HC Deb 02 June 1854 vol 133 cc1266-8

in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to render more effectual the police in counties and boroughs in England and Wales, said that the details of the Bill could be seen at a future stage, and that it was unnecessary for him now to dwell upon the advantages arising both to counties and the country from an efficient police. The Bill proposed that in every county a Board should be established under which the police were to be placed; the Bill also provided for more effectual police arrangements in boroughs.


said, that if the noble Lord intended to make a police force compulsory in counties, he should oppose such a measure to the utmost of his power.


was glad that the present measure had been introduced by the Government, as he considered the whole of the question required looking into. Although he did not agree with those who considered a compulsory police requisite for all counties, yet he would examine the present Bill with every desire to do the best for the interest of the counties and the country.


objected to any arrangement for the amalgamation of the police of counties and large towns which would interfere with the free action of town councils and other corporate bodies.


said, the noble Lord had not told them how the Board of which he spoke was to be composed. If it was to consist of any other than magistrates, it would interfere with the authority of the latter over their own officers. He thought the Bill of last year relating to convicts, and which rendered a larger police force necessary, gave counties a claim for a certain portion, at least, of the police expenses being defrayed from other sources than the county rate.


hoped the Bill would not interfere with town councils in the management of their police.


hoped the Government was not going to extend the provisions of this Bill to the whole of the country. It was desirable that nothing should be done to impair the system of local government.


supported the Bill, believing it to be right to make the establishment of a police force compulsory, and to amalgamate the police in boroughs and counties. He was sure the Bill would be hailed with satisfaction by the country.


said, that the people in the western part of the country would receive this Bill with very great dissatisfaction, if a portion of the expenses were not paid out of the Consolidated Fund.


was aware that this was a subject of great difficulty as well as importance, and one on which considerable difference of opinion was to be expected. No doubt, the best police, if they simply looked to its efficiency as a preventive force, would be a police raised on the principle of the Irish, or the metropolitan police, acting under the orders of Government, and uniform in its organisation and in the principle of its operation; but he attached great importance to the principle of local self-government. He thought it was quite impossible to overrate the great national importance of employing the persons connected with the different districts of the country in administering the affairs of those districts, so far as it was possible to do so. He should be very sorry on that ground to place the police of the country under a separate government and control, like that of London. At the same time he thought there should be an inspection in the different localities, in order to secure something like uniformity of system; because if a different system prevailed between the police of one county and of another, there could not be that efficiency which it was essential to produce. What he therefore proposed was, with respect to counties, that the board should consist, not of the magistrates of counties, as at present, but that there should be an election of a certain limited number of magistrates, by whom the duties would be more efficiently performed. With regard to the boroughs, what he proposed was, that the smaller boroughs, the population of which did not exceed a certain amount, should be so far amalgamated with the counties that the magistrates or mayors of the boroughs should be members of the county board, and that the police of the county and of the borough should be so far combined as that the borough should have their share of the county police, and the county police should have their share of the police of the borough. He should leave the larger towns as they now were, with a police board, composed of the magistrates of the town. He thought the House would see that there was a reason for this; for, though the larger towns might be able to afford an establishment adequate to their wants, yet the smaller towns might not, and therefore he allowed them to participate with the counties. It was quite true, as the hon. Member (Mr. Floyer) had said, that owing to the change in the system of punishments by which convicts were no longer sent out to the colonies as transports for a limited period of years, a greater reason existed for rendering the police more efficient. The measure which he now proposed he hoped would accomplish that object. He should be ready to attend to any suggestions which hon. Members might offer, whose local knowledge must necessarily be greater than his own.

Leave given; Bill ordered to be brought in by Viscount Palmerston and Mr. FitzRoy.

Bill read 1°.

The House adjourned, at Twelve o'clock, till Thursday next.