proposed that the salary and allowance of the chief superintending constable for each county should be paid out of the county rate, which, as the House was aware, was collected along with the poor-rate. By a subsequent clause, it was proposed that the salary of the paid constables should be "paid by the overseers out of the moneys in their hands collected for the relief of the poor." Now, he begged to say that he could not agree to those proposals. It had been the custom of late years to throw charges upon the poor-rate which were quite foreign to the original object of that impost, and he must say it was a custom which was exceedingly objectionable. If it was necessary to have a rate in this case, let it be a separate rate—a constable or police rate, or whatever they might choose to call it, but let it not be mixed up with a rate for the relief of the poor. He made these observations, not with the view of opposing the Bill, but trusting that some mode would he found of remedying his objection to those portions of the measure when the Bill was in Committee.


said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking it objectionable to throw the expense of this measure upon the poor-rate, but he thought that this was a matter of detail which might be remedied in Committee. No man was more anxious than he was to see an improvement in the present inefficient system of parish constabulary; but he wished to see it on a larger scale than this Bill proposed. An hon. Friend of his had a measure in contemplation relating to highways, the machinery of which it was hoped would also be applicable to police. He hoped that on another occasion that measure would be introduced, and that it would provide a more efficient system than the one now proposed.


said, he could bear testimony to the great advantages which the county with which he was connected (Leicestershire) had derived from the institution of a rural police.


in reply, said, that his only object was to introduce the measure into such counties as were willing to receive it. With respect to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board, he begged to say that when the Bill was in Committee he should be perfectly ready to listen to any suggestion that might be made with respect to the best mode of raising the salaries and allowances to be paid under the Bill; but, in the meantime, he must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Acts which he now sought by this Bill to consolidate and amend, gave power, at the present moment, to throw the expenses upon the county rates and poor-rates.

Bill read 2°.