§ Order for Second Reading read.
Sir, in rising to move 1122 the second reading of the Dublin Police Force (Ireland) Bill, I am anxious to take the earliest opportunity, which the forms of the House will allow me, to correct various misapprehensions and misstatements which have been made in regard to the objects and principles of this Bill. I observe that among a large proportion of the population of Dublin this Bill has undergone considerable discussion. It has been discussed both in the corporation and at a public meeting of the inhabitants held a few evenings ago. The objections brought against the Bill at both of these meetings are utterly untenable and entirely without foundation; and if the House will give me their attention for a few minutes I shall show that these objections are founded on a misunderstanding of the Bill. Now, it has been objected to for many reasons. It has been said that this Bill will not remove or diminish the taxation of the rate-payers of Ireland; and in the observations I have to address to the House I shall divide my explanations entirely into the operations of the Bill as it affects Dublin, for I believe that in the western parts of the country, both in Belfast and in other parts of Ireland,—the proposed Bill is very well received and universally approved of; but in Dublin it had been said that this Bill will not in reality diminish the local burdens. It has also been said that the proposed new police force will be insufficient for the preservation of the peace in the present increased population of the town. It has been further asserted that the constabulary force will suffer from this amalgamation; and that unless the City of Dublin should be placed precisely in the same position in this respect as the counties of Ireland, the constabulary would suffer; and, lastly, it has been attempted to impute sectarian motives to the promoters of this Bill. Now, upon all these points, misconceptions, and misstatements, I am in a position to satisfy the House that these objections do not in reality exist. I will first address myself to the financial part of the proposition. I observe that even after the statements that I made to the House the other night, when I thought I showed satisfactorily to the House that a very considerable diminution of expense would occur in connection with the local burdens, it has still been stated that nothing of the kind will be effected. I will, therefore, now ask the House for a few minutes to give me its attention while I state, as briefly as I can, what will really be the financial effect of the measure I propose. The present expense of the 1123 force of the Dublin metropolitan police, in the shape of material and men, rent, taxes, clothing, and forage for horses, exclusive of Commissioners' salaries, amounts to £65,123 per annum. Now, I can show, if I go into detail, that the expense of the new force will be £45,377 per annum, so that there will be a difference in these two items of £19,746. But the whole charge for the metropolitan Dublin police, including police-courts and other departments, has been stated in detail, in an estimate on the table of the House, to amount this year altogether to £77,000, whereas, under the new system, when it comes altogether into operation, the charge will be £57,126; so that the difference in the charge of the entire police establishment will be £19,874. I will show the House, however, without wearying it with details, that this expenditure will not be exceeded. The items appertaining to the old force are taken from the documents before Parliament. The items appertaining to the new force have been collected in the most accurate manner by the heads of the constabulary department. The expenditure under the new system will amount to £57,126, and is made up of the following items:—
Now, the income that I expect will be necessary for the maintenance of this force, when the whole of the new system comes into operation, will be derived from the following sources:—
Men and Material £45,377 Police Courts 7,942 Police Departments 2,330 Recorder's Salary 1,477 £57,126
This would be for the whole force. I can give the number of men that will be furnished for the preservation of the peace in Dublin, for this expenditure, which would be something under 800, and I believe that the estimate will be amply sufficient. I am free to admit that it may be some time before the Dublin metropolitan police districts will obtain the whole benefit of this reduction in their local taxation; but during the first year it is possible that there will be no great decrease, and certainly nothing approaching to an increase. It will give one Assistant Inspector General, the City Inspector, one sub-Inspector, sixty-nine constables of the first- 1124 class, 25 of the second, 100 of the third, 50 acting constables, and 652 sub-constables, making a total force under 800. Some statements have been made in Dublin, and it has been attempted to be proved, that the amount of pensions it would be necessary to grant by way of retiring allowances, and in the shape of state pensions, would be £13,000 a year, but I cannot make out upon what ground that can be substantiated, for upon a careful calculation of the whole sum necessary for retiring allowances consequent upon the amalgamation of the two forces, I find that at the outside it cannot amount to more than £4,600 per annum, and I believe it will be considerably less. To show how I arrive at that I may state that it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to disband any one single man at present in the Dublin metropolitan police force, or reduce his pay. Some of the officers will be reduced at once, and it will be necessary to retire a certain number of officers, but it is not proposed to dismiss a single man, and it will not be necessary to retire so large a number as was originally expected. There are 69 officers in the upper ranks of the Dublin metropolitan police force, at salaries of £6,810; and, supposing it necessary to reduce all at two-thirds salary—a very high scale indeed—it would only amount to £4,600 under any circumstances whatever. My present impression is, that it will be much nearer £3,000. There will be no increase in the general charge, for it is to be observed that the members of the Dublin metropolitan police force, owing to the severity of their duties, leave the force very much, and recruiting goes on to a greater extent than was proposed. In a force amounting altogether to something like 950 men, the House will be surprised to hear that to keep up that force it was necessary in 1855 to recruit 259; in 1856, 195; and 1857, 180 men. This fact shows how unnecessary it is to take any harsh step in order to reduce the number of the men; because the mere suspension of recruiting for a single twelvemonth would suffice to bring down the force to the standard requisite for the preservation of the peace of the city. Therefore, even assuming that the retiring pensions cost as much as £4,600, this will be more than compensated for by the saving of £6,000 a year that will be effected by a reduction of 200 men. It has been said that the Government intend to force the men to change into the constabulary whether they like it or not. That is entirely a mistake. They 1125 simply mean to give the men the option of taking service in the constabulary force; but though the duty was lighter, and the service was country service, yet the pay being considerably lower it is not expected that many of the Dublin police will accept that offer. The Government have therefore excluded that element altogether from their consideration. In accordance with these views a notice has been addressed to the Dublin Metropolitan Police by the Government, explaining to the men the real nature of the proposed change, in order to guard against any misrepresentation of its objects. That document I will read to the House.
Local Income £14,800 Parliamentary Grant 36,500 Police Rate 7,000 £58,300NOTICE.There being reason to apprehend that the Bill now before Parliament for the consolidation of the constabulary and metropolitan police is not correctly understood by the latter force, his Excellency deems it necessary to make known the principal changes which are proposed by the Bill:—1. That the metropolitan branch of the force will be under one chief officer, and an assistant, instead of under two Commissioners.2. That, except some few senior members of the establishment, it is not intended to discharge any of the existing force, but to retain them with their present rank and pay while serving in the metropolitan district.3. That it is not intended to remove compulsorily any of the present metropolitan force to other places. If at any time any of them wish to go to country duty it will be open to them to do so, but they will there receive only the ordinary pay of the constabulary, and such long service pay as they may be entitled to by their former service as well in the police as in the constabulary.Dublin Castle, July, 1858.This is the rule we intend to adhere to in the amalgamation of the two forces, and I defy any one to prove that any practical injustice can, under that rule, be adopted towards any member of the force. But to snake it perfectly clear and certain that a diminution in the local rates will arise, we propose to introduce a clause in the Bill which will at once reduce the power that now exists of levying 8d. in the pound to 6d. in the pound, which I believe will be the best guarantee to the ratepayers of Dublin of our intentions, and which will give us an ample fund, even during next year, for carrying out this plan. I do not mean to say that 6d. will be necessary in future years, for I believe that when the plan comes fully into operation the sum required will be more like 3½d. or 4d in the pound. I believe if this scheme were properly understood it would be considered as a great boon by a larger proportion of the force. There would be no injustice 1126 done to the force. No man will be deprived of one shilling pay or pension or be turned out as long as he was able to serve, and if they like to join the constabulary they can. I believe that the offer we give the men of country service will be accepted as a great boon. A great deal has been said about the low sanitary state of the army; and though the House had been surprised at the high rate of mortality among the Guards, they will be still more surprised when they hear the state of the Dublin metropolitan police, which contains in its ranks as fine a set of men, physically speaking, as are to be found in the service in the world. The following was the testimony of the medical officer on the subject.Seven years and eight months make a period of police service, after which the constitutions of the stoutest members of the force will begin to exhibit symptoms of decay; and in their report for the following year the medical officers, in referring to the non-increase of the average service of that year, state that it is confirmatory of their opinion as to the deteriorating effect of seven years and eight months' police service on the constitutions of the stoutest men.'I think therefore, that men subject to duties which occasion so early a deterioration of the strength of very strong men, will appreciate the advantages of country service held out by the Bill. It has been said that the numerical power of the proposed new force will be insufficient; but there are a far greater number of police now employed in Dublin than in any large towns, such as Liverpool and Bristol, where great vigilance is required for the protection of property. For ordinary purposes there is a force of 650 men provided by the Bill, and you have an additional reserve of between 400 and 500, making a total of 1,100 men, in the event of tumult, riot, or popular disturbance arising in Dublin; so that there is no sort of ground to assert that this new force will be insufficient, either for the ordinary duties that devolve on it, or in the event of riot and disturbance. On the general question of the amalgamation of the two forces I think I am bound to inform the House of the opinion of a man of the first authority in Ireland. I may say throughout the whole consideration of this scheme, from beginning to end, we have had the advantage of the advice and assistance of Sir Duncan M'Gregor, who is the best possible authority on a subject of this kind in the City of Dublin. He has given us the advantage of his experience of nearly twenty-five years, and although he was rather adverse to the proposition 1127 at first he is now an ardent supporter of it. In a letter on this subject he says:—Constabulary Office, Dublin Castle,June 21, 1858.DEAR LORD NAAS,—Understanding that your Lordship wishes me to express my opinion of the Towns' Police Bill, which has been introduced into Parliament, I beg to offer the following observations. I confess that when your Lordship first informed me of your plan, the idea was so new to me that I hesitated to approve of it.But the more I have reflected on the subject the more have I become persuaded that the scheme will not only work well, but that it possesses several advantages over the present system, and that it will involve much fewer changes than may at first sight be apprehended.In enumerating the advantages, as they appeared to me, of the proposed Act, I confine myself to details.1. It will secure a very large saving to the ratepayers of Dublin and Belfast—in the last case immediate, and in the former partly immediate and partly prospective.2. Fully believing that co-equal authority vested in any two persons, however gifted, cannot fail, sooner or later, to prove detrimental to the harmony and discipline of any organized body of men, I am confident that great benefit will arise from placing the Dublin police under one responsible head.The amalgamation of the two forces will, I think, diminish the number of resignations, superannuations, and dismissals among the men serving in the city. For at present, if a metropolitan policeman falls into ill health, or bad habits, the only way, I presume, in which he can be disposed of, is either, in the one case, by discharging him on pension or gratuity, or releasing him, it may be for a length of time, from the performance of duty; and in the other, by dismissing or otherwise severely punishing him. Under the intended arrangement, men whose health maybe temporarily impaired could be transferred to easy stations in the country, as is now practised in other towns with benefit to the general service; and young men of unsteady habits might frequently be reclaimed by being removed to a quiet country station, away from the influences of the evil companions and temptations to which they are exposed in a large town.4. Beside such cases, I have reason to believe that the incessant labour of a city police, and the monotonous nature of their duties, become in the course of time most irksome to the great mass of the force. The proposed scheme would enable the inspector general to remedy this evil; and by occasional, or even frequent, interchanges between the men in the town and those in the country, to diffuse contentment throughout the force.5. In cases of emergency occurring in Dublin. the new plan would allow the inspector general to send promptly, and without investing him with the special authority now required for such duty, a portion of the reserve in the Phœnix Park in aid of the metropolitan force; and instead of acting independently, as at present, the whole would be placed under the orders of an officer, fully recognized both by the rural and city portions of the force.6. By making the constabulary cavalry at the depot available for such duties as might be required 1128 in the city, the necessity of maintaining the mounted Dublin police would be superseded, and an additional saving of expense thereby effected.7. The foregoing observations on the Dublin police apply with incalculably greater force to the municipal police at Belfast. For, while the former are, confessedly, in the highest state of discipline and efficiency the latter are, I fear, so little trusted, that on occasions of disturbance the constabulary would prefer dispensing altogether with their assistance.But I conceive that the success of the intended arrangement will chiefly depend on the character of the officer who may be selected as the head of the city force. For though it will be for the inspector general to prescribe certain general principles and regulations for their guidance, it will be quite impossible for him, with his other onerous duties, to attend to the innumerable details of the Dublin police.I remain, my dear Lord, very faithfully yours,D. M'GREGOR.That is the candid opinion of one whose authority is unrivalled on questions of this kind. He has given the fullest amount of consideration to the question, and the result is that he had come to a favourable opinion. It had been said at a meeting in Dublin that that city ought to be placed on the same footing as the rest of Ireland in this matter. Now I beg leave to say that this is done by this Bill. The principle governing the distribution of the constabulary in Ireland was that each county should receive free of expense a certain quota of men. That the Bill proposes to give to Dublin; but if in any county exceptional circumstances should arise to demand it, the Lord Lieutenant is empowered to send additional men to such county, in which case the county is required to pay a moiety of the expense. That is the mode in which we propose to deal with the Dublin Metropolitan police force. We propose to have the Parliamentary quota of 400 men and 250 additional constables, so that, in reality, we adhere precisely and completely to the precedent set in the General Constabulary Act. I now pass to another objection made to this measure, which is, I think, even more untenable than any to which I have yet adverted. The Government have been accused of having framed the Bill for a sectarian object; and that, I own, is a charge at which I have felt not a little astonished. As far as I am concerned, I believe that after having been for many years engaged in public life, I have never said or done anything that could render me amenable to such a charge. I have invariably abstained from taking part in sectarian discussions, both because they are most distasteful to my own feelings and because I think they are calcu- 1129 lated to do much injury, while they can never effect any real good. I cannot, therefore, believe that I am fairly open to this charge, and as regards the Members of the Government generally I may observe that if we wished to establish a sectarian force in Dublin we should have taken a very different course from that which we have pursued. We should have adopted the plan which was, I believe, entertained, but was never brought to maturity by the late Government—namely, that of re-organising the Dublin metropolitan police force. We could then have made it an exclusively Protestant force. But we have followed an exactly opposite policy. We propose now to amalgamate the Dublin metropolitan police with a body against which no accusation of sectarianism had ever been advanced. The Protestants form almost one-third of the whole Irish constabulary force. That is, I think, a very fair proportion under the circumstances of the country, and to that proportion we mean to adhere in our future arrangements with respect to the force in Dublin. I believe that force, as it is at present constituted, may fairly be charged with bearing a sectarian character. In the metropolitan police force, however, the proportion is entirely different. I do not attempt to account for the facts of the case; that is a subject about which there may be differences of opinion; but there can be no doubt of the fact that the Dublin force is to a great extent—to an extent which I think improper—Roman Catholic. I find that in the statement I made upon that subject on a former evening I was led into a slight error, in consequence of the incompleteness of the information with which I was furnished. I then said that out of 836 constables in the force there were only between 60 and 70 Protestants; but I have since ascertained that at that period last year to which I was referring the whole number of constables, excluding officers, was 856, and that out of that number 95 were Protestants. I do not believe that is a proportion which the House will think it desirable to maintain. It must be borne in mind that in a country like Ireland, where so much bitter sectarian feeling still prevails, it is a matter of considerable importance that the police, who are brought into constant contact with the whole population, should be free from any sectarian taint or suspicion. It is manifestly possible to attain that object, because it has been actually attained in the case of the 1130 general Irish Constabulary force. We now want to diminish the great disproportion between Protestants and Roman Catholics which has hitherto prevailed in the Dublin police force, just as we want to diminish a disproportion of an exactly opposite character in the police force of Belfast. I shall now proceed to state the exact proportions at present prevailing between the numbers of the professors of the two religions in the different branches into which the Dublin force is divided. I find that out of five superintendents there are three Protestants and two Roman Catholics; but that is the only portion of the service in which the number of Protestants preponderates. Among twenty-six inspectors seven are Protestants and nineteen Roman Catholics; among thirty-eight acting inspectors three are Protestants and thirty-five are Roman Catholics; among sixty-six sergeants thirteen are Protestants and fifty-three are Roman Catholics; among a hundred acting sergeants—the body immediately charged with the supervision of the men—nine are Protestants and ninety-one are Roman Catholics; and among 836 constables 109 are Protestants and 727 are Roman Catholics. These figures are taken from a return furnished on the 4th inst. by the Dublin Metropolitan Police Office. Now, I believe that, no matter how excellent may be the discipline of the force, it will be found impossible that it can acquire the general confidence of the inhabitants of Dublin as long as this disproportion between the followers of the two religions prevails. I am persuaded that, however efficient it may be now, it would be ten times more efficient if this taint of sectarianism were removed; and I also think that the only way to accomplish that object is to adopt the plan which we propose for the amalgamation of the Dublin force with a well-known body like the constabulary, against which the shadow of such an accusation has never been preferred. I have not, however, yet stated the whole of the ease as regards the constitution of the Dublin force. It is found that the proportion of Roman Catholics to Protestants is so great in that body that Protestants are averse to join its ranks. I believe that the Commissioners are really desirous of diminishing that evil; but it was impossible to persuade Protestants, who, nice the rest of the people of Ireland, had strong religious feelings, to join a force in which the Roman Catholic element was known so greatly to prevail. That is a 1131 state of feeling of the existence of which every one who knows much of Dublin must be well aware. I will now briefly refer to the mode in which the Bill has been received in Ireland. It has been opposed by certain members of the Dublin Corporation, for many of whom I entertain a sincere respect, and I wish here particularly to allude to Mr. Alderman Campbell, who has taken up a hostile position to the Bill, but who appears in his statement to have confined his objections to considerations of economy, of which I think I have already disposed. With regard to others, who wished to make this a party and religious question, I have only to state that I can have no hope of altering their opinions. I believe that they wish to maintain the Dublin police force in its present form, because it is of an almost exclusively sectarian character. But arguments of that kind will not, I am sure, be employed in this House, and I feel that I need not allude any further to them upon this occasion. The Bill has been received with general approbation throughout the whole of Ireland. In Belfast, where it is proposed to do away with an exclusively Protestant police, the measure has met with no opposition whatever. In that town the disproportion of Roman Catholics to Protestants is even greater than the disproportion of Protestants to Roman Catholics in Dublin; for out of 150 constables in Belfast, only six or seven are Roman Catholics. No objection, I repeat, has been made to the measure in Belfast, and I had anticipated that it would have been received in an equally favourable spirit in Dublin. In Clonmel and other towns it has met with general support; and it will, no doubt, be a considerable advantage to the inhabitants of those towns that they should have the valuable assistance of the constabulary in the preservation of peace and order, on their undertaking to pay one-half of the cost of the force. I trust I have now disposed of all the arguments that have been advanced against the Bill; and I recommend it without the slightest hesitation to the favourable consideration of the House. I believe that it has been framed on sound principles; and I am sure that it has been framed in an honest and an impartial spirit.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
said, he rose to move that the Bill should be read a second time 1132 that day three months. He felt justified in taking that step, as the Irish press and the citizens of Dublin had emphatically condemned it. He confessed he heard with great surprise the statement of the noble Lord to the effect that the Bill was an improvement in a political as well as a financial point of view. According to his calculations it would involve an outlay in the way of compensation and retiring allowances far exceeding the noble Lord's estimate. Its principle effect would be to saddle the ratepayers of Dublin with a charge of something like £12,000 or £13,000, while doing great injustice to the members of the existing force, who had entered the service upon the express understanding that promotion would be governed exclusively by merit. Under the Bill now proposed, sixty-three persons would be entitled to compensation to the amount of upwards of £6,000, although these persons were fully competent for the discharge of their duties. There were also eighty-seven sergeants, who would be retired at a cost of £4,220 a year. He hoped that a Bill entailing such an exorbitant expenditure would not be entertained at this late period of the Session. He passed by the religious question, not believing that their religious opinions would ever influence the police in the discharged of their duty. He would merely say that Colonel Browne had done his best to introduce Protestants into the Dublin police. He regretted to find that while the new Government was professing most liberal opinions in that House, in Ireland they were acting on the old Orange principles, and seeking for additional means to enforce those principles. Since 1838 the conduct of the Dublin police, 1,200 in number had been most irreproachable; and yet this one-sided measure was brought forward at the fag-end of the Session as a sop to an intolerant faction. Even the inhabitants of Kingston, who were ultra-Conservative, condemned the Bill in the most unqualified manner. Reference had been made to the police going to church; the circumstance reminded him of a story that was told in Dublin of a right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Whiteside) having visited a Catholic church in Dublin in the toga of a Roman warrior—and, notwithstanding his commanding presence and noble visage, he might have escaped detection but, for the circumstance of his blessing himself with his left hand instead of his right.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 125; Noes 16; Majority 59.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2o.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed."
§ MR. COGAN
said, that he was disposed to move a negative to that question. They had just had an instance of what he supposed the hon. Gentleman on the Ministerial side considered very able party tactics, but what he must designate as sharp practice. On an important question of this sort, which it was known was likely to elicit considerable discussion, the ordinary course of proceeding was, that after an hon. Member on one side of the House had stated his objections to the Bill, some hon. Member on the other side should rise and endeavour to defend its provisions; but the hon. Gentleman on the Ministerial side had not thought proper to pursue that course, and the question was then put before the Members on the Opposition side of the House had an opportunity of expressing their opinions with respect to the Bill. He certainly bad intended to oppose the second reading, and had moved for important Returns, intending to show that the financial advantages to be afforded by this Bill to the citizens of Dublin in a decrease of expenditure were incorrectly stated, and he also disputed the noble Lord's facts as to the relative proportion of Protestants and Roman Catholics in the force. As the Returns for which he had moved had not been produced, the House was not in possession of authentic documents which justified legislation on this subject. It had been asserted by some gentlemen in Dublin that the Bill would entail an increased expenditure on the citizens of Dublin of £13,000 a year. The Bill had elicited the strongest opposition from all classes in Dublin. [Mr. VANCE: No!] A number of Conservatives in Dublin had unanimously disapproved of the measure, but afterwards, on maturer consideration, and having, no doubt, received advice from the friends of the noble Lord, had, with one exception, become converts to the views of the noble Lord. He regretted that the noble Lord should have alleged, as the chief ground for effecting a change in the Dublin police, that the majority of 1134 that force were Roman Catholics. The noble Lord had admitted, that in the Belfast police force there was a preponderance of Protestants; but what analogy was there between the two cases? No attempt had been made to show that the Dublin police were not an admirable municipal force, who discharged their duties most efficiently; but a Royal Commission had reported that the Belfast police were very inefficient, and, as Orangemen, were not fair and impartial guardians of the public peace, He felt it his duty to oppose the committal of the Bill.
§ MR. BOWYER
said, that he did not believe that the Government intended to make amends for their liberal conduct in that House by their conduct in regard to Ireland. He believed the Members of the Government to be men of honour and gentlemen, and that they would in every respect act as became gentlemen and men of honour. Giving them credit for desiring to deal impartially towards Roman Catholics and Protestants, he nevertheless thought that the Bill before them was an inconsistency and a mistake, and that the sooner it was withdrawn the better. If it was proposed in England to deprive the local authorities of their control over the police, and to vest it in the Executive Government, the attempt would be resisted upon constitutional grounds, and as a breach of the principle which intrusted the people with the management of their own local affairs. But the effect of this Bill would be to transfer the control of the police in Dublin from the local authorities to the Executive Government. The noble Lord had said that the great majority of the Dublin police force consisted of Roman Catholics, but it was natural that such should be the case, when it was remembered that the vast majority of the class of people in Ireland from whom that force was recruited were members of the Roman Catholic Church. The noble Lord had not shown that the Dublin police were an inefficient force, that they had violated their duties, or that the local authorities by whom they were controlled had exercised their powers improperly. If the noble Lord could have shown any of these things, the House would have had reason to accept his Bill, but under present circumstances they ought to reject it as an ill-timed attempt to revive old sectarian principles.
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
said, he must repeat his determination to oppose the Bill. The 1135 corporation of Dublin had declared their objections to the measure; and the city of Dublin, with its 250,000 inhabitants, had, in public meeting assembled, prayed the House not to legislate with such haste in regard to a question of so much importance as that involved in the present Bill. He could tell the Government that, however anxious they might all be to return to their respective homes, he and the party with which he acted were determined to remain, if necessary, until the last day of August, in order to oppose the passing of this Bill. They would, next day, place on the paper four columns of Amendments, each of which would be fought to the last.
§ MR. GROGAN
said, he could not allow the hon. Gentleman to speak in the name of the people of Dublin on the present occasion. He (Mr. Grogan) represented the city of Dublin since 1841, and was in the House long before the hon. Member for the King's County. He felt, then, he was better entitled than that hon. Gentleman to speak of the feelings of the people of Dublin; and in the name of that city he prayed the House to pass this Bill. He hoped that the Government would devote the morning sittings, as well as the evening ones, if necessary, to get through this Bill with its 150 clauses. He would not then go into the complaints that were made against the existing police force of Dublin. The disproportion of Protestants, as compared with Roman Catholics that were in that force, furnished the noble Lord with an argument quite sufficient to justify his present measure.
§ MR. J. D. FITZGERALD
said, he wished to remind the House, that they were now discussing what they did not discuss before, the second reading of the Bill—a question which now arose on the 'notion for going into Committee. The late Government had no doubt introduced two Bills upon the subject, but they never intended to destroy the present police force, but only to alter the government of that force. They thought that the divided authority between the two Commissioners did not work well, and they proposed to substitute for such a system but the one authority, and to consolidate and amend the police force generally. The Bill they proposed in 1857 met with the most determined opposition from the representatives of Dublin, the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland and the present Attorney General for Ireland. That Bill, though introduced on the 9th of June, was opposed on the 1136 ground that it was too late in the Session then to discuss so important a measure. They were now approaching the morning of the 9th of July, and it was declared by the Government that they were determined to pass the measure. In 1857, the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the present Attorney General for Ireland, in opposing the Bill of the late Government, said it ought to be referred to a Select Committee, inasmuch as he considered it unmerciful to ask the House at such a period of the Session to consider a Bill with 180 clauses. Now, the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland had divided into two Bills the Police Bill of 1857, and although he had argued in favour of the former measure, the Government now declined to meet them with sound argument, but rather with what might be called brute force—[Cries of "Oh!"]. He did not mean to use that word disrespectfully towards the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but only as a popular expression. In 1835, a Police Bill for Dublin had passed this House, but when it went into the House of Lords, the late Duke of Wellington opposed it, on the ground that the corporation of Dublin at that time had petitioned against it, and that it was then too late in the Session to consider it. With regard to the present measure, four-fifths of it applied to the Dublin metropolitan police district, comprising not only the city of Dublin, but a district outside representing forty square miles. In that district was an admirably organized police force, and his first objection to the Bill was, that it substituted for that force the constabulary. Now, the constabulary was an admirable body of men, but it was quite unsuited for metropolitan service. It was not a detective, but a military force; as a body of infantry it would match with any in the world, and would have done good service in the Crimea; but experience proved that, though it was well fitted to suppress disturbances and maintain the public peace, it was not calculated to enforce police laws in Dublin. In substituting for the metropolitan police force the constabulary, the noble lord was, he should maintain, calling upon the House to take a most dangerous step. What, he would ask, were the grounds upon which hon. Members were invited to adopt that course? He (Mr. FitzGerald) found that the citizens of Dublin protested against any measure having that object, and that the inhabitants of Kingstown were opposed to it. The Bill of the noble Lord might, in- 1137 deed, in his opinion, be very properly described as a measure introduced to the notice of Parliament at the instigation of the Members for the City of Dublin. But the noble Lord based his arguments in support of the Bill, in the first place, upon financial grounds; and secondly, upon the peculiar constitution of the police force in Dublin. In dealing with the financial view of the question, the noble Lord had represented the entire cost of the police force for Dublin and its suburbs to be £77,000 a year. [Lord NAAS: According to the estimate of last year.] He had got before him the estimate of the six preceding years, and he found the average cost to be only £72,000 a year, and not £77,000. The noble Lord then showed that the Dublin force was to be reduced in number. But that might be done if necessary without sweeping it away. But for his own part, looking to the fact that they had to take charge of a large suburban district, of forty miles square, he entertained serious doubts whether any such reduction could safely be made. The noble Lord's argument in favour of the reduction of the police force was inconsistent with itself. He told! them, on the one hand, that the force might be reduced from 1000 to 600, while at the same time he said that the duties of the force were so heavy that the men broke down after seven years' service. The noble Lord had told them that the amount of the retiring compensation to be paid to the discharged members of this force would only be £4,500 a year; but there were now men in that force who were entitled to retire, and to claim £13,500 retiring pension. These men would all retire, for they would not serve in the constabulary, and this £13,500 would be charged on the City of Dublin, besides which the difference in the pay of the constabulary as compared with that of the present police would amount to a further charge of £8,117 upon that city. All this might be very wrong; all these calculations might be very baseless; but it showed the injustice of attempting to carry this Bill without further inquiry at this late period of the Session. But he would now deal with the question in another point of view. One of the noble; Lord's reasons for the introduction of this measure was the large proportion of men of one religion in the police forces of Dublin and Belfast, and which, in a country of mixed creeds, he said was a great evil. He quite agreed in that, and if he could believe that by any contrivance the Dublin 1138 police force had had a sectarian character given to it, and that that would be removed by this Bill, he would go with the noble Lord in striving to get rid of it. But of the two Commissioners at the head of the Dublin force, the one who had the entire management of the recruiting department was Colonel Browne, a member of the Established Church. That gentleman accounted for the preponderance of Roman Catholics in the Dublin police, by the preponderance of that religion in the class from which that force was necessarily recruited in the districts round Dublin. So much had Colonel Browne endeavoured to remove a sectarian character from the force that, having Protestant officers, he had sent them to the north of Ireland to recruit. But the result was that these men, on account of their intelligence, were withdrawn to clerkships and other employments, and in this way the attempt to give a less preponderating Roman Catholic character to the force had failed. Could it indeed be fairly made a ground of objection to a police force that it partook larely of the religion of the country to which they belonged? He believed the noble Lord admitted the loyalty and the efficiency of the force. It had been efficient and loyal to the Government, and that in times of great peril. In 184B, when the French Revolution had made all things insecure, the peace of Dublin was entrusted to this force alone, and they kept it. The force had been complimented by the Government for its conduct on the attempt to rescue Mr. Mitchell, and again in 1848; and he had in his hand a series of letters from the public authorities expressing their satisfaction with the manner in which the police had performed their duties. The Earl of Clarendon, the then Lord Lieutenant, expressed his great satisfaction at their services. The Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of St. Germans, and other high authorities had borne testimony to the same effect. Another convincing proof of the efficiency of the police was the fact that since 1836 there had been a diminution of crime in the metropolitan districts to the extent of nearly two-thirds. Why, then, was such a force to be entirely swept away? If the force was too large, let it be reduced; if it was too expensive, let the expense be diminished; but why was it to be altogether abolished? Was it because they were efficient—because they had preserved the peace in times of peril? No; the only ground put forth 1139 was, that it was a Roman Catholic force. Now, he wished to call the attention of the House to the constabulary force which it was proposed to substitute in place of this police force. That force, at the close of the year 1854 consisted of 12,500 men, of whom 9,000 were Roman Catholics, and 3,500 Protestants of all denominations. The head of that force, the two deputy inspectors, the two assistant inspectors, and thirty-four out of thirty-five county inspectors, were all Protestants, besides a large proportion of ordinary inspectors and head constables. Now, if he came forward and asked the House to dissolve this force because, while the great body were Roman Catholics, it was officered by members of the Established Church, he wondered how that proposition could be received. It was true the noble Lord had done his best to relieve this debate of a sectarian character, but would the House agree so to divest it of all sectarian character when lie read them an extract he had just received by telegraph from the Government organ published in Dublin to-day ["Oh, oh!"]. Yes, the paper in question was avowedly the Government organ; its editor and proprietor was Mr. John Robertson, a near relation of the right hon. Gentleman, and his brother, Mr. James Robertson, was the law adviser at the Castle. That paper stated that in the event of a war with France and an invasion of Ireland, Dublin would have nothing to expect from her Ultramontane police trained up in anti-English and disloyal principles. He pronounced these aspersions to be a foul calumny on the force, which in times of peril had preserved the peace of Dublin without having had recourse to military aid. If the noble Lord would consent to strike Dublin out of the Bill he would support the rest of its provisions; but he never would consent to cashier a force which had done good service, for no other offence than that it was Roman Catholic; and he would press upon English Members the importance of this question in a constitutional point of view, and ask them whether it was a desirable thing that they should disband a well-trained and highly-efficient metropolitan police force for the sake of introducing a military constabulary? He would, therefore, give his cordial support to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kildare.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, that this Bill was very short and very simple, and it was one against which he did not believe an ar- 1140 gument could be urged by any candid mind, He would state to the House how the matter stood. The constabulary force had been in operation through the greater portion of Ireland, with the exception of Dublin, for a great number of years; but the Act which constituted the force expressly excluded Dublin from the operation of the Bill. It was a force well trained, well educated, and well commanded—one, in short, which everybody commended, and its religious composition bore a fair proportion to the state of the different bodies in Ireland—that was to say, two-thirds of Roman Catholics to one-third of Protestants. At least those were the proportions of the two religions, though he believed of late years the relative proportions had been altered. Well, that being so, the question presented itself to every sensible man, why should they have under the same roof in the Castle of Dublin two sets of officials, each with large salaries, with extensive establishments, to manage two sets of police—the one the large force that was spread over the country, the other the small force that belonged to the city of Dublin. But, though the numbers of the Dublin force were small in comparison, yet the number of the officers was extraordinarily large and their pay was extravagantly high. But the absurdity of the case was this—that though there was at all times a large reserve force of the constabulary in the Phœnix Park, yet that force could not be called into the city of Dublin to compose a riot in the streets. Let them look at this question as one of finance. All the words that could be spoken by the hon. and learned Member for King's County (Mr. P. O'Brien) if the House were to listen to his entrancing eloquence till the end of August, could not change this fact—that the maximum rate under the new and proposed system would be 6d. in the pound, while the rate under the present system was now 7½d., with a prospect that it would soon be 8d. On the faith of calculations which could not err, he repeated that the highest rate under the proposed system would be 6d., with the expectation of seeing it shortly reduced to half that sum. There was no arguing against that. But that was not all. It was said that the men now in the force were to be treated with injustice? What was the injustice? It was provided in the Bill that any man now in the metropolitan force, who chose to enter the constabulary, might do so, and he would retain his full pay, which it was 1141 necessary to inform the House was £10 a year higher than the pay of that respectable force which sufficed for all the rest of Ireland. Then it ought to be remembered that by this Bill the salaries of the two Commissioners, which were paid now out of the Consolidated Fund, would eventually be saved to the country—a saving which would amount to £1,600 a year. But, said the right hon. Gentleman, there was no reason for this measure. His noble Friend, he thought, had settled that question by reading to the House the opinion of Sir Duncan M'Gregor, who was the most competent man in Ireland to give an opinion—who had been for twenty-five years at the head of the constabulary—not a native of the country, but respected by all for his impartiality and his many virtues, and that gentleman declared that the thing could be done easily and done well, and that the amalgamation would be attended with a great saving of life, because, when a policeman was worn out with his severe duties in the city, he could be sent to a quiet district in the country where his health would be recruited. But was that all? Look at the results of divided responsibility. They had now two Commissioners, Mr. O'Farrell and Colonel Browne. Sometimes those gentlemen spoke to each other when they met; sometimes they did not. He believed that in general they did not: the exception was when they did. They agreed to differ on all questions that related to the management of the force. It was impossible for the best disposed man who had ever had the government of Ireland entrusted to him to rule that force in the condition in which the governing body was now placed; and that was to be detected even in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself. When the officers in command were constantly endeavouring to counteract each other, what was the proper course to be pursued? Why, in London the number of police Commissioners had been reduced; and it was found to be for the advantage of the force that it should be governed by one head. And the proposition here was to reduce the Commissioners, and to place the force under the management of Sir Duncan Macgregor. He (Mr. Whiteside) had stated distinctly to the House that it had been said by the very person to whom the right hon. Gentleman had referred, that Protestants had no fair play in the force; not that he meant to say that Mr. O'Farrell 1142 would not do his best to remedy any grievance. He believed, however, that the governing body must be changed, and that a heavy responsibility would rest upon those who refused to effect that change; and the object of this Bill was not to turn out honest men who were willing to work in the public service, but to change the government of the force itself. With regard to the assertion that it was a sectarian measure, what had been the argument which had been addressed to the Government by the Roman Catholics of Belfast? "We call upon you to change this force, because it is a local and almost exclusively Protestant one." Well, it became the duty of the authorities to inquire into the complaint and see if it were well founded; and they ascertained that it was well founded to this extent, that the force was almost exclusively Protestant. Consequently they felt that it was impossible to apply a different rule to a Protestant force from that which was applied to a Roman Catholic force. The principle on which they acted was, that where a force had lost the confidence and goodwill of the inhabitants it ought to be changed, and the Members for Dublin had only spoken the truth when they said that a great number of the ratepayers were very much dissatisfied with the composition of the Dublin force. No doubt they were well trained; the men were most of them respectable men, all they wanted was good government; but that good government they had not, and nobody was more conscious of it than those who were endeavouring to govern them. This question had been forced on the Government; they had not sought it; they had found in the Government offices a mass of correspondence on the subject, which never could meet the public eye, and which was sufficient to coerce any honest men to bring in a Bill of this description. He submitted the Bill to the House, then, as a reasonable and just proposition, and he was satisfied that the more it was discussed the more it would commend itself to the impartial consideration and support of the House.
MR. SERJEANT DEASY
said, he rose to protest against the accusation which the Attorney General for Ireland had made against Mr. O'Farrell with regard to the treatment of Protestants.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
I never mentioned his name. I simply referred to a Report which had been sent in to the Government. Here are the words:— 1143The great evil in our force is a thorough conviction of the Protestants that they have not fair play. Some of their suspicions are unfounded; others, I believe, are well founded.
MR. SERJEANT DEASY
Read the answer of Mr. O'Farrell to that statement The right hon. Gentleman has it in his possession. I give to that statement the fullest and most distinct contradiction. I can prove it by documents; and in justice to Mr. O'Farrell I ask the hon. Gentleman to read the answer given to Colonel Browne by Mr. O'Farrell. I tell the House that that letter is in his possession, and it contains a most distinct refutation of the charge. Let that refutation be produced. I protest against the unfairness of the course which, without notice, the right hon. Gentleman has adoped with reference to on absent public functionary.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
I beg to move the adjournment of the debate, in order to give sufficient time for the production of the paper alluded to by my hon. Friend.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, the Bill had been read a second time, and yet they had gone on debating the principle of the measure for two hours, and now an adjournment was moved. He wished to ask Mr. Speaker if that course was in accordance with the rules of the House.
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had been guilty of a breach of official decorum unparalleled in his recollection. He had often known gentlemen in the same office differ in opinion, and he had been perfectly aware of the want of concert between these two Commissioners; but he had never before known a Member of the Government read, in his place in Parliament, a letter from one member of a department reflecting on the official conduct of a colleague in the same department.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. FitzGerald) had distinctly declared that neither of the Commissioners had expressed dissatisfaction with the force, and that if they had he would have joined in reforming it. Was it a breach of official propriety to refer to an official paper, when it contained a complete answer to an assertion made in debate?
1144 He thought not. Moreover, the paper he had referred to did not attack an absent man; Colonel Browne stated that the Protestants had not fair play, but he did not say that it was owing to Mr. O'Farrell. The only fact stated was that the Protestants could not be got to enter into the force; and he did not believe any one would be censured by the House of Commons for speaking the truth.
§ MR. J. D. FITZGERALD
explained, that what he had said was that if it were shown the force had assumed a sectarian character he would have joined in any measure to alter it. He did not think a disagreement in opinion between the Commissioners was a ground for dissolving the force. He was aware that there had been disagreements between those two officers, but he thought they were temporary. It was, however, part of the Bills of 1856, 1857, and the Bill intended to be introduced by the late Government in the present year, to vest the authority in one Commissioner, instead of two.
MR. SERJEANT DEASY
said, his complaint was that the right hon. Gentleman had read the letter of one Commissioner, and suppressed the answer of the other Commissioner to it.
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would lose no time in laying the correspondence on both sides before the House.
§ MR. M'CANN
said, he must protest against the imputation of factious motives. What would the people of London think if it were proposed to abolish their police, and substitute a military force?
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.