HC Deb 10 February 1857 vol 144 cc494-5

said, he rose to ask for leave to introduce a Bill to facilitate the appointment of chief constables for adjoining counties, and to confirm appointments of chief constables in certain cases. The first object of the Bill was to remedy a defective proviso in the 2 & 3 Vict. c. 93, the Act which first sanctioned the appointment of a county constabulary. Henceforth it would be lawful for adjoining counties to appoint the same chief constable, subject to the consent of the magistrates at quarter sessions of the district last electing him. Another part of the Bill related to a provision of the existing law which rendered the election of chief constables subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, and also declared that the persons chosen must not exceed the age of forty-five. A case had lately occurred in Staffordshire in reference to which the opinion of the law officers of the Crown had been taken, and they were of opinion that, under the terms of the Act of Parliament, the magistrate had no option but to elect a person qualified according to the rules prescribed, and that the Secretary of State could not by his consent render valid an election at variance with those rules. Under these circumstances, as doubts might arise as to acts done by chief constables who had been thus elected and approved by the Secretary of State, it has been thought desirable to bring in a Bill to render valid all acts done by them in the discharge of their duties.


said, he wished to inquire whether the Bill referred to appointments very recently made?


said he wanted to know whether, in future, candidates above the prescribed maximum age could be elected?


said, he must explain that up to the present time it had been assumed that the approval of the Secretary of State would cure any defect in the appointment. There had only been four such cases in which approval had been accorded by three different Secretaries of State. As, however, it appeared that, according to the construction of the Act, the rules must be strictly adhered to, he had thought it necessary to alter those rules, to render them less stringent, and to provide for the exercise of discretion in special cases by the Secretary of State.

Leave given.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir GEORGE GREY and Mr. MASSEY.

Bill read 1°.