HC Deb 25 March 1886 vol 303 cc1924-30

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Compensation to persons for damage by riot).

MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

I beg to move to leave out all the words after the word "mentioned," in order to insert— For such injury, stealing, or destruction, shall be paid out of the Metropolitan Police Rate and the City of London Police Rate con jointly in such proportions as the annual values of the property liable and subject to those rates respectively bear to each other. By the courtesy of the City Remembrancer, I have received to-day a communication which informs me that this matter has been brought before the Court of Common Council, and that they admit the justice of my Amendment. He also informs me that the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler) will be prepared to make a statement of that kind. As the City admits the justice of the claim, I think I may simply confine myself to moving the Amendment of which I have given Notice.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


The hon. Member has rather anticipated what I was going to say to the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Childers) was good enough to speak to me upon the subject yesterday, so I brought it before the Court of Common Council to day, and pressed it upon them. The argument I used to them was this. In one sense we had no connection with the riots, as we pay the cost of our own police; but I thought that this was a calamity upon one part of the Metropolis, and the damage done ought to be borne by the whole of London. I do not think that the richest part of the Metropolis should refuse to pay its share towards the damage; and, therefore, I urged upon them that we ought to consent to this Amendment, and I am glad to say that with great unanimity they concurred with my view. Under these circumstances, I have great pleasure in saying, on behalf of the Corporation, that we heartily concur in this Amendment.


I think that great credit is due to the Corporation of London, and especially to the hon. Baronet the Member for the City, for the way in which they have met this Amendment.

MR. BAGGALLAY (Lambeth, Brixton)

I should like to say a few words on behalf of South London. It is felt that the whole Metropolis should bear the rate; but I was in hopes that the right hon. Gentleman would have seen his way to have relieved South London to some extent in this matter. But I understand that he is unable to do so. Considering, however, that all the damage was done in the West End, and that the people who did it undoubtedly came from the East End, and considering the geographical line provided by the Thames separating these parts of London from the South, I think I am entitled to renew my protest on behalf of South London.


I am afraid I cannot consent to what the hon. Member suggests, and I cannot admit his contention that all the rioters came from the East End alone.

Amendment agreed to.


At the end of the clause, I beg to move the following Amendment:— Where it is shown, in manner provided by this Act, that such person received, by way of insurance or otherwise, any sum to recoup him for such injury, stealing, or destruction, the compensation otherwise payable to him under this Act shall, if exceeding such sum, be reduced by the amount thereof, and in any other case shall not be paid, and the payer of such sum shall be entitled to compensation under this Act in respect of the sum so paid as if he had suffered the said injury, stealing, or destruction, and any policy of insurance given by such payer shall continue in force as if he had made no such payment.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 (Appeal as to award or refusal of compensation).

On Motion of Mr. CHILDERS, the following Amendments made:—Page 2, line 12, leave out "one hundred and thirty;" lines 17 and 18, leave out "shall include all costs," and insert— May, if the appeal succeeds, be increased by such reasonable sum for costs as the arbitrator thinks just. Line 29, at end, add— And in case of such arbitrator dying or becoming incapable to act before he has made an award upon all appeals under this Act, another arbitrator shall be appointed in manner aforesaid, and the appeals shall be determined in the same manner as if he had been the arbitrator originally appointed, and so on as often as occasion requires.

MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)

There are on the Estimates sums amounting to £6,800 for the salaries of gentlemen who are appointed to perform the duties of Referees or Arbitrators under the existing law. I point out that an Arbitrator is a Judge, and that the Court of an Arbitrator is a Legal Court, and competent to deal with cases for which another Court is proposed to be erected by this clause. The proposal I have to make is that one of the four Referees constituted by the Judicature Act of 1873 as permanent officials attached to the High Court of Justice for trying questions of fact should be Arbitrator. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, after the word "receiver," leave out to end of Clause, and insert "he may in the prescribed time and manner require his claim to be referred. When the prescribed time shall have elapsed, all such cases shall be brought by the police receiver before a Judge of the High Court of Justice sitting in Chambers, who thereupon shall as of course make an order referring such cases to one of the Official Referees or one of the Masters of the said Court, who shall hear and dispose of the same; and such reference shall have all such incidents and consequences as if each case included in such order were a cause or matter referred to him under the provisions of the Judicature Act, 1873, in which such aggrieved person was plaintiff and the said police receiver defendant."—(Mr. Kimber.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


I am obliged to say that Her Majesty's Government cannot assent to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wandsworth. I understand that the hon. Member introduces this Amendment in the interests of economy; but I think that a little consideration will show that it would not prove to be so in effect. The object of the clause is to enable a claimant, if he is dissatisfied with the decision of the Police Receiver, to appeal to the Arbitrator, who will have power to deal with the whole of the subject-matter. The Arbitrator will be selected by the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and he will be presumably a man of business. I do not wish to say anything in disparagement of the Official Referees; but I think it would be proper, nevertheless, to say that they have not received the very highest amount of commendation. Each attendance before the Referee would not only involve expense, but the parties, if they chose, could insist on going into the Court of Referees with solicitors and counsel, and, in short, conduct the matter in the most expensive and litigious way. The hon. Member will see that the clause provides that the Arbitrator shall have it in his power to determine the manner in which the case shall be heard; and, if he is a prudent business man, I think he will say—"Let me have a statement of the claim, and the answer of the Police Authorities to it." I think the Amendment of the hon. Member would lead to great expense, and possibly prolonged litigation.


I do not think the Attorney General understands my point. My suggestion is that the officers already appointed would have precisely the same functions as are given to the Arbitrator by this Bill. It seems to me a waste of means, and an unnecessary burden on the Metropolis, to set up this Arbitrators' Court, when we have already four Tribunals who can deal with these matters.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Of course, this Bill refers to the riot of the 8th of February, and the Arbitrator to be appointed under it is merely to deal with cases arising out of that particular riot?


It has only reference to that riot.

Clause, as amended, agreed, to.

Clause 5 (Payment of compensation and expenses, and raising of money).

On Motion of Mr. CHILDERS, the following Amendments made:—Page 2, line 30, after "out of," insert "moneys in his hands on account of;" line 31, leave out "fund;" line 35, leave out from "raised," to the end of line 39, and insert— As part of the Metropolitan Police Rate and as an addition to the limit otherwise authorised for such rate, and no portion of the said amount shall be contributed by the Treasury; line 41, leave out from "shall," to the end of the line.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."


I have one question to ask the Home Secretary with regard to this clause. Has the Police Receiver to go to the houses where damage has been done to ascertain the damage, and then report to the Arbitrator?


? NO, Sir; that is not the construction. The clause provides that those who think they are entitled to compensation for damage shall state it; and if there is no contest about the facts, I do not expect there will be any difficulty.


But, in the case of the recent riot, the police have been round to the shopkeepers to ask them to assess their damages. Are we to understand that the rich as well as the poor are to be paid money they say they have lost on account of this riot?


They will be entitled to receive what they claim, if the police are satisfied that their claims are right. The right hon. Baronet speaks of the poor who have sustained loss, and asks if the rich are also to be compensated? We make no such distinction; but I do hope that claims will not be set up for broken windows.


The police have to ask individuals what they have lost on each occasion. If the tradesmen in Lambeth return their loss, say, at £5, £10, or £15, we maintain that, although they have lost a very small sum, they are equally entitled to be indemnified for their loss as claimants who live in South Audley Street.


I think the question of the right hon. Baronet has been satisfactorily answered. I point out that this Bill is to meet cases of injury received from persons taking part in a riot; and that there has not, in the opinion of the Home Secretary, been any such riot on the other side of Westminster Bridge, and that, therefore, there can be no claim.


That question cannot be argued on this clause. Clause 2 has been passed, which says what compensation and under what circumstances compensation may be given.


I am speaking of the Police Receiver.


The question of compensation cannot be raised on this clause at all.


I only want to draw the attention of the Government to the line— The police receiver shall pay out of the Metropolitan Police Fund all compensation payable under this Act..…


This clause does not refer to the question of compensation.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 (Definitions).

Amendment proposed, In page 3, line 14, to leave out from the word "police," to the end of the Clause, and add "rate means the rate authorised to be levied for raising that proportion of the sum required for defraying the expenses of the Metropolitan Police Force which can be raised by a rate. An empty house or shop shall be deemed for the purposes of this Act to have been occupied by the owner."—(Mr. Childers.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

An hon. MEMBER: I wish to move that the words referring to the empty houses be omitted.


We could not agree to that alteration of the Amendment. If these words were omitted, who would be responsible for damage done to houses that were empty?

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.