§ Powers of County Council.
§ Clause 7 (Powers as to police).
§ Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 11, leave out from the word "nothing" to the words "constables and," in line 13.—(Mr. Brunner.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'Nothing in this Act shall affect' stand part of the Clause."
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, he thought that, in discussing this clause, an arrangement might be made by which the opinion of the House might be taken first upon the question of the control of the police before the question of the appointment of Chief Constable was disposed of. He would, therefore, suggest to the Committee that, in his opinion, this would be best done by striking out the words, "Nothing in this Act shall affect." His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would then move to insert the Amendment of which he had given Notice—namely, to insert after the word "respect," in line 12, the words "county police or." The sentence would then read—"The powers, duties, and liabilities of Quarter Sessions with respect to the county police or," and the whole question of the control of the police would then be raised by a subsequent Motion to leave out the words, "giving the Quarter Sessions power of appointment, controlling, and dismissing the Chief Constables." By adopting that mode the Committee would get rid of a good deal of confusion, and would be able to come to a conclusion on the matter which was discussed last night. 592 Under these circumstances he proposed to assent to the Amendment now before the Committee to omit the words, "Nothing in this Act shall affect." By taking this course the entire question would be raised as to who should have the control of the county police and the appointment of Chief Constable. If the words giving the "appointment, control, and dismissal of Chief Constables to the Quarter Sessions" were omitted, it would then be better to omit the following words down to the word "to" in line 18, namely—And the powers of quarter sessions under section seven of the County and Borough Police Act, 1856, to direct and require constables to perform any duties in addition to their ordinary duties, may be exercised both by quarter sessions and by the county council; but subject as aforesaid, the powers, duties, and liabilities of quarter sessions with respect to.The clause would then provide that—The duties and liabilities of quarter sessions with respect to the county police shall be, on and after the appointed day, vest in and attach to the quarter sessions and the county council jointly, and be exercised and discharged through the standing joint committee of the quarter sessions and county council appointed as hereinafter mentioned.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he thought if the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman were adopted, it would carry out the views of the Government, but how was it proposed to deal with the "appointment, control, and dismissal of chief constables?"
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that provision would have to be made in that respect afterwards. He was only afraid that they might get confused if they were to attempt to amend the words between. The course he suggested would obviate that difficulty.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, that he had an Amendment on the Paper to insert, after "chief constables," the words "or assistant chief constables." He desired to know how that Amendment would be affected.
said, if the words proposed to be struck out were omitted, there would be an understanding that they were not struck out adversely, and could be re-instated.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
asked if the President of the Local Government Board could not state to the Committee what the ultimate intention 593 of the Government was in regard to the control of the police and the Chief Constable.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, his only object in the suggestion he had made was to afford facilities for coming to a conclusion upon both of these points. He understood from the tone of the discussion last night that it was considered desirable to arrive at a conclusion in reference to the proposal to transfer the control of the police from the Quarter Sessions before they dealt with the question of the appointment of Chief Constables. As the hon. Gentleman asked him what the intentions of the Government were, he might say that they proposed to recommend to the Committee to adhere to the proposals of the Bill.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
said, the Committee were to understand, then, that the Government adhered to the proposals contained in the Bill, and that all other points beyond were left open for the ultimate discussion of the Committee.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the Government intended to adhere to the proposal for vesting the control of the police in a joint committee of the Quarter Sessions and County Council.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
, in moving, in page 5, line 12, after the word "respect," to insert "the county police or," said, he was glad to have this opportunity of placing, as clearly as he was able, some considerations before the Committee why he thought the county police should remain entirely under the control of the magistrates, as they had hitherto been. He was strongly fortified in that opinion by the views expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler). That right hon. Gentleman, in one of the clear and lucid speeches he generally delivered, had stated that he believed it would be for the interest of all parties concerned that the police should be under one control. If, then, they could not get the one authority be desired, he presumed the right hon. Gentleman would be prepared to accept the other. The House had already decided by a majority, upon the Motion of the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage), not to 594 accept the control of the County Council. Therefore the matter remained now in the position in which the Government first introduced the Bill—namely, that the police, as far as the Chief Constable was concerned, should be in the hands of the magistrates; but as far as the management of the police was concerned that it should be in the hands of a joint committee of the magistrates and the County Councils. He was of opinion that that was an unwise proposal, and it was because he thought that it would be far more to the interests of the country that the police should be under the undivided authority of the Quarter Sessions that he was glad to have an opportunity of stating his views upon the subject. When the question of the divided control was last under discussion nearly every Member who got up to take part in the debate, from both sides of the House, thought it would be a most unwise change. If it was unwise then, assuredly it was unwise now, and it should not be said because it was the control of the magistrates that they were now discussing that there were any more grounds for dividing the control than there had been previously. Looking at the case broadly, he thought he had good authority for saying that there had never been any accusation brought against the conduct of the police or of the magistrates over the police, but, on the contrary, they had hoard, and they heard it when the Bill was first introduced, that not only had the magistrates done their duty, but that in all they had done, both as to economical management and the maintenance of order, there was nothing to find fault with in reference to their control of the police. Such being the case, before Parliament consented to take the management out of their hands and hand it over to another authority, surely they ought to consider carefully all the circumstances of the case. He had no wish to enter into very grave and debatable matters, but still this was the only opportunity they would have, and he would ask any man whether there were not parts of the country in which, if the police were in the hands of the County Council, very grave effects might be produced upon the police. He thought that was one of the matters they were bound to consider—namely, whether the handing over of the police to the 595 County Councils would be the wisest and most prudent step they could possibly take. His own view was that it would not be the wisest or most prudent course to hand over the control of the police to any elected and fluctuating body like the Town Councils, and thus remove them from the control of the magistrates, who were magistrates for their lives, and who carried on their duties from day to day and from year to year upon the same footing. There was another matter which he ought to mention which he thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton would regard as germane to this subject. His own opinion was that the question deserved more consideration than was given to it at the time it was previously discussed, and that it required more careful consideration than ever now. No doubt they would be able to discuss it very fully when they came to a subsequent clause. But it was now proposed to take out of the counties all towns with 50,000 inhabitants. The effect of that was to get rid of one of the reasons why County Government had been given—namely, that they would have the towns that were situated in the counties associated with the rural portions of the counties. They were now going to have the county without any of the large constituencies, and he should like to know whether the men, other than magistrates, who would be left to carry on the business would be persons who were most fit and proper to undertake it. There was another and most serious matter, with regard to which he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite a question. There were certain duties which would have to be collected in the district. Would the police have anything to do with the levying and collection of such duties? Would they be so employed or would they not? It was a very serious question in the administration of the law whether these men were to be employed to raise the duties which were to be handed over to the Councils by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, especially when it was considered that the large towns were to be struck out. He had no wish to detain the Committee too long, but there was another question which he desired to mention, seeing 596 that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) was in his place. The right hon. Gentleman had given the Committee a good many dissertations on this great question. Only the other day the right hon. Gentleman said, and if he were not much mistaken something of the same kind was repeated a short time ago by one in whose authority the right hon. Gentleman placed implicit trust—namely, that if these proposals were carried by the Government and the appointment of Chief Constables were left in the hands of the magistrates, when the Liberal Party came into power again they would reverse the decision of the majority. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"] He was delighted to hear that cheer. He trusted it would go forth to the country with all its force that the House of Commons, in the year 1888, for the first time in history, declared that it would not accept the decision of the majority of the House, but that it would do all in its power to reverse that decision, notwithstanding the fact that it was come to by a large majority. But hon. Members remembered how the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) brought forward his great measure with regard to Ireland. What did the right hon. Gentleman state then? He said upon every point that it was a vital question, and that if he were not supported he would throw up the Bill. It would have been far better if the Government had taken the same course in regard to the present Bill. Much as the Conservative Party disliked the legislation of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, when he was in power they had loyally accepted and carried it out. It was an entirely new and unconstitutional doctrine to get up in that House and state that if they were unfortunate enough to be defeated on the other side they would take the earliest opportunity of reversing the decision when they came into power again. He had thought it right to say so much. The Conservative Party always took their beating when they were beaten; but, at the same time, they were always ready to defend the lines of conduct they pursued, and, believing that the best interests of the country depended on the control of the police remaining in the hands which had 597 hitherto so well administered it, he begged to move the Amendment which stood in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 12, after "respect," insert "the county police or."—(Sir Walter B. Barttelot.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)
desired to say a word or two in reply to the remarks of the hon. and gallant Baronet, although it was difficult to do so, he was afraid, consistently with Order. As he understood the position, it had been decided against hon. Members on that side of the House that the control of the police and the appointment of the High Constable should not be handed over to the County Councils, but he trusted that he might be allowed to say a word or two in reply to some of the arguments and statements of the hon. and gallant Baronet. The hon. and gallant Baronet was held in the highest esteem on the Opposition as well as on the Ministerial side of the House. He spoke from very long knowledge of the hon. and gallant Baronet in that House. He had never been known to be otherwise than straight and decided and honest in the expression of his views, and he was a man for whom they naturally entertained an unwavering respect. He made no complaint of the course the hon. and gallant Baronet had pursued on this occasion. Everybody knew that the hon. and gallant Baronet did not like the Bill, that he strongly objected to the transfer of these powers from the magistrates to the County Councils in the future, and he was, therefore, consistent in the line he had taken. But the Government had taken another line; they recognized that there was a great demand on the part of the public for a representative county constituency; they had acceded to that demand, or intended to accede to it, in the constitution of the County Councils. They had not carried out that principle, however, in the present clause. Hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House differed from them, and had been beaten, but they had, nevertheless, a right to maintain their opinion. The hon. and gallant Baronet proposed that the police should be left under the control of the Quarter Sessions, and that 598 they should not be handed over to a joint committee of Quarter Sessions and County Councils. As far as the Opposition were concerned, they entirely agreed that it would have been better for the police and the Chief Constables to be left under one authority, if that authority were the County Councils, because they found under the existing law that the magistrates were called upon to perform duties in connection with the maintenance of law and order which they claimed in future for the County Councils, so that they should be modelled on the pattern of the Borough Councils in regard to the administration of police affairs. That was the position of hon. Members on that side of the House. At present they were left in this condition. They had been defeated in that respect, and the question was whether they should vote for the retention of all the powers relating to the police in the hands of the magistrates at Quarter Sessions, or whether they should prefer, although they did not like it, the Government proposal that the police and the Chief Constables should be supervised and managed by a joint committee of two Bodies. Of the two proposals he, at least, preferred that of the Government. He did not prefer it because he liked it. He disliked it exceedingly, and he saw no sufficient justification for it. It appeared to him to be entirely inconsistent with the principles right hon. Gentlemen laid down in the Bill, and he was perfectly justified in notifying to the House, judging as well as he could of the feeling and temper of the Liberal Party both inside and outside the House, that it must not be expected that these proposals wore to be permanently and definitely accepted without some attempt to reverse them on some future occasion. The hon. and gallant Baronet said that this was the first time—namely, the year 1888, when such a doctrine had been propounded. He differed entirely from the hon. and gallant Baronet. If he had used it in the way of a threat in order to induce hon. Members to vote with him rather than with the Government, he might have been open to that remark; but his argument was not in the least in the nature of a threat, and he was sure the hon. and gallant Baronet would know that he was not disposed to offer a threat on any occasion. His object had 599 simply been to point out that as far as the Liberal Party, not only in the House, but in the country, were concerned, they were deeply convinced in their own mind of the truth of the principle that the control of the police, whether in the boroughs or in the counties, subject to the proper authority of the magistrates in calling upon them to fulfil the duties laid down by law, should be vested in the hands of those who paid for them—namely, the representative bodies of the towns and counties. He, therefore, could not hold out any expectation that the arrangement would be a permanent one, and that a future opportunity would not be taken for amending these proposals. He had yet to learn that there was anything unconstitutional or novel in announcing to the House that when they got the opportunity they would seek to amend the Bill in a direction which they so greatly desired. He had, therefore, nothing to apologize for or correct in the statement he had made. He had no doubt that the opportunity he desired would occur, and it was a fundamental article of the Liberal creed, whether in the Metropolis in the provincial boroughs, or in the counties that the police should be nominated, appointed, controlled, and paid by the representatives of the people. Although they might be beaten on this occasion he repeated his assertion that on some future day an endeavour would be made to amend the Bill.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the right hon. Gentleman had said that it was a fundamental article of the Liberal creed, whether in the country or in the Metropolis, that the police should be in the hands of the ratepayers. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman how long that had been a fundamental article in the Liberal creed, because he remembered a Bill being brought in a very few years ago, when it was quite true that the Liberal Party were not identified with all the opinions and views of the Liberal Party now, for the Government of the Metropolis by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) which proposed to ignore its fundamental article altogether. Therefore he might assume that this fundamental article was one which had been grafted on the Liberal creed since the introduction of the Bill of the right hon. 600 Member for Derby. He did not express any astonishment on that fact. He knew perfectly well that many other articles besides that had now become fundamental articles of the Liberal creed which at that time were being denounced by the Liberal Party of the day. He did not intend to make any further remarks on that point, but he had thought it worthy of comment that this article which was now set up as essentially a part of the Liberal creed, was deliberately set aside in the legislation inaugurated by the right hon. Member for Derby. The right hon. Gentleman recognized that there were circumstances in which it was not desirable to transfer the control of the police force to a body elected by the ratepayers. That was practically what the Government suggested now. In their proposal they recognized that the police had hitherto been under the control of a body of gentlemen who, as his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) said, had performed their duties in a manner which had received the commendation of all parties in the country, and they did not think it would be right or prudent all at once, at any rate, to alter entirely that condition of things, and take away from that Body which had so effectively controlled the police in the past the powers they now possessed in order to hand them over to the new Body about to be created. The question now before the Committee was the proposal of his hon. and gallant Friend that the entire control of the police should remain in the hands of the magistrates. He could quite understand his hon. and gallant Friend having that view. He found no fault with him for entertaining it or that many of his hon. Friends should agree with the hon. and gallant Baronet in his opinions. He could readily understand that there were arguments of an extremely strong character which might be used in support of the proposal of the hon. and gallant Baronet. Certainly no charge could be substantiated or even made against the administration of the police by the Quarter Sessions, but the Committee were aware that the Government were proposing to set up in the counties a Body elected by the ratepayers for the purpose of performing many of the duties within the counties which had hitherto been performed by 601 the magistrates. The question arose then, whether having set up such a Body—a Body representative of the ratepayers, was no share to be given to them in the management and control of the police? Having set up such a Body which was to have the control of the rates, and would have practically to find the money for the payment of the police, were they to say that they were not to give to it the management of the police for which the ratepayers had to provide the money? The Government did not think it was possible for them to make such a proposal as that, and, therefore, they proposed to associate with the Quarter Sessions elected representatives of the ratepayers. In that suggestion they believed they found a solution of the question as to what should be the relative shares of the old and new Bodies in the control of the police. That being their view, and that being the proposal of the Bill, he was sorry to say to his hon. and gallant Friend that the Government were unable to accept the proposals which he made, and which would relegate entirely to the Quarter Sessions the control of the police.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said, that as he had had an opportunity of speaking upon this question before, he would not detain the Committee for more than a few moments, but he was bound to say that when his right hon. Friend, in opposing the Amendment, dwelt on the fact that the Government were going to create by this Bill a new Body to be elected by the ratepayers, and asked how it was possible to give some share in the control of the police to the new Body. Surely, if that argument were good for anything at all it was good for giving the whole control of the police to the new Body. The Committee had three proposals before them. There was the proposal of Gentlemen on the other side of the House to hand over the police to the County Councils as a Body. Then there was the proposal of his hon. and gallant Friend that the control should remain as at present with the Quarter Sessions, and, thirdly, there was the proposal of the Government by which he understood they intended to sub-divide the responsibility connected with the police—for while the Chief Constable was to remain entirely under the control of the Quarter Sessions, the police 602 themselves were to be handed over to the control of a joint committee. The proposal of the Government was that the appointment, dismissal, and control of the Chief Constable should remain with the Quarter Sessions, and his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board had informed the Committee that the Government intended to adhere to that proposal. Now, he could perfectly understand both of the first two proposals. It was a perfectly logical proposal, and, perhaps, it might be one that might work well, that the management of the police should be entrusted entirely to the County Councils. Then, again, experience had already proved that the sole control left in the hands of the Quarter Sessions might be expected to work equally well in the future as in the past; but, he did not understand the proposal of the Government to give the control of the police to a perfectly new Body, but rather to place them under the control of three distinct authorities. The Chief Constable was to be appointed by the Quarter Sessions, the police were to be paid by the County Council, and were to be managed by a joint committee. Was it reasonable to suppose that an arrangement of that kind was likely to turn out to be a practical and business-like arrangement? The right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfield) said, that he preferred of the two proposals now before the Committee, that which was suggested by the Government. Why was that? Was it on the ground that it was a business-like proposal that was likely to work well? Nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman had carefully guarded himself against saying anything of the sort. He supported it on the ground of sentiment, because it was one of the new fangled articles of faith which of late years had become fashionable with the Liberal Party. For these reasons he intended to support the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend, and he hoped that he would be accompanied into the Lobby by many other hon. Members. He was bound to say that there was one other consideration which had great weight with him. When they were going to make a change of this kind they ought to be able to give some good reason for it. No Member of the House, sitting on any Bench, had as yet said anything which might lead 603 them to believe that there was any reason to be advanced in favour of the change. No complaint had ever been made by anybody as to the manner in which the control of the police had been conducted by the Quarter Sessions up to the present time, and althought that was the case, and although the Committee had definitely decided already that the control was not to be transferred to the County Councils—despite all that, it was proposed by the Government, and he confessed very greatly to his regret, to hand over the management of the police for the future to a dual control which he could not regard as anything but an unpractical and unbusiness-like proposal.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham)
said, he cordially supported the Amendment which had been moved by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sussex. He could not help agreeing with a remark which fell from the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Stuart) yesterday, when he said that, having heard the speech of the right hon. Member for Halifax, he was of opinion that it was an argument in favour of the existing system. So far as he had been able to hear that speech, and it was very difficult at times to hear the speeches delivered on the Front Bench, he had arrived at a similar conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of the nature of the duties the police had to perform, and he had spoken of them in such a way as to convince him that it was undesirable to make any alteration in the management of that body which, on the whole, was admitted on all sides to have worked remarkably well. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian appeared to think that some hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House were supporting the existing system simply because it was an existing institution, and had pointed out to the House, no doubt correctly, that the system itself was not founded on constitutional usage. He submitted, however, that the question for consideration was not so much how long the system had been at work, but whether it had worked well—and he ventured to say that there was no hon. Member on the other side of the House who would be bold enough to assert—and they were not unaccustomed to the making of bold assertions—that the management of the police by the magistrates had not been, on the 604 whole, as good as could possibly be desired. He supported the Amendment on behalf of a class of persons who were more deeply interested in the matter than any other—namely, the police themselves. He contended that if the proposal of the Government for a dual control were adopted the police would encounter great difficulties in the execution of their duties. Hitherto the police had performed those duties, arduous and difficult as they were, with patience, energy, and a scrupulous fidelity which was beyond praise. But they would be asking them to do what he maintained they had no right to ask any man to do—namely, to serve two masters. They had the highest authority for saying that it was impossible to do that. He thought that of the four courses that were open for the Commission to take the proposition of the hon. and gallant Baronet was decidedly the best; but if, unhappily, it should be beaten, he, for one, convinced as he was of the great danger which would attend dual control, would decidedly prefer that the duties should be undertaken by the Home Office. The worst course that could possibly be devised was that of the Government for subjecting the management of the police to dual control. They were asked to adopt a system and principle which not one of them would carry out in his own private affairs. Would any man employing a butcher, a baker, or a tailor, discharge anyone of them who had given him perfect satisfaction in order to employ someone else of whom he knew nothing. He hoped that, in the discussion which would take place, something would be done to avert the danger which would arise from the innovation proposed by the Government.
§ MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)
said, that the argument which had just been addressed to the Committee by the hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) was just the argument which was always adduced against every reform proposed either from the Ministerial or the Opposition Benches. Hon. Members were invariably opposed to all progress and all change, whether in relation to home government, or the government of the Empire at large. The arguments which had been adduced were the same as those which were always used, and amounted to this—that everything 605 which now existed was satisfactory. The hon. Gentleman opposite had not, however, taken note of the fact that the people had now a voice in the government of the country. They had already received the electoral franchise, and the Government now proposed to transfer to them the administration of their local affairs. Could it then be contended, for a moment, that the taking of the control of the police out of the hands of the County Councils would be giving them that proper administration of their own affairs which was claimed for them? The only argument which had been used in favour of letting the management of the police remain in the hands of the Quarter Sessions was that the magistrates themselves were charged with the duty of maintaining law and order. That was a fair argument as far as it went, but it was a very limited argument, and altogether unequal to the gravity of the position. He admitted that the duty of maintaining peace was in the hands of the magistrates; but hon. Members opposite spoke of the maintenance of law and order as if the 60,000 inhabitants of a town were so many enemies of order, and were and were only to be kept in subjection by the control of the magistrates and their servants, the police. He wished to point out this elementary truth, that a few magistrates and a small body of police would be absolutely impotent to preserve order unless the remaining 59,990 inhabitants were equally charged with the maintenance of order. He maintained that every honest citizen had devolved upon him just as much as a magistrate or a policeman the duty of maintaining order and peace in a community. If the bulk of the people were in reality the enemies of law and order, the work undertaken by the police it would be impossible for them to discharge. An ordinary number of policemen was about one to 1,000 of the inhabitants, and there was scarcely a rural district in England where there was not one policeman to 2,000 inhabitants. If the people were allowed to manage their affairs for themselves, they could do that with half the number of policemen who were now required. By the way in which they were now employed they contrived to make crime instead of diminishing it. They were engaged in the most trivial and unworthy occupations, and many of them were spies and 606 game-keepers for the landed interest of the country. [Cries of "Oh!"] He spoke from a point of view from which hon. Gentlemen opposite had never observed these things. If they would lay aside their state and dignity and look at the question from the cottage point of view, instead of the palace and mansion point of view, they would be able to understand these things fairly enough. He intended to vote against the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex, simply because its object was to leave the control of the police in the hands of the magistrates. The Government had already defeated a far more logical proposition that the whole matter should be handed over to the County Councils, but he should now vote with the Government, because they recognized to a limited extent the right of the ratepayers to have a voice in the matter. He looked upon it as the thin end of the wedge, and hoped to see it driven home by-and-bye.
§ VISCOUNT GRIMSTON (Herts, St. Alban's)
said, he wished to repudiate the sentiment expressed by the hon. Member who had just sat down, and especially the accusation that the county magistrates employed the police as spies and game-keepers. He did not believe that anyone with justice could accuse the English county magistrates of having made use of the police force in the unworthy manner suggested. What was the prospect of any finality if the Government adhered to the clause as it stood? He asserted, without fear of contradiction, that, after what they had heard from the opposite side of the House, there would be no finality whatever in their proposals. The Opposition declared their intention, as soon as they possibly could, of using their utmost endeavour to secure that the police force should be placed entirely in the hands of the County Council. Therefore, they could reckon when the swing of the pendulum came round, as it inevitably would in the course of nature, and hon. Members opposite were sitting on the Ministerial side of the House, the present proposals of the Government would be brought under review, and there would be a fresh agitation on the subject. That, he thought, would be a very bad thing, and therefore he should support the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend. A short time ago he 607 had been given to understand, by the remarks of the President of the Local Government Board, that it was intended, in appointing a joint committee, to have a sufficient number of magistrates upon it, to insure that they would practically have the chief voice in administering the affairs of the police. All he could say was, that if that was the case, the County Councils, having found out that they were in a minority and that they had no real voice in controlling the police, would commence an agitation which would certainly be detrimental to the interests of that most useful body. The police were a body enrolled for the enforcement of judicial decrees, and they ought, therefore, to be under the control of a judicial executive. There were many matters which must inevitably come before the joint committee. Take the case of the pension of a constable, who might have rendered himself unpopular by the fearless discharge of his duties; or, on the other hand, too popular by the slack manner in which he discharged them. In such a case the pension awarded to that man might be materially affected by the popularly elected character of the tribunal before which the question would have to come. There was another point which ought not to be lost sight of. Most hon. Members had been speaking to their constituents, and assuring them that they wished for equal laws, both for the Sister Island and themselves. If such a state of things were to be brought about that the County Councils would eventually have the control of the police, were they prepared to carry out that matter to its logical conclusion, and hand over the control of the police to County Councils in the Sister Island? He admitted that the police in Ireland were paid from the taxes, and were under the Crown; and he was not prepared to say it would not be the best solution of the question if they were to be placed in the same position on this side of the Channel. Be that as it might, he quite agreed with the hon. Member who said that no man could serve two masters, and in this case there were not only two masters, but three. He was afraid that the chances of the success of this part of the Bill were very small indeed, and therefore he cordially supported the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex.
§ MR. WIGGIN (Staffordshire, Handsworth)
said, that having had considerable experience in the management of the police as a member of borough Watch Committees, and as a county magistrate, he desired to say a few words. The police force of the county of Stafford was one of the finest bodies of men in England; but although that was the case, and although it was exceedingly well managed by the county magistrates, he, for one, would be quite willing to hand over the control of the force to the County Councils. By this Bill they were creating a new Governing Body, and it was always understood that this Governing Body would have a large amount of work imposed upon it. It seemed to him, however, that this Amendment was an attempt to reduce the amount of work that was to be placed in the hands of the County Councils. It had been urged that it was desirable to secure upon the County Councils men of high standing and of business habits, who would be qualified to do work; but if they were to whittle all the duties away in this manner they would not be able to attract good and efficient men to serve on the Councils. He should be glad to do away with the dual control, and to give the entire management to the County Council; but if that could not be done, he should support the Government clause as it stood.
§ MR. S. HOARE (Norwich)
said, that although he had the honour of being a county magistrate and of serving on the Court of Quarter Sessions, he felt that the Amendment would be a mistake in the future carrying out of the Bill. He regretted that the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Spalding Division (Mr. Halley Stewart), should have felt it his duty to make an attack on the magistrates. Although he was one of those who neither lived in a mansion or a palace, he believed, like all the other magistrates in his district, that he endeavoured to do his duty in the best way he possibly could. The hon. Member said that the action of the police increased crime; but if he attended the Petty Sessions of the country he would find that crime was decreasing on every side. These matters, however, did not fall within the scope of the present discussion, and, therefore, he would proceed at once to explain why he opposed the Amendment of the hon. and gallant 609 Baronet, whose experience was so much greater than his own. He was opposed to the Amendment, because he considered that, if it were carried, it would set up a dual control, and he knew that many hon. Members were opposed to the Government clause because they thought it would introduce a dual control. Now, he, on the contrary, thought that if some such plan were not introduced there would be dual control. The County Councils would have the voting of the supplies for the police which the Quarter Sessions would administer. It was clear that the representatives of the ratepayers would not be satisfied with merely voting the money, without having some account from the Quarter Sessions of their stewardship. In that House hon. Members objected to pass Votes in regard to matters upon which they were unable to express their opinions. That would be the case of the County Councils, and whenever a vote for the police was proposed a discussion would arise which could not be satisfactory. Although there might be members of the Quarter Sessions upon the County Councils, it would not be officially represented. Therefore, he felt that a difficulty would arise, because they would have the Quarter Sessions administering the money, while the power of raising it would rest with the representatives of the ratepayers, who would have no voice whatever in the matter. Small questions, such as pensions or dismissals and others, would be continually arising, and would cause considerable bitterness between the County Councils and the Quarter Sessions. It should, therefore, be their effort to prevent the irritation which might arise from a dual control, and, in his opinion, no such irritation would arise if the management were entrusted to a joint committee as proposed by the Government. He certainly believed that if the administration of the police were left entirely in the hands of the magistrates a considerable amount of irritation would arise outside, and there would be agitation both in the market place and upon the village green, both upon little questions and great questions. He would far rather see all questions, whether of police pensions or any other matter, discussed by men of business of all shades of opinion in committee than subjected to public meetings and agitation outside. He thought the Commit- 610 tee ought to settle satisfactorily the question of the administration of the police, as by the plan proposed by the Government, while the ratepayers would be represented, they would have the advantage of a considerable number of the most experienced members of the Court of Quarter Sessions.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
said, the speech of his hon. Friend was rather a speech in favour of handing over the whole of the administration of the police to the County Councils, which the House by vote had already decided against, and, therefore, it was impossible to go back upon it. In supporting the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend, he did so upon rather different grounds from those which his hon. and gallant Friend and others had placed before the Committee. In reconstructing their local administration they should aim at simplicity. Yet by the Bill it was proposed that they should have, not a dual control nor a triple control, but, in fact, a quadruple control over the police. There would be a joint committee, a County Council, the Court of Quarter Sessions, and, over all, the Home Office; for if they looked at the 24th clause they would find that the power of the Home Office was far greater and more important than any of the powers given to the other three Bodies. Anyone who had had anything to do with police management in the counties knew that the power of the magistrates in Quarter Sessions over the police was very slight indeed. They exercised the privilege of appointing the Chief Constable, but as soon as they had appointed him the control over both him and the police passed out of their hands So far as the patronage in the appointment of the Chief Constable was concerned, it would reside better in the Court of Quarter Sessions, which was composed of nominees of the Crown, the members of which were liable to be dismissed by the Lord Chancellor, than in any elected Body. He spoke from his own experience, from what he had seen, heard, and read, and from circumstances in which he had taken part, and he had no hesitation in saying that the patronage of the Court of Quarter Sessions was carefully and prudently exercised, and that it was quite free from political bias; whereas an elected committee of the County Council would never be free from poli- 611 tical bias. All the elections they well knew would be fought on political lines, and most of the representatives of the County Councils would be elected on account of their political opinions. For these reasons he was in favour of the Amendment of his hon. Friend. The President of the Local Government Board said that the County Councils ought to have some authority over the police, because they would provide the money for their maintenance. That was not so. The police would be hereafter maintained out of the £5,000,000 of subventions, proposed to be handed over out of the taxes for the relief of the ratepayers. Therefore, that argument fell to the ground.
§ MR. SWETENHAM (, &c.) Carnarvon
said, he wished to explain the reasons why he intended to vote for the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Baronet. He could not help thinking that if the Government had an opportunity of seeing the different extracts from the Vernacular Press of Wales which had been sent to him, they would not have the intention they appeared to have to retain their own clause. It was impossible for any person in that House to ignore the fact that most lamentable disturbances had taken place in the Principality. There were many persons who conscientiously objected to the payment of tithe, and, at the same time, it was absolutely necessary, when they refused to pay it, that the assistance of the police should be, from time to time, called in. Remarks had been made from time to time by different speakers in the Principality as to what they would do when they got the power, and had the control of the police in their own hands. In the county which he represented, during the time the disturbances were going on, requisitions were sent to the county magistrates, calling upon them to reduce the number of police, on the ground that the county did not require so many; but, in point of fact, there were too few police constables already. Under these circumstances, he wished to draw the attention of the Committee to this fact. In Wales the chances were that a greater portion of the County Councils would be composed of gentlemen who conscientiously objected to the payment of tithes, and conscientiously objected to the employment of the police in levying tithes. They were conscien- 612 tious men, and, therefore, he did not blame them for following up their principles; but, as conscientious men, they would do all they could to prevent the police from being employed on such occasions. The police, however, would be under the orders of the Chief Constable; and, supposing that the appointment of Chief Constable remained as they proposed by the Bill in the hands of Quarter Sessions, they would have the control of the police resting with the County Councils, while the Chief Constable would be under the management and control of an entirely different Body. The police would feel themselves compelled to obey the orders of the Chief Constable, and in doing so they would know that they were acting against the wishes and against the principles of the bulk of the County Councils, so that when the question of dismissal or pensions arose their interests were likely to be materially injured. For these reasons he could not help thinking that the police force ought to be entirely under the control of the Quarter Sessions. The arguments in favour of keeping the police force in the hands of that Body were absolutely overwhelming.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 77; Noes 360: Majority 283.—(Div. List, No. 163.)
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
said, he moved to leave out all the words from "respect," in line 12, to "respect," in line 18, the effect of the Amendment being to take from the Quarter Sessions the appointment, control, and dismissal of Chief Constables.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 12, to leave out from the word "respect "to the word "to," in line 18.
§ Question proposed, "That the words to the appointment, control, and dismissal of chief constables,' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. F. S. POWELL
asked, if the Amendment which he had placed on the Paper would be safeguarded in the event of this Amendment being carried?
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 216; Noes 246: Majority 30.616
|Ainslie, W. G.||Fellowes, A. E.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Field, Admiral E.|
|Baden-Powell, Sir G. S.||Fielden, T.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Finch, G. H.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Banes, Major G. E.||Fitz-Wygram, Gen. Sir F. W.|
|Baring, T. C.|
|Barnes, A.||Folkestone, right hon. Viscount|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-||Gardner, R. Richardson-|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.|
|Beadel, W. J.|
|Bective, Earl of||Giles, A.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. C.||Gilliat, J. S.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Bigwood, J.||Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Bond, G. H.||Goschen, rt. hn. G. J.|
|Bonsor, H. C. O.||Granby, Marquess of|
|Borthwick, Sir A.||Gray, C. W.|
|Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.||Green, Sir E.|
|Greenall, Sir G.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Greene, E.|
|Brooks, Sir W. C.||Grotrian, F. B.|
|Bruce, Lord H.||Gunter, Colonel R.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.||Hall, A. W.|
|Halsey, T. F.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Hambro, Col. C. J. T.|
|Carmarthen, Marq. of||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Chaplin, right hon. H.|
|Charrington, S.||Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Hardcastle, E.|
|Coghill, D. H.||Hardcastle, F.|
|Colomb, Sir J. C. R.||Havelock - Allan, Sir H. M.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.|
|Corbett, J.||Heath, A. R.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Heaton, J. H.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Cross, H. S.||Hermon-Hodge, R. T.|
|Crossman, Gen. Sir W.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Cubitt, right hon. G.|
|Darling, C. J.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|Dawnay, Colonel hon. L. P.||Hill, A. S.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Holloway, G.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Houldsworth, Sir W. H.|
|Donkin, R. S.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Howard, J.|
|Duncan, Colonel F.||Howorth, H. H.|
|Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.||Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Hubbard, hon. E.|
|Egerton, hon. A. J. F.||Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Elcho, Lord||Hunt, F. S.|
|Elton, C. I.||Isaacs, L. H.|
|Ewart, Sir W.||Isaacson, F. W.|
|Ewing, Sir A. O.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Eyre, Colonel H.||Jarvis, A. W.|
|Feilden, Lt-Gen. R. J.||Jeffreys, A. F.|
|Jennings, L. J.||Paget, Sir R. H.|
|Johnston, W.||Parker, hon. F.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Pelly, Sir L.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Penton, Captain F. T.|
|Kenyon, hon. G. T.||Plunket, right hon. D. R.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.|
|Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.|
|Ker, R. W. B.||Rasch, Major F. C.|
|Kimber, H.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|King, H. S.||Ritchie, right hon. C. T.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T.|
|Robertson, Sir W. T.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Knowles, L.||Robinson, B.|
|Lafone, A.||Ross, A. H.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Round, J.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.||Royden, T. B.|
|Lawrence, W. F.||Russell, Sir G.|
|Lees, E.||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M.|
|Legh, T. W.||Saunderson, Col. E. J.|
|Leighton, S.||Seton-Karr, H.|
|Lennox, Lord W. C. Gordon-||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.|
|Lethbridge, Sir R.||Sidebottom, W.|
|Lewis, Sir C. E.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount||Smith, A.|
|Spencer, J. E.|
|Long, W. H.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Lowther, hon. W.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Lymington, Viscount||Stewart, M. J.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Swetenham, E.|
|Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.||Sykes, C.|
|Tapling, T. K.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Maclean, J. M.||Theobald, J.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|M'Calmont, Captain J.||Townsend, F.|
|Madden, D. H.||Trotter, Col. H. J.|
|Malcolm, Col. J. W.||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Mallock, R.||Vincent, Col. C. E. H.|
|Marriott, right hon. Sir W. T.||Watson, J.|
|Webster, R. G.|
|Matthews, right hon. H.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Wharton, J. L.|
|Mattinson, M. W.||Whitley, E.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Wiggin, H.|
|Milvain, T.||Wood, N.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Moss, R.||Wright, H. S.|
|Mowbray, right hon. Sir J. R.||Wroughton, P.|
|Yerburgh, R. A.|
|Muncaster, Lord||Young, C. E. B.|
|Norris, E. S.||TELLERS.|
|Northcote, hon. Sir H. S.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|O'Neill, hon. R. T.|
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Barry, J.|
|Bartley, G. C. T.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||Beaumont, W. B.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Beckett, E. W.|
|Allison, R. A.||Beckett, W.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Bethell, Commander G. R.|
|Anstruther, H. T.|
|Asher, A.||Bickford-Smith, W.|
|Austin, J.||Biggar, J. G.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Bolitho, T. B.|
|Ballantine, W. H. W.||Bradlaugh, C.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Bright, Jacob|
|Barran, J.||Broadhurst, H.|
|Barry, A. H. S.||Brown, A. H.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Brunner, J. T.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Graham, R. C.|
|Burt, T.||Grey, Sir E.|
|Buxton, S. C.||Gurdon, R. T.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Hanbury, R. W.|
|Cameron, C.||Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F. S. A.|
|Cameron, J. M.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.||Harrington, E.|
|Hartington, Marq. of|
|Carew, J. L.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Causton, R. K.||Hayne, C. Seale-|
|Chamberlain, R.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|Channing, F. A.|
|Childers, rt. hon. H. C. E.||Heneage, right hon. E.|
|Clancy, J. J.||Hoare, E. B.|
|Cobb, H. P.||Hobhouse, H.|
|Coleridge, hon. B.||Holden, I.|
|Commins, A.||Hooper, J.|
|Conway, M.||Hoyle, I.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Hunter, W. A.|
|Corbet, W. J.||James, hon. W. H.|
|Corbett, A. C.||Jordan, J.|
|Cossham, H.||Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.|
|Cox, J. R.||Kenny, C. S.|
|Craig, J.||Kenny, M. J.|
|Craven, J.||Kenrick, W.|
|Crawford, D.||Kilbride, D.|
|Crawford, W.||Lalor, R.|
|Cremer, W. R.||Lane, W. J.|
|Crilly, D.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Crossley, E.||Lawson, H. L. W.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Leake, R.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S.|
|Dalrymple, Sir C.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Lewis, T. P.|
|Davies, W.||Llewellyn, E. H.|
|Deasy, J.||Lowther, J. W.|
|Dickson, T. A.||Lubbock, Sir J.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Lyell, L.|
|Dixon, G.||Macdonald, W. A.|
|Duff, R. W.||MacInnes, M.|
|Dugdale, J. S.||Maclean, F. W.|
|Duncombe, A.||Mac Neill, J. G. S.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||M'Arthur, A.|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.||M'Carthy, J.|
|Elliot, hon. A. R. D.||M'Donald, P.|
|Elliot, hon. H. F. H.||M'Ewan, W.|
|Ellis, J.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Ellis, T. E.||M'Laren, W. S. B.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.||Maitland, W. F.|
|Esslemont, P.||Maple, J. B.|
|Evershed, S.||Mappin, Sir F. T.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Marum, E. M.|
|Fenwick, C.||Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro-|
|Finucane, J.||Mayne, T.|
|Firth, J. F. B.||Menzies, R. S.|
|Flower, C.||Mildmay, F. B.|
|Flynn, J. C.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Foley, P. J.||More, R. J.|
|Foljambe, C. G. S.||Morgan, right hon. G. O.|
|Forster, Sir C.|
|Fowler, rt. hon. H. H.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||Morley, rt. hon. J.|
|Fry, L.||Mundella, right hon. A. J.|
|Fuller, G. P.|
|Gardner, H.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Gaskell, C. G. Milnes-||Newark, Viscount|
|Gilhooly, J.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Gill, T. P.||Nolan, J.|
|Norton, R.||Sheil, E.|
|O'Brien, J. F. X.||Sidebotham, J. W.|
|O'Brien, P. J.||Simon, Sir J.|
|O'Connor, A.||Sinclair, T.|
|O'Connor, J.||Sinclair, W. P.|
|O'Hea, P.||Smith, S.|
|O' Kelly, J.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|Palmer, Sir C. M.||Stack, J.|
|Parker, C. S.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Paulton, J. M.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|Pease, A. E.||Stevenson, J. C.|
|Pease, H. F.||Stewart, H.|
|Pickersgill, E. H.||Stuart, J.|
|Picton, J. A.||Sullivan, D.|
|Pinkerton, J.||Summers, W.|
|Playfair, rt. hon. Sir L.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Tanner, C. K.|
|Portman, hon. E. B.||Thomas, A.|
|Potter, T. B.||Thorburn, W.|
|Powell, F. S.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Powell, W. R. H.||Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.|
|Power, P. J.|
|Power, R.||Tuite, J.|
|Price, T. P.||Vernon, hon. G. R.|
|Pugh, D.||Wardle, H.|
|Pyne, J. D.||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|Rathbone, W.||Wayman, T.|
|Redmond, W. H. K.||West, Colonel W. C.|
|Recd. Sir E. J.||Will, J. S.|
|Reid, R. T.||Williams, A. J.|
|Rendel, S.||Williamson, J.|
|Richard, H.||Williamson, S.|
|Richardson, T.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Roberts, J.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Roberts, J. B.||Wilson, I.|
|Robertson, E.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Robinson, T.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Roscoe, Sir H. E.||Woodall, W.|
|Rowntree, J.||Woodhead, J.|
|Russell, T. W.||Wright, C.|
|Samuelson, G. B.|
|Sellar, A. C.||TELLERS.|
|Sexton, T.||Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.|
|Sheehan, J. D.||Morley, A.|
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, the Amendment standing in his name was intended to place the county police under the authority of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department. A good deal had been said in the course of the discussion about trusting the people in the matter of the police. That argument was founded on a misconception. The only persons who really trusted the people were himself and those who agreed with him; for they did not trust the people in a fragmentary way; they trusted the people, the whole people, and nothing but the people—that was to say, the people of the United Kingdom and Ireland as represented in Parliament. It was not wise, but dangerous, to trust matters of large responsibility to small sections of the people, but there was no danger whatever in trusting the people as a 617 whole. He hoped that, instead of this sectional trust of the people, they would carry out the principle he had explained by leaving out the words which vested the powers and duties with respect to the county police in the bands of a local Council, and substitute for them the words "Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department," whom they had in that House, whom they could command and trust, and whom, if they did not trust, they could displace. In a comparatively short space of time the provisions of the Bill might be applied to Ireland. He would like to know whether any Member of that House would be willing to place the police of Ireland under local popular control? The people of London were as intelligent as any people, and yet it was not deemed safe that they should have the control of their own police. There was an absurdity in placing the responsibility for the prevention of crime in the hands of 120 different establishments; the prevention of crime was an Imperial duty which extended to the whole country. If a protected Prime Minister were to travel from London to Edinburgh with the ordinary stoppages for making speeches, he would come under the surveillance of a dozen different police forces. He would like to support what he said by the statements of the Royal Commissioners when the Constabulary was first founded in 1839. They said that by separate and independent management in counties there must be expense, trouble, and inconvenience, such as had been attendant upon the old system of management by parish constables. The old system of elective constables had one supporter in the House—namely, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), who seemed to think that the ancient and barbarous methods of maintaining law and order should be still adhered to. The Commissioners also stated that separate local police establishments would be inadequate, inefficient, and very expensive. The time bad now arrived when a great step in advance might be made by establishing one Imperial force. The Commissioners summed up their objections to the present system by saying that with 52 different forces there would be 52 conflicting modes of action, and that any mea- 618 sure which did not tend to the establishment of one force and one system throughout the country would end in comparative inefficiency, greater expense, and the creation of local animosities. His proposal, therefore, was to enlarge the powers of the Home Office, and to get rid of the mischiefs which were pointed out in tins most valuable Report of the Commissioners. Hon. Gentlemen on these Benches were desirous of efficiency and anxious for economy; but he was bound to say that the method of administration proposed by the Government in this Bill made efficiency and economy quite impossible. Having, he believed, said sufficient to recommend his Amendment to the Committee, he had only to point out that there was a precedent for this proposal in the case of the prisons, which had been placed successfully under Government control 12 years ago.
In page 5, line 20, after the words "attach to," to leave out all the words to end of Clause, and insert "Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department."—(Mr. Stanley Leighton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he was very far indeed from saying that there was not a good deal to be urged in favour of the proposal of his hon. Friend; but, looking at the discussion which had already taken place with reference to the control of the police, he thought his hon. Friend would hardly expect that the Government would recede from the position they had taken up in that respect. He thought it would also be seen that the Committee, having come to a conclusion adverse to placing the police under the control of the Judicial Body under which they now were, was hardly likely to accept the proposal of his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend would understand that he did not propose to trouble the Committee again with the various arguments which had been advanced on this subject during the discussion that had taken place, and he would only say, further, that the Government were unable to accept the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
§ CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
said, he rose to oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for 619 the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton), whom he would congratulate upon the extreme frankness of his statement. He was not, however, able to congratulate him so much upon his remarks in reference to the control of the police. He (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) would point out that there were two places in the country, and two only, where the police were in collision with the people—namely, Ireland and the Metropolis, and in those places the police were under the direct control of the Crown. He thought that the duty of answering the hon. Gentleman devolved upon the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary rather than on himself; but, as he was on friendly terms with the right hon. Gentleman, he wished to protest emphatically against another unpleasant duty being placed upon him. He might also suggest that if the hon. Gentleman did not feel it right to vote for the alternative system he should place the police under the control of the Emperor of Japan.
§ MR. FIRTH (Dundee)
said, that outside London there were parts of counties extending 15 miles from Charing Cross where the police were under the control of the Home Secretary. He did not see why the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board should not apply to the counties outside London, and it was his intention to move an Amendment with that object.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, the Division which had taken place not only had the effect of knocking the Government out of time, but also of knocking the sense out of the clause. With regard to the Amendment before the Committee, the hon. Member had placed before them a proposal which might be worthy of the consideration of the Committee; but considering that, as had been pointed out more than once in the discussion, the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had been to bring the people of the Metropolis into collision with the police, he thought the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite would be the very last thing which it would be their duty to entertain. The hon. Gentleman, he wished to point out, was exceedingly illogical in some of the remarks he had made, and he thought he must have been guilty of an uncon- 620 scions joke levelled at the Members of the Government on the Treasury Benches. But when the hon. Gentleman said that it was dangerous to trust large matters to small portions of the people, and then said he was in favour of placing the control of the police under that fragment of the people, which consisted of the Home Office and himself, it seemed to him that his arguments became very illogical indeed. He believed the hon. Member was in favour of retaining the control of the police in the hands of the magistrates, and there again he would point out that when he spoke of trusting the whole people, and nothing but the people, he either did not understand what the people meant, or he was so illogical that he did not know whither his remarks were carrying him; because the magistrates belonged to one class, and certainly did not constitute the people as a whole. He thought it would be agreed that the landocracy constituted a very small portion of the people; and, therefore, if the hon. Gentleman was sincere in his wish to retain the police under the control of the magistrates, he could not be sincere in his wish to see any of these powers left in the hands of the people. The hon. Gentleman had explained that the people of London were the most intelligent in the country. He did not intend to dispute a proposition of that kind; but when the hon. Gentleman went on to say that the people of London had no control over their police, and used that argument as a reason why the Home Office should control the police in all other parts of the country, he (Mr. Conybeare) must point out again that the hon. Member was also illogical here, because he had expressed the opinion that, in large matters, not a small portion of the people, but the whole, should be trusted. He did not suppose that the hon. Gentleman would be very successful if he carried his Amendment to a Division; and, after the expression of opinion on the Treasury Bench, he thought he would be wise in withdrawing it.
§ SIR RICHARD PAGET (Somerset, Wells)
said, he was one of those who desired to see progress made in this measure; and, therefore, because he deprecated unnecessary Divisions, he would express his hope that his hon. Friend (Mr. Stanley Leighton) would withdraw his Amendment.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said, he wished to point out that the argument in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire was that it would increase economy and efficiency. It was obvious that by having one control there must be a saving of expenditure in respect of correspondence, clerks, and other matters. If they followed the example in the case of the prisons they would have one central authority, one control, and one set of regulations for one force, and this would certainly produce greater efficiency all round.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
said, the Amendment standing in his name would have the effect of preserving the present useful arrangements existing between some of the boroughs and counties which had worked very satisfactorily, and which he thought it was undesirable to disturb.
In page 5, line 23, at end of Clause, to add the words—"All arguments under which the police of any county and borough are consolidated, or under which any borough is watched by county police, shall, notwithstanding anything in this Act, remain in force and be carried into effect until lawfully determined, the standing joint committee only being substituted so far as requisite for the justices of the county."—(Mr. Woodall.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he was in accord with what he believed to be the object of this Amendment; but he would point out that if the Government were to accept it as it stood, it would practically prejudge certain questions with reference to the boroughs and counties. He would undertake that, as far as boroughs of over 10,000 in population wore concerned, they accepted the spirit of the hon. Member's proposal. But he thought it better that what had to be said on the question should be deferred until they came to the clause dealing with the question.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
asked if there would be an opportunity of discussing the question of police with regard to boroughs under 10,000; because, if he allowed the present opportunity to pass, those who wished to raise that question might be ruled out of Order hereafter.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, there would be nothing whatever to prejudice the discussion by accepting his proposal to defer the question.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, there was in his borough a very strong feeling that the municipal authorities should have the control of their own police, although the borough did not contain 10,000 inhabitants. He did not wish to delay the progress of the Bill, and as he understood that he should not be out of Order in raising the subject hereafter he was willing to accede to the request of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. WOODALL
said, he was exceedingly desirous of falling in with the views of the right hon. Gentleman. He wished to facilitate the passage of the Bill; and, on the understanding that boroughs of under 10,000 inhabitants should not be prejudiced by the postponement, he would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, he would point out that the control of the police by the Home Office extended from Chislehurst on one side of London to Uxbridge on the other. He would not go into the historic reasons why it should come to pass that the control of the Home Secretary extended to counties outside London; but he ventured to suggest that those counties were just as well able to control their police as those to whom it was proposed to give powers under this clause. He would, therefore, move an Amendment to include the principle he had in view in the Bill.
In page 5, line 23, at end of Clause, to add the words—"This section shall apply to all counties and boroughs of counties outside the county of London in respect of the control of the police."—(Mr. Firth.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he could not accept the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and would make a suggestion that it should be withdrawn and the discussion of the point deferred. They must deal with the London police district as a whole.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, with reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) with reference to the powers of Quarter Sessions, under Clause 7 of the County and Borough Police Act of 1856, he had prepared an Amendment which he wished to submit to the Committee whereby the power of imposing certain additional duties on the police, as vested by the section referred to in Quarter Sessions, should be exercisable by Quarter Sessions as well as by the joint committee and also by the County Councils.
In page 5, line 23, at end of Clause, to add—"Provided that the powers conferred by section seven of the County and Borough Police Act, 1856, which requires constables to perform, in addition to their ordinary duties, such duties connected with the police as the Quarter Sessions may direct or require, shall continue to be exercised by the Quarter Sessions as well as by the constituted joint committee, and may also be exercised by the County Council, and the said section shall be construed as if the County Council and the constituted joint committee were therein mentioned as well as the Quarter Sessions."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 8 (Transfer to County Council of power of certain Government Departments and other Authorities).
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said, the clause as it stood transferred to the local Councils powers which were vested at present in certain Bodies, such as the Treasury, the Local Government Board, and the Board of Trade. The object of his Amendment was, instead of transferring these powers by the Bill, to enable them hereafter to be transferred by Order in Council. His reason for moving the Amendment was that would be unwise to load the new authorities with all these onerous duties at starting. [Laughter.] He saw no reason for laughter. He confessed that until he had some experience of the working of the County Councils, and 624 until he knew how they were composed, he did not think it would be expedient to vest in them a large number of powers. His view was that the County Councils should be made perfectly impartial and homogeneous, and in future, when they were able to judge how their business had been conducted, they might transfer to them any further powers which they considered could be rightly transferred. The transfer of these powers he proposed, as he had said, to be made in future by Order in Council; beyond that he could not at present go. He might point out that some of the powers to be transferred were quite unnecessary. Hon. Members would find by the Schedule that, among others, it was proposed to transfer the power now vested in the Board of Trade of making piers and harbours, and if they adopted the clause as it stood they would be conferring on the County Council of Rutland, for instance, the most unnecessary power of carrying out those works. He thought the Committee would agree with him that this Amendment was well deserving of consideration, and, as far as he was concerned, he greatly preferred his proposal to the clause in its present form.
In page 5, line 24, leave out "On and after the appointed day," and insert "It shall be lawful for Her Majesty the Queen in Council, if satisfied of such approval as hereinafter mentioned from time to time, by order to transfer to the Council of a county all or any of."—(Mr. Chaplin.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY (Lancashire, N., Blackpool)
said, he should support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. Although, at first sight, undoubtedly, it had the appearance of emasculating the Bill, he would point out, with reference to the constitution of County Councils, the Bill had already been eviscerated by the exclusion of some of the smaller boroughs from the County Councils. That exclusion might be a good thing, but the constitution of the County Councils had thus become very different from what it was originally, inasmuch as they would be composed entirely of rural members or members from very small boroughs. He was not prepared to say there were not 625 some powers of Government Departments that could not be very well given to the County Councils, but he thought, rather than run any risk, they should say that these large functions should not now be specified. He thought that before they were transferred it was desirable to see how the Councils discharged the less important duties. As a matter of practical experience, and apart from Party politics, he thought it was safer to keep powers with constituted authorities like the Board of Trade or the Local Government Board, having a staff of officers for dealing with the various subjects, than it would be to give them to the County Councils. If hon. Members would look at some of the powers now exercised by the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade and the powers proposed to be transferred to the County Councils; if they would consider the amount of machinery necessary to carry out these powers, he thought they would see that it was impossible for the County Councils to deal with them. There were many counties which would have to decide on the question of piers and harbours. It was not stated that the country would be able to dispense with any of the Board of Trade officers in consequence of the proposed transfer, and he asserted that the Board of Trade, by their local inquiries, which were conducted at a small cost, had satisfied local demands. The proposal in the Bill was—for instance, where a borough desired gas or water works—instead of coming to a large constituted authority such as the Board of Trade they should go to the County Council, on which probably they thought they were inadequately represented, and where not only would the question be decided on its merits, but with considerable opposition on the part of rival boroughs. He knew that in Lancashire there were districts in which this would occur, and he could not conceive that any advantage would be derived from the action of County Councils in these matters. He pointed out also that there must be great expense in providing the County Councils with all the machinery necessary to deal with the powers proposed to be conferred upon them as they arose. He did not say that there were not some smaller matters which might be transferred to the County Councils. Nor did he wish to deprive them of the 626 position they ought to occupy; but he would point out that it was proposed to transfer the powers of dealing with gas and water and the management of tramways throughout the Kingdom, which were matters requiring exhaustive inquiry, and then Provisional Orders followed by a Bill in Parliament. That being so, he asked hon. Members whether they thought the County Councils competent to deal with all these subjects? Not only was the change proposed a very sweeping one in itself; but, although the rates would be enormously increased, he did not think the districts would get value for the money spent. On the whole, he believed there would be great dissatisfaction if the clause wore carried in its present form. It was because he wished the system to be a success that he was anxious not to overburden the new Bodies, and he should therefore support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire. He did not think hon. Members would deem it wise to give to the small boroughs the government powers which were enumerated. The case might be argued at greater length; but he thought he had given some reason why the Government should hesitate before they gave these powers to the County Council. He believed that in supporting the Amendment they would be doing mischief to the Councils and no good to the boroughs. His opinion was that they ought to shrink from giving powers to the new Bodies which could not be exercised for the good of the community.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Baronet (Sir Matthew White Ridley) that there were certain powers which the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade possessed that it would be desirable at once to give to the County Council, small powers which did not require great skill to exercise. But there were some powers of such great magnitude—for instance, there was the one to which he drew the attention of the House some time ago, that concerning the public health of the country, and which at the present moment was carried into successful operation by the skilled staff of the Local Government Board—which ought not to be transferred to the new authorities 627 till they were organized and ready to use them with advantage to the nation. According to the Bill, they were at once to transfer the powers which had worked through the agency of a skilled staff of medical officers of the Local Government Board to detached and uncombined medical officers, some of whom had no training at all for the purposes contemplated, and many of whom were engaged in private practice, and had never had the opportunity or the inclination to study sanitary questions. He thought, therefore, that unless the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board assured them that he intended afterwards to put down Amendments—in regard to which he had given no Notice at the present time—giving such power to the County Councils as would enable them to get properly qualified medical men to look after the health of the community, the Bill would produce great deterioration instead of improvement in the public health. Until he knew that the right hon. Gentleman intended to make such Amendments, he should support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin).
§ MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, he desired to corroborate what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair) with reference to medical officers. He had occasion, in former years, to take an interest in the provisions introduced into the present Statute respecting medical officers, and he was quite certain that if the public health of the future under this Bill or any other Bill was to be conducted and attended to in a satisfactory manner, great pains must be taken to keep up the dignity and to maintain the status of medical officers. He did not desire to anticipate any discussion which might arise when they came to the part of the Bill dealing more specifically with public health; but as the point had been raised by the right hon. Gentleman he could not remain entirely silent. He did not think they need have any apprehension as to some, at least, of the powers which it was proposed to transfer. The powers of the Home Office, which it was proposed to transfer to the County Councils, were confined to two subjects not entirely germane. In fact, 628 they were connected together by a somewhat remarkable alliance in the Schedule—they were burials and fairs. In reference to the powers of the Local Government Board which it was proposed to transfer, he hoped that some of them would be removed in the subsequent discussion on the Bill. He thought it would be a misfortune to start this Bill without the transference of some powers. If the now authorities to be set up under the Bill were to be manned by men of position and character in the counties, the Committee must give them real and substantial work to do, and he doubted very much whether they could find any means of giving work to that class so effectual as by entrusting the County Council with some portion of the powers now administered by Government offices. He did not know that the removal of certain boroughs had so much weakened the County Councils as some hon. Members seemed to think. It was a grave misfortune in our social life that those who had interest in boroughs very often—in fact, almost invariably—lived outside of those boroughs. He believed that men of standing and of influence in the different boroughs would be found to reside outside of those boroughs, and to have large interest in the county. They would become efficient members of the new County Council. He, therefore, did not attach the importance some hon. Members did to the deteriorating effect upon the County Councils produced by the creation of the county boroughs; but he confessed that he was somewhat surprised to hear the criticism which had been offered by hon. Members who appeared more peculiarly to represent rural districts. He thought he had heard many hon. Gentlemen, whose interests were more rural than his own could claim to be, express great fear that the County Councils would be overborne and governed by the towns. That fear had been removed by the Amendment introduced in the Bill for the creation of a larger number of county boroughs, and he thought that on that ground, at least, they might feel more confident in entrusting powers to the County Councils.
MR. A. H. BROWN (Shropshire, Wellington)
said, he desired to say a word or two from the point of view of the public health. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) proposed to transfer from his 629 own Department to the County Councils a large number of powers which were always intended to be used in the promotion of the public health of the country. Among those powers to be transferred were the powers under certain sections named in the Public Health Act of 1875, and he desired to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to some of the powers he was about to transfer from his Department to the County Councils. He thought that it was possible to transfer some powers to the County Councils; but it was desirable the right hon. Gentleman should retain in his Department power to control the County Council, or any other Body to whom powers were entrusted, to carry out the provisions of the law which were necessary for the improvement of the public health. One hon. Gentleman had remarked that it was proposed to transfer to the County Councils all power under the 299th section of the Act of 1875. That section was the one which compelled the, authorities to perform their duties with regard to the public health, the power being vested in the Local Government Board under that section. Let him point out, however, that if, under the Bill, the powers given by that section were transferred to the County Councils, no authority in the country could be compelled by the Local Government Board to do anything that was necessary for the public health. He hoped that the point would be carefully considered, and that though the County Councils would be invested with some of the powers named in the Schedule, the Government Department would also possess the powers now named in the Act of 1875. The Local Government Board ought to be able compel the Local Authority to provide a mortuary, for instance; and they ought to be able to compel them to scavenge their streets. Those were important powers, but if the Bill passed as it now stood, there would be no power whatever on the part of the Local Government Board to compel any Local Authority to perform these important functions. He also desired to insist upon the point that there ought to be some supervising authority to see that duties were properly performed in the interests of public health. He should certainly support the Amendment now under consideration.
§ MR. CRAIG SELLAR (Lanarkshire, Partick)
said, he listened with great 630 pleasure to the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for the Blackpool Division of Lancashire (Sir Matthew White Ridley) upon the subject, to which he (Mr. Craig Sellar) had given some attention. He understood from the hon. Baronet that his argument was that, while he did not object to the transference of minor powers to the County Councils, he did object to the transference of the greater powers it was proposed to transfer. He (Mr. Craig Sellar) entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman in this matter; the hon. Gentleman adduced some very cogent reasons for his argument, which he hoped the Committee would consider carefully; but, in addition to the argument which the hon. Gentleman had urged, he desired to urge one, a minor argument certainly, but still a practical one. It was this—that the whole question of these Provisional Orders, as well as the greater questions connected with Private Bill legislation, were now being carefully considered by an important Committee of the two Houses of Parliament. That Committee would report, he hoped, very shortly, and he thought that was a strong reason for at least postponing the consideration of this clause. He trusted that if the Committee would not consent to accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), they would, at least, consent to postpone this clause until the Committee which he had mentioned had reported.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he did not think that anyone would accuse him of being desirous of weakening either the duties, the powers, or the responsibilities of the new Councils, and it was because he entirely agreed with the views expressed by his right hon. Friend the Member for South Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair) that he should support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford. Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin). They had been arguing all the way through—certainly, they upon the Opposition Benches had been so arguing—that it was desirable, as far as possible, to assimilate the new Council to the old Municipal Council. Now, Municipal Town Councils had had experience of Local Government for upwards of half-a-century, but Parliament had never 631 yet proposed to confer on them the discretion and authority of the Home Secretary, or of the Local Government Board, or of the Board of Trade, in respect to the matters specified in the Schedule. It was proposed to invest the new Body—he had great faith in the new Body, although it was certainly untried and inexperienced—with these great Ministerial powers, he might almost say Parliamentary powers. He tried to follow his right hon. Friend in reference to the position of what were to be called county boroughs under the Bill. He believed the right hon. Gentleman proposed that they should still be subject to the Local Government Board, and to the Board of Trade, and to the Home Secretary, in all these matters. He quite agreed in that view, at all events for the present; but he thought that to invest the County Councils and not the municipal boroughs with these various discretionary powers, all of which would require a large and expensive and experienced staff in order to carry them out efficiently, was really proceeding on wrong lines. He thought that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division went as far as they ought to go. So far as Section 1 was concerned, he was quite willing that the Government of the day, having full knowledge of the facts of the case, should have power, by Order in Council, to transfer certain powers to the County Councils. If they did not accept the Amendment, they would be in the position that, when they came to the Schedule, they would have to discuss item by item all the things that ought to be transferred. The discussion would occupy a great deal of time, and he thought that, in the end, the County Councils would not possess a great many powers they ought to possess, and that they would possess some which they could never exercise with advantage to themselves or to the community.
said, he did not see any great objection to accepting the Amendment of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin). There would certainly, in accepting the Amendment, be the advantage alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler)—the Committee would be spared a long and very technical and intricate discussion 632 with reference to the provisions in the Schedule of the Bill. It was certainly true also that the proposal placed on the responsible Government of the day the duty of considering, item by item, whether or not some of the powers now possessed by the various Government Departments might not safely be transferred to the County Councils. He would like, while saying that much, to say a word or two as to what he thought was a misconception which existed in the minds of some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who had spoken. His hon. Friend (Sir Matthew White Ridley) seemed to think that, under the provisions of the Bill, the power would be transferred to the County Councils and the Councils of those boroughs which appeared in the Schedule to execute certain works such as harbours, and he thought his right hon. Friend said various other works. Let him point out that, so far as a county was concerned, and so far as all the boroughs specified in the Schedule were concerned, no power whatever with reference to any proposal for erecting works within their own area and which they would promote would be transferred to them by the Bill. Both with reference to counties and also with reference to boroughs in the 4th Schedule all Provisional Orders which were required for the purpose of executing work which they, as a Council, promoted, would have to be obtained from the Government Department as they were now obtained. It was perfectly clear, therefore, that whatever powers it might be proposed to confer on County Councils with reference to schemes proposed by Companies within their area, or by District Councils within their area, or by any other Body—it was perfectly clear that schemes of that kind were on a totally different footing to schemes of which the County Councils themselves were the promoters. While it might be perfectly right and proper to give these powers with reference to schemes promoted by authorities within the area of a County Council, it would not be right or proper that the County Councils should have the power of issuing Provisional Orders for schemes of which they themselves were the promoters. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair) alluded to a question affecting the health of the country. 633 He (Mr. Ritchie) need hardly say he should be the last man in the House to propose anything which he thought would be disadvantageous to the general health of the community, and no one recognized more than he did the immense services which had been performed by the medical officers of the Local Government Board. Allusion had been made by some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to the fact that representations had been made to the Local Government Board from boroughs to the effect that they would very much prefer to remain under the control of the Local Government Board than to have power exercised over them in this respect by a County Council. He was perfectly aware of that feeling. He was, he confessed, not aware it existed to such an extent that he was convinced now it did, for previously to the introduction of that Bill he had read of objections which had been again and again raised as to what was sometimes called the arbitrary exercise of the powers of the Government Department. There could be no question that, at any rate at some period or other, this feeling did exist to a very considerable extent; but he had become convinced now that that feeling had been replaced almost by feelings of regard and even of affection on the part of boroughs for the Board over which he had the honour to preside. Of course, the Committee knew perfectly well what the object of the Government was in making this proposal. Their object was that a system of decentralization which had been so often called for should be established. They thought that, at any rate so far as many of the powers they proposed to transfer were concerned, they might be fairly handed over to a large representative Body, such as they hoped the County Councils would be, who would probably be better judges than a Central Department of the wishes and wants and requirements of the localities under their jurisdiction. He was now convinced that the boroughs at any rate, and also many other Bodies in the counties, had such a complete confidence in the way in which the Local Government Board administered the powers which were conferred upon it, that they preferred that the Board should have the administration and control, rather than that it should be handed over to the County Councils— 634 they would rather bear the ills they had than fly to those they knew not of. He was glad this was so, because he thought it was a very great indication that in recent years, at any rate, the powers which had been wielded by Government Departments had been exercised wisely and to the public advantage. That indication was fairly given through the representations which had been made on the part of boroughs, and it had to some extent reconciled him to a proposal which he could not help saying was in some measure a weakening of the Bill the Government had introduced. But he did not understand that the Amendment of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin) was proposed in that sense—it was rather that what was to be done should be done tentatively, and that full consideration should be given by the Government of the day to every one of the proposed transferences before it was made. It was in this spirit they accepted the Amendment of his right hon. Friend. The acceptance of the Amendment would certainly have the great advantage which had been pointed out, that the Committee would be spared a long and intricate and technical discussion with reference to the different powers specified in the Schedule. He therefore proposed, on the part of the Government, to accept the Amendment of his right hon. Friend.
§ MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
said, he wished to understand how far this Amendment would go. Did the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) understand that the Amendment would apply to the County of London and its Council? The County of London stood in an entirely different position to other counties in the country, and he was bound to say that, so far as London was concerned, this Amendment would be most mischievous in its operation. He had regard particularly to the powers of the Home Office, and he presumed that if this Amendment were carried, those powers would be retained by the Home Secretary. That was not the desire of the ratepayers and citizens of the Metropolis. These proceedings seemed to him to show the absurdity of trying to treat London as if it were on all-fours with the other counties which were dealt with in the Bill. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would con- 635 sider this point, and make a statement in reference to it when they came to the London clauses.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that, so far as he understood the Amendment of his right hon. Friend, it merely provided that the transference of these powers should take place by means of an Order in Council. It was quite evident that if London could not be considered separately, as he thought it could, power would remain to the Government of the day to make transferences which hon. Gentlemen thought it would be advisable to make. With reference to London, the Government had always had in their minds that when they came to the clauses dealing with the Metropolis separate and full consideration should be given to the peculiarities of the position occupied by London.
§ MR. LAWSON
said, that the fact that the powers could be transferred by Order in Council was no guarantee to hon. Members. They found the Home Office extremely unwilling to surrender its prerogatives; and what they wanted to get was an absolute assurance on the point. When they came to the London clauses they would certainly press the right hon. Gentleman in respect to this matter.
§ MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)
said, that it appeared to him that this was a clause requiring very careful consideration and treatment, and he was rather sorry the right hon. Gentleman had come to the conclusion to throw overboard entirely the 1st sub-section, and practically to retain only the 2nd.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, he wanted to be quite sure he did not misunderstand the right hon. Gentleman. He understood the right hon. Gentleman accepted the principle of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division (Mr. Chaplin). What the right hon. Gentleman proposed was to transfer no powers from the Secretary of State for the Home Department, or from the Board of Trade, or from the Local Government Board, by the operation of this section, but to take power to the Government of the time being to transfer no powers from these and other Departments to the County Councils on the responsibility of the Government of the day. Did he rightly understand the matter? [Mr. RITCHIE assented.] Then, practically speaking, 636 he was right in saying the right hon Gentleman dispensed with the first part of the section, which transferred powers by virtue of the section itself, and he preferred to rely on the 2nd sub-section, which dealt with the transference of power by Order in Council. He (Mr. Stansfeld) regretted the action of the right hon. Gentleman. He knew the right hon. Gentleman had had reason to modify the proposed provision in the Bill for the transference of powers. He was aware that a deputation of boroughs waited upon the right hon. Gentleman, and he was aware of the impression which that deputation produced upon the right hon. Gentleman's mind; and, therefore, he expected that the right hon. Gentleman would have himself proposed to reconsider this Schedule, and to have brought forward an amended Schedule at some future time, containing powers which, on more mature consideration, he thought it advisable to transfer. He understood, on the contrary, that the right hon. Gentleman elected to give up that opportunity, and preferred to leave the transference of powers entirely to future action. Then they came to the question of method. He (Mr. Stansfeld) had an Amendment to the 2nd sub-section, and perhaps he might be allowed to state his objection to that sub-section. He could quite understand a proposal that by agreement between the Government of the day and the Department concerned the transference of powers should be done by Provisional Orders involving the necessity of a confirming Bill, so that the matter might be certain of arresting the attention of Parliament; but that was not the proposal of this clause. The proposal of the clause was that a scheme when originated should lie on the Table for 30 days, and that, if it was not objected to, it should practically become law—that the Order in Council should issue as a matter of course forthwith, and that there should be no appeal to Parliament. It must be perfectly well known to Members of the Committee that, in the first place, such a scheme might lie on the Table and arrest no attention; and that, secondly, the scheme might arrest attention, but that hon. Members might be unable to get any opportunity of discussing it. This difficulty was much larger under the new Rules than under the old, and 637 he regretted to say that there was no guarantee, under the 2nd sub-section as it stood, that the Government of the day might not on their own motion put schemes on the Table for the transference of powers from any Secretary of State, or from the Board of Trade, or the Local Government Board, or the Education Department, or from any other authority having powers within a county, and there was no guarantee that the powers might not be transferred without Parliament having an opportunity of discussing them. By adopting this Amendment the House would wash its hands of the whole business; it would relinquish all authority and power, for it would delegate its authority practically to the Government of the time being, and he was bound to say that that was a delegation and abandonment of responsibility and power which the House ought not to contemplate.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he did not want to detain the Committee unnecessarily; but, of course, these were matters, and there were many other matters in connection with a great Bill like this, in regard to which there might be large and perfectly legitimate differences of opinion. The Government had made proposals which they thought were the best under the circumstances. When matters of this kind came to be discussed in a business-like way, and when a desire was shown on the part of all persons in the House to make the Bill as workable and as good a Bill as possible, he should be sorry, on the part of the Government, to attempt to set up a reputation for infallibility as to the proposals they made. The Government were perfectly willing to consider all suggestions, especially when they were made by so experienced a Member of the House as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld). Although they had provided that certain transfers might be made by means which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded to—namely, the laying of the schemes on the Table of the House for a certain number of days, he was perfectly willing to fall in with the suggestion the right hon. Gentleman had made, and provide that the transference of powers should be made by a Provisional Order. He did not see the slightest objection to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and he was anxious to say so frankly, and at once.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would not consider he was wasting the time of the Committee if he made clear the altered position of affairs. He (Mr. Woodall) was not quite clear what was to be the position under the altered circumstances of the boroughs in the Schedule and of the boroughs which were not included in the Schedule. Would such powers as were proposed to be given by Order in Council to the new County Authorities be also conceded to boroughs with a population of 50,000?
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he had endeavoured to express broadly what they conceived to be the position of things with reference to the counties, and also with reference to the boroughs which were to be treated as counties. It was quite clear that schemes promoted by Governing Bodies of boroughs and counties should not be brought into effect by means of Provisional Orders issued by the Governing Bodies themselves. It was quite clear that if a borough in the Schedule desired to promote a scheme within its own area, it would not be right or proper it should have the power to issue the Provisional Order, the borough being, as it would be, an interested party.
§ MR. WOODALL
said, he thought it was perfectly clear that if a County Authority or a borough of 50,000 inhabitants promoted any particular measure, it must come, as at present, to Whitehall. He hoped it would not be irregular in him to refer to the Amendment of which he had given Notice, and in which he asked that whatever might be the powers of the new County Authorities, the municipal boroughs might be left, as at present, the right of appeal to the Central Authority. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had very truly said that there was a time when the relations between boroughs and the Central Authority involved a certain amount of friction. Happily, the experience of years which had brought the best minds of the Provinces into harmonious relations with the very competent central office had insured a continuous and wise policy, which had been found to work very satisfactorily, and that, at any rate, they hoped would not 639 be disturbed by any changes the right hon. Gentleman brought about, especially in regard to Provisional Orders. Suppose a borough of a less population than 50,000 was left to appeal to the new County Authorities. What possible assurance could it have, after a decision had been arrived at, that the Bill would obtain Parliamentary assent? There was no assurance at all that the policy of the County Authority in Staffordshire would be at all akin to that which would find favour in Dorset-shire, and, therefore, they could hardly expect a Government Authority to make itself responsible for the assent to these Provisional Orders. He and his hon. Friends felt strongly there was a probability of great inconvenience and great conflict arising, and, therefore, they hoped the existing system would be continued. Whatever concessions the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to make to the County Authorities in deference to the views so forcibly expressed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Blackpool (Sir Matthew White Ridley) and others who had spoken, he trusted that those for whom he pleaded would be exempted from the operation of the concession.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
said, that the position of some boroughs was very peculiar. The population of Great Grimsby, which he had the honour to represent, was 53,000. It ran over the borders of the borough into various hamlets all round, the population within the borough itself being 35,000. It appeared to him that under this Bill, even with the Amendment of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin), any transference of authority from the Local Government Board would enable the County Council to administer the various matters delegated to them in connection with Great Grimsby, whilst they would really know nothing about them. He, therefore, hoped that with regard to Great Grimsby, or any other borough in the same position, the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether it could not be left entirely under the Local Government Board, in the same manner as the boroughs in the 4th Schedule.
§ MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)
said, he did not quite understand the position at which they had arrived. It seemed to him that instead of the Government having made 640 a simple concession they had revolutionized the position. The proceeding of the Government had taken him quite by surprise. He and his hon. Friends were expecting that the powers specified in the 1st Schedule would positively belong to the County Councils, but in a moment the Government retreated from its position. The Government now reserved to themselves the authority to transfer these powers, and no guarantee whatever was given that any one of the powers would eventually be given to the County Councils. He heartily supported the appeal made by hon. Gentlemen around him, that they should have some opportunity of considering this question. He did not desire to move to report Progress; he would not do anything unfriendly to the Government, but he thought they ought to have time to consider the question. The Government were really emasculating the Bill; they were now taking away all its strength, saying that the House must trust the Government of the day and its wisdom and its propositions. That might be wise in itself, but the change made was so enormous that hon. Members had a right to ask for time to consider the matter.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Halley Stewart) said this was an enormous change. What did the change consist of? That, instead of transferring at once by an enactment in the Bill all these powers to the County Councils, they had yielded to the argument used not on one but on both sides of the House that it would be advisable, while taking the power to make all these transfers, that the transfers should not take place at once. That practically amounted to all his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin) proposed. That proposal had been suggested by Gentlemen of very large experience in the government of counties and of boroughs. The Government thought the appeal made to them on this occasion was one of a reasonable character, and one which could not be fairly resisted. The only alteration made was that, instead of its being enacted in the Bill that these powers should be transferred, they should be transferred by Orders in Council.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
said, he thought the Government ought to understand that there were hon. Members on the Opposition side of 641 the House who were wholly opposed to the Amendment, and stood distinctly by the principle of handing over these powers definitely by Statute. There was an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the right hon. Member for Halifax, to strike out Sub-section 2 of the clause. Now he was prepared to support that Amendment precisely on the ground that they thought the transfer of these important and drastic powers under various Acts to the County Councils, should only be done after fair and full discussion in the House. It might take a long time to discuss the Schedule; but he and his hon. Friends preferred to sit several weeks longer, if necessary, to carry out the only sound principle that these matters should be dealt with by discussion in Parliament, and not left to the Government to hand over or not.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said, he was afraid that in the face of the great difference of opinion with regard to the clause, they were in some danger of losing the clause altogether. There was no doubt that this was an Amendment which might postpone indefinitely the transference of these powers to the County Councils, but he confessed he should not be disposed to oppose the Amendment if the Government would give them some assurance that they would not go further than this in the direction of emasculating the clause. He felt some fear on the subject because this was only the first of a series of Amendments standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), and though this discussion had been of a very general character, and though many hon. Members on both sides of the House had directed their attacks against other portions of the clause, the Committee had not yet heard one word from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board in defence of the other provisions of the clause. He desired to point out to the Committee, with regard to the most important powers which were proposed to be transferred under the clause—the Provisional Order powers at present exercised by the Board of Trade, that it was extremely desirable that they, at any rate, should be transferred either now, or at some near time, to the Bodies which were about to be created in the counties. This measure, they had 642 been told, was to be one of considerable decentralization. He confessed he thought that if this clause were removed from it, it would become a measure of mere transfer, and not of decentralization at all. He did think they ought not to lose that great opportunity of securing that some of these powers which at present over-burdened the Central Departments and occupied the time of Parliament should be conferred on the Local Bodies they were now about to create. He wished to draw attention to the fact that the Government were already committed in this matter. Last Session they passed an Allotments Bill, and in that Bill was contained a provision for conferring on the new County Councils, as soon as ever they were created, powers which far transcended in importance many of the powers which were contained under this clause now under discussion. Under the Allotments Act the County Authority, as soon as it was created, might exercise the power of making the purchase of land compulsory in place of the Local Government Board, who exercised it at present. Now, none of the provisions—he thought he was right in this—in Part 2 of the Schedule of this Bill would give the County Councils power to take land compulsorily. Take, for instance, the Provisional Orders under the Tramways Act. There were most careful safeguards against any abuse of the powers of the Board of Trade at present, and all those safeguards would still remain, and would be in many respects strengthened, when the powers were transferred to the new County Council He thought if hon. Members would take the trouble to examine the Acts under which Provisional Orders were made, they would see that there were careful safeguards in all particulars, and that it would be very difficult for the new County Councils to abuse their powers if they wished to. He was surprised at the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench on that (the Opposition) side of the House. They had heard a great deal about trusting the people and extending in all possible ways the power of the County Councils. They had now reached the limit to which right hon. Gentlemen on these Front Benches were prepared to trust the people, and they 643 had also reached the point at which they were inclined to assist right hon. Gentlemen opposite in diminishing, rather than increasing, the powers of the new County Bodies, and therefore in preventing, as he feared, many public spirited men from taking a part in the work of those Bodies. He thought that the Government, if they accepted this Amendment, which, for certain reasons, he thought they might fairly do, might give them some promise that they would not go further to meet the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chaplin), and remove from this clause altogether any reference to the more important powers contained in the Schedule.
§ MR. C. T. DYKE ACLAND (Cornwall, Launceston)
said, that, unfortunately, he had been absent from the House for a few moments, and had not had the advantage of hearing what had been said by the right hon. Gentlemen sitting near him; but he ventured, having been for many years associated with county business, and being most anxious that this Bill should be a thorough success, to express a hope that the Government would not yield on this Amendment. They had heard a good deal about the thin edge of the wedge, and it seemed to him that this was an attempt to insert it. They were now, for the first time on this clause—one of the most important clauses of the Bill—they were now told that the advantages which they believed the measure to possess might gradually be whittled away. If ever there was a case in which the thin edge of the wedge was inserted, this was it. If the Government were earnest about the Bill, as he believed they were, one of the most important points they had to bear in mind was that the rural electors of the country districts should understand thoroughly what they were about in the most important act they had to do in the first inception of these County Councils. They ought to know the exact purpose for which they were going to elect the gentlemen they were to trust. Were they to be empowered to deal fairly and frankly, and with a full sense of responsibility, with all the local questions which came before them, or were they to have small powers, not knowing how the other powers were to come, how they were to be left to them, or what they were expected to do? Let 644 them know what duties the members of the County Councils were to be expected to perform, and then they would be able thoroughly to trust them to perform those duties.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
said, he regretted that his hon. Friend (Mr. C. T. Dyke Acland) was not present when the arguments which had been used in the case had been set forth by right hon. Gentlemen sitting on that (the Front Opposition) Bench. This was a question which ought not to be settled on Party lines, and he hoped they would, without being led away by any such spirit, advantageously carry out all their intentions in making these County Councils efficient and satisfactory. He was glad to hear the hon. and learned Member for East Somersetshire (Mr. Hobhouse) was so far advanced as to trust the people; because he (Mr. H. H. Fowler) thought that in previous discussions and Divisions on the Bill the hon. and learned Member had not supported those on that (the Opposition) side of the House who advocated trusting the people. That, however, was not a question of trusting the people, but one of practical administration and legislation; and what they contended, and would continue to contend, was that it was desirable, at the proper time, that these powers should be transferred not only to the County Councils but to the Borough Councils. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chaplin) said that at present that should not be done by this Statute, and for the reason that there were certain powers mentioned in the Schedule which ought not to be included. He was prepared himself to argue that at the proper time, and also that there were a great many powers which ought to be included, and which were not mentioned in the Schedule. Now, what was proposed was that these transfers should be effected from time by Orders made by Parliament—embodied in Provisional Orders which should require the sanction of Parliament—under which those duties should be performed by the County Councils. The practical objection to the immediate transfer of these powers was that the County Councils had not and would not for some time possess that costly experience and that expensive staff required to carry out 645 these Provisional Orders and various county matters which were at present in the hands of the Board of Trade and this House. To raise the question of trusting or not trusting the people upon a matter of this sort was altogether beside the mark. He yielded to no man in his wish to make the County Councils as dignified and powerful and successful as they could be made, and yet he was not prepared, because he desired that, to put the Councils in a position in which they would be practically impotent—to put them in a position to do the things they ought not to do, and to leave undone those things which they ought to do. They would not have the machinery at present to carry out their legislative duties. With reference to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, it only dealt with the question of Section 1. When they came to the question as to Section 2 they would have to deal with the subject of education, for instance, with the question of transferring the powers as to education to the County Councils, and he should not be one to agree to that. But as to transferring certain powers from the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board, that implied merely the transference of administrative acts relating to sanitary matters, to water, piers and harbours, gas, electric lighting, and so on, the performance of which would require a staff such as was in the hands of the Government Departments. He must protest against the extraordinary position in which they would find themselves placed, if this Amendment were rejected, that the Municipal Authorities of such towns as Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool would not be allowed to discharge those duties, though they had the necessary staff, whilst the County Councils, though they had not the staff possessed by those Municipalities, would be called upon at a moment's notice to discharge these duties. So far as those Boroughs which were Counties were concerned, it was provided that this jurisdiction was not to be conferred upon them. It could not be, because they would be exercising jurisdiction over themselves—and there was a jurisdiction to be exercised between contending jurisdictions. His object in rising, however, was to say this 646 —that whether they were right or wrong from an administrative or legislative point of view, this was a practical question. It did not raise the question of trusting or mistrusting the people at all, but simply a question as to what was the most economical and efficient way of doing the work.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he was bound to express his surprise that an hon. Member on the Front Opposition Bench, who had been a Member of a Government and had had considerable experience, should come and take part in a debate on a subject as to which he had not heard a word that had been said until he himself rose. The hon. Member, he supposed, was not aware that the Amendment had been discussed for some time and that it was accepted by almost everyone who spoke on the Opposition side. ["No, no!"] Well, it was accepted by almost every Gentleman on that side who spoke up to within the last few moments, and by the Committee generally. Everyone appeared to be in its favour, and the Government, seeing that such was the case, had agreed to accept it. Now, he wished to say a word or two in reply to the hon. and learned Member for East Somersetshire (Mr. Hobhouse). He thought that the hon. and learned Member was under some misapprehension. He spent some moments in pointing out to the Committee how entirely the position of the Allotments Act would be altered by the acceptance of the Amendment. He (Mr. Chaplin) hoped the hon. and learned Member would pardon him for saying that, unless his memory deceived him, the hon. and learned Member was entirely mistaken on that point. The position of the Allotments Act would not be altered one iota by the acceptance of the Amendment, for the proceedings under that Act were governed by the Act itself, and were provided for in the Statute. Therefore, on that ground he thought the hon. and learned Member need be under no apprehension whatsoever. Then the hon. and learned Member spoke of the string of Amendments standing in his (Mr. Chaplin's) name in regard to these questions, and said that he was perfectly prepared to accept the present proposal, and to agree with the Government, provided they would give an assurance that they would accept no more of his (Mr. Chaplin's) Amend- 647 meats, and go no further in that direction. Well, he (Mr. Chaplin) had three Amendments on the Paper dealing with this subject, but two of them were thoroughly consequential. He had another Amendment down, and it was precisely the same as one standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the recognized Leader of the Opposition upon this question—namely, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). He thought that with these observations he had dispelled the apprehensions of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hobhouse). ["No, no! "] Well, perhaps it was impossible to dispel the hon. and learned Member's apprehensions; but, at all events, he had done his best to do so, and, at any rate, he had dispelled the aprehensions of most of the Members of the Committee, if they had entertained any. He now turned to the hon. Gentleman who had only come into the House within the last few minutes, and with regard to him he would say that he had come after they had been discussing this matter now for a long time, and when the period was approaching that they should go to a Division. ["No, no!"] He was speaking with a desire for the real progress of the Bill—an anxiety which hon. Members opposite, when they commenced these discussions, all seemed to share. Nearly all the Members on the Opposition Benches, when the measure was first introduced, expressed themselves in favour of it, and anxious to see it carried to a successful issue. Well, it must be obvious that when a question had been thoroughly discussed on both sides of the Committee, if at the last moment Gentlemen were to come trooping in who had heard nothing of the debate, and rushed blindly into the fray, discussing the whole thing over again, the Committee might sit hero from now to the crack of doom and never come to a conclusion of their labours. He thought the time had come when a decision ought to be taken, and he, therefore, claimed to move "That the Question be now put."
§ MR. C. T. DYKE ACLAND
said, he must just remark, in reply to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that he entirely adhered to the opinion he had already expressed. He 648 believed it to be of the utmost importance that the electors should know exactly what it was that they were to elect representatives to do, and he ventured to point to this difference between the boroughs and the County Councils. It must be remembered that there could be borough districts as well as rural districts. In the borough districts there was already a great amount of civic life, and there was none in the rural districts. The rural districts would approach this problem from an entirely different point of view, as an entirely new thing, as a new kind of life they were to enter upon. Well, the desire was to make that life as real as possible. He ventured to suggest that the object of the hon. Gentlemen, who had been supporting this Amendment, would be equally well—in fact, from his point of view, much better met by dealing with the subject in detail in the Schedule. Let them settle that certain powers, whatever they were to be, should be definitely transferred for good, and then when it came to discussing what the powers were to be, let the Committee settle them one by one, with their eyes open, knowing that they would be transferred to the County Councils.
§ MR. HOBHOUSE
said, that as the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chaplin) would not allow him to make an explanation in the midst of his speech, perhaps he might be permitted to do it now. He was fully acquainted with the provisions of the Allotments Act; and he had quoted that Act for the purpose of showing that the Government, with the full consent of the Committee, had conferred on the County Councils, although they were not then in existence, a stronger power than any which it was proposed to confer upon them by this Bill.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he had listened with great attention to the discussion which had taken place, because he had felt considerable doubt as to the operation of the Amendment as affecting this section. While he did not wish, in any way, to put any blame on the Government for the course they had taken, after hearing such discussion as had occurred up to the time when the right hon. Gentleman who was in charge of the Bill spoke, he ventured to suggest to the Committee that they would be rather taking a 649 wrong course if they adopted the Amendment now, and that the proper policy would be to discuss the objections which were raised to the transfer of these powers to the County Councils when they were to deal with those powers in the Schedules.
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL, &c.) (Kirkcaldy
said, it seemed to him that they were in an almost impossible situation. The Bill seemed to contemplate the transfer of certain powers now exercised by Government Departments to the hands of the County Councils; but there was great doubt as to what powers should be transferred and what should not. The Government said they could get over the difficulty by transferring nothing at all, leaving it to a Government of the day to transfer the powers one by one by an Order in Council. That seemed to him to be an abnegation of the powers of the House, and altogether a most unsatisfactory method of proceeding.
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he did not think he ever heard any argument more unreasonable than the contention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin)—namely, that the debate on what was practically one of the most important Amendments of the Bill should come to an abrupt termination before hon. Members had had time to consider it in all its bearings. The right hon. Gentleman himself had spoken twice; but the right hon. Gentleman himself had not had an opportunity of hearing what Liberals representing rural constituencies on that (the Opposition) side of the House had to say to it. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) said, this was not a Party question, but it was a question of the municipal boroughs as against the counties and the Metropolis, and he must say that it was most unreasonable that the Government should expect the matter to be regulated wholly by the wishes of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke, who simply spoke on behalf of the Municipal Corporations. He should like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton to consider the immense number of questions involved in this incidious Amendment, and the interest which this subject must naturally have for rural districts 650 which were expecting to have their County authority. No less than 40 different powers were to be transferred under the 3rd part of the Schedule, as it stood from the Local Government Board to the County Councils, and now it was proposed that these powers should not be transferred in the Bill, but should be dealt with singly from time to time by Orders in Council. It appeared to him (Mr. Lawson) most derogatory to the dignity of the County Councils to proceed in this way. It seemed to him that if it were desired to get good men to serve and work upon them, every possible means should be taken to render them dignified and far-reaching in their functions; but now it was hastily proposed by this Amendment to cut away the greater part of the work that would be given to the Councils under the Bill. He could well conceive that there were a great number of Members representing rural constituencies who had a claim to be heard, and who would claim to be heard before the Committee came to a decision on this most important point.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he was glad the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had spoken as he had done, because as a Metropolitan Member he showed what sympathy he had with the Liberal Members for the counties. It was a strange kind of plea for ending this discussion for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division to tell the House that they had had discussion enough when no Members for rural constituencies on the Liberal side of the House had spoken, and when the right hon. Gentleman himself had taken up a considerable portion of the time of the Committee by two speeches. The fact was that the Government by accepting the Amendment, and the Front Opposition Bench by agreeing to the course the Government were taking, thought they could terminate the discussion. [Cries of "Divide!" and interruption.] If he were interrupted in this way, he would promise the Committee to occupy the whole 25 minutes which remained before the hour at which the Chairman left the Chair. It was all very well for the Government to say that they were anxious to make this Bill a reality. If they kept this Amendment they clearly showed they were anxious to do nothing of the kind. There was something in the way 651 of flesh and blood and skin on this skeleton of a Bill when it was introduced, but the Government and their supporters were now working like vultures, pecking away every bit of substance from the framework of it, and he (Mr. Conybeare) ventured to think that if this Amendment were passed there would be nothing of the measure left but a bare skeleton. He (Mr. Conybeare) and those who sat around him had the strongest objection to having everything left in a state of chaotic confusion by the Amendment proposed. He could not understand what the Front Bench on that the Opposition side of the House were thinking of. They proposed to accept an Amendment which struck at the root of everything valuable in the Bill; and all he could say was, that he and his Friends as County Members, sitting on the Opposition side of the House, intended to make their voices heard in the matter. They did not intend to have their birthright sold for a mess of pottage. They did did not intend to have these County Councils established with practically no functions and no duties worth the name left to them to perform. It was simply reducing the whole idea of the County Councils to a miserable farce and sham. He had thought it was a sham from the beginning, but now he was certain of it. There was no reason why hon. Members sitting on the Opposition side of the House who were frankly in favour of democratic institutions should make themselves a party to such a sham, and they who represented county constituencies—whatever hon. Gentlemen sitting above the Gangway might do—did not intend to allow this Amendment to pass without a strong protest. It had been said that this was a question between boroughs and counties. He believed it was. At any rate, those who had spoken from the Opposition side of the House for the Amendment appeared to be the Representatives of boroughs, and not of counties. If the boroughs thought they would be placed at a disadvantage by this clause being passed in its original form—if they thought that the County Councils would have powers given to them which would be detrimental to the boroughs—that was no reason why the County Councils should be made a sham and a farce. It would be the duties of the boroughs 652 to get these duties transferred to themselves as well, and he could not conceive that there was any reason whatever for the line taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) in arguing in favour of the Amendment, why the county should not have that which would make the County Council a reality and not a sham. It had been pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that a difficulty would be created, because, if they clothed the County Councils with the powers contained in the Bill, they would have no efficient or skilled staff to carry them out. He (Mr. Conybeare), however, maintained that that was not the case. It might be that at the present the Local Government Board had all the skilled and efficient and trained staff that might be necessary to carry out these powers. Well, what was easier than to place the services of these trained officials at the disposal of the County Councils? If the powers were taken away from the Government Department and transferred to the County Councils, those who had hitherto carried out those powers could follow the transfer and become the agents of the County Councils, as they had hitherto been the agents of the Local Government Board or the Board of Trade. He ventured to say that they could find plenty of men able and willing to carry out these powers if they were transferred to the County Councils. The fact that the counties had no such trained staff at this moment was not a sufficient ground for refusing to grant the powers claimed by the Representatives of the people. He wished to point out the disadvantage of adopting either of the Amendments under consideration. One of these Amendments was the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), that Orders in Council should transfer these powers, from time to time, to the County Council. He believed hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House had expressed their preference that Provisional Order Bills in the transfer of these powers rather than Orders in Council. So far as he was concerned, he did not care which was adopted, as he believed that either would be very mis- 653 chievous. Practically no one was aware of what was being done when measures of this kind were passed. Provisional Order Bills were placed on the Table at the time of Private Business; nothing was said about them and hardly anybody knew what they were. He would illustrate that by pointing to what had taken place this Session in regard to a Bill connected with piers and harbours, promoted by the Torquay Local Board. Hardly anyone knew the effect of that Bill, and nothing might have been heard of it if it had not been that certain events which had occurred and with which the House was familiar. The people in the districts affected, that was to say, the ratepayers, were not consulted with regard to these Bills, and did not know what was going on in connection with them; and if it were not for the vigilance of some Members of the House, it was possible that in most cases nothing would be known of these measures until they had become Acts of Parliament and practically irrevocable. To suppose that the important functions of these County Councils should be left over and not transferred to them, and then he smuggled into existence, as he might say, in the form of Provisional Order Bills, was reducing the whole question to a farce and an absurdity. As a sincere admirer of the effort of genius of the right hon. Gentleman who had produced this Bill, he was most anxious that it should be made a reality and not a mere sham. There was one other reason why they should protest against this proposed abnegation of their powers as a Committee of the House of Commons, and that was, that the one principal reason why they had been so desirous of seeing a Bill of this kind passed, was in order to relieve the House of Commons of a great deal of unnecessary work. He and his Friends supported the Bill as a measure of decentralization. If any powers were to be conferred by Provisional Order Bills—
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, he was not going to take up that quarter of an hour, but as the Representative of a county, he had a perfect right to express his opinion on this question. He was say- 654 ing that they regarded this measure—and had always regarded a measure of this kind—as a necessary measure of decentralization—to relieve the Boards of Guardians, and to take over the various functions exercised by Government Departments, and vest the management of the affairs of local districts in the hands of elected representatives of those districts. He objected to a measure which would throw on their shoulders a vast deal more business than they had to perform at the present time. On these grounds, as well as on the ground—though he was sorry to say some of his own Party rather repudiated it—on the ground that they wished to repose every confidence in the representatives of the people on these County Councils, he objected to limiting and hedging about and destroying the powers to be conferred on the Councils, before they were brought into existence, by the Amendment under discussion.
§ MR. FULLER (Wilts, Westbury)
said, he wished to remind the Committee of the fact that in almost every county in England the provisions of this Bill had been most carefully considered by the Court of Quarter Sessions, and, so far as he could gather from reading reports of their proceedings, not one of them had expressed any feeling of distrust or fear in any way that the County Councils would not be competent to discharge these functions. This point under consideration was, he thought, a most important one, involving the most important of the powers to be transferred by Section 8 of the Bill. If the section had not been generally approved of by the Courts of Quarter Sessions throughout the country, there would have been some clear expression of opinion, on the part of those Bodies, to the effect that the County Councils would not be the proper Bodies to entrust with the discharge of these functions. He was sorry that there should be any doubt on this subject; and in regard to the difficulty of obtaining the machinery sufficient to carry out the provisions of Section 8, they must remember that the machinery could not well be created until some decision had been arrived at as to the work that was to be expected of it He, therefore, thought it a great misfortune that the Government had retreated on this point, and had not at once decided 655 to hand the powers of Section 8 over to the County Councils, believing, as he did, that they would be perfectly capable of carrying them out.
§ SIR RICHARD PAGET (Somerset, Wells)
said, he should like to be allowed to say a word or two in reply to the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Westbury Division of Wilts (Mr. Fuller). The hon. Member had not discovered that at any meetings of Courts of Quarter Sessions exception had been taken to the proposal to transfer the powers mentioned in this section to the County Councils. He (Sir Richard Paget) would like to call the hon. Member's attention to the fact that at a meeting of a Society consisting solely of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions this point was carefully considered, and it was there agreed unanimously, without any difference of opinion whatever, that it would be in the highest degree unwise to transfer these powers to the County Councils. He wished to say that, because whatever difference of opinion there might have been at the meeting to which he referred, after debate on various other parts of the Bill, this was, at any rate, a point upon which there was unanimity. In the future, no doubt it would be well to transfer the powers to a Body possessing all the necessary attributes; but, for the present, it was thought unwise to transfer them to the County Councils.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, that before they went to a Division he bogged leave to say a few words as to his own personal position in the matter. He had begun his last speech by saying that he had expected that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would have either revised the schedule or stated that he would revise it. He (Mr. Stansfeld) had said—and he now repeated it—that he thought that would have been the best mode of proceeding. The right hon. Gentleman had not taken that course, however. He (Mr. Stansfeld) could quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman had been tempted and easily induced to avail himself of the opportunity of deferring a subject which would have led to considerable discussion. That was intelligible, whether he approved of the course or not. He had then gone on to say that he was opposed to the Amendment of the right hon. 656 Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), because he was opposed to Sub-section 2. His objection to Sub-section 2 was not that he thought these powers should only be dealt with by legislation. He thought that they might fairly be dealt with by Provisional Order; but he imagined that the right hon. Gentleman did not contemplate proceeding by Provisional Order, but by Orders in Council, which were not made the subjects of Bills brought in, discussed, and passed into law. He should undoubtedly divide against the Amendment.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he thought he had led the right hon. Gentleman to understand that the Government were prepared to accept the proposal with reference to Provisional Orders. He would suggest to his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin) that, in place of the Amendment he had proposed, the words he proposed to leave out should remain in, and these words should be added—It shall be lawful for the Local Government Board to make, from time to time, Provisional Orders for transferring.That would meet the difficulty of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and also the desire of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin).
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he was surprised to hear the announcement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax that he would vote against the Amendment, because it was clearly understood by the Committee that the proposal would be accepted both by the Government and by the right hon. Gentleman and one or two of his Colleagues sitting near him, provided that the suggestion of the Government as to Provisional Orders, which had just been announced, were adopted. That really was the understanding.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, the right hon. Gentleman was going too far in saying that he (Mr. Stansfeld) accepted this proposal. He had said that he should have preferred another course, and he had passed on to Sub-head 2, with reference to which he himself had an Amendment on the Paper. He therefore had not committed himself to the question. In any case, he had said he should wish for an alteration.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, the right hon. Gentleman had certainly given him, and 657 almost everyone else in the Committee, to understand that he accepted the proposal. This Amendment was accepted by the Government in order to meet the views of the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Chaplin) confessed he was of opinion that the second paragraph of Sub-section 2 was sufficient. He should have been satisfied with that paragraph himself; but as he understood that the Amendment proposed by the Government met the views of the right hon. Gentleman, he would raise no objection to it, and would be prepared to accept it in lieu of his own.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 5, line 24, after the word "day," insert the words "it shall be lawful for the Local Government Board to make from time to time Provisional Orders for transferring."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
said, it would be felt by the Committee, that a new issue had been raised by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board in order to meet his (Mr. Morley's) right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax. Having regard to the hour, he begged to move to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. John Morley.)
§ MR. CHAPLIN
asked the indulgence of the Committee to say a word or two on this Motion. There could be no doubt that there had been a general understanding arrived at as to the acceptance of that particular proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax and his Friends sitting beside him. An appeal had been made by that right hon. Gentleman to the President of the Local Government Board asking him to assent to the principle that this transfer of powers should be effected by Provisional Orders instead of Orders in Council. Did the right hon. Gentleman deny that? And the appeal was made in such a way as to convey the impression that no other arrangement was possible, and that if the proposal was assented to the matter was concluded so far as hon. Gentle- 658 men sitting on the Opposition side of the House were concerned. He was speaking now of what was heard by a great number of people in the Committee, and it was impossible to put a different construction on it. If they were to depart from understandings of that kind, he did not see how they could hope to go on amicably. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had said he was aware of the objection of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, and would agree to an Amendment which would remove it. The question was in that way practically closed and settled, but then in came the hon. Member for Launceston, who rushed into the debate without having heard a word of what had been said, and the result was this long wrangle.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, he desired to appeal to right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman who had moved to report Progress and the Committee generally were anxious to make progress with the measure, and he would ask, therefore, whether the principle of that Amendment had not been very fully considered. There had been speeches from the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench which showed general concurrence with the principle of the Amendment. The Government had no desire to force that proposal on the House; but they were naturally desirous of making progress.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
said, he was sincerely sorry he was not able to meet the views of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman did them (the Opposition) no more than justice, when he said he believed they were anxious that progress should be made with the Bill. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, speaking for himself, he was anxious to make progress with the Bill. He wished the Committee to recall to its mind what happened last night. When the Committee got to a certain degree of heat—as it had now—they adjourned, and the subject which had caused the confusion was settled that day in daylight, when they met to go on with the Amendments, in an hour. He was persuaded that if they reported Progress now, within half-an-hour or an hour on Friday morning they would be able to see their 659 way out of the present difficulty, and to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. As to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) the right hon. Gentleman made complaint of the attitude taken up by Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Benches. The complaint could not be a very formidable or serious one, inasmuch as it had not come from and was not endorsed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board.
I do not think there would be any economy of time in putting that Question at this hour.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had stated that he would introduce some other Amendments dealing with the points just now under discussion on some other clause. When those Amendments wore put on the Paper they would be able to make satisfactory progress with the Bill.
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
said, it seemed to him that when a proposal was made, the effect of which was to change the Bill in a vital particular from a compulsory measure into a permissive one, a motion to report progress was thoroughly justified. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) ought to withdraw the scolding he had addressed to the Opposition and apologize for it.
§ MR. HALLEY STEWART
said, that attention had been drawn to the fact that last night the Committee got into a muddle from which it was extracted this morning in a very short time. The Government themselves had landed the Committee in a muddle this afternoon, and, therefore, were not entitled to ask the Committee for its forbearance.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he could not allow the last observation to pass without challenge. The Government had landed the Committee in no muddle so far as he could see, and not only had the Government not taken that stop, but the Committee was in no muddle whatever. The issue was perfectly plain and simple to those Members who had been in the House, and he thought he was 660 right in saying that the proposal which the Government had accepted had been accepted after they had reason to believe that it would meet with the entire approval of the Benches opposite.
§ MR. WADDY
said, that some of them on that (the Opposition) side of the House believed that the alteration now proposed was one of principle and not of form. They did not believe that the Board of Trade, or the Local Government Board, would be likely to cut its own throat, and put an end to itself merely for the purpose of having its work done by County Councils. The proposal of the Government was a very dangerous one, and should be seriously and fully debated.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Friday, at Two of the clock.