§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR G. GREY
observed, that although when he moved for leave to bring in this Bill, he had made a full statement of the scope and object of the Bill, and of its provisions generally, yet as considerable misconception prevailed as to its objects and possible effects, and so determined an opposition had been threatened, not merely to certain clauses, but to the whole principle of the measure, he would, with the permission of the House, in now moving the second reading of the Bill, repeat the explanation he had previously made as to the defects of the existing law, the nature and tendency of the provisions by which it was proposed to remedy those 2114 defects, and he would also state the modifications he was prepared to make in the Bill, at the suggestion of those who were favourable to its general principle, and who had been good enough to confer with him and suggest such changes in its details as they thought would make it more acceptable by insuring that, while it would improve the police throughout the country, it would also respect the principle of local control and management.
It was necessary that, in the first place, he should call attention to what I had been done by this House in respect to this subject. In the year 1853 a Committee was appointed to inquire "into the expediency of adopting a more uniform system of police in England and Wales, and in Scotland." That Committee examined a great variety of witnesses from all parts of the kingdom—persons of high character and position—magistrates, chairmen of quarter sessions, tenant farmers, land agents, chief officers of the existing police both in counties and boroughs, and others, many of them well known to Members of that House, whose opinions were entitled to great weight. That Committee made two reports. The first of these reports contained evidence only, the second included further evidence subsequently taken, and a series of Resolutions which the Committee had agreed to, either unanimously or by very large majorities, based upon and fully borne out by the testimony of the witnesses examined. He would recapitulate the principal points established before that Committee. First, it was proved by accumulative evidence that the county constabulary, wherever it had been established under the existing Acts, which made it optional with the magistrates of every county at quarter sessions to avail themselves of the powers of those Acts or not, had been productive of the most beneficial results, as evinced in the more effectual prevention and detection of crime, the repression of vagrancy, and the enhanced value of property, consequent upon the greater protection it afforded, both to the landlord and the occupying tenant; while it showed, on the other hand, the total inadequacy of the old system of parish constables and superintendent constables as an efficient police system; the obstacles which were placed in the way of the apprehension of offenders and the repression and punishment of crime by the partial application of the present county constabulary Acts, under which, a 2115 police force being maintained in one county and none in another, great facilities for escape are given to criminals, and obvious difficulties thrown in the way of their detection; and, lastly, the evils which arose from want of co-operation between the county and borough police. The evidence likewise proved beyond dispute that the apprehensions entertained as to the costly nature of the county constabulary are grossly exaggerated, considering the saving that is effected by its introduction not only directly, but indirectly in the increased security and improved value of property, and by the discharge of various duties by the police which had been previously performed by other persons. He would refer to one or two points as affording some of the strongest arguments—he was speaking now of the counties—in favour of an extension of the existing system of constabulary to all the counties. Under the first bead of the Report—the beneficial results of the Act in the increased prevention and detection of crime—it had been the habit of many, in comparing the state of crime in counties where the Act was in operation with those in which the old system of parish constables still prevailed, to take the number of apprehensions and convictions. No test could be more fallacious. It altogether omitted undetected crime. In answer to question 245, in the first Report, speaking of the results of the county constabulary where established, the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Heathcote), who, from his long experience as a county magistrate and as chairman of quarter sessions, was most competent to give an opinion, when examined before the Committee, said—The point in which the police is most successful—namely, the diminished amount of undetected crime, cannot be tested by numbers, because there is no return of those offences in respect of which no person was committed for trial before the establishment of the police; but it is a matter common notoriety that there is much less undetected crime than there was beforeIn answer to another question the same witness states—The offence of housebreaking in the daytime has been greatly diminished in Hampshire since the establishment of the police. If we had the means of reckoning up the cases in which the perpetrators used to escape detection altogether, the difference between the two periods of five years which I have mentioned would be enormous.He hoped, therefore, that the House, before coming to a conclusion adverse to 2116 the extension of the constabulary through the country, would bear in mind that any argument based on the statistics of committals and convictions must proceed upon most unsound and imperfect premises, if it excluded from consideration the great amount of undetected crime committed in counties where no efficient system of police had been established. In reference to the result of the county constabulary in affording greater protection to property, one important consideration was the special advantage it conferred upon the poorer classes. They had abundant evidence to show that wherever a county police existed, protection was afforded to the poor man's property in an equal degree to the protection which was afforded to the property of the rich. Upon this point Captain M'Hardy, the intelligent and able superintendent of the Essex police, stated—A great recommendation of the county constabulary is that the poor man is protected, and the same interest is taken to follow up any injury he may receive as in the case of the rich man.Another witness, Mr. Blathwayte, magistrate for Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, Wiltshire, and Bath, also stated—If a poor person wants a summons executed he must look up his half-crown to the parish constable; whereas, if there is a policeman to servo it, be does it at once for nothing.The testimony of a land agent in Essex shows that the increased value of property consequent on the establishment of a constabulary force in that county, is regarded by tenant farmers about to enter into the occupation of land as an element in favour of the choice of such a locality in preference to one in which no such efficient police exists and where the tenant must protect his property at his own cost. He might read other extracts from the evidence of the Mayor of Andover, who was not, he believed, opposed to the principle of the Bill, and many others, all testifying upon their own experience to the increased security and consequent increased value of property wherever the county constabulary was established, but he thought it unnecessary to detain the House with them. With reference to the greater economy of the county constabulary, as compared with the parish constables and superintendents, he had previously stated that he thought this point was fully established, but he might be allowed to refer to the evidence of Captain M'Hardy, who, in the Report he presented to the magistrates of Essex, and which had been laid before Par- 2117 liament, gave the details of the saving which had been effected in that county, and showed that there was a very large balance in favour of the county constabulary as compared with the system which previously existed there. He would call the attention of the House also for a moment to another document—the report of a Committee of magistrates of the county of Hampshire, including eight Members, of the House of Commons, one of whom was the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair, appointed to inquire into and report upon the working of the county constabulary. That Committee reported—Your Committee have not been able to ascertain the amount that was yearly paid by parishes to their constables prior to the establishment of this force; but it is calculated that not less than £1,500 per annum must have been expended in this respect, which is now altogether saved to the ratepayers. But besides these sums, which before the establishment of the constabulary were payments actually out of pocket, it must be remembered that considerable saving is indirectly effected to the public by means of this force. The value of the constable's lost time (before the establishment of the county constabulary), for which he was never adequately remunerated, must not be left out of the calculations in estimating the advantages of a paid police. It may also be observed that, coincident with the employment of police constables as assistant relieving officers in unions, there has been a very great decrease of vagrancy, and that without any additional cost to the unions. A considerable credit ought therefore, in their opinion, to be taken in favour of the constabulary under all these heads, as well as under that of saving to the public by the diminution of business at petty sessions, by the recovery and protection of property, by the absence of the necessity for associations for the prosecution of offenders, and by non-payments to special constables; and, although it is impossible to estimate with any accuracy the amount of indirect expense thus avoided by the county, yet when it is recollected that a saving of only 1d. per acre would amount to a sum of £4,154, it may be safely asserted that the actual additional cost to the ratepayers is very trifling in comparison with the advantages which accrue to them from the maintenance of the police force.Such was the opinion of this Committee as to the advantages of a police force some years subsequent to the establishment of the very efficient police force which exists in Hants. The Essex magistrates also in 1850 passed a unanimous resolution in quarter sessions, after having had the means of judging of the results of the new county constabulary by experience: "The Essex constabulary is highly valuable, and is essentially necessary to the protection of the public property, and the proper administration of public justice." These, he submitted, were opinions which 2118 ought to have weight with the House when they came to consider whether that system should be extended to all counties alike, or whether it should be left, as it was now, to the option of the counties themselves, to adopt it or not as they pleased. As he had said, the Resolutions of the Committee were in accordance substantially with the evidence on the several points to which he had referred; but having read them when he introduced the Bill, he would not weary the House by repeating them all. He would, however, advert to the last, which was—It is the opinion of the Committee that it is most desirable that legislative measures should be brought in without delay, by Her Majesty's Government, rendering the adoption of a uniform police force imperative throughout the country.They had, then, a Committee appointed by that House, whose Report—containing Resolutions agreed to unanimously or passed by large majorities£had been laid upon the table, urging upon the Government the necessity of introducing measures on this subject; and the questions which were addressed to him as Secretary of State by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House as to the importance of proposing an amended system of police induced the Government to take up this subject, and to endeavour to frame a Police Bill which should be mainly, though not exclusively, founded on that Report, and which would render unnecessary any attempt merely to improve the system of parish constables, which was condemned by the Committee. In accordance with the wish thus expressed, he had, acting upon a sense of the duty which devolved upon him, and being satisfied that there was ample room for improvement, endeavoured during the recess to frame a Bill to accomplish the object which the Committee and the House had in view, at the same time respecting the principle, which he was not prepared to infringe upon, of local management and local control both in counties and boroughs.
He would, first, draw the attention of the House to the existing state of the law and facts as to the counties, and then he would proceed to deal with the law and the facts in regard to boroughs, leaving the House to judge in respect to both, whether there was not room for improvement, and whether, if so, the present Bill, at least in so far as its principle and general provisions were concerned, was or was not the proper remedy. By the existing Constabulary 2119 Act it was optional for the magistrates of any county in quarter sessions to adopt them or not. In consequence of representations made in documents which had been prepared and circulated, not, he believed, by gentlemen acquainted with the subject, but by persons who, with very imperfect knowledge of the matter, had undertaken to point out to their fellow countrymen what they regard as the dangerous tendencies of this Bill, he thought it necessary to state what were really the powers of the magistrates and the degree of control exercised by the Secretary of State. If any county adopts the County Constabulary Act, it was left to the justices to determine how many constables should be appointed, subject, however, to a provision that the number should not exceed one constable for every 1,000 inhabitants, and to elect a chief constable, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State had also power to make rules relative to the government of the force, and the pay, clothing and accoutrements of the men. The chief constable so appointed by the justices, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, has the power of appointing and dismissing the ordinary constables. Now, when hon. Gentlemen bore in mind these enactments and compared them with the provisions of the Bill, he asked them whether he was making any such new or monstrous proposition as to justify the opposition which the measure had encountered? Now with regard to the facts. In twenty counties and in two of the Ridings of Yorkshire there was at this moment no county constabulary, and in seven others such a force was only partially established; so that about one-half of the whole surface of England and Wales was unprovided with an efficient police. He had before explained the inconvenience which arose from this state of things in reference to the detection of crime and the apprehension of offenders, but he would nevertheless state some facts bearing upon this point which had recently come to his knowledge. The progress of the establishment of the police force in counties had been very gradual. In those counties in which it had been established, a marked improvement had taken place, and in consequence one county after another had adopted it. He believed it had generally been found that where one county had established a police force under the Act and the adjoining county had not, the inconvenience to the latter became so great that 2120 they were speedily induced, partly by witnessing the good results in the neighbouring county, and partly by the inconvenience they themselves suffered from the increased number of thieves and bad characters, driven from the district where the police existed to take refuge in the neighbouring county, to adopt it for their own protection. In West Surrey, until the last few years, there was no county police. It was bounded on the one side by the metropolitan police district, and on the other by the county of Hants, in both of which there was a most efficient police force. Proposals had been made for the establishment of a county constabulary in Surrey, but, owing to the dread of the expense, the proposal was not carried. The consequence was, as the House probably would remember, that a gang of housebreakers, known as the Frimley Gang, resorted to the county of Surrey, where, in the absence of a constabulary, they were able to carry on their depredations with comparative impunity. At length a horrible crime was committed—a clergyman was murdered, and the bold and open manner in which the deed was perpetrated caused the utmost horror and apprehension throughout the county; and then the conviction forced itself on the minds of the justices of the county that, had there been an efficient police, that gang would not have been able to meet and arrange their plans for the perpetration of those enormities. What was the consequence? At the next quarter sessions notice was given to establish a county constabulary, and by a large majority a resolution to that effect was carried, and there was now a very efficient police in the county of Surrey. But he put it to the House whether we were to wait in every county until some equally atrocious crime was committed, instead of endeavouring, with the experience we possessed, to establish such a general system of police as would render such crimes impossible? What was the state of the West Riding of Yorkshire? He was sorry to hear the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. B. Denison) announce the other day that he intended to offer his determined opposition to this Bill; but as he did not now see that hon. Gentleman in his place, he hoped the hon. Gentleman was satisfied that his pledge was somewhat rash, and that he was unwilling to give a vote which would be adverse to the interests of the country 2121 generally, and particularly to that portion of the country which he so ably represents. He would give the House a description of the state of things existing in part of the West Riding, and in doing so he would refer only to public documents, or to such as were authenticated by the signatures of the persons who had transmitted them to him. The first document he would refer to was a petition presented by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Baines), from certain of Her Majesty's justices of the peace for the County Palatine of Lancaster and of the West Riding of Yorkshire, in favour of the Bill. They stated in their petition that—In the county of Lancaster, a numerous and efficient rural police was established under the statutes 2nd and 3rd Vict. c. 93, and 3rd and 4th Vict. c. 88, and has for sixteen years past been in active operation; that in the West Riding of the county of York there exists no force other than the parish constables and thirty superintendent constables recently appointed under the statute 5th and 6th Vict. c. 109; that in those portions of the West Riding in which the petitioners act a large amount of undetected crime exists, that many offences against good order are committed and remain unpunished, and that the efforts and endeavours of the petitioners to discharge their duties are often rendered useless and of no avail for the want of a more active and efficient police force; and that in the county of Lancaster they experience no such difficulty and hindrance.This petition was signed by many magistrates who resided upon the borders of the two counties, and the information they gave as to the state of crime in Yorkshire as compared with Lancashire, and the difference in the two counties of the means of detecting crime, was fully borne out by other testimony. He had also a letter from Mr. Jonathan Peel, an active and intelligent magistrate in that district well known to many Members of that House. It was addressed to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with permission to place it in his (Sir G. Grey's) hands. Mr. Peel says—The police question has hitherto been argued upon the hypothesis that crime, properly so called, was all that required repression or detection. It is convenient to the opponents of a rural police thus to narrow the ground, because the number of committals, being the only obtainable criterion of the amount of crime, is made the single test of the necessity for establishing the force. There are many offences against law and order which have not been taken into account, which, though called petty offences, nevertheless seriously affect the security both of person and property. Many of the offences of this class would be entirely prevented or repressed by the mere presence of an 2122 independent and well-organised police within the district. For instance, in this border county, which here is purely rural, during the summer, season tramps abound, who, watching their opportunity enter the houses when the men are absent and demand money and food under threats of violence. One road, not far from this place, is rarely without an encampment of these vagabonds during the summer season. Assaults, fights, disturbances, and outrages, sometimes violent and disgusting, are of frequent occurrence. As a magistrate, I feel much of the responsibility, for a state of affairs like this lies on my shoulders. I have done my best to amend it; I have done constables work both by night and by day, but I cannot make much impression with such aid as the parochial constables afford me. These men are, in fact, entirely useless and inefficient. Two of the superintendents lately placed over them have reported to me that the constables dare not do their duty, that they find in reporting cases (felonies) as they occur, that they will act only in cases where they have half the penalty, and that so far from yielding obedience to the superintendent, some of them have denied his authority and set him at defiance. All along the border many of their duties are, in fact, performed by the Lancashire police. Summonses granted on the Lancashire side of the border are served by them, and they often execute warrants also. Yorkshire prisoners committed from the border petty sessions are invariably conveyed to the Wakefield House of Correction by the Lancashire police. The frequent escapes from the hands of Yorkshire constables rendered this course imperative. Prizefights, dogfights, &c., organised in Lancashire, are constantly brought over the border. When it is known to the Lancashire police that 'such an event is to come off,' they follow the parties and dog them over the border if they cross it. On the 11th of October last, several Lancashire policemen were seriously hurt on one of these occasions, and at the very time when the establishment of a rural police was last negatived at Wakefield, four men were suffering imprisonment in the House of Correction there for the assault then committed on the Lancashire police.Such was the defective state of the police in this district of Yorkshire, according to the evidence of a most active and intelligent magistrate who resided upon the spot, and perfectly competent, from his own experience, to describe the actual state of things. Two days ago, he (Sir G. Grey) received a petition from the village of Maltby, also in the West Riding, signed by owners and occupiers of land there, praying that this Bill, with certain modifications, might pass into a law—and he had also received a letter from Lord Scarborough, with authority to use it in that House, stating as follows:—Rufford Abbey, March 6, 1856.—Having myself experienced the very great inconvenience those districts suffer which are deprived of the benefit and protection of a rural police, I most heartily concur in the prayer of this petition: many of those who have signed it are known to me, and reside on my property in the West Riding 2123 of Yorkshire, or in its vicinity, and like myself, suffer from a system of plunder and violence which is going on nightly in and about their dwellings with impunity, the parish authorities being now perfectly useless for the prevention or detection of such offences. In the district to which I allude, two churches were forced open during the night, or very early in the morning, and a collection, made the day previous for the poor, stolen from an iron safe; the shop of a shoemaker broken open, and his goods carried away; subsequently the house of the vicar of the parish was entered by housebreakers, and my agent's office was forced open also, and robbed. I exerted myself in trying to detect the offenders by employing the parish constables, but found them both incapable and unwilling to perform such a duty. As a temporary expedient to meet this deplorable condition of the district, a fund has been collected by a contribution from some of the residents, and applied to the payment of a few persons who have undertaken a kind of night patrol, but as such a fund must be very precarious, I fear the protection afforded by it will soon be discontinued.He would trouble the House with one more document with reference to the West Riding of Yorkshire, upon which he dwelt at such length, because he had received a great deal of information about it, and because it was one of the districts in which the proposal to establish an efficient constabulary under the existing law had been negatived on the ground that there was no necessity for it. The document which he was now going to read was one entitled to great weight. It was taken from the newspapers of the 5th inst., and purported to be an address delivered by Mr. Wilson Overend, chairman of the quarter sessions held at Sheffield, to the grand jury, on the increase in the number of cases of violence as compared with last year. Mr. Overend says—At these sessions there were forty-five prisoners for trial, making, with thirty-one summary convictions for felony, a total of seventy-six in the short period of six weeks, as against fifty-seven in the corresponding period of last year. The average of the last ten years for the same period had been only forty-three, or little more than half the number of this year. This, he remarked, was a sad state of things. Although they heard a great deal of the diminution of crime in the country at large, he was sorry to say such was not the case in this neighbourhood. Magistrates around him informed him, that crime was so rife in their respective localities, that the landowners and farmers had been obliged to employ their own servants to patrol the country in order to protect their property. This he found had been done at Dalton, Thryberg, Wentworth, Hooton Roberts, Kilnhurst, Maltby, and Rawmarsh; and the jury would all, no doubt, have heard of the extraordinarily daring robberies which had taken place in this district of the Riding, some of them in midday. There was a degree of crime never before known since he (Mr. Overend) had bean on the bench. Something must be done to prevent it, for it was clear 2124 that, under the existing state of their protective force, property was not safe.This description fully bore out the fact that, as regarded the West Riding, there was sufficient reason, not perhaps to account for the absence of the hon. Member for that division of Yorkshire, but he hoped to induce him, not only not to oppose, but to support a measure which he (Sir George Grey) believed was calculated to relieve his constituents from a state of things disgraceful to a civilised country. An hon. Gentleman opposite had alluded to the county of Somerset. In that county, as had been shown by the evidence taken by the Committee, such was the inefficiency of the parish constables there, that on extraordinary occasions—meaning by that term the occurrence of periodical fairs or races—frequent applications had been made to Bath for the assistance of the very efficient borough police which was there established. That assistance had been given many times; but it was obvious that that assistance could only be given partially, and in places in the immediate neighbourhood of the borough; and though the borough authorities were at all times willing to aid the county as far as they could, the House would agree that it was not creditable to the county that it should be dependent upon the justices of the borough for assistance which could not be given without inconvenience to the borough which the police force was appointed to protect.
He had, he thought, now stated all that was necessary in regard to the law and the facts as to the counties, and he would now proceed to state the law and the facts as to the boroughs; for it had been asserted, that though such a Bill might be necessary in reference to the counties as a substitute for the inefficient system of parish constables which appeared in many of them to prevail, there was no reason why Parliament should apply it to the boroughs, and thus infringe the principles of local self-government contained in the Municipal Act; and, further, it was urged that the police in the boroughs was, as was stated in the petition from Colchester, which had been presented by the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners), fully efficient for its purpose, and that there was no necessity for any interference. Now, let us see what was the existing law in regard to boroughs, and then let them consider whether Parliament had really abdicated its functions with regard to borough police, when it passed the Municipal 2125 Reform Act, and whether it had no right to take additional precautions, if necessary, for rendering the police in boroughs more efficient? Under that Act, the 5 & 6 Will. IV. caps. 76, 77, & 86, the town council in every borough was empowered to appoint a watch committee in each borough, which, when appointed, was to provide a sufficient number of fit persons as policemen for the protection of the borough, to keep the peace by day and by night. That was the legal obligation cast by the Municipal Act on all boroughs, and by which they were to provide a police efficient in point of numbers, and efficient in other respects. Did the Act stop there? It had been assumed in the opposition to this Bill that it did—that the whole authority in connection with the police was delegated to the municipal bodies, that Parliament had pledged itself to no further interference, and though there might be put in motion the cumbrous machinery of a mandamus to compel the municipalities to perform the duties cast on them by law, yet that no further legislative interference was to take place. But did the law stop there? It was said by the opponents of this Bill, that even by instituting an inspection into the numbers and efficiency of the police, there would be a violation of the Municipal Act. But he must remind those hon. Gentlemen, the Municipal Corporation Act required that every quarter a return should be made by every municipal borough to the Secretary of State of the number of policemen kept up in each borough; and not only that, but the regulations established by watch committees of town councils for the management of the police were to be transmitted to the Secretary of State quarterly. The object of these provisions in the Municipal Act unquestionably was, that the Secretary of State might be enabled to have under his eye in one collective form, returns made by all boroughs of the condition of the police, in order to determine whether the provisions of the Municipal Act had been complied with. This clearly implied that Parliament had not abrogated its functions in this matter. That Act, no doubt, did not give power to the Secretary of State to adopt any compulsory measure for the purpose of removing defects which he might find to exist, nor was it now asked to give the Secretary of State powers to interfere, which would have been exercised long ago if ha had had them; but if the Secretary of State 2126 should come to Parliament and show, that in some boroughs the Municipal Act in respect of police was not carried out at all, and in many others it was inefficiently carried out, making use of the information which he had received under the provisions of the Municipal Act, ought he to be met in limine, not with any opposition to the Bill upon its merits, but that I although counties might be dealt with by Parliament at pleasure, boroughs were sacred ground upon which Parliament could not venture, because they had been exempted from legislative interference. He conceived that he should not have done his duty, if in coming to Parliament to deal with the question of the police of the counties he had overlooked the defects which existed in the police of many boroughs, while at the same time he was ready to maintain the principle of local self-government, so long as the effect of the proceedings of the boroughs was not to neutralise the provisions of the Municipal Act. Why apply that argument to the question of police only? Prisons were placed also within the control of the municipal authorities in boroughs, giving to the Secretary of State supervision over the local control of prisons. That is a precaution adopted by Parliament to secure an important public object. It was easy to talk of centralisation; but it should not be forgotten that in matters of this kind the principle involved did not apply solely to particular localities, but the benefit sought to be obtained was one in which the whole community at large was interested. That which was now sought to be done, had been done with regard to the management of prisons without any complaint of the exercise of the powers given to the Secretary of State; and why should there be such exaggerated apprehension of the powers to be exercised by the Secretary of State in the case of police? The case was argued by the opponents of the measure as if the boroughs were the only localities interested, and it was said that if they thought one policeman to 3,000 inhabitants was an establishment sufficient for the protection of the lives and property of the ratepayers, why should we interfere? But the answer to that argument was, that this could not be considered as an isolated question, but that it affected the whole community, and not alone the county or the borough in which crime was allowed to be undetected and unrepressed. Besides, in this matter the public generally had a direct pecuniary in- 2127 terest. When the Municipal Act passed there might, indeed, have been some pretence for the argument with regard to the expenses attendant on the apprehension and prosecution of criminals, for those expenses were borne by the places in which the proceedings were carried on; but since then Parliament had thrown on the community at large the expenses of maintaining prisons and of the prosecution of prisoners. If, therefore, through the failure of proper means for the repression and detection of offenders, either in a county or a borough, there was an increase of crime, there was an increase immediately of the burdens on the public. That being the case, he must say he thought the public had a direct moral and pecuniary interest in seeing that there was an efficient police maintained for the repression of crime in all parts of the country. He hoped he should not be met by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) with the argument that there would be an increase of the expense owing to increased committals; for the question was, putting aside undetected crime altogether, whether, even if there was an immediate increase of committals consequent on the establishment of a police, the effect would not eventually be the diminution of crime? He would come now to the question whether it could be shown by evidence that the police in boroughs was as effective as it could be made, and whether it fulfilled the intentions of the Municipal Act—namely, the adequate protection of life and property in boroughs. If that could be proved, he would not gratuitously have encountered the opposition which had been raised against the Bill for the sake of a mere theoretical amendment of the law. He would state to the House some facts with regard to the number of police in boroughs, which would, he thought, show how inefficient, in many cases, the police must be in respect to numbers. He admitted the statement made by a right hon. Friend of his, that the report of a Committee which sat on that subject referred principally to the county police; but he did not rely exclusively on that or any other report with regard to the condition of the police in boroughs; but he rather relied on information furnished by the boroughs themselves, in the quarterly returns he had mentioned; upon information sent to him from reliable sources, and on discussions on the subject which had taken place in the town councils of the boroughs themselves. Some altera- 2128 tions had taken place since a return of the numbers of borough police which he had formerly quoted were laid before Parliament, but that return substantially contained the numbers of the police, and the amount of the population of all the boroughs under that Act. With regard to the amount of the police, it appeared that in several of the smaller boroughs there was no police at all, in which, therefore, no attempt whatever was made to comply with the requisitions of the Municipal Act. In eight boroughs, containing an aggregate population of 32,500 persons, there was one policeman each for day and night duty. In twenty other boroughs, with an aggregate population of 82,000, there are two policemen in each for the performance of the duties imposed on the police in those boroughs by the Municipal Act. It might be said that this applied only to the smaller class of boroughs; hut he would now come to some of the larger boroughs, and would show that it was not only in the smaller boroughs that the police was defective. With regard to some of the largest boroughs, he was happy to state that they had fulfilled all the obligations imposed upon them by the Act. Taking some of the largest, such as Liverpool, Machester—where there was an admirable police, and in which the town council had judiciously followed the example of counties, and appointed a head constable in whom they had confidence, and who was entrusted with the appointment and dismissal of the constables—Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Hull, and others, he believed that, if the Bill he now proposed was passed, there would practically be no alteration in respect to their police. But in others of the secondary class, though important as regarded the extent of their population, the case was very different. In Ashton-under-Lyne, with a population of 30,500, there were 17 policemen, including officers; and, therefore, not 17 effective policemen employed in patrolling the streets. In Berwick, with a population of 15,000, there were 4 policemen; in Blackburn, with a population of 47,000, there were 26; in Bolton, with a population of 61,000, there were 27; in Coventry, with a population of 37,000, there were 21; in Oldham, with 53,000 inhabitants, there were 32; in Preston, with 70,000 inhabitants, there were 37; in South Shields, with 29,000 inhabitants, there were 14; in Stockport, 24 policemen to a population of 54,000; in Tynemouth, 15 to a population 2129 of 29,000; in Warrington, with a population of 23,000, there were 10; and in the city of York, with a population of 36,000, there were 29 policemen. It was hardly possible to read these relative numbers of population and police without at once seeing that the police force in these boroughs was inadequate to the protection of life and property. What were the facts? Did they bear out any presumption that the police force was adequate to its requirements? It was proved to be insufficient in numbers by the frequent applications from time to time—fortunately not so frequent now as they formerly were—made to the military authorities of districts, to the Horse Guards, and the Home Office, that the military, the yeomanry, or the armed pensioners should be called out for the purpose of keeping the peace on extraordinary occasions, in aid of the police, inefficient in point of numbers, even when supported by special constables. Hon. Gentlemen would find in the evidence of the chief constable of Lancashire, where there was an admirable body of county police, that he had received repeated applications from different boroughs situated in that county for the aid of the county police. That was the converse of the case of the county of Somerset, where application was made to the city of Bath for the aid of its police, while in Lancashire the county constabulary were called on to aid the boroughs. The chief constable of Lancashire stated that on some occasions the required aid was given, and in others it was of course refused, meaning that it could not be given on account of several different boroughs asking for that aid at the same time; the granting of which would have had the effect of temporarily depriving the ratepayers of the county of the protection to which they were entitled; besides which, he said, he was not very much disposed to give aid in the case of some of the boroughs which had separated themselves from the county in order to avoid contributing to the expense of the county police, and had set up a separate police force for themselves, which being found inefficient for their protection, they came to ask the aid of the county constabulary. In the course of last year his (Sir G. Grey's) attention having been called to the state of the police in many boroughs, and the Government having determined to withdraw the small military detachments from many places where they were stationed—both on 2130 account of their being required for the purposes of the war, and also on account of the serious injury to discipline and to the habits of the soldiery by their being detached in small bodies at a distance from their head quarters—he (Sir G. Grey) felt it to be his duty to address a circular to a certain class of boroughs in which there was an inefficiency in the police force, warning them that they could no longer depend on the aid of the military as a substitute for police in cases of emergency, and urging them to render their police efficient. The circular was dated 28th March, 1855, and was addressed to boroughs which, containing 20,000 inhabitants, had not a police force in the proportion of one in 1,000 inhabitants, It was as follows—I am directed by Secretary Sir George Grey to inform you that his attention has been called to the inadequacy of the police force in many of the large and populous towns of the kingdom. The consequence of this is that, while insufficient provision is made to check the commission of ordinary crime, the civil force alone is nearly powerless in the event of any disturbance of the public peace. It is of great importance that there should be a sufficient police force in all large towns, not only for the protection of life and property under ordinary circumstances, but also, with the assistance of special constables, for the repression of any sudden disturbance of the peace without requiring, as has been too often the case, the aid of a military force, to which recourse never should be had unless when the civil power alone, duly organised for the purpose, is unable to maintain the public peace. A military force should not be relied on as a substitute for the police; but when called for by the magistrates, in case of serious consequences, it should act only in support of the civil power. Her Majesty's Government feel it necessary to discontinue, as far possible, the practice of posting small detachments of troops in various parts of the country, and their withdrawal renders it the more important that an efficient police force should be maintained. Sir George Grey requests that you will take an early opportunity of calling the attention of the council to this subject, and that you will urge upon them the necessity of taking prompt measures to place the police force of the borough upon a more satisfactory footing. Sir George Grey is confident that the council will be fully alive to the importance of the subject, and that it will receive their early and careful consideration.That circular was sent to thirty-eight boroughs, and he was sorry to say that only fourteen of them took any notice of it. Two or three of the boroughs, as, for instance, Leeds and Wolverhanipton—which last borough was distinguished for having presented an unanimous petition in favour of the Bill he had proposed to Parliament—had taken measures for remedying the 2131 deficiency. Several others stated that his suggestions were under consideration, but he (Sir G. Grey) had not yet learnt whether they bad been adopted; while others, stated, in their answers, that they were quite satisfied with the condition of their police, and that no increase was necessary. That circular bad found its way into the newspapers, and he in consequence received a letter from the Mayor of Stafford, to which borough the circular was not addressed (as it had not 20,000 inhabitants), stating that he supposed the circular was not sent to the borough through inadvertence, arising from an erroneous impression with regard to the state of the police in that borough; and he sent to him (Sir G. Grey) a statement of the condition of the police of Stafford. His letter was dated 4th April, 1855. It was as follows—I beg to state that this is the county town, that the population is about 12,000, and in it is the county gaol, where are confined 600 prisoners on an average. On a very recent discharge of a number of men from the 2nd Regiment of Staffordshire Militia, billeted in this town, I was apprehensive a disturbance might possibly have taken place, and the only force at my disposal was one superintendent of police and four men under him; the county force being called away to attend to the disturbances in the mining districts of South Staffordshire.That was some evidence, coming from that very class which was best able to form an opinion, namely, those who were responsible for the peace of the boroughs, and who stated that the present state of things was unsatisfactory. He had alluded to Preston as one of the boroughs with a large population and an inadequate police force. He had received two letters from justices of the peace; one of them was from Mr. Broughton, who stated that there was considerable opposition to the proposed Bill in that borough, but that when it was said that the police was efficient, it should also be stated that in one part of the town the inhabitants were in the habit of subscribing a sum of 4d. in the pound for the purpose of paying private watchmen to protect their property, owing to the inefficient state of the police. He had also received a similar statement from another magistrate, in which it was stated that in another district the inhabitants were paying 6d. in the pound for a similar object. That showed that all the inhabitants of Preston were not convinced that the establishment of police in the town was sufficient for the protection of their lives and property. The 2132 borough of Portsmouth took a very prominent part in the opposition to this Bill. He had letters from a gentleman well known in that borough, he meant Mr. Emanuel, a member of the town council, a gentleman possessing large property in the borough, being a jeweller and silversmith, and who, being in the habit of supplying naval officers when fitting out their ships, was obliged to keep a large amount of valuable property on the premises. That gentleman was alarmed at the opposition to the Bill, and strongly deprecated its withdrawal. His letter was dated February 21, 1856. It was as follows:—We have nearly 80,000 inhabitants (with about forty miles of gas main pipes already laid down), and for the towns of Portsmouth, Portsea, Landport, Mile-End, Milon, Buckland, Tratton, and Southsea, only forty or forty-two police constables for day and night duty, and no supernumeraries, and during this month one-fifth of the force, or eight men, were from death or disease short of that number for some days. We have only four constables for night duty, and two for day, within the walls of Portsmouth. More the that number is at times required for drunken sailors, soldiers, &c. What is required by owners of property is sufficient police by night to prevent robbery and crime. The council, a year or two ago, voted funds for the watch committee to remedy the evil complained of by the coroner at an inquest. Up to this moment nothing has been done.He had also received a letter, dated February 24, 1856, from a gentleman connected with another great seaport town—that of Plymouth—where he was not aware that any opposition had been organised against this Bill. This gentleman was mayor of Plymouth last. year, and was also alarmed at the possible abandonment of the Bill; he deprecated such a proceeding, and said it would cause great disappointment to a large number of persons in Plymouth, who looked with satisfaction on the prospect of the Bill becoming law. He said, "that the Bill would be productive of the greatest advantage; that with a population of from 50,000 to 60,000 there were, including superintendent and inspectors, only forty-nine policemen, a force which his own experience bad proved very inadequate for the purposes of the borough." He also stated his belief that the reason why the police had not been augmented was the increase of expense it would cause to the ratepayers, and that he had no doubt that the aid afforded by this Bill would be accepted by the borough, and that the placing of the police on an efficient footing in point of numbers would result 2133 in the greatest possible advantage in the repression of crime. There was another extract he would read which related to the borough of Derby. That extract was taken from the Derby Mercury, of the 14th November, 1855, which contained a Report of the Superintendent of Police to the watch committee of the town council. He would read a passage from that Report:—The police force for this borough now consists of one superintendent, one inspector, three sergeants, two summoning constables, and twenty-seven police constables. One policeman is employed as lock-up keeper, and, through old age, is quite incapable of performing any other duties. One day-duty policeman is employed two days in the week assisting the inspector of weights and measures. In the absence of the machine-man a policeman takes his place; this often reduces the number of day-duty men to four, a number quite inadequate to perform the duties required. There has been no increase in the number of the force for the last eight years, except two men being appointed in the place of supernumeraries who were constantly employed. The town has greatly increased in size and population since that period; I cannot, therefore, afford that protection to property in the new localities which is constantly required by the inhabitants.These statements he read as confirming the fact of the inadequacy of the number of the police, not as a charge against the watch committee, for they appear to have recently appointed a man of ability as superintendent of the police force, and he trusted they would take measures for remedying the defects, so far as related to the number of the police. Those were the facts he should adduce with reference to the inadequacy of the numbers of the police in boroughs. He should not give any other instance, but would leave it to hon. Gentlemen to judge for themselves on the point from the returns which were before the House.
He then came to the question of the efficiency of the force itself. In many of the boroughs the police might be adequate in point of numbers, hut still the regulations might not be such as to ensure such an efficiency as we had a right to expect. The regulations in many instances were excellent;—in the largest boroughs they were mainly taken from those of the metropolitan police. But there were still many boroughs where there were great anomalies and defects in the regulations. One great defect was, that there was no prohibition against the payment of police constables by fees; and there could be no doubt that if police constables were paid by fees and not by salary, they had 2134 a different interest in different cases, and there might be an unequal administration of the law as regarded poor men and rich men. In many boroughs there was a prohibition against the payment of fees to police constables; but in others it was accompanied by a qualification that in certain cases the watch committee or the head constable might permit such payment by fees to be made. In some small boroughs not only was there not any prohibition of such a mode of payment, but fees were the only payment; in the borough of Leominster there was an extraordinary regulation, that no sergeant or I police constable should be allowed to serve any summons, precept, inquest, or any other legal document, or to swear appraisers or convey prisoners, because the fees payable in such cases were the perquisites of the superintendent. Those duties, therefore, which were essentially police duties, were confided to the superintendent alone, and paid for by fees in which he had an interest; and however distant he might be from the spot where such a duty might be required, or however otherwise occupied, or however much prompt action might be required, no police constable could perform the duty, because he would be interfering with the perquisites of the superintendent. In the borough of Norwich a system of payment to police constables by fees existed not long ago, but on the representation to the watch committee, by Mr. Dunn, the head of the police, of the injurious effects which arose from that system, it was immediately abolished. He regretted to find that a petition had been presented by the town council of Norwich against this Bill, although it was carried only by a majority, and was not adopted unanimously; but there had been a counter petition presented by the court of guardians, a body of great influence in that borough, who were unanimous in their approval of the measure. Generally speaking, in those boroughs where the best system of police was established, there he thought the least opposition was manifested against this Bill. The regulations in force in many boroughs provided imperfectly for the physical qualifications of the police constables. The city of York had taken an active part in opposition to this Bill, and a gentleman well known to him, Mr. Leeman, who had formerly been lord mayor, and who was undoubtedly a valuable citizen of that town, had been very 2135 prominent in that opposition. But when Mr. Leeman and the Lord Mayor of York told him that no interference was necessary with regard to the police of the city of York, he (Sir G. Grey) must inquire into the state of the police in that city. In the city of York there was a population of 36,000 persons, and there were only twenty-nine policemen! He had before him a copy of the York Herald of the 19th of February, 1855, containing a report of the proceedings of the council of the city of York, at which the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and councillors were present, including his friend Mr. Leeman. The first business was the reception and adoption of the report of the watch committee, and when it had been received and its adoption moved, a town councillor rose and made a speech which contained specific statements impugning the efficiency of the police, and several of those statements, made with the utmost circumstantiality, tended to show that there was ample room for reform in the police. That gentleman (Mr. Charlton, a town councillor) said—The power of preventing robberies was not so effectual as it ought to be. He would mention a case in which prompt and immediate measures might have enabled the persons committing the robbery to have been tracked and apprehended. In that case the feetmarks of the parties could be seen as plain as possible, and were rather peculiar, and the person robbed thought that circumstance might lead to the detection of the thieves. He accordingly went to the station-house, and a policeman said that a warrant might be obtained. It was explained that it was expected the persons who had committed the robbery were well known, and there being also the feetmarks, he considered there might be some chance of discovering the thieves. The policeman, however, said they might get a warrant, but the injured party said he would not be at the expense of 4s. or 5s. to look after the men. The citizens pay police officers to prevent robberies, and then they were to be taxed in endeavouring to detect those who had committed them. By these means justice was impeded; it was unfair that such a tax should be levied, when the police were already paid to do their duty, and he believed that until they altered the system of paying the police force by fees, they would never find it work well. He looked upon it as a great injustice to tax individuals to the extent of 4s. or 5s. before the police would look in a proper manner after those who were suspected.He went on to state, and he challenged inquiry, and it was not denied by any of the town councillors or members of the watch committee present, that the inspector of police was the possessor of several houses of ill-fame, in a particular part of the town, which were the resort of thieves and other bad characters, and that 2136 the police constables did not dare to visit these houses, in consequence of the inspector being the proprietor of them. That was not denied, and an inquiry was ordered, at the suggestion of the Lord Mayor, which would no doubt result in the remedy of such a glaring abuse; but how after that could the town council go on to assert that the police of the town was in a state of efficiency; and how could they place themselves at the head of the opposition which was organised against this Bill, denouncing all Government interference as injurious to the efficiency of its police. Several other members of the town council expressed a similar opinion, and the Lord Mayor, who had presided over the meeting, summed it up by saying—That they should not regret the discussion which had taken place on the occasion, and the council no doubt felt obliged to Mr. Charlton for bringing the matter forward. With regard to Inspector Turner, he never before had the slightest intimation of what had taken place that day. He had often been struck with his in competency as an inspector, and the other day he (the Lord Mayor) said to Mr. Chalk how unfortunate they were. Mr. Chalk replied that the inspector was an honourable man, that they might depend upon him, but added that he was not a very competent man. He should feel it his duly to call a special meeting of the watch committee immediately. The police force was really very inefficient, and any one who saw the machines which came before the public to give evidence must consider that it was really very pitiable, and there was great room for improvement.Such was the state of things in the city of York within a recent period. He hoped and believed that effectual means had been taken to apply a remedy to effects so gross and evils so glaring; but knowing as they did that those defects and evils were in existence only twelve months ago, and that they were long permitted to exist before a correction was applied, he thought it was rather too much to declare that the present system was so efficient and so perfect in all its details of management as to render any amendment unnecessary.
He would now proceed to explain the provisions of the Bill. First, as to the counties; the option which, as he had before stated, was given by the existing Acts to the justices in quarter sessions either to adopt the County Constabulary Act or not, would be taken away by this Bill, and it would be rendered compulsory upon them to do so; upon which the counties would be subject, with one or two exceptions, to precisely the same provisions of the law 2137 which now existed with regard to all those counties where the magistrates have, of their own free will and accord, thought fit to adopt the County Constabulary Act. Now, on this subject much misconception unfortunately prevails. He saw it stated two days ago, in a newspaper, usually conducted with great intelligence, and supplied generally with very correct information, that "if this Bill were allowed to pass into a law, the rural police of every county would be subjected to the absolute control of the Home Secretary for the time being;" and as an instance of this it was pointed out, that the first clause of the Bill would make the appointment of the chief constable subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. But that was the law at the present moment, and it had been in force for the last fifteen years; during which time, no instance had occurred of a difference of opinion on the subject between the justices and the Secretary of State. This was due to the care with which the county magistrates had made their selection of the chief constables. As far as his experience went, he had found that the justices had been influenced in such matters by an honest desire to appoint, without regard to personal or political consideration, the most efficient men; and some of those gentlemen, with whom he had himself been brought into intercourse, were gentlemen of great intelligence and very fit for their duties. The only instance he could remember in which the interference of the Secretary of State in the selection of the chief constable by the justices had been exercised, was one in which a special application had been made to him to sanction the appointment of a person whose age somewhat exceeded that prescribed by the regulations, but who possessed some other special qualifications; and the interference of the Home Secretary in that case was only to promote the views of the magistrates, who desired that that objection should not be deemed fatal to their appointment. This was the manner in which this power, which was vested in the Secretary of State, had worked during the last fifteen years. There were one or two points in which it was proposed to make some alteration in the law. One of the most material was this. By the existing law, when justices had established a county constabulary, they had a further discre- 2138 tionary power to divide the county into police districts, with a view to the more equitable apportionment of the rate. The Committee were induced to recommend that this division of counties, in certain instances, should be absolutely enforced, instead of being left to the discretion of the justices. In many counties the population, though large in the aggregate, was unequally divided; one part of the county might be pasture land thinly peopled, and another part might be occupied more densely by a manufacturing population. In such cases great objection had been made to the establishment of a police, because it was apprehended that the ratepayers of one part would be obliged to pay disproportionately for the protection of the inhabitants of the other. It was now proposed to render the proceeding more obligatory than it had heretofore been by empowering the Queen in Council, on the representation of the ratepayers, and after hearing all parties, to require the justices of any county to do that which it was now left at their discretion to do, and divide the county into districts for the purposes of police. The most material provision of the Bill, however, which affected both counties and boroughs, was that which empowered Her Majesty to appoint inspectors, to examine into the state, the number, and discipline of the police, and its efficiency, throughout every county and borough of England. That was connected with another provision of the Bill, founded also upon the Report of the Committee, and which was also in accordance with the recommendations of the Commission of 1839—namely, that a portion of the expense of the county, as well as of the borough police, should be defrayed out of the public revenue. He must say that he could not propose to defray one-fourth or any other portion of that expense out of the national exchequer, without taking some effectual means to ascertain that the police in each locality was maintained in complete efficiency. For that purpose he thought periodical inspection was indispensable, He was happy to find that, so far as the counties were concerned, no objection had been raised to this portion of the Bill; indeed he was not apprehensive that the county Members would object to go into Committee on this Bill, for they had taken an active interest in it, and had offered many valuable suggestions which they would have abundant opportunity of considering in 2139 Committee. But with regard to the boroughs, he was sorry to say that, to his great surprise, a most strenuous opposition had been raised to this measure. This opposition, however, was not indeed so universal as it might be for the interest of some persons to represent. Some boroughs had petitioned in favour of the Bill, others had taken no part in regard to it; and from other boroughs he had seen representatives, members of their town councils, among which he would mention that of Manchester, who came to him to object to certain provisions of the Bill, but were favourable to its general principle, and willing to accept it with certain modifications. But with regard to a great number of the boroughs, he found that those members of their town councils who had waited upon him were under the greatest misconception as to the provisions of the Bill. The object of it, as he had stated before, was to provide an efficient force with due regard to the principle of local management and control. It had been asserted, however, that by this Bill the control was to be wholly transferred from the town councils and the watch committees to the Secretary of State; that there was a power intended, if not expressed, of taking into the hands of the Home Secretary the appointment and dismissal of constables; and it had also been industriously circulated that the Home Secretary would insist, in all cases, on the adoption of one uniform standard for police all over the country—namely, of one for every 500 of the population; and that there was to be an attempt by compulsion to consolidate the boroughs with the counties. Now he was prepared on the part of the Government to give to each and all of these allegations the most unqualified denial. The control of the police and its management were not taken, even by the Bill as it then stood, out of the hands of town councils and watch committees; there was no interference with the appointment or dismissal of constables, though it had been urged upon him, before he brought in the Bill, that it was desirable to give the Home Secretary such control; but, not caring to have a measure theoretically perfect, but aiming only at effecting a great reform without interfering with local self-government, he had declined to insert any such provision, and had chosen to leave the appointment and dismissal of constables to 2140 the watch committees. There was no compulsion attempted as to the number of the police to be provided by any borough. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had suggested that it might be desirable to prescribe a minimum of police force; but he (Sir G. Grey) said he thought it was better not to attempt by law to fix the minimum, the circumstances of one county or borough being often different from another, and he was persuaded that it would be better to leave the matter open. He must also emphatically deny having entertained, even secretly, as he was supposed to have done, any intention of insisting upon any uniform standard of the number of police. Clause 4 gave to the county constabulary a jurisdiction in boroughs corresponding to that which, for the due prevention of crime, borough constables now exercise in the counties in which their boroughs are situated, or in the contiguous counties. This was the reciprocal provision as between the counties and boroughs, and one to which he had not heard any objection. The borough constables now, for the purposes of justice, for the prevention of crime, and apprehension of the offenders, had jurisdiction within the adjoining county, and it was thought desirable that the county constables should have a similar jurisdiction in the boroughs, but acting in the borough under the orders of the borough magistrates, just as the borough constables acted in the county under the orders of the county magistrates. The fifth clause provides that constables, whether borough or county, "shall, in addition to their ordinary duties, perform all such duties connected with the police as the justices or the watch committees shall from time to time appoint, or as are from time to time, by any regulations made under this Act by the Secretary of State, declared to be police duties to be performed by such constables;" and the clause went on to declare it lawful for the Secretary of State, from time to time, to make such general regulations as he should think fit for that purpose. Now he would state the object with which that clause was introduced. It was one of the clauses to which objections had been made, and he was bound to say that those objections were entitled to weight; but the object of the clause had been misunderstood, and, perhaps owing to its phraseology, had been misrepresented. He 2141 had alluded to the saving of expense effected in some counties and boroughs by imposing upon the constables, who were paid for devoting their whole time to their duty, certain collateral duties connected with the police, such as the inspection of weights and measures, the conveyance of prisoners, the serving precepts or notices, and the inspection of nuisances, which were performed gratuitously by the policemen, he meant, without any extra payment to them, and by which a great saving was effected to the public, although the perquisites of certain persons might in some degree be affected by it. Now, in some places doubts had arisen whether the local authorities had power to enforce the performance of such duties by the police, though in many places no objection was made to it. It was, therefore, desirable that those doubts should be removed, and that there should be an express power of declaring what were the duties to be performed by the police, and it was to solve these doubts and to legalise this power that the clause had been introduced. But he was bound to say, having heard the objections which had been made, that, although introduced with no such object, the clause in its present form might sanction the exercise of a power beyond what was required, and he would therefore omit all the words which gave the Secretary of State joint power with the local authorities to issue regulations as to this portion of the function of the police, it being really unnecessary for any practical purpose. It will be left, therefore, to the local authorities to determine, as they now practically did in most places, what duties should be performed by the police in addition to what might be termed the ordinary police duties. The next clause, the sixth, which had also been greatly objected to by the boroughs, proposed to place them under the same power of the Secretary of State, that of making regulations for the police, as the counties were. It would enable the Secretary of State "to make rules for the government, pay, clothing, accoutrements, and necessaries of the constables of any borough," in the same way and to the same extent only as he made rules for the county police, the words being identical with those of the Comity Constabulary Act. There had been great apprehensions expressed that it was intended by this clause, and under these general terms, to take into the hands of the Secretary of State 2142 the power of interfering to a great extent with the local authorities in the management of the police. Again he must say there had been no such intention. It was intended only to place the borough police under the same control as the county police, and no doubt the power would be exercised in the same manner, which had raised no dissatisfaction. He held in his hand the printed regulations which had been issued under that clause of the County Constabulary Act. The object of these was—first, by prescribing the age and stature of the constables, to secure men physically qualified for the office; next, to secure that they should be adequately paid, not by requiring one fixed standard of salary, but fixing a minimum and maximum, from the chief constable to the common constable, leaving a wide discretion to the local authorities, but securing to the men an adequate remuneration for their whole time, and leaving them no pretence or excuse for engaging in any other occupations; prohibiting altogether any payments by fees to the county constables, but not interfering with special allowances made by express permission, for the expenses of any journey, or with a reward given to any constable by the direction of a court of justice when he should appear to have deserved it. The regulations further provided for the amount of clothing to be given to the men, the arms and accoutrements they should be furnished with; the object rather being to check the practice of arming them with dangerous weapons, such as firearms or cutlasses, and to have them only furnished with the common staff, except upon extraordinary occasions, when violence was apprehended. These were the whole of the regulations, except those instructions to the chief constable about the reports to be made by him to the Secretary of State, of which the object was to secure that information should be given of the number of crimes committed, the number of offenders apprehended, and other statistics of crime, which it was desirable for the Government to have, and, if necessary, to lay before Parliament; and it was also required that, in case of any serious disturbance being apprehended, information should be given by the chief constable to the local authorities, and, if necessary, to the Secretary of State. These were the regulations made under the County Constabulary Act, and he certainly had not anticipated there would have been so great an apprehension 2143 of an arbitrary and tyrannical exercise of the same power with regard to boroughs. But he found that many Gentlemen who approved of the Bill feared that advantage would be taken of this clause at some future time to exercise an authority beyond what the law intended; and they were anxious that the clause should be omitted. Now, he had given no pledge to those Gentlemen about the omission of that clause; but this he would say, that if the main object of the clause could be accomplished in any other way by this Bill—and he was inclined to think it could—he should not insist on the theoretical uniformity of the provision with regard to counties and boroughs, or on adopting the clause from the County Constabulary Act; and if it would remove the objections of those Gentlemen, he thought their support of the Bill would be cheaply purchased by substituting in the Bill itself other provisions which might render this clause unnecessary. If, therefore, the House should consent to the second reading of the Bill, what he should propose to do, was to omit that sixth clause in Committee, and substitute a clause which would prohibit the payment of fees to the constables, and which would further secure the same amount and kind of information which was required by those regulations to be transmitted to the Secretary of State, so that the statistics of crime in any borough might be supplied to the Government. This brought him to the eighth clause, to which some objections had been made, but which he thought were not of a very tangible nature. The object of that clause was to obtain information, which there is great difficulty in acquiring, but which Parliament desires to possess, with reference to crime throughout the country, and he proposed in Committee to define the nature of this information. Omitting, therefore, the latter part of the fifth clause, omitting the sixth, and making an alteration in the eighth with the above object—he should now propose that the Bill be read a second time and committed pro formâ, not intending to proceed with it in Committee till the House should have seen the alterations printed, with the clauses which he meant to substitute, and which would, he knew, altogether remove the objections of many Gentlemen, objections not altogether unreasonable. In this manner, he thought, the object of the Bill might well be accomplished.
He had now stated the main provisions of 2144 this measure affecting boroughs as well as counties; and he would ask the House whether they were prepared to assert that this Bill, with these modifications, was liable to the charge of violating the principle of local control and management, or whether it went one degree beyond what was necessary to remedy the defects of the existing system. He confessed, when he introduced the Bill, he was somewhat apprehensive that he might be told it did not provide an adequate remedy for the evils to which it was intended to apply. But he did not aim at perfection; he did not wish so much to compel alteration in the police, as to hold out inducements to the local authorities—such as relieving them from a portion of the expense—to adopt such a reform as was necessary. In saying this, he was speaking of the boroughs; from the counties he did propose to take away the option of establishing a police, or not doing so, under the existing Act. He had said, there were some municipal councils which had petitioned for the Bill, and he ought to add that there were other cases in which, though the town councils had objected to the Bill, the inhabitants had strongly urged its adoption and petitioned in its favour. He had, however, seen with surprise that day a petition from the Common Council of London against this Bill, repeating the common objections to it. Now, the City of London had really no interest in the matter, direct or indirect. He had not said one word about the City of London police, because it would not be affected by this Bill; but the City of London had a most efficient police, extremely well managed; and the Act under which it was established gave much more extensive powers of control, in the management of their police, to the Secretary of State, than were suggested in the present Bill for the boroughs. The corporation of the City of London could not appoint a commissioner or chief officer of police unless the approval of the Crown was signified through the Secretary of State, and fourteen days' notice of such appointment must be given. In case, also, of the absence or illness of the commissioner, the corporation cannot appoint an officer to discharge his duties without applying to the Secretary of State for his assent to the appointment. By the City Police Act the Queen, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of State, may, without any consent on the part of the corporation, remove 2145 the Chief Commissioner of Police from his office, and all the regulations made for the City Police were subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. Such being the case, he could not help thinking that the opposition of the City of London to this Bill was only to be accounted for by supposing that, in the expectation it would be his duty to bring in a Bill shortly for the reform of the City corporation, they had thought it politic to make common cause with the boroughs against him upon this occasion. He had now explained fully the objects of the Government in this Bill. He received some time ago, a very large deputation, the Lord Mayor of York being the spokesman, who insisted on the withdrawal of the Bill, and who, while they denounced it as an attempt at centralisation, stated distinctly that they had no desire to offer any suggestions for its amendment, and that no amendments would be tolerated. The deputation objected, as he understood, to the introduction of any measure with regard to the police. He then said that the proper place for the discussion of such a question was the House of Commons. The time for that discussion had now arrived, and it would be for the opponents of the measure to show upon what grounds they think no Bill ought to be introduced on this subject. He conceived, however, that he should have grossly neglected his duty if, after the reception the Bill met with when he obtained leave to introduce it, he had consented to its withdrawal. He now left the subject to the decision of the House. If they thought the facts he had stated rendered it their duty to entertain a Bill, the object of which was to provide a more efficient police force, they would give it their support. If, however, they thought that no case had been established for altering the present system, or that the provisions of this measure—with such alterations as he had suggested, and with such others as might seem likely to be beneficial—were not well adapted to attain the object in view, it would be their duty to reject it; and he left the decision in their hands, confident that they would take such a course as they thought most conducive to the welfare of the public.
§ MR. C. FORSTER
said, he had given notice that, on the Motion for the second reading of the Bill, he should move as an Amendment that the Bill be read a second time that day six months; and, although the right hon. Baronet had announced that he was prepared in Committee to re- 2146 move the most obnoxious portions of the measure, still he had not so far met his objections as to justify him in withdrawing his Amendment. But even if the right hon. Gentleman had taken the boroughs altogether from the operation of the Bill, there would still have remained this danger, that the principle of centralisation applied this year to counties might another year be urged with greater chance of success to boroughs; and Government, by dividing the opposition, might be able to effect that in detail which they could not accomplish if the boroughs and counties were united against them. In saying this he conceded to the right hon. Baronet all that he had said as to the importance of having an efficient police. He agreed that, from the increased facilities of communication, and the somewhat questionable alterations in the system of transportation, the introduction of a police force in all counties and boroughs of England had become a matter of necessity; and if the object of the measure had been to impose upon counties and boroughs, where no efficient police force existed, the duty of raising one, leaving it to be managed by the resident magistrates in the same manner as the borough police was managed by the watch committees of the town councils, he should not have opposed it. More than that, he believed such a proposal would have met with general concurrence from all parts of the country. Nor did he stand up to defend the anomaly which prevented a police constable from stepping out of one jurisdiction to apprehend an offender who had passed into another, where the offender, when apprehended, was to be brought before a magistrate having jurisdiction where he was caught. The boroughs were quite anxious to remove that anomaly, and would consent to larger powers than were proposed by the Bill to effect that object. There was another portion of the right hon. Baronet's statement from which he differed; that was where he expressed an opinion that there was a jealousy between the county and the borough police. His (Mr. Forster's) experience went directly the other way, for he had acted some years as a magistrate for the county in which he resided, and had always found the most harmonious feeling to exist between them. The right hon. Baronet, by consenting to withdraw the whole of Clause 6, and by withdrawing that portion of Clause 5 which enabled the Secretary of 2147 State to define the duties of policemen, had relieved him from commenting on that objectionable portion of the Bill. With regard to Clause 3, he agreed that it was desirable to give facilities for the consolidation of small boroughs, but he thought it ought to be their own affair, and that they should have the initiative and the sole determination of it. The inspection clause was liable to great objection, and he wished the right hon. Baronet had given it up entirely. The right hon. Baronet, while appearing to refrain from taking from boroughs the power of deciding what should be the number of police officers they should maintain, did, in reality, in an indirect manner interfere with that right, and to a considerable and objectionable extent. The 10th clause authorised the appointment of inspectors to inquire into the efficiency of the police in boroughs and counties, and if the inspector reported that the police was in an efficient state, then one-fourth of the expense of it was to come out of the Consolidated Fund. By this means the number to be employed would be entirely at the discretion of the Secretary of State, who might commence by insisting, in the first place, on a small increase, upon a promise of paying a portion of the expense, and then require a further increase under the threat of withdrawing the subsidy, and so at any time he pleased throw the whole payment upon the borough. It was monstrous that town councils should be placed in such a state of uncertainty. One of two things would invariably happen: either the town council, true to those principles of local government which they had so unanimously evinced in objecting to the progress of this measure, would refuse the subsidy, or else by accepting it they would have as large a number of policemen as the Secretary of State chose to dictate. There would then arise the risk of those jealousies and animosities which would inevitably render future legislation on the subject necessary. But then, from what source was the aid to come? It came out of the pockets of the selfsame persons who were to have it thus returned to them. Besides, it was only one-fourth of the clothing and the pay; it was not one-fourth of the whole expense. The right hon. Baronet had that night repeated a charge against the boroughs that he had made on a former occasion—that they did not maintain a sufficient force for protection on occasions of riot. Did the right hon. Baronet mean to say 2148 that the force which might be required on extraordinary occasions was to be kept up at all times? Were they always to maintain as many policemen in all the towns of England, as if each town was in a state of siege? If that were the case the addition to the police force would be so great as to increase in an intolerable degree the local burdens, and the result would be a state of irritation which it was the professed object of the present Bill to prevent. The necessity for police inspection was attempted to be enforced by an allegation of the inefficient mode in which the police affairs were administered by the local authorities. To such a charge he could, speaking of his own locality, give the most fearless and complete contradiction. In Walsall it was the invariable rule of the watch committee to procure the best men for the duties to be discharged, and all considerations of favouritism were studiously disregarded. Since the passing of the Municipal Act, in no one instance had a local man been elected there to the post of police superintendent. But if it was true that the local authorities mismanaged police affairs, was it likely that those over whom those authorities ruled would unite together for the purpose of opposing the right hon. Baronet's Bill? Granted that the town councils were interested parties, was it likely that those over whom they ruled, if their property was inadequately protected, would not avail themselves of the right of petition, supposing such a grievance existed? But the majority of the petitioners were greatly alarmed at it, and they called for the total rejection of the Bill. They saw in it a stepping-stone to that system of centralisation which, however it might suit the Governments on the Continent, was repugnant to the habits and feelings of Englishmen. It was unnecessary for him to say that he thought no improper use of this measure would be made by the right hon. Baronet; but he warned the House from tampering lightly with those municipal institutions in which English liberty was cradled, and in which they had acquired that aptitude for local government, the want of which had been so fatal in other countries, leaving to them no resource but military despotism. The boroughs felt that they had done nothing to forfeit the confidence either of the Government or the House, but they could not but complain of the conduct which had been pursued towards them since 1853. They 2149 felt strongly with regard to the Committee that then sat, that they were tried in their absence, and by a Committee unfairly constituted; that they had been condemned on partial evidence. The Committee was composed exclusively of Members of Counties and small boroughs. The great towns of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, and Sheffield—the towns chiefly to be affected by the operation of this Bill—were not represented. Looking at the terms of the appointment of the Committee, it would be supposed that they were appointed to inquire rather respecting the county than the borough police, and the boroughs therefore took no steps, which they otherwise would have done, to place before the Committee evidence which might have led them to a totally different Report. One part of the Report of the Committee spoke of the want of co-operation between the county constabulary and the borough police. His magisterial experience certainly brought him to a conclusion different from that at which they had arrived. As chairman of the petty sessions of the district bordering on the borough which he represented, he had frequently observed the cordial co-operation between the two forces. No sooner was this Report published than the boroughs were astonished at the inaccuracy of the statements contained in it; they complained of its unfairness, and asked for another inquiry; but no more was heard of it till the Bill of 1854 was brought in, which was of a far more objectionable character than this. Not only did the noble Lord at the head of the Government wisely withdraw that Bill, in deference to the plainly expressed wishes of the country, but, when questioned on the subject in the last Session of Parliament, he said he had received so little encouragement that it was not his intention to bring forward any measure on the subject. The question they now wished to be answered was, what had occurred in the interval to render this Bill necessary? Why had the delegates from boroughs been dragged up to town, at great inconvenience and expense, to defend those rights which they thought had been secured to them by the Municipal Act of 1835? It was, of course, with great regret that he, a sincere but independent supporter of Her Majesty's Government, felt himself compelled to vote against them, and he assured the right hon. Baronet how unaffectedly that regret was increased by having to oppose a Bill which had been 2150 submitted to the House under his auspices; but it was the Government that was deserting them, and not they that were deserting the Government. The opponents of this Bill were true to this principle of jealousy of the central power, which, if he had rightly read the history of the country, was always one of the doctrines of the Whigs. If he might make a suggestion, it would be, that the right hon. Baronet should withdraw this Bill, and introduce another, free from the objections to which this was fairly liable, because the House must remember that in assenting to the second reading of the Bill they were asked to assent to the Bill as it now stood. The alterations could only be introduced in Committee. He therefore appealed to the right hon. Baronet whether success would not be promoted by withdrawing the Bill, and taking advantage of the Easter recess in preparing another, which he would be able to pass without difficulty? In conclusion, he moved, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
, in seconding the Amendment, said, the right hon. Baronet's (Sir G. Grey's) speech was too long for him to remember any large portion of it, but he would reply to some of the points it contained. He had told the Chairman of the Committee which sat two or three years ago that he did not think it had been fairly appointed, and when he was invited to give evidence before it, he refused, because two-thirds or three-fourths of the Members had begun the inquiry with their minds made up. As to the evidence of Captain M 'Hardy and the other persons connected with the police, to which the right hon. Baronet had referred, it was the old story of "nothing like leather." The right hon. Baronet had said that aggravated crimes were increasing.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he did not say that. He merely stated the opinion expressed in a charge to a grand jury, from which he had read an extract.
§ CAPTAIN SCOBELL
said, he was glad the right hon. Baronet agreed with him that they were not increasing. It was a remarkable fact, that in Somersetshire the number of crimes in 1855 was smaller than in any year but one for the last twenty-one years. In Somersetshire and Devonshire, which were without this rural police, crime in 1854 was in the proportion of one to 590 of the population; 2151 while in Gloucestershire and Southampton, which had their police, the proportion was one to 478. Very mistaken views, he believed, were taken upon the subject of rural police; it was said that parish constables were not efficient. But why were they not made efficient? Every parish could appoint as many paid constables as it pleased; but, when policemen were paid about £60, and constables not more than 60s. a year, the same degree of efficiency could not be expected. What were the few private letters from individuals read by the right hon. Baronet in favour of the Bill, in comparison with the petitions, under the corporate seal, of nearly 100 corporations against it? According to the last return, the number of petitions against the Bill was 145, while there were only five in its favour. That, he thought, was a pretty conclusive proof of the state of feeling throughout the country with respect to the measure. He would not object to a measure which would prevent the employment of an unreasonably small number of police in boroughs and counties, and he admitted that there ought to be something like uniformity in the rules for their control; but the Bill did more than effect those two objects. It had been stated that in certain cases one-fourth of the expense of the police was to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund, but that fourth only applied to the pay and clothing of the police, so that all the remaining expenses would fall upon the ratepayers, the Government, in reality, not paying more than one-sixth of the whole amount of the expenses incurred. But, even if that were an advantage, was it to be supposed that the magistrates throughout the country would submit to be bribed by a mere money payment to the commission of a great wrong upon those municipal corporations which had been so well administered. He must deny that the City of London was not interested in the question. It was one in which all Englishmen had an interest. Who gave municipal corporations to England? Earl Grey; and they formed one of the noblest monuments of his Administration. Who was now trying to take them away? Another of the same family. He lamented having to sit behind a Government capable of introducing a Bill so bad that, on its first discussion, it had been deprived of two of its principal clauses.He that's convinced against his willIs of the same opinion still,2152 Let not the House imagine that if they accepted the Bill, as now modified, the day would not soon come when another attempt would be made to increase the power of Downing Street. If we were to have arbitrary power, it would be far better to have it in the Crown than in a fluctuating body like the Ministry. Our plenipotentiaries were now endeavouring to make peace abroad, but the Home Secretary was attempting to make war at home. Where were the petitions in favour of the Bill? No amount of cooking would make it palatable to the public. It was the most un-English measure he had ever read, and seemed more fitted for Naples than for England. No Government, however tyrannical, could have constructed a more dangerous measure. If they were to accept it, the magistrates would be digging their own graves, for he believed it was part of a plot to sweep away the unpaid magistracy and replace it by stipendiaries. Let the House pass the Bill, and England would soon be overrun by 20,000 armed policemen—perhaps Irishmen or foreigners—upon whom a bad Government could rely for the perpetration of acts of oppression. He might be asked how it came to pass, that he, a Reformer, spoke so strongly against a measure introduced by the present Government? His answer was, that he entered Parliament to give rights, not to take them away, and he would never support any Government which betrayed an indecent lust of power. An attempt had been made to prove a case for the Bill by the publication of Home Office Returns relating to criminal offenders; but those returns would not bear investigation. On the first page, nineteen counties were mentioned as having increased in crime in 1854 as compared with the four preceding years, the increase in some being as large as 11 or 12 per cent; but it was not stated that thirteen of those counties had got a rural police, that one was partially supplied, and that only five were destitute of that kind of force. The most accurate and best informed of our daily publications was The Times newspaper, and yet The Times, in dealing with the Home Office Returns, had fallen into a mistake which he wished to see corrected. It stated the other day that the total number of commitments during the twenty-one years from 1834 to 1854 amounted to 196,864, of which 29,359 took place in 1854. That was an error. There were three columns, each for seven years, standing in the Blue- 2153 book, and the writer in The Times had taken only one instead of the whole three, which would have given 552,811 as the number of commitments during the last twenty-one years, or more than 26,000 for each year. Thus, making allowance for the growth of population, and hearing in mind that 1854 was in some respects an exceptional year, the two preceding years showing a remarkable diminution of crime, it would be seen that the number of commitments had not increased, as mistakenly stated in The Times. At the end of the Blue-book there was a table showing the number of commitments in each of two contrasted quinquennial periods; and what did he find there? From 1845 to 1849 the total number was 136,408, and from 1850 to 1854 it was 138,699, being a difference of only 2,291, an increase which arose chiefly from the number of female prisoners. There had evidently been a desire to mystify the subject by the compiler of those returns—the figures of one column contradicted those of another. He contended that those who paid the money ought to have the arrangement and disposal of the money under proper returns. He agreed with the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, who, in one of his works, has said, that "England should think more of the community and less of the Government."
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ SIR HENRY STRACEY
said, it was his intention to support the Bill, partly because he had not received from his constituents, who were very numerous, any complaints with regard to its proposed enactments, and partly because he had seen in the public prints many cases of late which satisfied him that some such measure would be very desirable. One thing, however, had surprised him, and that was, that two such Bills as this and the Loan Dues on Shipping Bill should have emanated from the same Government; for while the Shipping Bill was a very specious attempt to justify an abstraction from the property of others, the measure now before the House seemed to be an earnest and honest attempt to protect and preserve property. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had clearly shown that little or no increased power would be conferred upon the Secretary of 2154 State; but they might rest perfectly assured that no Minister, even if he had the will, would ever have the hardihood to make an unworthy use of any power the House of Commons might entrust to him. In proof of that, he might refer to the history of Police Bills which had already been passed; for wherever a police had been established, there had been a progressive increase not only in the number of the force, but in its popularity. He regarded the 4th clause—that by which the country constabulary would have power to enter towns, and the town constabulary to enter the country, as the best in the Bill; for it would put an end to the practice of making one district a sort of refuge for the rogues of another. With respect to the 9th clause, he was sorry to say that he could not quite agree with the right hon. Baronet. Counties would be very willing to pay an active and efficient chief constable; but he was afraid they would show some discontent, if they were called upon to find retiring allowances for perhaps two or three, or even more superannuated ones. Now, as the chief constables were persons selected from an honourable position in life—persons, in fact, who had often been officers in Her Majesty's service—it would be very distressing for them to receive their pension amidst the groans of discontented ratepayers; and he, therefore, hoped that the Government would take that charge upon itself. With respect to superannuation funds generally, he might also remind the right hon. Gentleman that they were in very few instances able to bear the burdens thrown upon them by the Act of the 3 and 4 Vict., by which a policeman might look forward, after fifteen years' good conduct, to a retiring allowance of half his pay; and if he served twenty years to one of two-thirds. He thought that the scheme for superintendence provided in the Bill was neither the cheapest nor the best that could be devised. He considered that one Commissioner of Police, with an assistant Commissioner to travel about wherever his services might be required, would constitute an amply sufficient machinery. With respect to the Government allowance of one-fourth the cost of the pay and clothing wherever the police was efficient, he was afraid that great difficulty would arise in defining the word "efficiency." There were, of course, many cases in which there could be no doubt as to a force being inefficient. There were, for instance, places where there was not one policeman to 2155 3,000 of the population. There was one borough which returned no police force whatever; and he had received a letter from a town councillor, stating, that in the place where he lived the force was regarded as a sort of refuge for the destitute, and was in fact a kind of pension list. No doubt the Bill would lead to an improvement in cases like those. One considerable advantage to be expected from the Bill would be, that in case of any popular tumult a considerable force might be thrown into any district where a rising was anticipated; and a riot might thus be at once nipped in the bud, which, if unchecked, might soon become a serious mischief. As, too, the force would be a well-disciplined one, it would be a great addition to our means of national defence, if ever the country should be in danger of invasion. For these reasons he should support, very cordially, the second reading of the Bill.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
said, the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had laboured with great ability to make a good case out of very bad materials, but it appeared to him that he had signally failed, although he had certainly succeeded in introducing a good deal of mystification into the discussion by means of the statistics he had quoted. The clause by which he would place towns and counties under the jurisdiction of the county police would act very injuriously in many instances. Thus, the Parliamentary borough which he had the honour to represent, comprised not only the municipal borough of Brighton, but a neighbouring parish. Under a local Act that parish was put under the very efficient force which had been established in the municipal borough of Brighton; but if the Bill passed in its present state, the parish in question would become for police purposes a mere portion of the county. He had hoped that he should this year have had a quiet Session, and that he should not again have had occasion to lift up his voice against the principle of centralisation. He had come into the House just as the New Poor Law had walked out of it; and until the right; hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) succeeded to office, never a Session had passed without his having been compelled to resist some inroad or other upon the constitution. The present measure was another of those attempts, but he trusted that, if not withdrawn, it would be promptly rejected by the House. The Bill had been designated as a measure framed for the protection of 2156 the poor, but in his opinion it might more properly be called a measure favourable to the rich. There were, indeed, various objections to the Bill, and he should therefore vote against the second reading.
§ MR. PACKE
said, that were he to form his judgment of the Bill from the observations of hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, he would be induced to regard it as a measure introduced for the purpose of harassing the various town councils throughout the country rather than for the more effectual repression of crime and the maintenance of good order. They must be all perfectly well aware that in many instances in which crime was committed in the rural districts, the culprit betook himself into large towns such as that represented by the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken, and it was very desirable that the constable should have the power of following him into his retreat and of thus forwarding the ends of justice. The hon. and gallant Member for Brighton had remarked that the Bill would be found favourable to the rich rather than to the poor, but he (Mr. Packe) must contend that the poor man's property would be in many instances effectually protected under the operation of the measure. Now that the garden allotment, system had become common, they had a great deal of property exposed to depredation. Nothing was more common than to hear of the robbery of potato grounds; and that was a species of loss from which the labourer especially required protection. To hear the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken against the Bill, one would have thought that this was a measure that would greatly infringe upon the rights and privileges of municipal corporations. He should like to know in what respect the Bill would infringe upon those rights and privileges? Hon. Gentlemen had alluded to the efficiency of parochial constables, but he feared they were not always so efficient as was desirable. He remembered some years ago a constable coming to him, to give him information respecting a very serious crime; but no sooner had he taken up a pen, in order to write down the man's depositions, than he said, "Can't you send to the police at Leicester, sir? If it is known that I have interfered I shall have my cattle maimed and my property destroyed." He had listened attentively to the speech of the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. Forster), and also to that of the hon. and gallant 2157 Member for Bath (Captain Scobell), and he could not understand from them in what clauses of the Bill they found the infringement on the principle of local self-government of which they complained. [An hon. Member: The 12th clause.] He was referred to the 12th clause, a clause which related to the pay and clothing of the police; and he had to observe that counties that adopted the Rural Police Act were, in those particulars, guided entirely by the rules laid down in respect to them by the Marquess of Normanby, who had been Home Secretary at the time of its becoming law. The right hon. Baronet having given way as regards the borough police, and on another clause which gave him the power to define the duties or the police, he (Mr. Packe) could not see what else was in the Bill to which the borough Members could justly object. An objection had been raised to the appointment of three inspectors under the Bill. It was, however, in his opinion, a matter of some importance that they should have regular and correct returns of the number of committals and convictions in the several counties, as also well-authenticated statistics with respect to the amount of undetected crime. For that reason he approved of the appointment of inspectors in connection with the police force, and saw no reason why they should be objected to, any more than were inspectors of gaols or any of our other great public institutions. With respect to the Bill itself, he should like to see the borough Members take a more comprehensive view of it, and, considering that since the passing of the 5 and 6 Will. IV. the introduction of railways had furnished malefactors with greater facilities of escape than they had previously possessed, endeavour to meet such an altered state of things by a corresponding activity in legislating for the detection of crime. They all should, he thought, instead of inquiring in what particular the dignity of a borough was hurt, give their attention to how best they could protect the lives and property of their fellow-subjects. Immediately on the passing of the Rural Police Bill, he (Mr. Packe) proposed to the sessions of which he had the honour to be chairman, that they should adopt it in the county (Leicester) of which he had the honour to be the representative, and he could say that there was not in that county an individual who had not the highest opinion of the good working of it; and as he was anxious to see the benefits which 2158 resulted from it extended, he would support the second reading of the Bill.
§ SIR JOSHUA WALMSLEY
said, he could not concur with the hon. Member for South Leicestershire, that this was specially a poor man's question. It was a Bill affecting the whole community, and interfering unnecessarily with local self-government. He regarded the measure as one which, in whole or in part, ought to be rejected. He, however, agreed with the hon. Member that the boroughs should take as great an interest in the maintenance of an efficient police as the counties; but he contended that they had not only done so, but had evinced an anxiety to manage and control their own affairs worthy of example even by the county gentlemen. He was satisfied that the police, and its regulations in boroughs generally, would successfully compare with the best regulated county force. He (Sir J. Walmsley) was only sorry to see many of the county gentlemen so willing to surrender their local management into the hands of the Secretary of State. He believed they could manage their police far better themselves, and the sop which had been held out of payment was a delusion; it would still come out of their own pockets. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had passed a just tribute of praise on the municipal councils generally. How he reconciled such praise with the framing of such a measure as the present, he (Sir J. Walmsley) was at a loss to discover. It was the duty of the Government, before they attempted such interference, to show its necessity. He had listened in vain to the long speech of the right hon. Baronet, for any justification of such measure. He had, it was true, produced a long array of statistics to show that in those counties where there were the fewest police, crime was the rifest; but the figures were not only disputed, but, as far as he had been able to gather from the adverse statement of his hon. Friend the Member for Bath, totally set at nought. So far as the boroughs were concerned, he had scarcely attempted to palliate the measure. At most, he had only shown that there was a deficiency of force in some of them; but surely the shortcomings of a few was no justification for a general interference with municipal self-government. To justify such a measure, the right hon. Baronet should have shown that in the boroughs generally, and not in a few only, the authorities had failed in their duty. The removal of the 2159 authority of the Secretary of State from the 5th clause, and the abstraction of the 6th clause from the Bill, as now proposed, would, to some extent, induce the boroughs to regard it with less antipathy; but he believed it to be a measure fraught with much evil and little good, uncalled for under the circumstances, and one which ought to be rejected. What were the feelings of the municipal authorities generally on this subject, and they were the best capable of forming a correct estimate of the measure proposed, might he inferred from the fact that nearly all the principal boroughs had petitioned against the Bill. There had been 150 petitions against, two for an alteration, and ten for the Bill. Whilst the ten petitions in favour of the measure were from individuals, those against it represented the feelings of all the principal boroughs in the kingdom. The Municipal Councils had given abundant proof of their growing interest and able management of their own affairs, and of their desire to have an active and well-regulated police force. They saw no need of interference by the Secretary of State, and believed that none would be so deeply interested or more determined to sustain the respective boroughs in good order and efficiency, than those who were locally hound up in their prosperity. He (Sir J. Walmsley) had exercised some control as member of a watch committee, in a borough where the police force were not less than 800 to 900 men, and he could testify to the excellent manner in which the duties of the police were performed entirely under local control and management. He was able, also, to speak to the efficient management of the borough he had the honour to represent, where the affairs had been admirably administered ever since the passing of the Municipal Corporation Reform Act, and in which the police consisted of one to each 1,000 of the population. He objected to the Bill because it was striking a blow at the independence of municipal institutions, and was calculated to lessen self-reliance and self-government. It was the Whig Government who introduced and passed the Municipal Act—one of the wisest and best measures they ever introduced; and, without the slightest proof of its necessity, they were now attempting to lessen its efficiency. It was a measure of which they should be proud, and which they should endeavour to sustain; in fact, it was the duty of a wise Government to foster and sustain local management, as 2160 the very germ of political liberty. In seeking to interfere with the local councils, they were bound also to show that they were well fitted to supersede their powers; but the events of the last two years were not calculated to give confidence in Government management. They might take a lesson in this matter from the natives of India, who, however controlled by British rule, had always sustained their own municipal arrangements with singular care. In one large town, when the English general attempted to levy a rate for municipal affairs, rather than submit, man, woman, and child left the town and encamped on the plain, and refused to return until they should have the control of their municipal affairs. They succeeded, and had left an example of firmness worthy of imitation. He felt bound, on every principle of right, justice, and expediency, to give the measure his unqualified opposition.
§ COLONEL SMYTH
said, he fully concurred with the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary as to the necessity of an improved police in the West Hiding of Yorkshire. The right hon. Gentleman had dwelt a good deal upon the condition of the city of York, and no doubt had been induced to do so by the active part taken by the Lord Mayor of that city in pressing upon his notice the objections that existed to the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to a case where a police inspector at York was accused of keeping a house of ill-fame; but the real fact was, the officer was owner of a house which was lot for purposes of the kind referred to, and upon the fact becoming known he was immediately dismissed from his situation. The police of the city of York at every assize and gaol-delivery had been complimented for the absence of crime within their district, and there was a general belief that the police of that city efficiently performed their duties. With respect to the Bill itself, he must admit that the alterations announced by the right hon. Baronet had removed many of the objections which he (Colonel Smyth) had previously entertained. He thought, however, the right hon. Gentleman would succeed better if he were to withdraw the present Bill and introduce a measure applicable only to counties.
said, he had to express his entire concurrence in the general objects of the Bill, and any objection he might have formerly felt to its details had 2161 been removed by the very eloquent and able speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department. He entirely agreed in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that a measure like that, which had for its object the suppression of crime and the protection of property, ought to be considered as being essentially one of a general and not of a merely local character. But it seemed to him that there was one very unfortunate omission in the Bill, inasmuch as it did not provide that there should he a minimum below which the police force should not be reduced in proportion to the population. He believed that without such a provision the measure would be successfully evaded, and it might be turned into a mere dead letter. By one of the clauses the powers of the county constabulary were not to extend more than seven miles from the boundaries of their special district. Now, he could see no reason why those powers should be thus limited. In his opinion, a policeman employed in catching thieves ought to be allowed to execute his duties in any part of the United Kingdom. He regretted that the objections urged to the 6th clause had induced the right hon. Baronet to withdraw it, because he considered it to be a proper and a useful one. By an amendment introduced into the 7th clause, constables were to be prevented from voting at Parliamentary elections, and he should say he hoped that a similar prohibition would be enforced in the case of municipal elections. It was proposed by the 11th clause that one-fourth of the cost of the police force should be borne by the Treasury. But as the objects to be attained by the Bill were national and not local objects, it seemed to him to be only fair that one-half of that expenditure should devolve on the Treasury; and he meant to move an Amendment to that effect when the Bill was in Committee. He did not think that the Bill, as it had been amended, would unduly interfere with the principle of self-government, and he utterly rejected the notion which some hon. Members seemed to entertain, that it would only serve to create a certain number of gamekeepers. Under these circumstances, he should feel it his duty to vote for the second reading of the measure.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, his principal object in rising was to repeat the request which had been made by several hon. Members that the right hon. Baronet the 2162 Secretary of State for the Home Department would withdraw this Bill altogether, and introduce a new one having chiefly or exclusively reference to the county police. It seemed to be admitted on all hands that the police of the counties generally needed improvement, but that necessity did not apply in an equal degree to every portion of the kingdom. There was a great difference between agricultural districts and town districts. It was contended that the suppression of crime and the protection of property were general objects of legislation. That was true, but it was equally true that a measure which was well adapted for counties might be very ill adapted for towns and cities and boroughs which possessed a police force of their own. In fact, a uniform system of police could not be applied with equal advantage to the variety of circumstances existing in different localities. He could not, therefore, see the justice of making the whole country pay for the protection of the several counties into which England was divided. The wants of the counties and of the boroughs were essentially different. Boroughs, those at least that had municipal institutions, were self-governed; not so counties. There was responsibility in boroughs; the town councils were elected; they were continually obliged to answer to their constituents; there were ready means at hand of punishing their negligence or of correcting their ignorance or stupidity; and under such circumstances the best thing that could be done was to cherish them in the exercise of their legitimate authority. The people who inhabited the boroughs must know whether they were protected; they knew they had the means of rendering those who represented them more on the alert for their protection, and no doubt they were ready to employ those means. There had been no petitions from the boroughs for a Bill of this kind. There was no evidence whatever of dissatisfaction in any of those boroughs. The right hon. Baronet had given some instances of the great disproportion which existed in his view between the number of police and the number of inhabitants, in certain great manufacturing boroughs in the north. The disproportion certainly appeared very considerable to those who were used to a more numerous police; but, on the other hand, such was the state of the people of those boroughs, that, under ordinary circumstances, the police were found perfectly sufficient. He heard no complaints in the 2163 town he represented of insecurity of property; and as to the police not being on the alert, they were so busy that one man could not shave another on a Sunday, but they found it out and brought him to justice. The practice of calling for military assistance in those boroughs had been much condemned. But was it to be imagined that they could keep at all times a police so numerous, orderly, well paid, and equipped as to cope with those great outbreaks that sometimes took place when multitudes of people were gathered together? The expense of doing so would be perfectly overwhelming; they must cither submit to the occasional necessity of looking to extraneous aid, or they must have a police force perfectly disproportioned to the population under its control. The chief occasions—he believed the only ones—on which it had been necessary to invoke the aid of the military in those boroughs had been contested elections, and those strikes on the part of workpeople which had almost amounted to insurrection, though none such had occurred of late years. For the suppression of these no police force whatever, that they were able to support, would be adequate. They must either have the occasional aid of the military under such circumstances, or, what would be better, they must instruct the people, so that strikes might diminish in number and violence; and they were doing so rapidly. As to elections, let our electoral system be put on a more rational basis. Elections might be rendered as quiet as a Quakers' meeting. There was no difficulty in that matter if the House would but sanction the proper means. Give them the secrecy and protection of the ballot, and give to those who were taught that they had a right to control the electors, and for whom it was said the electors were trustees, the right to vote themselves, and they would cut away the great motive to violence even on such exciting occasions. It had been said that no Secretary of State would ever have the hardihood to fly in the face of public opinion in the exercise of the powers entrusted to him. He had not so much faith in Secretaries of State, or their moderation. He was old enough to remember the time when the police of this country was connected with a spy system which placed the liberty, and perhaps the life, of every man in danger who dared to differ from the prevailing opinions. Such circumstances might occur again; we never could tell into what hands power might 2164 fall; and therefore undue power should not be created. The municipalities had done nothing to forfeit that honourable confidence which they deserved from the people generally, as well as from those over whom they were placed; and therefore he could not consent to subject them to the degradation of inspectorship, or even of that modified control which this Bill gave to the Secretary of State. In the exercise of local authority was found the great pledge for the firmness of the civil and religious liberties of the country; for corporations and municipalities existed, not merely for the protection of life and property, but also of liberty and right.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that, as he belonged to one of the counties that had not adopted the rural police, he wished to say a few words upon the question; and, in the first place, he would beg the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House to bear in mind that one of the surest modes by which the Government could be enabled to deal with either the boroughs or counties at their pleasure was, by dividing their strength; and he would therefore advise the boroughs to stick to the counties in the matter, and to oppose together what both must consider to be a hardship. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in the long and very able speech in which he had introduced this subject to-night—a speech, no doubt, induced by the difficulties in which he found himself involved—had mainly rested this Bill upon the report of the Committee of 1853. The Government, he declared, had no wish to bring it in, but they felt bound to act on the report of that Committee. Now, he (Mr. Henley) wished hon. Members connected with boroughs to consider what the report of the Committee of 1853 really was. Here was one of its recommendations:—That the efficiency of all existing police forces is materially impaired by the want of co-operation between the rural constabulary and the police under the control of the authorities of boroughs or other local jurisdictions. That, in order to secure that co-operation, which uniformity can alone afford, your Committee are of opinion that the smaller boroughs should be consolidated with districts or counties for police purposes, and that the police in the larger boroughs should be under a similar system of management and control to that of the adjoining district or county, and (where practicable) under the same superintendence.Now, the Government with which the noble Lord now the First Minister of the Crown was connected the year before last, 2165 proceeded in a different manner from that in which the right hon. Gentleman was proceeding. That Government, if he might use such a phrase, endeavoured to take the House by assault on this subject. This failed; and now the right hon. Gentleman was more prudently proceeding by sap—very often a more efficacious engineering process. The right hon. Gentleman occupied himself, so far as regarded the counties, mainly in depreciating the evidence which he thought might be brought against the Bill. It was not unusual for an advocate, if he thought he had an indifferent case, to abuse the witnesses, and that was just the course which the right hon. Gentleman took. He (Mr. Henley) thought it impossible, upon the evidence taken before the Committee of 1853, to have come to any other conclusion than that actually arrived at; but he must say this evidence seemed to him singularly deficient in some particulars which the Committee might easily have obtained, if it had suited the purposes of the witnesses to give them. It had been said, and with great justice, that one of the most efficient county police systems was that established in Essex, and statistical papers were largely brought forward relating to that county, and similar returns were handed in from some other counties, but he was very much surprised that, with the exception of 1840 and 1841, which were the two years in which the system had been set at work in Essex, and for a period of five years in Hampshire, where it had been established for thirteen or fourteen years, no comparative account was given of the number of offences reported to have been committed and of the detections. Now, that was exactly the evidence wanted; and, failing such evidence, the House had nothing before them except what were commonly called criminal returns. The county of Southampton, he believed, put in a statistical account of the crimes and detections, running over a period of five years, from 1847 to 1852, and the average of detections upon the crimes was 49 per cent upon the average of the five years. The right hon. Gentleman said that criminal returns were not of much value; and he (Mr. Henley) was quite willing to admit that if you took these returns for a year or two only they were not of much value. If, however, you extended them over a long series of years the case was quite altered, because you could not go on catching thieves, say 2166 for fifteen years together, and still have the same number remaining at the end of that time, unless you were dealing with a soil which was peculiarly apt to grow thieves. They were now and then told of a man who was always cleaning his land, and who yet at the end had more rubbish upon it than when he began. Such a man they were accustomed to call a bad farmer, and they generally said that the system upon which he farmed was not the best that could be adopted. He would not pursue this parallel, but at all events he would trouble the House with no statistics relating to less than fifteen years, which might, perhaps, be considered a sufficient length of time to show the working of the system. Besides vagrancy, two material points were touched upon in the report of the Committee to which he alluded. One was the decrease in the crimes of sheep-stealing and horse-stealing; many of the witnesses spoke much of that, and they also dwelt much on the superiority of the police system in procuring the convictions of the criminals who were apprehended. Now, he should take the liberty of calling the attention of the House to the number of committals in some districts of England, and to the cases of horse and sheep stealing, which almost always occurred by night, and therefore formed a class of offence more likely than any other species to be detected by what was called the patrol system. It was quite clear, when people spoke of a defective police, that they did not think the police effective unless there was a patrol by day and night. Such persons thought a shiny hat should be seen everywhere. Now, a constable, as distinguished from a policeman, was not a man who was always on the look-out for offences; he was only employed when an offence was known to have been committed; and the real question was, whether the state of society was uniformly such all over England that you wanted these shiny hats—these day and night patrols—everywhere. He confessed he was one of those who believed that in many cases such a constant patrol was unnecessary. The right hon. Gentleman, on the contrary, seemed to think it necessary, although he stated very fairly in his speech that he had no wish for a uniform system, adding, when he went into the question of the numbers, that circumstances varied so much that he could not fix them. Well, now, if circumstances did vary so much, where was the justice in having a patrol in all cases, whether necessary or not? He 2167 would call the attention of the House to two districts in England, and he ventured to say they would not be of opinion that he had taken what was an unfair example. Much stress had been laid by all the witnesses upon the great disadvantage suffered by counties which had not a police of their own in having criminals hunted, as it were, into them by the police of adjoining counties. Now, by way of instituting a comparison, he would take a police district where all the adjoining counties, as far as possible, were under one system. The House would remember that great stress was also laid by the witnesses upon the inconveniences felt in cases where there was no authority in the adjoining county with which the police could properly communicate. They talked of the jealousy of other authorities; but where a police force was adjacent all went merry as a marriage bell—nothing could exceed the harmony with which the heads of the two forces acted together. Well, then, he would take the district comprised in Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and the county of Cambridge. Here were four counties lying all together, the sea cutting them off on one side, the river Thames on another— bounded by the London district, where there was an efficient police system—adjoining Hertfordshire with its rural police, and again Bedfordshire; leaving only the small corner abutting on Lincolnshire and Huntingdonshire in which the system of police had not been adopted. The population of that district was, according to the last census, about 1,334,652. He would now take a district comprising four other counties—Kent, by no means a favourable specimen, because it was not altogether an agricultural county, and because it abounded with watering places and seaports; Buckinghamshire; Lincolnshire, and Oxfordshire— counties working under a system of superintending constables, the aggregate population of which was about 1,349,000 persons, so that the population of the two districts was about the same, while the area was also of nearly equal extent, the acreage of the former district being 3,886,000 acres, and that of the latter 3,758,000 acres. The police district was, it was true, almost surrounded by other police districts, but the same was true of the district not employing a rural police, so that both districts were in the same position as to thieves being driven into them by the working of the police in neighbouring counties, and, in strict point of fact, that district 2168 which did not employ a rural police was placed in slightly a disadvantage when compared with the other district as regarded thieves being driven into it. Now, he had referred to the statistics of crime furnished by them for fifteen years; and what was the result? He found by the last returns, which were published in 1854, that the number of persons committed in the district under the rural police was 1 in 588 of the population; in the other district 1 in 630. It was true that no very strong argument could be founded upon returns for a single year, but, anticipating that objection, he had taken an average of five years; the Government returns having been made up for that period for the express purpose, he supposed, of ascertaining how the system had worked. In those four counties which had a rural police, there were tried, in the five years ending 1844, 11,094 persons; in the five years ending 1849, there were tried 10,208 persons; and in the five years ending 1854, there were 11,038 persons tried; so that the numbers were about equal in the first and last period of five years. In the four counties which had no rural police, in the same periods the numbers were respectively 10,321, 9,796, and 10,316, so that as far as a decrease in numbers went, both sets of counties were nearly the same. The House would observe that he had extended his inquiries over fifteen years, and was giving the results of intervals of five years, at which the returns were made up. It would, therefore, be impossible for any hon. Gentleman to argue that there was not more weight to be attached to statistics spreading over a series of years, than if they had been all derived from one, and they would observe that in both these instances the decrease had been in about the same proportion. There was, however, another element which should not be lost sight of, and that was, that in those counties which had a rural police, according to the Census of 1851, the population had, from some cause or other, in that period increased only at the rate of 7 2–3rds per cent, while in the other district it had increased at the rate of 10 l.5th per cent. If, therefore, there was so great an increase of population without any proportionate increase of crime, it appeared to him evident that the system in operation in those counties was not so much to be condemned. He did not mean to say that those counties which had adopted a rural police had not 2169 acted rightly in doing so; but he wished it to be clearly shown what they had gained, and he wanted that demonstrated to him by facts, and not assorted as a matter of mere opinion, before he would consent to having thrust down his throat that of which he saw no reason to approve. Many opinions were no doubt in favour of the adoption of a general system of police; but he had listened to opinions usque ad nauseam, and now he wished to hear some facts which would go to establish such a position. There was some strong evidence given before the Committee on the subject of sheep and horse stealing, which were supposed to be crimes which a system of rural police was most effectual to prevent, and the chairman of the quarter sessions had expressed his opinion that in Essex those crimes had immensely decreased. Now, in considering this question, he did not do so from a financial point of view, but he did not feel himself justified in speeding money unless he could see that something would be received for it and he certainly could not see that such would be the case under the measure proposed. He would beg the House to pay attention to a few statistics regarding horse and sheep stealing. In the four counties, under a system of rural police, the number of persons brought to trial for those offences in the five years ending 1844 was 311, in the second five years that number decreased to 274, and in the third five years to 249. In the other district, without the police, the number of persons brought to trial in the first five years was 319, in the second five years 254, and in the third period 231; so that the decrease had been considerably greater in the latter district than in the former, being in the one case 19 and a fraction per cent, and in the other 27 and a fraction. Now, as regarded what had been said in reference to convictions and acquittals, and to the superior manner in which the police got up informations—and that was by no means an unimportant point —he would trouble the House with a few more figures. In the year 1853, in the four counties which had a rural police, there were 2,104 persons committed for trial, of whom 589 were acquitted, being about 28 per cent. In the year 1854 the numbers respectively were 2,266 and 557, being 24⅔ per cent. Now, in those four counties which had no rural police the numbers were, in he year 1853, 2,029 persons committed, of whom 521 were acquitted, being 25 per cent; and in 1854, 2,155, of 2170 whom 482 were acquitted, being 22 5–6ths per cent; so that it was clear that, on the subject of acquittals, the district under the rural police had no advantage. He had now, he believed, gone through those cases which he considered to bear most strongly upon the point, and there was only one other subject to which he should wish to allude, and that was to show how far the two systems had gone to produce a decrease of crime. If this system had the effect, as they were told it had, of causing a decrease of crime, the presumption was, that over a series of years the number of committals, or rather of apprehensions, would be found to have decreased; but the contrary was the fact. By a return presented to the House on the Motion of the hon. Member for Bath, it appeared that in the four eastern counties before named the number of persons committed by the police, in the years 1840 and 1841, was 4,291, while in 1852, the last year to which the return came down, it was 5,038, That certainly was no evidence from which to infer that crime had been diminished by the rural police. These, then, were the grounds on which he thought no case had been made out for applying the police system to counties in which it had not hitherto existed.
He did not think the right hon. Baronet had made out any case against the boroughs for including them in this Bill. In speaking of the boroughs the right hon. Baronet had taken a very extraordinary course. Coming from that bench, it certainly sounded strange to hear letters from single individuals quoted against the unanimous opinions of town councils. How would that argument have been received from his (Mr. Henley's) side? A pretty outcry there would have been had a Tory attempted to set up a letter from a private individual against the opinion of a town council! But the right hon. Gentleman had gone further. In the case of Norwich, he had read a letter from some society in the city for the purpose of neutralising the representations of the town council. That showed how easily town councils could be thrown over by the Government when it suited their purpose. Looking at what had been attempted two years ago, and what had been attempted this year, it was not surprising that town councils were beginning to be uneasy in their minds. It was not very long ago since the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade made an onslaught on the property 2171 of corporations. According to him, their musty charters were of no value, and might be swept away whenever it was convenient; their only title to their property was simply a holding of some twenty years under an Act of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman's Bill only applied to seaport boroughs, but inland boroughs had dues too. For instance, he himself paid 2d. every time his waggon went into Oxford; and if the principle of that Bill were once established with regard to shipping dues, it might be applied to the dues of inland towns, too, whenever the Government had the power. It was the task of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade to attack the property of the boroughs, and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary undertook to despoil them of their franchises; so, between the two, it was no wonder that the boroughs began to feel afraid as to their ultimate fate. Stripped of their money and their franchises, nothing would he left to them. These matters were valuable as feathers to show which way the wind blew, and as indications of what the intentions of the Government were if they had the power. The right hon. Gentleman had paid a very high and well-deserved compliment to the police of Liverpool; but it was rather odd that in that very day's paper there was a report published from the police authorities of Liverpool, stating that crime had, very greatly increased there. Perhaps the soil of Liverpool was one fertile in crime, in spite of every preventive; but this great increase in a place where the police system was so admirable was not an argument calculated to reconcile the House to the advantages of the new system. The right hon. Gentleman stated that a county police had been established, in Surrey, in consequence of an unfortunate occurrence which took place in that county some years ago; but did the right hon. Gentleman mean to argue that police stopped crimes? It was hut a few weeks ago that an unfortunate gentleman, was shot down in the streets of London in open day; and what would the right hon. Gentleman have said had that crime been committed in a county where there was no police? In the Bill of 1854, and in this Bill as originally introduced, a provision had been inserted, giving the Home Office power to fix the duties of the police; therefore it might be assumed that it was the settled purpose of the Home Office to obtain that power if it could. It was 2172 manifestly the purpose of the Home Office to take the conservancy of the peace out of the hands of the magistracy, and to transfer it to the police. But how had that system worked where the Home Office had the entire power? What had happened in London only last year? A certain measure was introduced into that House. On the next Sunday disgraceful scenes occurred in a place of public resort in the metropolis; people were insulted, and a scene was exhibited which was unbecoming that or any other day. Whether it was by connivance he could not say, but there was on that occasion no effectual interference of the police. After that it was vain to say that wherever a police force was established order would be preserved. What occurred on that day was scandalous, and a very small exertion of the power in the hands of the Chief Commissioner of Police would have put it down. Next Sunday there was a good row. Perhaps the Government wanted a good row. It might be the case of Bristol over again. In that instance a Whig Government was warned, but would take no step to prevent the disturbance, and Bristol was burnt. The Government took no steps to put down the first row in Hyde Park, and the result was a second row, which was enough for them, and would probably have been enough for any Government. There was then a very large and disorderly meeting, and a large organised force was brought against it—no magistrate was present—and police inspectors conducted the operations. As to how the work of quelling the disturbance was executed, there was so much difference of opinion that the Government was forced to appoint a commission of inquiry; and he did not think that the members of that commission were quite satisfied with the way in which that duty was performed. What happened besides? Large numbers of persons were arrested; and, after being incarcerated in places which were not very fit to receive them until the afternoon or evening following, they were, without being taken before a magistrate, discharged, whether by the authority of the Chief Commissioner of Police or of the Secretary of State never clearly appeared. He did not think that that was exactly a state of things which would induce people to establish a police which it was clear the Government would, as soon as it had the power, take into its hands as completely as it now controlled the metropolitan police. In the case to which he had re- 2173 ferred, order was not kept, and the duty of conserving the peace was entirely dissevered from the magistrates. Such a severance was a very large question, and it was desirable that it should not be effected by a side wind. Perhaps he should be told that the Chief Commissioner was a magistrate. He believed that he was, but the practice of our constitution had always been to separate executive from judicial functions. In accordance with that principle—which he believed to be a sound one—a sheriff could not act as a magistrate during his shrievalty. He (Mr. Henley) was, therefore, of opinion that it was undesirable that, without further security than was contained in this Bill, the entire preservation of the peace should be put into the hands of the police apart from the magistracy.
He had thus gone through some of his principal objections to this measure. He wished that the establishment of a police force had been left to the discretion of the magistrates, because he thought that those who who were anxious to preserve the peace of a county would not, if they saw distinct evidence that such a force was likely to be of benefit, be slow to adopt it. Upon the financial part of the question the right hon. Baronet had quoted a document published by the chief constable of Essex; but he had not said—indeed, he had carefully avoided saying—how far he affirmed the calculation contained in it. If he did not credit that calculation, it would throw some light upon the confidence to be placed in the other statements of this officer; while, if the right hon. Baronet did credit his witness, he (Mr. Henley) should like to know on what principle he proposed to pay one-fourth of the cost of the police force? If the right hon. Baronet believed that the force would be self-supporting, he (Mr. Henley) could not understand on what principle he proposed to throw 25 per cent of the cost upon the Consolidated Fund. There was another matter to which, though it was somewhat of a local character, he wished to refer. The right hon. Baronat had presented a petition in favour of this Bill signed by thirty-two or thirty-three persons living in the county which he (Mr. Henley) had the honour to represent, and near the residence of his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Harcourt), which contained statements of so extraordinary a character that he felt it to be his duty to comment upon them. The petition had been printed in the appendix to the Votes; 2174 but one word—a word with which he (Mr. Henley) was not previously acquainted—had been altered. After stating that the want of a police force was much felt, and that the population of the district was generally degraded, the petition went on—"In fact" —this was not an opinion, but a statement of fact—" in fact, the constables are generally too much mixed up in social relation with the criminous part of the population to be able to carry out their duties." The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) was kind enough to show him this petition at the time he presented it. His education did not inform him what was the meaning of the word "criminous," and he had no doubt that many Members of the House would be in equal ignorance in regard to it. Thinking it might be a law term, he showed it to the hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger), who replied, "Perhaps it is Scotch." He (Mr. Henley) then turned to his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), who said that he did not know the word, but he thought it would be safe to assume that it meant criminal. So the Committee of Petitions had printed it. He (Mr. Henley) would now inform the House what the word "criminous" did mean. The petition was signed by thirty-two persons, and of these ten were ministers of the Church of England. No man could be more willing than he was to give weight and authority to the opinion of the clerical profession. Even when the clergy might have stated a case rather too strongly, he would be disposed to regard their meaning rather than their precise language, and to treat their sentiments with the utmost respect. But the interests of truth were paramount. The district to which this extraordinary language was applied he had known from boyhood; it contained a population of 20,000 souls, was divided into thirty-eight parishes, and employed nearly 100 constables. With many of these officers he was personally acquainted; he knew their worth and respectability, and would declare in his place in Parliament that in their station they were as estimable members of society as any who had put their hands to the petition. As soon as he had ascertained the terrible meaning of the word used in that document, he wrote to the person whose name was first in the list of signatures, in the hope that that gentleman would authorise him to withdraw the expression in question. He reminded him that this was "a grave and 2175 terrible charge, coming from the members of the Church," and expressed a hope that it had been made "without due consideration." But the gentleman who had been the first to sign the petition, and who, it should be observed, was so eminent, not only for piety, but for theological research, that the Bishop of the diocese had placed him at the head of the diocesan college for the education of young clergymen, refused either to withdraw the language or to qualify it. So the petition remained unaltered, and a charge of the gravest and most awful kind was entered on the records of that House against 100 Englishmen, respectable in their station of life. The epithet used in the petition was one of the deepest reprobation. In the folio edition of Johnson, and also in some of the ordinary editions, he found it thus defined, "Criminous—wicked, iniquitous; enormously guilty." Johnson never gave such strong words without quoting his authority; and in this case he cited the following passage from Dr. Hammond, a well-known theologian: — "The punishment which belongs to that great and criminous guilt is forfeiture of his whole right and claim to all the mercies which are made over to him by Christ." Such was the meaning of the word "criminous," an expression which he would take upon him to assert not one man in a hundred had ever heard. Was it to be endured that any class of men should lay to the charge of men as respectable as themselves conduct that deserved to be stigmatised with such language? Sensible of the severity and gravity of the charge, and anxious to ascertain its truth, he had asked several friends of his who knew the district well, what they thought of the allegation, and they were as much astonished at it as he had himself been. Not content, however, with a mere expression of opinion, he resolved to bring the statement in the petition to the unerring test of figures. The superintendent of the police furnished him with a statement, from which it appeared that the total number of offences reported in this "degraded" district during the past year only amounted to 223, of which 142—an unusually large proportion—were detected. The clerk of the magistrates returned the charges brought before the justices at petty sessions during the twelve months ending the 8th of March last at 193, and some of them were offences of so paltry a nature that they could scarcely be said to partake at all of a criminal cha- 2176 racter; while, as for violations of the Sabbath, the charges under that head were, confined to two or three cases of boys taken up for playing marbles or some such transgression. Such was the calendar of crimes that was thought to justify the use of the most awful terms of reprobation that the English language could supply. Reverting to the Bill under discussion, he warned the House that its object was to withdraw the management of the police from the hands of the magistrates, and to vest it in those of the Home Secretary. The Bill would create an antagonism between counties and boroughs; and as surely as this was done the arbitrator would step in, and, in the interests of peace, rob both parties of their right. Nor let it be supposed that it would end here. Take the police out of the hands of the magistracy, and finance would soon disappear; and when finance had disappeared, what would remain of the judicial office? Little more than the name. All he asked them was, not to join in forcing the measure on those who did not agree to it.
§ SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE
said, he thought that any one who listened to the solemn warning of his right hon. Friend who spoke last (Mr. Henley) might imagine that this measure contemplated very extensive changes; whereas a reference to the Bill itself would show that, as regarded the counties, it merely proposed that those of them which had not voluntarily adopted the Police Act should be compelled to place themselves in the very same position in which half of England was already placed, with the single exception that part of their expenses would be defrayed from the Consolidated Fund, in return for which pecuniary aid they would be subject to Government inspection. With respect to the boroughs, it appeared, after the concessions made by the Home Secretary (Sir G. Grey) that evening, that in their case also the provisions of the Bill would make no material alteration. In consideration of certain advantages to be conferred upon them, they also were to be subject to the supervision of the Government. It appeared, indeed, to him that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Sir G. Grey) had missed an opportunity of extending to the boroughs one of the great advantages of the county police, and therefore, when the measure reached Committee, it would be worthy of deliberation whether the two ought not in this particular to be placed on an equal footing. 2177 He believed, notwithstanding what had passed in that debate, that the police of the counties was superior to that of the majority of the boroughs; and that the key to the superiority of the former consisted in the fact, that the chief constables in the counties were independent of those who appointed them in regard to the selection of their own subordinates. That excellent feature of the county system the Home Secretary did not, however, intend to introduce into the boroughs, an omission which deprived the provisions of this Bill relating to towns of any great importance. Whatever might be the character of the constables of the county of Oxford, whom the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) had vindicated, it was manifest that the situation of village constables, living necessarily in close association with those with whom they had to deal as criminals, must be most unfavourable for the due discharge of their functions. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) alluded, with some disparagement of the metropolitan police, to the riotous assemblages on Sundays in Hyde Park; but, although those disturbances were alarming, and somewhat discreditable to the authorities, which permitted them for a time; yet, after all, they ended without any serious calamities, and were suppressed at last by that very police force which the Government had in their hands, and might have used before. If the right hon. Gentleman fancied that it would have been better for the public peace had we had no police on those occasions, let him only revert to the history of the riots of 1780, and then, no doubt, he would soon be disabused of such an opinion. It might sound like a paradox, but it was nevertheless true, that the interest of any man in the efficiency of the police organisation was in the inverse ratio to the amount of his property. The rich landowner, who could easily defend himself with the aid of his gamekeepers and his other manservants, was rarely the victim of depredation; but at each successive step downward in the social scale the need of protection from the police became stronger. Even the opulent farmer, who might without difficulty guard his homestead, was often wholly unable to protect his sheep and cattle on the outskirts of his holding. The hon. Member for Brighton (Sir G. Pechell) said he never heard any one assert that a police force was wanted in Sussex. That was certainly at variance with the evidence 2178 taken by the Committee, before which a large farmer, occupying about 1,000 acres in Hampshire, and 300 more in Sussex, deposed that he saved the amount of his police rate twice or thrice over in the increased security extended to his flock in the former county; whereas, on his smaller farm in Sussex, he paid more in voluntary contribution to maintain a private watchman for an inefficient protection to his property than he did in the neighbouring county, where there was an organised police, since the establishment of which he had there lost no sheep, having previously lost, on an average, nine or ten every year; a fact to be commended to the attention of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), who had expressed a doubt whether the rural police was likely to prevent sheep-stealing. But if you descend to the very poorest classes, the case becomes infinitely stronger, and presents some entirely new features. The case of an agricultural labourer is, not only that his cottage is often lonely in situation, and still more often deserted by the whole family during the hours of labour and school; nor is it only that housebreaking may be to him, whose little property is concentrated there, almost complete ruin—although these two circumstances alone are enough to make his need of protection greater than that of his superior in station and wealth—but, in addition to these, there is the important fact, that, after depredation redress will be, in many cases, accessible to him only through an organised police. If a robbery took place and there was an efficient police in his district, the constables, who were paid for devoting their whole time to such a duty, would speedily follow the track of the depredators, and use every exertion to bring them to justice. But if no other aid than that of the parish constable could be invoked, that functionary would hesitate to undertake a journey of perhaps thirty or forty miles in pursuit of the offenders, unless money needed to meet his expenses were paid him in advance; because, although, if he was successful in apprehending the offender, the expenses would be repaid under the certificate of the committing magistrate, yet, if he failed in discovering him, there was no fund from which he could be remunerated for his expenses and loss of time. Thus the poor man in the latter case was not only more exposed to be plundered, but less able afterwards to procure redress; and, therefore, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicestershire 2179 (Mr. Packe) was using no hyperbole when he said that this was emphatically "a poor man's question." The figures adduced by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley), to show that the operations of the police force were not so successful as was often alleged, were liable to this radical fallacy, that the real test for such a question was the amount of undetected crime. If there was an apparent increase of crime in any locality, consequent on the redoubled activity of the police enabling them to gain on the course of crime, that was not a circumstance affording matter for regret. In Hampshire a register had been kept for the last ten years of the number of complaints of crime brought to the police office; and, although it sometimes happened that the number of criminals convicted showed an increase in particular years, yet it was found that that increase was coincident with a steady diminution in the proportion of undetected crime. About two years ago, when the changes with reference to secondary punishments took place, a number of discharged convicts and ticket-of-leave men flocked to the county in which he resided (Hampshire), and it was found necessary to increase the police force. With the increase of crime there was also some increase of undetected crime, but not in proportion to the crime committed; on the contrary, the proportion of undetected crime had continued to diminish, and had fallen in those few years from 57 per cent to 33 per cent; so that it was evident that no part of the increase of undetected crime could be attributed to the inefficiency or want of activity on the part of the police. With respect to the allowance to be made from the Consolidated Fund to those counties and boroughs which placed themselves under the operation of the measure, he thought that the Government ought to take into its serious consideration the objection taken by the hon. Member for Norfolk (Major Bentinck) that the amount was insufficient, and he would suggest, on the grounds of justice and expediency, that care should be taken that a sufficiently large grant was made. He made that suggestion on the ground of justice, because it must be recollected that a very large proportion of those crimes which were dealt with through the instrumentality of the police related to personal property, while the rates were levied upon real property; and, as a great proportion of such crimes affected very poor people, who had not realised property enough to be subject 2180 to a rate, he thought the general taxpayers of the country should be called upon to contribute as large a share of the expense as was consistent with the maintenance of efficient local supervision. On the ground of expediency, also, he recommended that such an allowance should be made as would be a sufficient inducement to the inhabitants of counties and boroughs to avail themselves of this measure; for otherwise, in places where there was a very insufficient police force, the authorities might find it the cheaper course to continue the present system than to make so large an addition to their force as alone could entitle them to a favourable certificate from the Government Inspector. He would give his vote for the second reading of the Bill, and they could then discuss the details in Committee.
MR. J. B. SMITH
regarded this measure as an attempt on the part of the Government to deprive the people of the right of self-government, and he thought, therefore, it was an insult to the nation, and that the proposition for the second reading ought to be met by a direct negative. Part of the measure might be applicable to boroughs as well as to counties, but those provisions ought to be submitted to the House in the shape of a new Bill. He regretted to find such a measure proposed on that side of the House, for, had it emanated from hon. Gentlemen opposite, the two hours' speech made by the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) to-night in favour of the Bill would have been converted into an eloquent denunciation of Tory tyranny. The right hon. Baronet had stated that the police force of the borough which he represented (Stockport) was inadequate. He (Mr. Smith) thought the people, who elected the persons by whom the police were appointed and controlled, were themselves the best judges of the force necessary for their defence; and if they deemed the number of the police force insufficient, they had the remedy in their own hands. Although numerous turn-outs had taken place in Stockport, there had been no occasion since 1842 to resort to any other aid than that of the police to maintain the public peace, except in 1852, when the noble Member for the City of London got up an anti-popery cry, and a mob burnt down the Roman Catholic chapel.
§ MR. RICE
said, that as some allusion had been made to the Committee of which he had been Chairman, he begged to state 2181 that that Committee consisted of eight borough Members, seven county Members, eight Members for counties which had no regular constabulary, and seven Members for counties in which such a force had been established. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had expressed some surprise at the opposition offered to this Bill by the boroughs, but he (Mr. Rice) felt no surprise on the subject, for he believed that the great body of persons who objected to the Bill had never read it, but had read the speech of the Lord Mayor of York, and therefore came to the conclusion that the measure involved an invasion of their rights and liberties; there was not a shadow of cause of complaint by the borough Members. He (Mr. Rice) maintained that the Bill would not affect in the slightest degree the right of self-government. With reference to the sixth clause, he expressed his hope that boroughs and counties would be placed exactly on a similar footing. If the present Bill became law, as he hoped it would, he believed that the time would shortly arrive when they would reflect with surprise and astonishment that it had been seriously debated whether they should have throughout the country a uniform system of police, subject entirely to local management; or whether they should continue the present isolated, disjointed, and absurdly anomalous system, which was useless to the country at large.
§ MR. DEEDES
said, he was anxious to address a few observations to the House, because, amongst his friends, both here and out of doors, he had been represented as having expressed himself entirely favourable to the principle of the Bill when it was introduced, and it was desirable, therefore, that he should state his reasons for not being able now to give the measure his support. It appeared to him that the grounds upon which the existing Police Acts were proposed and carried had been lost sight of in the course of the present discussion. When the first Bill was introduced by the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) it was clearly admitted in the debates which ensued both in this House and the House of Lords, that it was an innovation upon the then existing constitutional principle of local self-government. In introducing the measure to this House, the noble Lord used these words:—" The state of the country at this time will not justify my postponing the Bill until next Session;" and Lord Melbourne, in the House of Lords, in the same Ses- 2182 sion, said:—" It would not be prudent or safe to permit the country to remain without some measure for the maintenance of the public peace." Why had he quoted these opinions? To show that at that period, in the opinion of men who were at the head of affairs, the measure they were introducing was one of great importance, and required grave consideration; and he thought that in now being-asked to make that compulsory which was then introduced only as a voluntary or permissive measure, the House was entitled to inquire whether there were any grounds to justify the principle of compulsion. What was the necessity for effecting any such alteration in the existing law? Had the right hon. Baronet who moved the second reading of the Bill shown them that there was any necessity for making this a compulsory measure? He ventured to contend that he had not. Had he shown that there were any petitions from ratepayers which stated that they had made applications to the magistrates to establish a rural police in different counties and had been refused? Had he shown that a state of things existed in this country that called, as it did in 1839, for the introduction of such a measure as this? Not at all. The only argument used by the right hon. gentleman as to the necessity was that it was inconvenient that one county should be adopting one system of rural police, whilst another county adopted another. He could not but think that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) had proved by the returns he had read to the House that upon this ground there was no reason whatever why the House should adopt the Bill. If it were thought advisable, what was there to prevent any one county at this moment from adopting the provisions of the Bill. The hon. Baronet the Member for East Norfolk (Sir H. Stracey) had spoken of the increasing popularity of the measure; but he (Mr. Deedes) was at a loss to find it out, because since the Act first passed very few counties indeed had adopted it. The moment chosen, too, for bringing in the Bill was peculiarly unhappy, inasmuch as in the course of the last year two counties—certainly one, Berkshire—had voluntarily adopted the principle of the Bill; and if the ticket-of-leave system, which seemed to have frightened everybody so much, was likely to continue and frighten them still more, there was no reason that he could see why the counties should not generally adopt the principle 2183 of the Bill without being compelled to do I so. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), three or four years after the passing of the Rural Police Act, introduced the Parochial Constables Bill and carried it through Parliament; was that any proof that the Rural Police Act was so perfect that no amendment of it would be wanted? He did not mean to say that the Parochial Constables Act was the most perfect Act that could be devised; but he did say that in many counties it had been found sufficient, and that with very trifling alterations it might be adapted to meet all requirements. If, however, on trial, it failed to do so, why not leave the counties voluntarily to adopt the principle of this Bill, instead of having it forced upon them. He objected, then, to the Bill on various grounds. It was said that it would not tend to centralisation; but he contended that all such measures tended to centralisation, and that those who now gave it their support would hereafter find they were grievously mistaken on that head. He objected to it also because it would go to deprive the people of local self-government; for, virtually, it placed in the hands of the Secretary of State for the time being the chief management of the police of every county. True, he might be told of the inspectors of prisons; but he objected to the inspectors of prisons. They had done a great many things that they were not justified in doing. They had made some most unfair reports as to the state of the various gaols, and he must say that he did not want to see reports made that would create a difference of opinion between the Secretary of State and the magistracy of the country. In the same manner he feared that the inspectors under the present Bill in carrying out their powers were likely to clash with the magistrates. Complaint had been made on all hands that the Statute-book was overloaded with statutes; he would suggest, therefore, that as the two preceding Acts of which this Bill was the sequel were short Acts, the right hon. Gentleman would have done better to have repealed the existing Acts, consolidating their provisions, and placed them in such a shape that one could have seen at a glance what was the law on the subject. In conclusion, the hon. Gentleman said he should oppose the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he hoped the right hon. Baronet would withdraw his mutilated 2184 Bill, and introduce a new one after the Easter recess. Although some of the objectionable clauses were withdrawn, the inspectorship, to which he totally objected, still remained. On what ground were the boroughs to be interfered with? He had never heard a single complaint as to the manner in which they managed their affairs. He believed that a great deal of the evil which had been set forth as a justification of the Bill arose from the ticket-of-leave system, and from discharged convicts wandering about the country teaching young persons to thieve. It might be expedient to give authority to the borough police out of boroughs, and to the county police in boroughs, but that was no reason for the interference of Government in their management. If the police could be made efficient in one county under the present law, why should it not be made efficient in another county? Being unwilling to sanction unnecessary interference on the part of the Government in local matters, he should vote against the Bill.
§ MR. WARNER
saw nothing in the Bill to justly raise the suspicions or fears of the boroughs. The Government having promised to remove the objectionable portions of the measure, he should vote for the second reading; but he reserved to himself the right of voting against the third reading, in the event of any provisions being introduced in Committee that would infringe the principle of local control.
§ MR. BARROW
would oppose the Bill, as he would oppose every such Bill, from whatever party it emanated—whether Whig, Tory, Radical, or Composite. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) had stated that it was not a theoretically perfect measure; and from that observation he (Mr. Barrow) drew the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman meant to make it theoretically perfect ere long by driving-home the wedge, of which this was only the thin end. The cost of the rural police in his (Mr. Barrow's) county (Nottinghamshire) was, for the first year, between £2,000 and £3,000; but in the last year it was not less than £6,000 and odd; and whilst the cost of prosecutions there had in 1847 been £1,591, in 1855 it was upwards of £3,000. Now the rural police had been in existence in Nottinghamshire fifteen years; one would have thought, therefore, that the cost of prosecutions, instead of increasing, would by this time have been reduced in. consequence of the 2185 detection of crime; but he could not say that the establishment of the police force had had the effect of reducing crime to the extent which had been ascribed to it. It was necessary, perhaps, that officers of the peace should have protection against any prosecutions that might be instituted against them; but he asked those who said that that this was a poor man's Bill whether the poor man who might be kept in the lock-up improperly for twenty-four hours would have any remedy against the policeman? Certainly, if he took his case into Court, he would do so with all the disadvantage of having to prosecute a policeman who was backed by the power of the Government.
§ MR. COBBETT
said, he could not agree with the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), that the circumstance of the Frimley murder afforded so much argument in favour of this Bill, or showed the necessity of forming a rural police in the county of Surrey. Abstractedly, the fact of a murder having taken place in a county was not sufficient to prove that necessity, but two of the three persons who committed this murder belonged to Guildford, and the third, who conducted them to the place where the crime was committed, and in spite of their remonstrance, loaded his pistols on the road, was a pedlar not belonging to Surrey. He heard the trial, and it appeared to him that neither of them had deliberated upon the murder, and that the man who committed it was unaccustomed to any such crime. No doubt the man who became approver had committed many burglaries, as he was connected with a gang of Sussex burglars, most of them belonging to that part of the county which contained a constabulary like that which the right hon. Baronet now sought to establish throughout the kingdom. The last burglary committed by this gang took place at Uckfield, within about a mile of the station of the county constabulary. They walked clear out of the county with their booty, but were detected by two local constables at Tunbridge-wells. It would be tyrannical to compel those counties, which had not chosen to adopt the existing law, to establish a constabulary force; at all events, the House should not be called upon to agree to a Bill for that purpose without further inquiry. He agreed with the opinions expressed by the hon. Member for Kent (Mr. Deedes); if the ratepayers wished to have police they could petition for them, and if the magis- 2186 trates wished for it they could impose it without consulting the ratepayers. A police force had existed for several years in the eastern division of Sussex; but he knew from personal observation that if the ratepayers in that district were now polled there would be a large majority for dispensing with the constabulary. From a return which he had recently obtained from the superintendent, it appeared that the number of crimes detected bore a very small proportion to the number committed. The return, which extended over a period of ten years, referred to larcenies only, of which not more than a half, and in some years less than a third, were detected. Last year the number committed was 520, and the number detected 170. For larceny, the amount of crime committed was—
Such facts were not calculated to lead the House to the conclusion that there was any superior efficiency in the new police force. He should vote against the Bill, hoping that the Government would not find it necessary to propose any change of the law.
"In1845 230 Detected110 "In 1846 300 Detected 120 "In 1847 400 Detected 200 "In 1848 350 Detected 190 "In 1849 440 Detected 180 "In 1850 450 Detected 140 "In 1851 348 Detected 130 "In 1852 300 Detected 110 "In 1853 300 Detected 110 "In 1854 520 Detected 170"
§ MR. KNIGHT
cautioned the county Members against voting for the Bill, which he regarded as a most dangerous and insidious measure, He especially objected to the appointment of inspectors. Poor-law inspectors were appointed, and we had now a President of the Poor Law Board. Board of Health inspectors were appointed, and we had now a Minister of Public Health. School inspectors were appointed, and now it was proposed to have a Vice President of the Council charged with education. Let the House agree to the appointment of police inspectors, and the country would soon be cursed—for a curse he must call it—with a Police Minister.
§ MR. CAYLEY
said, he did not rise to make a speech, but to read a note. It had been stated that no petitions had been presented from ratepayers complaining of the want of a police force. He held in his hand a note which he had received from a most respectable person residing in Wensleydale—a name now familiar to the House—stating that the Bill was a most valuable 2187 one, and would confer a lasting benefit upon the country. He was as much opposed to the principle of centralisation and as much for that of local self-government as any man; and he was also extremely jealous of unnecessarily increasing expenditure in thinly populated districts by a machinery only applicable to a dense population, But that something was required to be done, among other instances, the letter he had received from Wensleydale would abundantly show, the writer stating that he and his neighbours were eighteen miles from a policeman, that the parish constables were useless, that they had been refused a superintendent by the quarter sessions, and that they felt themselves virtually without the pale of the law. Although, therefore, he was opposed to the principle of centralisation, he should support the second reading of the Bill. ["Divide, divide."]
§ MR. HADFIELD
suggested that, as the newly printed Bill had been in the hands of Members six days only, and as the subject had excited great interest throughout the country, the debate should be adjourned. The boroughs were anxious to maintain the authority of the laws, and would gladly accept any reasonable Bill which the Government might introduce. He felt certain that if the two orders of the night were carried into effect, the Government would have made rapid strides towards bringing all the business of the country to London. If the police of the country were to be managed by the Home Secretary's department, and if all the teachers of the education of the country— the expense of which would be £3,450,000 or more—were in the hands of the Government, a more despicable despotism would not exist. He should oppose the system of centralisation to the utmost. ["Divide, divide."]
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
regretted that he could not assent to the application made to him to withdraw the Bill, and to introduce an amended one. The alterations which he proposed to make in it were not alterations as to principle, but only as to some of the details. Adverting, then, to the general rule of the House, those Amendments were most appropriately made in Committee. He only asked the House, then, to express an opinion upon the principle of the measure by taking a division on the second reading, following the course usually pursued in reference to Bills upon important subjects. If the 2188 House should agree to the second reading he would make those Amendments of which he had given notice in Committee. The Bill could then be printed in its amended form and circulated through the country before they proceeded to its final stage, so that the alterations made in it could be well considered. As the proposed alterations did not in the slightest degree affect the principle of the Bill he did not see any necessity for withdrawing it.
§ Question put, "That the words 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 259; Noes 106: Majority 153.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Currie, R.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Davie, Sir H. R. F.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Alcock, T.||Davies, J. L.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Denison, J. E.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Dering, Sir E.|
|Bailey, H. J.||De Vere, S. E.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Ball, E.||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Ball, J.||Duff, G. S.|
|Baring, T.||Duff, J.|
|Harrington, Visct.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Bateson, T.||Duncombe, hon. W. E.|
|Beckett, W.||Dundas, F.|
|Bennet, P.||Dungarvan, Visct.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Dunlop, A. M.|
|Berkeley, Sir M.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Berkeley, G. C. L.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Bignold, Sir S.||Ellice, E.|
|Black, A.||Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Blakcmore, T. W. B.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Bond, J. W. M'G.||Euston, Earl of|
|Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Fellowes, E.|
|Brand, hon. H.||Fenwick, H.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Ferguson, Col.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Fergusson, Sir J.|
|Buckley, Gen.||Fitzgerald, J. D.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Fitzgerald, W. R. S.|
|Byng, hon. G. H. C.||FitzRoy, rt. hon. H.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Forster, J.|
|Castlerose, Visct.||Fortescue, C. S.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Gifford, Earl of|
|Cecil, Lord R.||Gooch, Sir E. S.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Greene, J.|
|Clinton, Lord R.||Gregson, S.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Grey, R. W.|
|Coffin, W.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Coles, H. B.||Gurney, J. H.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Hale, R. B.|
|Compton, H. C.||Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Hankey, T.|
|Cowan, C.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Harcourt, Col.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Hastie, Alex.|
|Hastie, Arch.||Palmer, Roundell|
|Headlam, T. E.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Patten, Col. W.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Peacocke, G. M. W,|
|Holland, E.||Peel, F.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Pellatt, A.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Percy, hon. J. W.|
|Ingham, R.||Perry, Sir T. E.|
|Johnstone, J.||Philipps, J. H.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Pinney, Col.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Jones, D.||Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.|
|Kerrison, Sir E. C.||Portal, M.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Portman, hon. W. H. B.|
|Kirk, W.||Power, N.|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Price, W. P.|
|Knightley, R.||Pritchard, J.|
|Knox, Col.||Raynham, Visct.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Ricardo, S.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Rice, E. R.|
|Langston, J. H.||Ridley, G.|
|Langton, W. G.||Rolt, P.|
|Langton, H. G.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Layard, A. H.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Lee, W.||Rust, J.|
|Legh, G. C.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Lennox, Lord A. F.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Lewis, rt. hon. Sir G. C.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Liddell, hon. H. G.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Lindsey, hon. Col.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Lisburne, Earl of||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Littleton, hon. E. R.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Smijth, Sir W.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Smith, M. T.|
|Luce, T.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Lushington, C. M.||Smith, A.|
|Mackie, J.||Smollett, A.|
|M'Cann, J.||Somerset, Col.|
|MacGregor, J.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Spooner, R.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Stafford, Marq. of|
|March, Earl of||Stanley, Lord|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Marshall, W.||Steel, J.|
|Martin, P. W.||Stirling, W.|
|Massey, W. N.||Stracey, Sir H. J.|
|Matheson, Alex.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Miles, W.||Stewart, Sir M. R. S.|
|Milner, Sir W. M. E.||Stuart, Capt.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Sullivan, M.|
|Moffatt, G.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Monck, Visct.||Taylor, Col.|
|Moncreiff, J.||Thompson, G.|
|Monsell, W.||Thornely, T.|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Tollemache, J.|
|Morgan, O.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Morris, D.||Uxbridge, Earl of|
|Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Mowbray, J. R.||Vansittart, G. H.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Vernon, G. E. H.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Neeld, J.||Vyse, Col.|
|Newark, Visct.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Newport, Visct.||Walcott, Adm.|
|North, F.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Oakes, J. H. P.||Walter, J.|
|Osborne, R.||Warner, E.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Waterpark, Lord|
|Packe, C. W.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Whatman, J.|
|Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|Palmer, Robert||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Wilson, J.||Wyndham, H.|
|Winnington, Sir T. E.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.||Wyvill, M.|
|Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.||TELLERS.|
|Wrightson, W. B.||Heyter, W.|
|Wyndham, Gen.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acton, J.||Hall, Gen.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Anderson, Sir J.||Herbert, Sir T.|
|Annesley, Earl of||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Bailey, Sir J.||Heyworth, L.|
|Bailey, C.||Horsfall, T. B.|
|Baird, J.||Hotham, Lord|
|Baldock, E. H.||Hutt, W.|
|Bankes, rt. hon. G.||Ingram, H.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T||Kershaw, J.|
|Barnes, T.||Knight, F. W.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Lindsey, W. S.|
|Baxter, W. E.||MacEvoy, E.|
|Bell, J.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Biggs, W.||Miall, E.|
|Blackburn, P.||Milligan, R.|
|Boldero, Col.||Mitchell, W.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Bowyer, G.||Mowatt, F.|
|Bramley-Moore, J.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Murrough, J. P.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Brotherton, J.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Buck, L. W.||North, Col.|
|Buck, Col.||Northcote, Sir S. H.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.||Oliveira, B.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Parker, R. T.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Paxton, Sir J.|
|Cobden, R.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Crook, J.||Pigott, F.|
|Crossley, F.||Pilkington, J.|
|Deedes, W.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Ricardo, O.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Duncan, G.||Scholefield, W.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Scobell, Capt.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|East, Sir J. B.||Smith, J. A.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Smith, J. B.|
|Ewart, W.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Ewart, J. C.||Tite, W.|
|Farrer, J.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Vernon, L. V.|
|Follett, B. S.||Waddington, D.|
|Fox, W. J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Freestun, Col.||Welby, Sir G. E.|
|Gardner, R.||Wells, W.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Whitmore, H.|
|Graham, Lord M. W.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Greaves, E.||Willcox, B. M'G.|
|Greenall, G.||Williams, W.|
|Guinness, R. S.|
|Hadfield, G.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Forster, C.|