Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £6,243, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for contribution towards the Expenses of the Metropolitan Police, and of the Horse Patrol and Thames Police, and for the Salaries of the Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners, and Receivers.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
said, he should like to say a word upon this very important question, because he thought that justice had hardly been done to Sir Charles Warren. Sir Charles Warren was selected as one of the most fit and proper men to undertake the very important post which he had occupied with general satisfaction to the police during the last two or three years. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) thought his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews), in the statement which he had made, had not given to the Committee those full reasons for his retirement which they had a right to expect, looking at the distinguished position which Sir Charles Warren had held. He did not wish to cast a single word of blame upon his right hon. Friend, but he thought the Committee were entitled to hear and to know that Sir Charles Warren, so far as the efficiency and the discipline of the Police Force was concerned, had endeavoured most honestly to discharge his duties. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had heard it as an open secret that the force themselves 1153 regretted extremely the course which had been taken with regard to Sir Charles Warren. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members might cry "Oh, oh!" but he was in a position to say that he had heard this on very good authority. He understood that the police regretted the loss of a man who, having regard to every Department and every detail of that complicated machine, the Metropolitan Police, desired, to the best of his ability, to put the Force into the best possible working order. Sir Charles Warren had spared himself no time or labour in the discharge of the onerous duties that were entrusted to him. Well, he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) would go a little further than that, and would venture to say that unless full and implicit confidence was reposed in whoever had the control of the Police Force, that man's influence would be tied, and he would be unable to do his duties; and it became a very serious question when they had a man hampered, as he would venture to say the head of the police had been hampered, by a dual control, carried out in the way it had been carried out, between himself and the Home Office, that he was unable to do the work in the way in which he would like to do it. No one would deny that Sir Charles Warren had discharged his duties with regard to Trafalgar Square to the best of his abilities, and he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) was bound to say that if the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had been a little more determined with regard to the course of proceedings at that time—
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
There would not have been so much discussion of these Trafalgar Square occurrences. But what he particularly rose for the purpose of saying, and what no one would deny, on whatever side of the House he sat, and whatever opinion he might hold, was that the Police Force ought to be supported, because upon the Police Force we alone looked for the protection of this enormous and vast Metropolis. [Cries of "No, no!" and "Certainly not!"] Great responsibility rested upon hon. Members who made charges which might be true, or might not be true, but which certainly, unless 1154 they were true and could be proved, could only tend to diminish the efficiency of the police. He thought there was no one who would say that the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), if the statements he made last night were absolutely accurate and could be proved, should not have brought his statements forward at the time the occurrences took place, when the man or men in the Police Force who had misbehaved themselves in the way described would have been brought to task. In rough terms the allegation was that some unfortunate man who was convicted and had to go to the cells, passed along a line of policemen who pushed, kicked, and struck him as he went. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) saw sitting opposite to him the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), who had been Secretary of State for the Home Department, and he ventured to say that the right hon. Gentleman would corroborate him that there could be no discipline in a Force which would allow constables to act in the manner alleged. He ventured to say, however, that discipline did reign in the Metropolitan Police Force. He would now go to a more important question. They knew that a new appointment must be made to the head of the Metropolitan Police Force, and surely when such an appointment was being made, Parliament ought to know exactly in what position the police stood in regard to the Home Office. They ought to know whether the head of the police was really to be the head of the Body, so far as discipline and management was concerned, and if he was to have supreme command. In Provincial Districts, the Chief Constable had absolute control over the discipline of the Force. It was true the local authorities could stop his pay or dismiss him if he did not do his duty, but he had the sole responsibility for the organization of and the maintenance of order in the Force, and he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) failed to see, in this regard, why a man selected in the Metropolis as head of the Police should not have a position analogous to that of a Chief Constable in the Provinces. Then there was the question of the Detective Department, and he thought that before any appointment was made they ought to know exactly what was going to happen in 1155 that Department. Was it to be a half-and-half sort of Department under the Home Office, or was it to be entirely under the control of the head of the Police? If it was to be under the control of the head of the Police, it should be absolutely under his control; if it was to be under the Home Office, it should be a separate Department—the two things should not be mixed up together. The public had a right to know who was responsible for the efficiency of the Detective Department as well as for the efficiency of the Police Force generally. He had said this much because he thought that when a man had done such distinguished service as Sir Charles Warren, when he left the Service something should be said in recognition of the zeal and energy he had displayed.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
said, he would ask the House to believe that in censuring the conduct of the late Commissioner of Police he was not actuated by any personal spite. He believed that Sir Charles Warren was an honourable and straightforward man, and a man of courage; but at the same time he was the most illfitted man, perhaps, in the British Empire to fill such a position. He said this with a free conscience that in this gentleman's dismissal he had neither heart nor part, and if he were asked suddenly to answer the popular cry of "Who killed Cock Warren?" he should say "Gent-Davis." But he trusted that the Government would not send him in partibus infidelium and so commit some unfortunate infidels at a distance to a charge of a military officer who had not scrupled to over-ride our constitution, and to treat British citizens half a mile from the House as if they were rebels in some island in the South Sea. The police outrages for which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary took upon himself the responsibility, had borne fruit, and only last night there was a meeting at Clerkenwell Green, and the retiring procession was dispersed with violence by the police for no cause whatever. He must ask the attention of the House for a few minutes whilst he read from the columns of The Daily News. He knew The Daily News was not an Anarchist paper, but a hard and fast, buying in the cheapest and selling in the poorest, bourgeois sheet—a very dull paper since it had not been served up 1156 with the sauce of Andrew Lang. He (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) was present at a meeting last night with Mr. Morris, the poet, at Clerkenwell Green, which was attended by 15,000 or 16,000 persons, a meeting to protest against any interference with the right of public meeting in Trafalgar Square, to express satisfaction at the dismissal of Sir Charles Warren, and to call for the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. The Daily News' account of what transpired was as follows:—Considerable satisfaction was evinced at the retirement of Sir Charles Warren, and the hope was repeatedly expressed that Mr. Matthews would quickly follow his example. A large body of foot and mounted police was stationed in the vicinity, but they did not exercise their authority until the proceedings were far advanced.He (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) had finished his speech at 9 o'clock, and he had spoken subsequently in the House. The events he would now read occurred about 10 o'clock.At about half-past 10 the speaking at one of the platforms came to an end, and the East Finsbury contingent thereupon re-formed itself into a procession and started from the Green with banners flying, drums beating, and a few lighted torches held aloft. Six mounted and a dozen or so foot police immediately charged the procession, and amid a scene of much animation the torches were extinguished, the drums silenced, and the banners lowered. A large crowd bore round to the right and proceeded up the King's Cross Road, accompanied by a number of police, including three patrols, who made repeated efforts to disperse the gathering. The people, however, held together, and proceeded in a body towards the Pentonville Road. On arriving outside the police station the number of constables was largely recruited, and the Superintendent in charge gave orders to his men to scatter the crowd. Several charges were at once made, a few blows being exchanged, and in a few minutes the road was cleared.He would ask the House whether this did not sound more like a description of what might be expected to take place at Donnybrook Fair, or at a rowdy meeting in Texas, or in the Rio Grande, than in the capital of the civilized world? The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary stated that he was responsible for all that the police did. Was he satisfied with having upon his shoulders the responsibility for such doings as these, in which the violence of the Police Force fell upon the poorest classes of Her Majesty's subjects? He would ask the right hon. Gentleman 1157 the Home Secretary whether he contemplated with much satisfaction the assurance he gave last night with regard to this responsibility? He (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) would assure the right hon. Gentleman of the circumstance which could not be within his knowledge. It was this: For the last year he had urged at many meetings, and had pleaded in private with men of the more violent section of advance in this country, on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman, and he did not hesitate to say before God and this House, that he had stood between the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and death many times. But how could he be responsible for men of this kind in the future? Was it not likely that if this state of things was allowed to continue, and British citizens were allowed to be beaten down at a public meeting without the reading of the Riot Act, the people would turn in the end, and we should have some frightful horror—such as occurred in Chicago—to debate in that House. God grant that this thing might not go any further. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who was so ready to assume responsibility for the Acts of Sir Charles Warren, had assumed responsibility for the blood of the two men who were killed through this man's folly last November; but he (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) appealed to the right hon. Gentleman, as the responsible Minister of the Crown to whom the last appeal was to be made, on behalf of the poor, destitute, miserable, starving, down trodden citizens, for whom the Government of this country existed, and by whom the Government was maintained, to take them under his protection, and to put a stop now and at once, before worse happened, to a state of things which could not but lead to social turmoil, and to a state of things vastly different from that for which they prayed every day in this House—namely, the peace, tranquility, and prosperity of this realm. Was it the object of the present Government to put down the right of public meeting in the open air altogether? The danger of holding meetings out of doors was getting so great that he was beginning to shrink from it. ["Hear, hear!"] What he meant was, that they would be unable to get speakers—even Members of Parliament were beginning to shrink 1158 from taking part in public meetings out of doors in this land of liberty and free speech. There appeared to be a great and growing tendency to interfere with the right of public meeting in the abstract, and the people were not disposed to tamely submit to this. He did not know whether he should be supported by the Front Opposition Bench on this subject, though he could not help saying that it might be well if something was said by the Liberal Leaders to show that there was more than a difference of mere name between the two Parties. When he read the story of the Good Samaritan, he often admired most the conduct of the good, honest thief who knocked the wayfarer down, rather than that of the Levite who pretended not to see the wounded man. In discussing this question of the Chief Commissioner he was not at all sure that the people of London were any more safe under those who knocked them down than under their pretended friends who refused to see them when they were on the ground. It was said that political partizans who aspired to office would crawl through a public sewer to obtain it, and he could assure the Liberal Front Bench that before they changed places with right hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite to them, if he (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) had any influence, he should be instrumental in emptying such mud on their heads here in London that it might choke some of them, or, at all events, the savour would stick to them during their political lives. It was, he understood, intended to increase the Estimate for police to £20,000. But there was no necessity for this. At present there was a policeman for every 500 of the population, and if that was not sufficient, London must be one of the most revolutionary cities the world ever knew, instead of, as he believed it to be, one of the most quiet and peaceful. With the exception of Ireland, of St. Petersburg, and the Eastern portion of Moscow, there was no city in the world with so large a proportion of police. It was a very great mistake to suppose that by these high-handed measures the police were rallying the small shopkeepers to their sides. On the contrary, so far from this agitation against the militarism of the police being confined to the lowest of the population, it found an explosive echo 1159 in the hearts of the small shopkeepers, who knew that the whole of their capital might be destroyed in an hour's riot, sad who attributed now that the causes of such riots would be the unnecessary interference with what the people had been accustomed to consider their constitutional rights. He would warn hon. Members, Conservatives as well as Liberals, of the desirability of considering whether it was not a dangerous thing to push the populace of London as it had been pushed during the last year; and whether it was a good thing to press upon the people of this Metropolis that there was a blood feud between rich and poor.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, he should like, as a Metropolitan Member, to say one or two words concerning the question raised yesterday by the hon. Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson) and one or two other hon. Members, and that was concerning the relations between the Metropolitan Police and the people of London. He had lived in London all his life and had mixed with people of all classes as much, perhaps, as any hon. Member of that house, and he must emphatically protest against the statement made yesterday that the people of London were becoming antagonistic to the police. He declared emphatically that that statement was utterly incorrect. Of course there were a certain number of persons who were always antagonistic to the police—if it were not so, they would not require a police at all; but so far as the mass of the people were concerned there was a very kindly feeling existing between them and the police—as great now as it ever was—even greater. This had been proved conclusively during the last two or three years. During the past two or three years, certain demagogues and others had done their utmost to lash up a feeling of irritation between the masses and the police. These people had been at work night and day, in season and out of season, not only in the streets, not only at meetings, but even in places that it would not be correct for him to refer to; and not only had this been done by small persons, but even those men who had held high positions, instead of doing their utmost to maintain the position and 1160 credit of the Police Force, had done their best to degrade it and stir up ill-feeling between the police and the people of the country. He ventured to say that it should not go forth to the public that that House agreed with these persons. He was assured that the House did not agree with them, and that the great bulk of hon. Members on both sides of the House knew that there was a strong feeling latterly, not only of good feeling, but even of affection, existing between the poor people, even the children of the Metropolis, and the police. Those who visited amongst the poor knew that this was the case, and that in all difficulties and dangers and troubles, the people went to the police as a matter of course for protection in a friendly way. He sincerely trusted that this would always remain so, and, as a Metropolitan Member, he emphatically entered a protest against the statement that this feeling was being got rid of in London. He had not the honour of the acquaintance of Sir Charles Warren, but he must say that it seemed to him that this gentleman had been sacrificed to the cry which had been raised against men who did their duty. The last Chief Commissioner of Police was sacrificed because he allowed the mob to have their own way, whilst the present Chief Commissioner seemed to have been sacrificed because of his firmness in maintaining the order of London having made him obnoxious to certain demagogues who made a great deal of noise in the Metropolis. He (Mr. Bartley) thought it a very evil day for the Metropolis, indeed, if they were going to allow their Chief Commissioner to be chassèd from his place because he was not popular with one class or another. One hon. Member had suggested that the next Commissioner appointed should be a person who was more popular; but for Parliament to consider popularity as one of the qualifications of the Office was to depart altogether from the principles by which good service could he secured. The late Commissioner, whatever faults he might have had—and we all had faults—had done his duty well, and he (Mr. Bartley) could not help regretting that he had risen at the present moment. He did not wish to make any speech, but just to enter this protest in defence of the police, about whom 1161 he ventured to think he knew as much as some people who talked a great deal more than he did upon the subject.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
I think, perhaps, as I have had probably a longer practical administrative acquaintance with the police than any Member of the House, it would not be fitting that I should remain longer silent in the discussion that has been raised on this Vote. This discussion is, I confess, to me, in many respects, a painful one. The condition of things which has arisen at Scotland Yard is to me a painful surprise, and is an entirely new state of things. During my five years of Office the relations of the different authorities at Scotland Yard and the Home Office were, I am glad to remember, in perfect harmony. I do net recollect any difference arising between us. I do not wish to disparage the authority of the Chief Commissioner of Police, which ought to be upheld at its highest point; but my view has always been—and it is the only reasonable view—that the relations between the Secretary of State and the Chief Commissioner should be those of confidential Colleagues—men who are working together under great responsibility, for the preservation of peace and order in the Metropolis. I was, I must say, filled with astonishment at the discussion which took place last night. I never before heard the question raised as to how far the Secretary of State has the right to direct the Chief Commissioner of Police, or how far the Chief Commissioner is bound to conform to the wishes of the Secretary of State. In my opinion the Secretary of State who unduly interfered with the Executive authority of the Commissioner of Police would be extremely unwise; but, on the other hand, for a Commissioner to declare a condition of independence of the Secretary of State is a thing I never could have conceived possible. Such a state of things would be intolerable. That an authority should be created in the Metropolis, not responsible to the Government or to the Municipality, but possessing the absolute control of an army of 14,000 men, at whose mercy the Civil community would be, would be a state of things that no Statesman of any Party has ever contemplated. That such suggestions should have emanated from any Commissioner is the more re- 1162 markable. In the article written by Sir Charles Warren, that officer, in giving an account of the origin of the Metropolitan Police, says—The Scotland Yard Office was established by Sir Robert Peel in 1829, and acted under the immediate authority of the Secretary of State to direct and control the whole system of the Metropolitan Police.Therefore, here is a statement as explicit as possible that the action of the Commissioner of Police, and the control of the police, is under the direct and immediate authority of the Secretary of State. You may discuss the question whether that authority should be under a Municipal or Executive Government; but the notion of declaring such an authority independent of either is a doctrine so un-Constitutional as to appear absurd, whatever Party may be in power. What would Sir Robert Peel himself have thought of such a doctrine? The Statute that constitutes the Metropolitan Police places the direct responsibility in the hands of the Secretary of State. In the Preamble of the Statute it is stated that—The object is to constitute an Office of Police, which, acting under the immediate authority of one of His Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, shall direct and control the whole of such new system of police within those limits.Of course, power is given to the Secretary of State to remove the Chief Commissioner, but it does not stop there. When we look at the sections of the Police Act, we find that it is not merely a general authority, but we find these words—The Commissioner may, from time to time, subject to the approbation of one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, frame such orders and regulations as may be expedient.Therefore, even the orders issued by the Commissioner are subject to the approbation of the Secretary of State. There cannot be any doubt about the matter. It is not a dual control at all. The man who is responsible to the House for the police is, and ought to be, the Secretary of State, and the Commissioner of Police is no more independent of the authority of the Secretary of State than the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department. It is a matter entirely at the discretion of the Secretary how far the principle of responsible authority shall interfere with Executive 1163 action, and the less any interference happens the better. Of course, the Commissioner is the man who knows the Force under him, what is its work, and how it can be best accomplished; but for the policy of the police, so to speak, the Secretary of State must be, and is solely, responsible. For instance, whether public meetings are to be allowed or prohibited in the Metropolis is not a question of police, but a question of policy, for the Secretary of State to decide. I have always found the Commissioner able and willing to consult and advise with the Secretary of State, and, I may say, to give advice in many cases, and that is the most beneficial state of things that can obtain. I do not wish to cast blame on anyone; but I heard with regret of wars and rumours of wars at Scotland Yard—of differences between the Chief Commissioner and the head of the Criminal Investigation Department; of difficulties with reference to the financial officers of Scotland Yard, of which I myself had no experience. But nobody knows better than myself the difficulties of the position in which the Commissioner of Police is placed; more particularly the man who enters freshly upon the Office. The unfortunate situation at present is, that in reference to the two most important Departments—the Chief Commissioner and the head of the Criminal Investigation Department—it is necessary now to have two men, entirely new to the work with which they are to deal, and that, of course, is an enormous disadvantage which we must deal with in the best way we can. But, with reference to Sir Charles Warren, I desire to speak of him with all the respect which is due to an officer of his high character and great abilities, who, according to his conscience, has discharged his duty. I will not enlarge upon the technical question of his writing to magazines with respect to the Police Force. I will only say that that is a practice more honoured in the breach than the observance. But that really to my mind is not a mistake of a material character. What is far more important is Sir Charles Warren's idea of the position of the public with regard to the population with which he has to deal as revealed in that article. The criticism I should pass on that article is, that it is conceived in an alarmist spirit. Now, I 1164 think that is an entire mistake in the attitude of a Chief Commissioner of Police towards the population of London. There is nobody in the police or out of the police who is so dangerous or mischievous as an alarmist; he generally creates the perils which he fears. From my experience I believe there is no foundation whatever for an alarmist spirit with regard to the population of London. There is, as we all know, a criminal population among us. That is a misfortune I am afraid we shall never entirely get rid of. But there is no one who has any experience of the Home Office, or has watched the statistics of the population of the country or of London, but must feel the greatest satisfaction with the progress made in the diminution of crime—a progress most rapid, marvellous, and satisfactory. I credit that partly to the excellent administration of our Prison Department, to which I think that too high praise cannot be given, and partly to the admirable administration for many years of the police. The notion that the police of England or of London are defective as a Body in the detection of crime is entirely unfounded. It is the habit of some English to disparage what belongs to themselves. If there is anything which we do not like we say, "How much better they do it abroad." I do not believe for a moment that they do these things better abroad. Some people imagine—I do not know whether they get it from penny novels—that there is some extraordinary mystery about the detection of crime. Those mysterious and fanciful Lecoqs do not exist in real life at all. We shall have failures in particular cases; but, on the whole, I believe the police system of this country is an admirable system, and has been extremely successful. Something has been said as to the policy of public meetings. I was a little sorry to hear some cheers when the hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) said that he was almost disposed to give up public meetings. I do not agree with that sentiment at all.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
Allow me to explain. I did not say that I should give up public meetings. What I said was, that I attended public meetings every day with greater danger, and the same would happen to the right hon. Gentleman if he attended them.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I am not speaking about the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman at all, but the cheers, which seemed to testify that those who uttered them approved of the suspension of public meetings. That is not my view at all. I do not share the opinion of those who hold that, apart from the criminal classes, there is a large floating population of what is called "the dangerous classes." I do not believe in the existence of the dangerous classes to any very great extent in the Metropolis. I believe the policy founded upon fear of the dangerous classes is a policy founded upon foolish panic. Public meetings have constituted a great part of the public life of this country, and are every where to be found in the provinces. There is the town moor at Newcastle, there are open spaces in Leeds and Manchester and the great towns, where people may meet and discuss. No doubt sentiments are often expressed at these meetings with which I do not agree, and which some may condemn; but I believe public meetings form a most valuable part of the public life of this country, and I should be extremely sorry if, merely in consequence of the density of the population, that element of public life should be denied to the Metropolis. Some years ago I entered into a controversy with the Metropolitan Board, who desired to prevent public meetings in the open spaces under their control, and, having the power to refuse assent to bye-laws of that character, I exercised that power. I told them I thought every legitimate opportunity which could be given in this Metropolis to public meetings ought to be given. I remember a great public meeting, which was held under the auspices of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), end I was very much abused for not preventing it. Persons thought my hon. Friend a very dangerous character then; but those who are better acquainted with him now do not think him so formidable a demagogue as to be likely to lay London in ashes. It was considered most dangerous to allow those meetings to be held, and an hon. Friend of mine made a very strong complaint in this House that, in consequence of that demonstration of tens of thousands, he was obliged to enter the House by the subway. But he survived even that 1166 inconvenience. It was said that under shelter of those meetings the dangerous classes would rally and come together. I do not believe, if you take the most ordinary precautions, there is any danger at all. In my view, the office of the police very often ought to be to protect those meetings from any such mischief as might arise among the people at the meeting themselves or others outside the meeting. If that is done with good temper and good humour, I have never known any harm coming of these meetings, nor do I believe any harm would ever come of them in the present state of public feeling in London. I was very glad to hear the sanguine view taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State on that point last night. Nothing but harm can come of regarding this vast population in London in a spirit of suspicion and animosity. Well, now, I know that in the time of Sir Edmund Henderson there took place a public meeting at which much mischief occurred. I have always regarded the break out in February 1886, as a most lamentable accident. It was one of those things which had not occurred before for many and many a year, and which I do not believe will occur again. For myself, I always regarded the retirement of Sir Edmund Henderson with the greatest regret. I knew Sir Edmund Henderson well, and no one who did could have other than feelings of the greatest confidence and trust in his judgment and capacity. Sir Edmund Henderson followed Sir Richard Mayne, and I believe both were admirable administrators of the police of London It is said that Sir Edmund Henderson was not sufficiently vigorous and active. But there are other merits than vigour and activity. Sir Edmund Henderson was a man who was very calm and self-possessed; he was not fussy and fidgety, and he thoroughly understood and had great reliance upon the general disposition to order and good behaviour on the part of the population. Whatever may be thought of the particular accident which led to his retirement, that ought to form no ground whatever for altering in any material particular our system of police administration. Sir Edmund Henderson had to deal certainly with very troubled times, but under his administration things went 1167 very smoothly, both inside and outside Scotland Yard. It was said by one of my hon. Friends last night, that Sir Edmund Henderson was a military man. But one of the great merits of Sir Edmund Henderson was that he did not administer the police in a military spirit. I do not wish to speak with disrespect of military men. I entertain the highest respect and admiration for them, but I do not think they are the best men to place at the head of an essentially civilian force. I have long held that opinion, and, as far as I have had the power, I have acted upon it. It fell to my lot to fill up the place of three Assistant Commissioners. One of those appointed was a military man who had been a Superintendent—Colonel Pearson—whose services entitled him to promotion, and he was a most admirable officer of police. On the advice and with the concurrence of Sir Edmund Henderson, I appointed one Assistant Commissioner of Police, who was a lawyer, as Sir Edmund Henderson thought it was desirable to have legal advice at Scotland Yard. I also appointed Mr. Monro—a civilian—and look back with great satisfaction upon that appointment. Mr. Monro succeeded a very able and efficient Head of the Criminal Investigation Department—the hon. Member for Central Sheffield (Mr. Howard Vincent)—whose relations with the First Commissioner were of the most cordial character. One of the last things Sir Edmund Henderson said to me on his retirement was to express the satisfaction he felt in working with Mr. Monro. I attach enormous importance to the maintenance of the civilian character and spirit in our police. There may be occasions on which recourse must be had to the Military Force. Those occasions, in former years, under the old evil system, were frequent; but the results were evil. When once the Military Force is brought into antagonism with the people, they naturally, from their training and the circumstances of the case, feel themselves in the presence of an enemy. That is the reason why every man who has the responsibility will postpone to the last, and avoid, if possible, the employment of the Military Force in civil life. Then you have the Civil Force. That force, on the other hand, does not, as if it were on a campaign, feel itself in a position 1168 of hostility to the people among whom they have to restore order, as it is natural for the military to feel. They come immediately from the people, and are friends with the people. I have heard with regret from several of my hon. Friends the opinion expressed that these friendly relations have recently changed for the worse. The hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) has contradicted that assertion, and I do not feel competent to pronounce an opinion. I can only say that I can imagine no greater disaster to the country, or the Metropolis, than if, by any error of administration, there should arise a feeling of antagonism between the people and the police. I believe the great mass of the population regard the police as their best friends. If, by the introduction of what I may call a military as opposed to a civil spirit, the police should be placed in the situation of a force facing an enemy, instead of mixing with a friendly people, the greatest possible mischief would arise. There is great danger of this result if a policy is pursued of imposing upon the people restrictions to which they have not been accustomed, and privileges are withdrawn which they have hitherto enjoyed. Any interference with rights hitherto enjoyed will be associated by the people with the force which has to carry out such restrictions. I hope, therefore, that the Secretary of State will always exercise his responsibility, with regard to the police, upon a basis of trust in the great mass of the population of this Metropolis. I am speaking of a subject on which I have had great experience, and expressing views which I have adopted after due deliberation. Something has been said about the increase of the police. In my opinion, if you pursue the policy which for a great many years has been pursued, there is no occasion whatever for such increase. There is, of course, the normal increase every year in proportion to the increment of the population, which amounts to about 80,000 a-year. In my time the usual annual increase of the police was about 200. But it would be most unwise to demand any extraordinary increase under the influence of panic, and it would be most uneconomical. It would be worse than that; it would be an alarmist increase. The police of the Metropolis is very much larger in pro- 1169 portion to the population than that of any Provincial town. But extraordinary calls are made upon them which do not exist in our large towns. It is not that the people of London are more difficult to manage; and there is no reason, if caution and prudence are exercised, why any part of the Metropolis should have a greater proportion of police than a town like Liverpool. The sensational cry, therefore, that the police are inadequate to the protection of property and the detection of crime has not the slightest foundation. If any proposal were made for an increase of the police beyond that normal increase I have spoken of, I should oppose it. Of course, if the police are to be administered in a different spirit, if they are not to be on friendly terms with the people of London, if we are to have, what I trust we never shall have, a gendarmerie instead of a police, the number will have to be multiplied tenfold, because they will have to deal with a hostile population such as is found in some Continental towns. I hope we shall hear the end of this alarmist language; that we shall hear nothing of the demand for what is called "vigorous measures"—for what Carlyle once described as "A whiff of grape shot,"—which some gentlemen are desirous of applying to the smallest popular disturbance. ["No, no!"] I am not speaking of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I fully appreciate the difficulty in which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary is placed in appointing a new head of the police. I have felt the difficulty myself most profoundly. It is much easier to get rid of a good man than to get a better. Yes, in the case of Sir Edmund Henderson, I always thought that we might have 50 worse before we got as good a man again. If I might tender my advice to the right hon. Gentleman, it would be that he should avoid too much of that active zeal which some people think so extremely desirable and meritorious. I know a great European Statesman—the greatest, perhaps, alive—to whom it was said once that his diplomatists were not sufficiently geniuses—that they had not sufficient diplomatic activity. The reply was—If I had geniuses and men of diplomatic activity I should never sleep at night.If the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary wishes to sleep at night, let 1170 him not have a Commissioner of Police who is too active. Another caution I would venture to give is, "Beware of reconstruction." Reconstruction is the resort of weak men who, when they get into a difficulty, say, "I am going to reconstruct the whole system." If they are men of courage and ability, instead of reconstructing a good system they will amend the particular defect which happens to arise, and make the best of the system. ["Hear, hear!"] Oh, yes; that is a very Conservative doctrine; but I am a good Conservative. Our system of police is an excellent one, and I hope no military character will be given to it. There is another point I wish to refer to. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has been attacked for not offering rewards in regard to the recent murders. Well, as he stated, I was responsible for that policy. The right hon. Gentleman stated the grounds upon which the former policy was reversed, and I am glad that the practice I inaugurated has been pursued by my Successors. I have never known rewards for the detection of crime do any good. No doubt a much higher authority—the Corporation of London—have taken a different view. It is a cheap system and one of great liberality, and one which has never diminished by a single farthing the magnificent income of the Corporation. The offer of rewards, however, is not merely a cheap display, but it might prove an extremely mischievous thing. First of all, it tends to induce the police not to exert themselves in doing that which is their regular duty. Then there is what, I am sorry to say, is not a fanciful danger—the great inducement to false testimony. It was that which, above all things, I wished to avoid by adopting the system of not offering rewards. There is only one other question which I will mention before I sit down, and that is the attack made upon the police and upon the Secretary of State for their failure to detect the murders in Whitechapel. I think that attack was most unreasonable. If they have done all in their power, and used all the means at their disposal—and that they are doing so no man can doubt—I see no reason to believe that they will ultimately fail. In my own time, some weeks elapsed before the arrest of the murderer Lefroy, and in the case of 1171 the dynamite outrages we succeeded in detecting a number of the offenders. There were cases where no detection was possible. No doubt, no discovery was made as to the dynamite outrages in the House and in Westminster Hall; but it is impossible to detect every case, and all that you can expect from the police, and those responsible for the police, is that they shall use all the means at their disposal for the purpose of detection. He apologised to the Committee for the length to which his remarks had extended. He repeated that we had a thoroughly sound system of police in this country. Whatever might be the unfortunate differences which had arisen between individuals in Scotland Yard, they did not touch the question generally, or the way in which the system had been hitherto administered. He earnestly hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, with the support of the House, would maintain the old established traditions of the Metropolitan Police, and not endeavour, in consequence of merely temporary incidents, to revolutionize the system by the introduction of some fresh spirit and some new plan, which would not be an improvement but would most probably damage and injure a system which had hitherto been productive of most excellent results.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he understood that the Motion which he had moved yesterday, not having been disposed of before half-past 5, had, according to the Forms of the House, dropped. He would, therefore, renew the Motion, and move to reduce the Vote by £1,500, the salary of the Chief Commissioner.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by the sum of £1,500, the Salary of the Chief Commissioner."—(Mr. Bradlaugh.)
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
said, that he, with the rest of the Committee, had listened with the greatest interest and satisfaction to the speech which had just been delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt). If he might describe that speech he would say that it was in the highest sense fair, temperate, judicial, and statesmanlike; and, he might add, 1172 in all respects a perfect speech. He did not know that there was a single word in the speech against which he had to enter the smallest expression of dissent. In what the right hon. Gentleman had said about public meetings he entirely concurred, although he knew that it was a topic upon which there were wide differences of opinion. The Government had always felt that to suppress public meetings in London would be most disastrous and unwise. The Committee and the public were aware that the Legislature had taken abundant precautions to preserve this great popular right, and the right hon. Gentleman himself had shown that he had taken that view with respect to public places in London. In every quarter—North, South, East, and West—there were open places in London where public meetings could be held under the protection of the police. These meetings had always been held without interruption. It had always seemed desirable to the Government to afford police protection to such legitimate meetings, however hostile they might be to the Government of the day. That, of course, was not a matter deserving of consideration, but, as a matter of fact, abundant opportunities existed in London for giving free expression to public feeling and opinion. But it had become particularly incumbent upon the Government during the unfortunate "accident"—he took that phrase from the right hon. Gentleman opposite—that had arisen from the holding of public meetings in the midst of crowded thoroughfares and thickly-inhabited parts of the Metropolis—it became incumbent on the Government, in the interests of the preservation of peace and order, to set their faces against such gatherings. The principle of holding public meetings—what was called the right of public meetings—had never been questioned and had never met with hostility. All that Her Majesty's Government had endeavoured to do was to see that the right of public meeting was not exercised so as to infringe the rights, the comfort, and the convenience of peaceable inhabitants. He was glad to have this opportunity, not that he had not intended to say as much of his own motion, but he was glad of the opportunity furnished by what fell from the hon. and gallant Member for the North-West Division of Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) to do 1173 the fullest justice to Sir Charles Warren, whose resignation it had been his duty to announce to the House on Monday. Sir Charles Warren was a man not only of the highest character but of great ability. During his tenure of the Office of Chief Commissioner of Police he had displayed the most indefatigable activity in every detail connected with the organization and administration of the Force. By his vigour and firmness he had restored that confidence in the police which had been shaken—he believed, with the right hon. Gentleman, unjustly shaken—after the regrettable incident of 1886. It would not become him to say anything about Sir Edmund Henderson, of whom he had had no personal experience, otherwise he would be glad to endorse every word which had been uttered in his praise by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. It had always seemed to him, looking at it, as far as he was concerned, as a mere matter of history, that Sir Edmund Henderson had been unduly censured, and perhaps unfairly sacrificed to a momentary feeling of irritation. He had not, however, any personal feeling in the matter in the slightest possible way. There could be no doubt, whatever might be the propriety or impropriety of the charges made at the time, that there was considerable alarm and certain distrust as to the efficiency of the police. Sir Charles Warren, in his administration of the Force, had shown conspicuous skill and firmness, under the present and preceding Governments, in restoring the prestige of the police and in putting an end to disorder in the Metropolis, and for that he deserved the highest Praise. He gave his most emphatic denial to the suggestion of the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) that Sir Charles Warren had been sacrificed to the outcry of the demagogues. It was nothing of the sort. Sir Charles Warren's resignation had been accepted because the Government felt that it was absolutely necessary to uphold and enforce the principles which the right hon. Gentleman had laid down in terms of perfect propriety—that in the ultimate resort it must be the Secretary of State who was responsible for the action of the Metropolitan Police. It would be intolerable that in such a town as London, or in any large town, the Commander of the 1174 Police Force, or of any other Force, should hold irresponsible authority, and be able to disregard the instructions of the persons who had to answer in Parliament for the conduct of the men under their command. That was a position which could not be allowed to be assumed by any Chief Constable of any of the large towns of the country. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the wording of the Statute, and it was quite plain that it was the intention of the Legislature to put the Police Force under the authority of the Secretary of State, and to hold him fully responsible, not for every detail of the management of the Force, but in regard to the general policy of the police in the discharge of their duty. Having said so much, there was not much else that had been said in the course of the debate that he need notice. It was perfectly true, as the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) had said, that the number of the Metropolitan Police, in proportion to population, was larger than in the other great towns of the country. But the excess was not conspicuous when compared with some of the largest towns. For instance, in London the proportion was 26 police constables to every 10,000 inhabitants; in Manchester it was 23 and in Glasgow 20. But it must not be forgotten that the increase in the number of the Police Force was not in proportion to the number of the population. It became more difficult when they were dealing with 5,000,000 of people to superintend and control the criminal classes than when they were dealing with a smaller population. Nor must it be forgotten that in London there was a vast number of the police withdrawn from the ordinary police duties to perform other municipal duties. That was not the case in Liverpool, Manchester, or the other large towns. What he meant was, that there was a certain kind of Imperial duty which the police had to discharge in the Metropolis which did not occur elsewhere. For instance, the protection of the buildings connected with that House and of the Public Offices required the services of more than 600 policemen. [Mr. JAMES STUART: 676.] Probably the hon. Member was right. Then there were 157 employed in looking after hackney carriages; 1175 theatres, 100; and the management of the public traffic, 300; while the protection of public buildings alone required 326. These, in a certain sense, might be said to be police constables, but they were not employed in the detection of crime. The services required from the police of London was altogether different from that which was required from the police of Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and the other great towns. That circumstance accounted, in a great degree, for the larger proportion of police which was required for London as compared with the great towns in the country. He never proposed a large increase in the numbers of the police, although the present Force was over-worked, especially when special and extraordinary duties were thrown on them. There was a question put to him the other day by an hon. Member who desired to know the nature of the different beats. The suggestion was that the beats in some parts of London were too large, and no doubt, under the circumstances which had arisen in Whitechapel, they were. The ordinary police beats there had been found altogether insufficient, and it had been necessary to draft additional constables to discharge duties which were necessarily heavy under the peculiar circumstances of the case. But he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that there was no occasion for alarm or anxiety. The police of London had discharged their duties most efficiently. The detective force in particular, which was attached to Scotland Yard, were men of conspicuous ability, and he desired in justice to those special members of the Force to say that in his judgment they had in no respect proved unequal to the duties they had to perform. He had not contemplated, nor did he contemplate, anything like the re-organization or the carrying out of extensive changes in the Force. There were, however, small improvements that might be effected in its distribution and management. These were points apparently not very important, but still they were important in the daily working of a Force of this kind, and would have to be attended to, inasmuch as additional service might be obtained from the Force as it existed. He was not aware that he need dwell further on any topic that had been raised in the course of the debate; and he 1176 would refrain from answering at any length in a general discussion of this kind the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for North-West Lanarkshire, but not from any feeling of disrespect to the hon. Member. He knew that the hon. Member spoke with a certain amount of personal warmth, which he could perfectly well understand. He could only assure the hon. Member that so long as it was his fate to be at the Home Office, he would endeavour to prevent anything like undue interference with any class in London. He might further say that the use of warm language, or any violence exercised by the police against peaceable men, would not have his approval or sanction in any case. With regard to another point, complaint was made of the undue and improper dismissal of members of the Police Force, and he would observe that in many cases the dismissal of a policeman might seem to outsiders to be harsh, and based upon insufficient grounds. But that was a matter of the internal discipline of the Force, and must be left to the discretion and judgment of those who administered the Force. He hoped the discussion would end in making it clear to the public that the expressions used in some quarters as to the police were not justified by the facts. The police had done nothing to disentitle them to the confidence, if not the affection, of the general population, which he believed they had received, as they deserved it.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman might give the House some information as to an occurrence which took place last night—namely, the dispersal of a meeting on Clerkenwell Green by the police. He fully appreciated the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman had made some of his remarks, but he had left a very serious statement unanswered—namely, that the police did attack and disperse a perfectly peaceful meeting of the citizens of London.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, he rose for the purpose of supporting the Motion for the reduction of the Vote, and he should only make one reference to Sir Charles Warren, the late Chief Commissioner, whose salary was included in the Vote. He was obliged to his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Brad- 1177 laugh) for having relieved him of the unpleasant task of travelling over the same ground as that which had been occupied by the hon. Gentleman. Had it not been the case that Sir Charles Warren had resigned, it would have been his duty to refer to much that had passed, to which reference had been made in the course of the present debate. He rose to support the reduction of the Vote by this particular amount, because this payment to the Chief Commissioner of Police by that House represented and contained within itself the head and front, if he might say so, in his mind, of the offending of the whole system of the Metropolitan Police. He maintained that the man who by Statute was at the head of the Police should be subject to the authority, as the introduction of the Vote implied, of the House of Commons, represented by the Home Secretary. Many of the points which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had endeavoured to answer, with respect to the number and cost of the police of the Metropolis, arose entirely from the want of representative control at the head. He did not propose to trouble the House with a comparison between this year and that which immediately preceded it. He thought it would be fairer to compare the present year with 10 years ago, although it was a comparison which did not emphasize the case he was about to mention as strongly as many other years he might take. But, comparing this year with 10 years ago, it would be found that there was an increase both in the numbers and expense of the Police in the Metropolis much greater than the increase in the population; and, in his opinion, this increase arose from the circumstance of the control of the Police being in the hands of a Chief Commissioner, independent of the control of the ratepayers. The increase in the population of Loudon from 1878 to 1888 had been 23 percent. The increase in the numbers of the police in the same time had been 34½ per cent, and the increase in the cost, both net and gross, had been 44 per cent—meaning by net, after they deducted those particular items for which the police received compensation. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had rightly referred to the fact that the police in the Metro- 1178 polis were more numerous per head of the population, and more expensive, than in other large towns. It was also more expensive, whether taken by the rateable value, or miles of streets, or in any other way. Those facts had been brought out by a Return moved at his instance, and for which he was responsible so far as the form in which the information was given was concerned. The excess was not to be explained in the way the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to account for it. The right hon. Gentleman had rightly indicated the large number of the police in the Metropolis, and had somewhat understated the extent to which it was employed in the Government and Public Services. The number of the Force employed in that nay was not 600, but 766. There was a total number of 1,621 police who were employed in the Metropolis by public or private persons last year, but for their services £170,000, roughly speaking, had been paid back. On that point the whole issue really hung, because he found that the Return for services rendered by the police was practically at the same rate as the increase of the police expense itself; which, as he had said, was 44 per cent, while the population had only increased at the rate of 23 per cent within the last 10 years. That was a circumstance which required investigation and explanation. The disproportion of which he spoke he traced entirely to the fact that the House of Commons paid the salary of the head of the Police, whereas it ought to be paid by those who ought to control him—namely, the representative authorities of the Metropolis itself. As he intended to vote for the reduction of the salary of the Chief Commissioner of Police, on other grounds than those which had been stated by the hon. Member for Northampton to be the grounds of all who supported him in the matter, he felt bound to explain the reason why he gave his vote. He traced the whole of the extra cost of the police and its improper management to the circumstance of the appointment of a Chief Commissioner appointed and paid as was the case at present. He proposed now to refer to the financial details of the system the Committee were engaged in discussing. If they looked through the accounts and 1179 the balance sheets for the past year in the way which a business man would do in regard to his own affairs, they would come to the conclusion that they were looking through a business which needed overhauling in the very points in which a business that was going to the bad required overhauling. It must not be supposed that he was speaking against the increase in the pay of the policemen. The increase in the total cost of the Force in the 10 years had been 44 per cent, but the increase in the pay of the Police Force had not been more than 36 per cent. No doubt that was greater than the increase in the Force, which had only been 34 per cent. The reasons were easily explained. There had been a considerable increase in the higher paid branches of the police, and it applied principally to the Inspectors, who had increased by 117 per cent in these 10 years. He would ask whether this increase in the more highly paid classes of the Service was not the sort of thing they observed in a business where they had not got the control of the person who managed the business, but who was not, in any sense, responsible for providing the money which had to be expended? Another reason why he should vote against this item was that the House of Commons was called upon to pay the salary of the Chief Commissioner, and to provide the money, except that portion which was payable out of the rates, yet practically the House of Commons had no control over the force. When they saw an increase of 44 per cent in the expenditure net and gross, and only of 36 per cent increase in the pay and clothing of the police, where was it that the rest was to be found? It was here that the main principle of his indictment of the system lay—namely, against the system of management by a Chief Commissioner appointed and paid as Sir Charles Warren had been. If they would look through the list of items, item by item, and compare the year 1878 with 1888, they would find an increase on all those various items where the minute superintendence of a person interested in a business was capable of keeping them down, but which constantly occurred where such superintendence did not exist. The items in which the greatest increase was apparent were those for 1180 office rent, taxes, and repairs, 270 per cent; fuel and light, 54 per cent; postage, 90 per cent; travelling expenses, 450 per cent; newspapers and advertisements, 500 per cent; extraordinary expenses in the pursuit, apprehension, and prosecution of prisoners, 140 per cent; law charges, exclusive of particular law charges connected with new buildings, 84 per cent; and special expenses, 140 per cent. The sum of these items on which an increase had taken place was by no means a small one. Any hon. Member who would look into the items would see at once that the increase arose upon items which would go to wipe away the profit of any business concern, and were the sort of items that needed looking after. In this case, as there was no one to look after them, they were constantly increasing, and, as a consequence, the cost of the police had been increased in a greater ratio than the wages and clothing of the force. If the increase of the cost had been kept down with the increase of pay, there would have been a saving of 8 per cent. That sum, he maintained, was simply wasted or lost altogether, without any real advantage being gained to the Metropolis in the matter. Eight per cent of the whole cost of the police, which was, roughly speaking, about £1,500,000, was a considerable sum; but there was more than that. While the cost of the Police Force had kept rising, it had kept rising in tune with the rise of the rateable value of London. The rateable value of London had risen 38 per cent in these years, and the cost of the police had risen 44 per cent. The rateable value of London was continually on the rise naturally, and the cost of the police was continually on the rise with it. There used to be an 8d. rate, but an Act of Parliament was passed, he believed, in 1868, which allowed a 9d. rate, and it was expected that the 9d. rate would soon be surpassed. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary might naturally reply that it was a fair thing that as the rateable value of London increased so should the expenses of the police increase. He (Mr. James Stuart) denied that; and he maintained that the increase of the population in London was a better standard for measuring the proper cost of the police than the increase of the rateable value, because the rateable value of property in London 1181 rose, although there might be no addition whatever to the items rated. There was a quinquennial revaluation of London, and there had been thus added to the rateable value within 10 years no less than 10 per cent of the whole valuation. But the cost of the police was rising more than the rateable value, and, so far as the rise from revaluation was concerned, there was no more reason for it than to say it was necessary because it was Tuesday instead of Monday. He contended, therefore, that the rise in the rate of the cost or of the number of the police was far too great, if it was compared with the increase on the rateable value, and that the increase of the population was a sufficient standard. If the cost of the police had not risen out of proportion to the rateable value of London, but had kept to the rise in the rateable value on account only of the new localities which the police had to protect, he believed the rate for the police would be less by 2d. than the rate now imposed. He commended this fact strongly to the attention of the Committee, the representatives of London, and all those who were interested in economy generally. He wished, however, to dwell upon a figure in the Return, which, to his mind, was of very great importance, because he was afraid it might bring them into great difficulty in another year—namely, the increase in the total cost of the Metropolitan Police from 1878. It had been 44 per cent, while the increase in the rateable value had only been 38 per cent. But although the cost was increasing more than the rateable value, they were nevertheless limited to a 9d. rate. How were they to provide for the additional increase? The police got an additional power of spending money by borrowing and drawing on their resources, and they were getting it in a way of which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was probably not aware. The parishes of London were always in debt to the Central Authority by a certain amount of their rate. That amount had been constantly diminishing. Whereas in 1888 the amount due to the Central Authority was £65,917, in 1887 the sum due from the vestries was £74,170. In other words they had drawn on their resources, and had reduced the outstanding balances due to the Metropolitan Police Fund by that amount, in one 1182 year. The Bank balances were also coming down. Last year there was a reduction of £20,000. In 1887 the Bank balances stood at £198,505, and on March 31, 1888, they were £178,777. They were evidently getting into a scrape with regard to the Metropolitan Police, and the cost was rising at such a rate, that unless something was done to check it, and as it was outstripping the rise in the rateable value of London, they would have to come to Parliament for a still heavier rate. He altogether objected to the cost keeping pace with the rateable value of the Metropolis, and he laid down the principle that the increase of population was a far better standard than any other. If the increase of the cost of the police had been in proportion to the population, it would have been 23 per cent instead of 44, which would be nearly equivalent to a 2d. rate. These were some of the points which demanded an answer, and needed explanation from right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite, or from those who defended the Metropolitan Police, on whichever side of the House they might sit. He did not touch the question of the police officers themselves, but the financial position of the Force. To sum up, he contended that the cost of the police was rising more rapidly than the number; that the cost and the number were rising more rapidly than the rateable value of the Metropolis, which rateable value rose more rapidly than the increase of population; and that the cost and numbers of the police were rising twice as quickly as the rate of the population, the increase of which ought, more largely than anything else, to govern the increase in the number of the Police Force. The figures he had given of the year 1878 and 1888 were not the most favourable to his contention. There were other more favourable set of figures of from five to 10 years which he might have taken. He presumed that a very short time would elapse before the successor of Sir Charles Warren would be selected; and he hoped the Government would take into account the really strong feeling which existed out of doors, and he would enforce the necessity of placing at the head of the Force a man who would not think of fulfilling his duty in a military spirit, and who did not share the views Sir Charles Warren had expressed in that article— 1183 which had been the death of him—that the Government had granted all the reforms the people wanted, and that it was insurrectionary to agitate for further changes. There was no doubt that there was among a certain section of the population, who were not criminals, a strong feeling of dissatisfaction with what had happened of late. Parliament could not shut its eyes to that dissatisfaction, and it had to be removed, and much depended upon the present selection of a Chief Commissioner. He would not discuss vexed questions. He preferred to wait and see what the Government would do, believing that they would be as anxious to get out of a serious difficulty as any Members could be that they ought to do so. Dissatisfaction from the action of the police arose, not so much from the conduct of the men, as from the working of the system which they represented. At any rate, the people who found the money ought to be able to see that it was properly spent. There was no way of meeting the serious financial crisis which was rapidly approaching, except by putting the Metropolitan Police under the control of the County Council. He begged to support the reduction of the Vote.
§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
said, he had no doubt that every Metropolitan Member, no matter on what side of the House he sat, would altogether agree with the view which had been so ably stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) as to the relations which should subsist, under our Constitution, between the police and the Home Office. The circumstances, in this case, justified the action of the Home Department in accepting the resignation of Sir Charles Warren. He, like many others, had a great deal of sympathy with the sentiments of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for the North-West Division of Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), who expressed his keen regret that these unfortunate differences between high Officials of the State had arisen, and had led to the unfortunate circumstance of the resignation of Sir Charles Warren just at this moment. It seemed to him that the views expressed by the hon. and gallant Member had been, to a certain extent, justified by the further remarks of the 1184 right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, and also by the remarks that had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Mr. James Stuart). He wished to do the utmost justice to the fair play and the impartial statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. But he must say that in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, particularly in the reference to militarism in our police arrangements, he detected a reference to recent demonstrations in the Metropolis, and he was sure the majority of the Metropolitan Members would not concur in any such implied condemnation of the administration of the police. They did not believe that there had been any indication of the military spirit, or any of the temper displayed which had been dwelt on by the hon. Member for Hoxton (Mr. J. Stuart) and the hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Cunninghame Graham). Speaking as a Metropolitan Member, who mixed a great deal with his constituents, and who was intimately acquainted with the views of all classes, he was able to state most positively that there had been no diminution of the popularity of the Police Force among the loyal law-abiding and peaceable citizens of London. The demonstrations with which they had lately been vexed, of a small proportion of what was called the criminal class, incited and hounded on by mistaken men, who were rightly called "demagogues," had brought the two much nearer the police than they had ever been before. Before he sat down he wished to add a word as to the increase in the number and cost of the police, and the statement which had been made by the hon. Member for Hoxton. The remarks of the hon. Member in regard to the increase in the number was answered by the fact that there had been an outcry of late, whether rightly or not he did not know, as to the length of the beats of the police in the East End of London. They had been continually told, since the recent deplorable events in Whitechapel, that the police were not sufficiently numerous or sufficiently vigilant, and, as to the increased cost, there surely could be no fairer measure of a rightful increase than the increase in the rateable value of the Metropolis, which implied an increase in the value of the property to be protected. He thought the loyal, 1185 peaceable, quiet, law-abiding people of the Metropolis would emphatically repudiate the charges which had been made against the police, and that, at this moment, they felt as much, even if not more, confidence in them than they had ever done.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, he admired the self-contained egotism of the hon. Member for North Kensington (Sir Roper Lethbridge),who assumed that he and his friends were the only gentlemen who were animated by respect for the law and were law-abiding citizens, There were others who had passed an active public life who had taken part in demonstrations, and who were called "demagogues," who could refer to their action without discredit. He had been to big demonstrations himself, and he defied the hon. Member, or anyone else, to show that the leaders of such demonstrations had not been able to preserve order among the vast concourse of people who took part in them and were incompetent to take them to Hyde Park or elsewhere without disturbance and confusion.
§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE
said, he had not in the slightest degree referred to such demonstrations as those of which the hon. Member was speaking. He had himself taken part in such demonstrations, and he was anxious that they should continue to be held, and that they should not be restricted in any way in the Metropolis. In his observations he had referred to demonstrations of a very different character. [Cries of "What?" and "Name!"]
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS
said, that it was, at all events, satisfactory to have drawn that qualification and expression of opinion from the hon. Member, but there still remained the objection that the hon. Member, or anyone else, should lay down the law as to what was a legitimate demonstration and what was not. Before he sat down he should have to draw the attention of the Committee to the language of some of the subordinates of the police in regard to the demonstrations which had occurred in the Metropolis, to show how infectious such language had become, and to maintain that it was time it was put a stop to. The present debate, so far as the interests and welfare of the people of the Metropolis were concerned, was one of the most important that could 1186 take place, and it was an anomaly that the Metropolitan Members had almost to apologize to the Provincial Members for occupying the time of the Committee with a debate on what elsewhere would be a Municipal matter, and ought to be threshed out in a County Council composed of the representatives of the people of London. They were really discussing, under the Vote for the salary of the Chief Commissioner, the whole question of the control of the Metropolitan Police. Knowing London as well as any hon. Member opposite, he affirmed that there was, at the present time, much ill-feeling between the people and the police, but the dissatisfaction was not with constables individually. There was no feeling of animosity against particular constables, but the feeling was that the police had been called upon to discharge duties which had brought them needlessly into conflict with the population; and many of the police themselves had not been particularly anxious to perform the duties which had been cast upon them. As to regret in the force at Sir Charles Warren's resignation, good information showed that the feeling was the other way; for under Sir Charles Warren the men had been subject to regulations they did not care for, and there had been undue interference with the legitimate flow of promotion. This had been explained to him to be the feeling of the men in the Force themselves. They were all ready to acknowledge the valuable contribution which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) had made to the de bate, and the clear and definite lines he had laid down as to the relations between the Chief Commissioner and the Home Secretary so long as the police were under the control of the Central Executive. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had accepted the entire responsibility of the action of the police, and had said that it was necessary to suppress meetings in one particular locality. That in which he, and those who agreed with him, differed from the right hon. Gentleman was not only as to the propriety of suppressing these meetings, but the way in which the suppression had been carried out. They said that, supposing it was necessary to prevent meetings in Trafalgar Square, there was no necessity whatever for sup- 1187 pressing them in the cold-blooded manner they were suppressed on the 13th of November last. The persons who were present at that meeting were not those who had been in the habit of congregating there, but persons who were in the habit of attending great Liberal demonstrations in London—men who, in the same spirit, attended the public meetings in Hyde Park in 1884 and the Temperance demonstrations in the present year. If there had been a little forbearance exercised on the part of those in authority—if they had gone up to the leaders in a mild manner and prevented them from going into the Square, they would have turned back, and there would have been no necessity to baton them. But the East End procession, on arriving at Broad Street, instead of being told that they had come as far as they would be allowed, were attacked by the police. Even with regard to the right of holding these public meetings, he thought they were entitled to something more than the mere ipse dixit of the Home Secretary for the time being. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would give them the information they had endeavoured for some time to obtain, and which they were most anxious to obtain, and especially in regard to the filling up of the vacant Chief Commissionership. The high-handed proceeding of Sir Charles Warren appeared to have become infectious among his subordinates. In some of the reports which had been sent in by the Police Superintendents he found the most unwarrantable language used—language quite as forcible as that which was used by the late Chief Commissioner himself in the now famous Murray's Magazine article. Speaking on behalf of the A division, one of these Inspectors spoke of "professional agitators" and their "pernicious doctrines." To permit an Inspector to lay down what were pernicious doctrines and what were not, was certainly the introduction into this country of Continentalism with a vengeance, and showed how rapidly they were descending in a downward line. To his mind the language used by this Police Inspector was the coolest piece of impudence he had ever heard of. He would advise this gentleman in future to follow the example of the other Superintendents, whose reports 1188 were plain and business-like and reflected great credit upon them. He admitted that there might be a time for taking action against pernicious opinions; but when such a time arrived, and it was necessary to take action against the proceedings of certain political and social doctrines, who was to be the party to take action? Was it to be taken by the police? Certainly not; but by the Government, who must declare what were pernicious doctrines and what were not. One great safety we had had in the past in this country was that men who held foolish opinions had had an opportunity of ventilating them and having them criticized. It was by this means that men who commenced by talking very loud were induced to come down to more reasonable opinions. Another Police Superintendent, speaking of some occurrences in April in Hyde Park and the Edgware Road, spoke of "the Socialists" having obstructed the neighbourhood, 10 of whom had been arrested, and most of them convicted. Was that the kind of report the Government wanted? Would the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary indorse the action of the police and the sentiment expressed in that report, and was it not time that the control of the police should be in a more Constitutional form, so that the liberties of the people might be better safeguarded than they were now? By the resignation of Sir Charles Warren they had some prospect of changing the system; but he warned the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that the people of London would never be satisfied until they obtained the control of their own police; and when the hon. Baronet the Member for London (Sir Robert Fowler) rose to address the Committee, perhaps he would tell them what a good thing it was for the City of London to have the control of its own Force. The people of the Metropolis generally envied the Corporation of London, and hoped to get the same control in the Greater London they represented. He asked the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in appointing the new Commissioner, carefully to consider the whole question, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give them an assurance that some gentleman of cool and calm judgment—he trusted a civilian—would be placed 1189 at the head of the police. Hitherto the action of the police had only had the effect of irritating a large number of people who were quite as respectable, as loyal, and as peaceable citizens as any of the friends of hon. Members opposite. He earnestly hoped that the House of Commons would resist to the utmost the introduction into this country of any imitation of the Continental system.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (London)
said, he had listened with great pleasure to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. He thought the course pursued in February, 1886, against Sir Edmund Henderson was a mistake, and he had at the time expressed his regret at the course pursued by the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, though it was, to a certain extent, sanctioned by Lord Knutsford and his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie). He had risen, however, to express the great gratitude which, as a Londoner, he felt to Sir Charles Warren for the manner in which he had administered the Metropolitan Police Force during the time he had been at the head of it. He knew that what he said would not be acceptable to some hon. Gentlemen opposite, and especially to the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down; but he did feel that they owed a deep debt of gratitude to Sir Charles Warren for the way in which, under his guidance, disorder had been put down in the Metropolis. There could be no doubt that it was a difficult matter to maintain order among the large population of the Metropolis. The question might not be one of much consequence to hon. Members who came down to the House from Pall Mall and the West End, and who knew nothing of any other part of London; but those who lived in the heart of London were bound to consider the protection of life and property throughout the whole of the Metropolis. The Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police had an extremely difficult task to perform; and, as a Londoner, he was grateful to Sir Charles Warren for the way in which he had discharged his duty while he was at the head of the police. Having borne this testimony to 1190 the value of the services rendered by Sir Charles Warren, he felt bound to add that, after the letters of that gentleman, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in whom he had the utmost confidence, had no alternative but to accept his resignation.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said, the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler) appeared to rise for the express purpose of paying a florid compliment to Sir Charles Warren. He (Mr. Pickersgill) was somewhat surprised at that, because, let the merits or demerits of Sir Charles Warren's system of management of the police be what they might, the system was totally and diametrically opposed to that adopted in the Police Force which was under the direct control of the City. Therefore, the compliments which the hon. Baronet thought proper to pay to Sir Charles Warren and his system were a direct condemnation of the police with which the hon. Baronet was more immediately connected. He (Mr. Pickersgill) had taken some part in endeavouring to deprive the City Corporation of privileges which he thought were unjust and impolitic, but he assured the hon. Baronet that there was one City privilege which, until the County of London got the control of its own police, he and his hon. Friends would guard with the most tender solicitude, and that was that the City of London should continue to retain the control of its own police, which it at present possessed. Before he proceeded to the aspects of the police question, with which he proposed especially to deal, he desired to emphasize a remark which was made by his hon. Friend the Member for East Finsbury (Mr. J. Rowlands) in the course of the very forcible speech which he had just delivered. His hon. Friend complained that Sir Charles Warren had unjustly destroyed the hope of promotion in the case of a large number of members of the Metropolitan Police Force. There was one order which was issued by Sir Charles Warren to which he (Mr. Pickersgill) desired—now that Sir Charles Warren was gone—to call the particular attention of the Home Office. A little while ago Sir Charles Warren issued an order that no constable who was over 35 years of age, or who had been a constable for upwards of 10 years, 1191 should be promoted to the position of sergeant. Upon that, he was favoured by the Home Office with a Return, from which it appeared that of the number of 647 constables who had been promoted in the last six years, no less than 394 either had more than 10 years as constables, or were over 35 years of age; so that, if they took into account the last six years, one-half of the constables promoted had actually possessed that term of service which Sir Charles Warren had at a single swoop said should hereafter disqualify any man for promotion at all. It would be clear to all, that if they wanted to keep the Service sweet and effective, they must hold out, at least, the hope of promotion, and yet Sir Charles Warren, at one fell swoop, took away from a very considerable number of the Metropolitan police constables now serving the hope of promotion which they had hitherto entertained—nay, more, he believed that at the very time that the order was issued there were a number of constables who had been actually recommended, or were upon the point of being recommended, by their immediate superiors for promotion, and that those promotions were not carried into effect in consequence of that grossly unjust order. He could not imagine anything more calculated to render the Police Force ineffective. Now, the ratepayers of London, who were not to be permitted to control their own police, would notice with great satisfaction the very sound suggestion which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) on the Constitutional relations which ought to exist between the Home Secretary and the Chief Commissioner of Police; and they would also notice with great satisfaction the right hon. Gentleman's views as to what the attitude of the police should be towards public meetings. He noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary expressed his assent to the right hon. Gentleman's views, and he could only express regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary's practice daring the last year or so had not been more in conformity with the theory of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. He was extremely pleased to hear the well-deserved compliment which his right hon. Friend paid to the pre- 1192 vious Chief Commissioner, Sir Edmund Henderson, and he was also gratified to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he not consider that the unfortunate events which happened in London in February, 1886, afforded any substantial ground for the re-organization of the Metropolitan Police. It was only just to the right hon. Gentleman to state that he took precisely the same view at the time, and he (Mr. Pickersgill) thought that, considering the quarter front which that expression of opinion had come, they might congratulate themselves that they had that afternoon heard the death-knell, practically, although its consummation must he for a little time delayed, of that system of militarization in the Police Force of the Metropolis, against which a good many of them had been so long unsuccessfully protesting. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby thought that the public were treating the Metropolitan Police a little unjustly in blaming them for failing to discover the perpetrator of the recent outrages in the East End of London. Upon that, he (Mr. Pickersgill) had only to say that he thought that the gravity of the case consisted in the fact that the inability of the police to find the perpetrator of these outrages came as a climax to the incapacity to detecting crime which he should be able to show had for the last year or so been conspicuous on the part of the Metropolitan Police. Two, at least, of the murders in the East End did not belong to what he might, perhaps, call the mutilation series. So long ago as Christmas week last a woman was murdered in the streets of Whitechapel, and, again, on Easter Tuesday, another unfortunate woman, while passing by Whitechapel Church, was done to death by a gang of three men; she lived long enough to state her story so far. It vas perfectly clear that these crimes did not belong to the abnormal series which was now baffling our detective system, but they rather pointed to that disorderly condition of the public streets which had undoubtedly grown up under the late administration, under the military régime, and of which the unhappy murder in Regent's Park, a little time ago, was so conspicuous an illustration. Again, if they took the list of undetected murders for 1887, what did they find? They found that 13 murders were com- 1193 mitted, and that only eight persons were detected. Were all these murders of an abnormal character? He did not propose to refer to all of them, but he would mention one. There was a very sad case, called the Kentish Town murder, in which a Mrs. Daniels was murdered in her own shop in Bartholomew Road, Kentish Town. Three men drove up in broad daylight in a small trap. They stopped the trap a little way from the shop, and they went into the shop with the supposed intention of carrying off the safe. Mrs. Daniels surprised them, and they dealt her a blow which proved fatal. There was nothing abnormal in the character of that crime. Our Criminal Courts showed that it was a crime unhappily of a very ordinary character; a robbery was being committed, someone came in and surprised the robbers, the robber recklessly dealt a blow which proved fatal. These men, after committing the murder, jumped into the trap, and nothing had been heard of them since. So much for the results of our detective system. A word or two with regard to methods; it was very seldom they got any light as to the way in which the detectives of London proceeded. In fact, Sir Charles Warren laid down the theory, which was a very comfortable and convenient one for any Police Force, that if people did not know what the detectives were doing, that was really the best possible proof they could have that the detectives were doing their work well and efficiently. There was one case, however, in which they got a glimpse as to the manner in which the detective system worked in London. In the last Report of the Commissioner he found the following reference to the Criminal Investigation Department:—The Officers of the Criminal Investigation Department have been very active and successful in the pursuit of crime, the number of arrests being for the year 518, including that of Thomas William Currell, for murdering Lydia Green, at Hoxton.The problem for the police to solve was not the discovery of who had committed the crime, but simply the laying of their hands upon Thomas William Currell, because suspicion pointed absolutely to him as the murderer. Yet Currell was absolutely allowed to walk about the streets of London for no less than 10 days; and he said himself— 1194 and there was no reason to doubt the accuracy of his statement—that one day he actually went to Scotland Yard, asked to see the Inspector there, and waited for two hours in the presence of a large number of police who were waiting there. He also said that on another day he went to a shop to be shaved, and immediately opposite the chair in which he sat was a portrait of himself and an accompanying description. There was no miscarriage of justice in the long run; but certainly there was grave negligence on the part of the Detective Department. The Times, in reporting the occurrence, said, there was no doubt whatever that there was no resemblance between the portrait which the police had published and the actual appearance of Thomas William Currell. Also, at the trial, Mr. Justice Grantham said that if the police could not publish better portraits of murderers it would be far better, and far less misleading, if they published no portrait at all. Eventually The Times, which had lately been taking so active a part in supporting the police through thick and thin, thus wound up an article on the subject—The remarks of Mr. Justice Grantham, although very severe, were fully justified by the total want of intelligence which the police had exhibited throughout the whole matter.It was not often that the Detective Department could be convicted of gross negligence and incapacity, because they worked in the dark. But here was a case in which, upon the clearest evidence, they displayed a total want of intelligence from beginning to end. Some reference had already been made to the services of Sir Edmund Henderson, and to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his Office. He thought that it would be found that, whatever might be said in regard to Sir Edmund's capacity for his Office, if he had to be judged by the results of the last year for which he was responsible, that year contrasted very favourably indeed, as regarded crime, with the lest year for which Sir Charles Warren was responsible. If hon. Members compared statistics of crime for the two years—take them how they would—they would find that while the crime of the country generally had been diminishing in the Metropolis, crime in 1887 was in excess of crime in 1885. In some cases the increase was not large, but in 1195 no case was there a decrease so as to make any compensation for the cases in which there was an increase. Take first the number of criminal offences reported. In 1885 the number was 21,428; in 1887 it was 21,923. In the list there was a table headed "Principal Offences." Now, the number of principal offences committed in 1885 was 20,998; and in 1887 it was 21,435. The number of felonies committed in 1885 was 19,505; and in 1887 20,035. In all these respects the Committee would see that the crime of 1887 contrasted unfavourably with the crime of 1885; but there was one class of crime to which he invited the more particular attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, because it went to corroborate statements which had been made by an evening paper in the Metropolis, which statements were denied by the late Chief Commissioner. He referred to the crimes of burglary and house-breaking; the increase of these crimes was absolutely alarming. In 1885 there were 1,800 offences, and in 1887 there were no less than 2,285. That was to say, that under this heading alone crime had increased, comparing one year with another, by about 27 per cent. He thought that that was hardly a record of which the late military administration had any reason to be proud. Might he now refer to the remarks which were made earlier in the evening by the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley), but he hoped he should not be betrayed into the warmth or rather unpleasant expression of feeling which the hon. Gentleman exhibited. The hon. Gentleman said there was no kind of evidence that the once absolutely friendly and confidential relations between the people of London and the police of London had in any degree been affected or deteriorated. This was a question upon which the Metropolian Members in particular felt a great responsibility, and he wished to speak guardedly, lest, by making statements, he should in any way seem to bring about, or be charged with bringing about, that state of feeling which he deprecated. Let him (Mr. Pickersgill) point out to the hon. Member one or two facts which tended, at all events, to show that the once friendly relations between the police and the people had been unhappily, to some extent, affected by recent occurrences. He 1196 did not think it could be denied by anyone who had followed, not only the Police Reports, but who was practically acquainted with the condition of things in London, that within the last year there had been a large increase in the use of the truncheon by policeman—in fact Sir Charles Warren in his Report took some credit for having abolished the truncheon case, and for having given an order that in future it should be carried in a side pocket, significantly most ready for use. He was not concerned at present to say whether the use of the truncheon in the cases in which complaint had been made was justified or not. He did not know the facts, and no doubt if the cases were investigated there would be conflicting testimony, and perhaps people would be left as much in the dark as they were now. He did know, at all events, that, while in some cases the magistrates—and he did not impugn their decisions—had said that the complaints were unfounded, in other cases they had said they were justified, and they had marked the charge sheets condemning the constables involved. But whether in the particular instances the use of the truncheon was justifiable or not, he thought that the fact that the use of the truncheon had been increasing must be a matter of the very gravest anxiety to all thoughtful and right-thinking men. Take the other side of the shield. He asserted, and he did not think that any Member who knew the facts would deny, that during the last year or two there had been an increase in the number of brutal assaults on the police. He regarded one as a correlative of the other. If they had the police using their powers offensively, especially if they had the police maltreating prisoners in their custody—of which the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had brought forward several cases, they could not be surprised if the ruffians of the Metropolis retaliated by grossly ill-using individual constables when they found them alone in their power. Before he resumed his seat he desired to refer to a case to which he called the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary's attention a few days ago, when, he thought he might respectfully say, the right hon. Gentleman appeared scarcely to appreciate the gravity of the complaint made against the police. The case to which he alluded 1197 was that of Henry Glennie, who a week or two ago was put upon his trial for the murder of Mrs. Wright. His complaint was that from the beginning to the end of the case, so far as the police were concerned, every canon of sound practice in the Criminal Law was grossly violated. In the first place, how was the man arrested? According to the sworn evidence of a police officer be was seized by three men in plain clothes, put into a cab, and then informed that the men were police officers, and that they arrested him on suspicion of having committed the murder. He (Mr. Pickersgill) maintained that the arrest was made in violation of the Police Code itself, which said that the proper mode of effecting an arrest when a constable was in plain clothes was to touch a man lightly on the shoulder and say, "I arrest you;" and of course every criminal lawyer knew that if there had been any violence, and if death had been caused, vital issues would have depended upon the fact. The man was arrested. He was taken at about 10 o'clock on the 19th September to the police station in the Upper Street, Islington, and was detained there. At about 11 o'clock the following morning two police officers went into the man's cell, and one said, "The Inspector has directed me to ask you if you can refer him to any person who can prove where you were when Mrs. Wright was murdered." The officer then added, "It happened so and so," giving the time and the date. Again, at quarter-past 10 at night the prisoner was seen by the police officer. Perhaps he (Mr. Pickersgill) ought to mention, in order to make his story complete, that at the time of the murder a bag was thrown away by one of the men who bad been seen leaving the house. This bag had been picked up, and there could be no doubt that it was the bag of the prisoner, Henry Glennie, though it was not traced into his recent possession. There was no evidence that it had been in his possession within some three or four months of the murder, so that the inference to be drawn from the fact of the bag being his was of the slenderest possible description. At half-past 10 the same night the two officers went into the prisoner's cell and showed him the bag. The prisoner made a statement. On the morning of the 21st of September the same constable asked the prisoner whether he could give any further 1198 description of the man to whom he sold the bag of tools? The rule in the Metropolitan district, undoubtedly, was that if a prisoner was arrested, he should be brought before a magistrate within 21 hours. In this case, the man was not brought before a magistrate upon the day following his arrest; but upon the next day but one, and in the interval he was upon three separate occasions questioned by a police officer. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary reply? Why, that it was presumably to ask the prisoner questions in order to give him an opportunity of explaining suspicious circumstances. According to his (Mr. Pickersgill's) reading, when eminent Judges had, in the strongest possible terms, condemned the questioning of prisoners by police officers, there had been no such qualification as that which the right hon. Gentleman suggested. Indeed, it was perfectly obvious that if there was such a qualification it would be a very shadowy line, indeed, which would separate the giving of explanations from the putting of questions with the object of implicating the prisoner. Whether or not the object was to implicate the prisoner, he thought that the evidence given on the following day had some bearing upon this point, because, upon the following day, when practically the police had no evidence against the prisoner—except what they had got out of him, by detaining him more than 24 hours, and questioning him—one of the two men who had questioned him said that when he showed the man the bag he became very pale and agitated. Those who were familiar with the Criminal Law knew very well that one of the greatest difficulties experienced in defending a case arose from the fact that a man, however innocent, when he found that something was beginning to tell against him, invented a story, told a lie, and so involved the case in further difficulty. He (Mr. Pickersgill) maintained that it was, in the first place, a most improper thing to show the man the bag and to ask him how he came to be the owner of it; and, secondly, that it was extremely unfair to the prisoner to say that when he was shown the bag he became pale and agitated. Paleness and agitation were quite as consistent with innocence as guilt. The only other evidence against the prisoner was that of two 1199 women of bad character, who swore that he had made to them admissions of the fact that he had actually murdered Mrs. Wright. How had these witnesses been dealt with by the police? One of the two was named Phœbe Peel, and on the 27th August she gave some evidence implicating Glennie. She went to the police station for a different purpose, but eventually she gave some evidence implicating the man. Subsequently she said that she was in drink at the time; but it was only fair to add that this was denied by the Inspector. Now, he came to another aspect of the case to which he thought grave exception was to be taken. Within a week of the time when the woman had given the evidence she went, as she said, to live as servant in the house of the officer who had charge of the case—namely, Sergeant Mackenzie—and she was actually living in the house of this officer when she was examined before the magistrate, and she was also in the same house when the prisoner was tried on the 29th October. It was only right he should add that she, upon being asked to explain how it was that she was living as servant in the house of the officer who had charge of the case, replied, "I was staying there because I was frightened for my life." The second female witness was Mary Dominie. On the 21st of September, when the case was brought before the magistrate, that gentleman said that the evidence was extremely slight. He was in some doubt as to whether he ought to remand the prisoner; but, having regard to the fact that he was charged with a capital felony, he, in the end, did grant a remand. The prisoner was remanded for a week, and between the first hearing of the case and the second Mary Dominie came on the scene. On the 24th September Mary Dominic was arrested, or, at all events, was told by a police officer that she must come with him. That was late at night on the 24th of September. She went with the officer to the police station, and she was then told that she would be kept there all night. She had since stated that she was locked up all night in the library at the police station. Next morning she was conveyed in a cab to the Treasury, and her proof taken down. The woman was asked, in cross-examination, as to whether she 1200 was frightened when she was detained in the library at the police station, and her reply was, "I was frightened; I thought a charge was going to be made against me." He (Mr. Pickersgill) asked the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to give some explanation of what appeared to him to be a most extraordinary proceeding. Why was this woman taken late at night to the police station, detained there all the night immediately before being taken to the Treasury, and her proof as against Henry Glennie taken down? That hardly seemed to him a satisfactory way of eliciting the truth. From a week after the time when her proof was taken down at the Treasury, the woman was in receipt of a guinea a week by express leave of the Treasury. He could not help thinking that a guinea a week was certainly a very unreasonable allowance for a woman in her condition of life. Henry Glennie was eventually acquitted; he was therefore an innocent man. But even if Henry Glennie had been a guilty man, he (Mr. Pickersgill) strongly objected to proceedings of this kind being taken by the police, because, depend upon it, if the stringency of the criminal practice was allowed for one moment to be relaxed in the case of the guilty, it would soon be similarly relaxed in the case of the innocent, and the liberties of all would be in danger. From the evidence that had come before him the case of Glennie did not stand alone; but he was bound to say that he had no experience of a case in which there had been, in so many respects, violations of what he believed to be the sound practice of the Criminal Law. He believed that the police had for some time past been getting into a very lax practice in regard to prosecutions, and in regard to getting up cases for prosecutions. A most unfortunate result had followed from the regretted death of the Legal Adviser to the Commissioner of Police—namely, Mr. Davis. From all he had heard he believed Mr. Davis to have been an extremely sound criminal lawyer, and that while he occupied his position he contrived to keep the Commissioners of Police and their subordinates fairly within the limits of the Criminal Law; but latterly a laxity had grown up. Why, in the famous article in Murray's Magazine, to which so many references had been made, there was a 1201 passage relating to Mr. Davis. Sir Charles Warren stated in that article that since the death of Mr. Davis he (Sir Charles Warren) had been obliged to do the greater part of the work which Mr. Davis did. Whatever his merits might be, Sir Charles Warren was not a trained lawyer, and it seemed a monstrous thing that the duty of advising on legal questions, which was once in hands so able as those of Mr. Davis, should now be discharged by a military man who had no kind of legal training whatever. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would reconsider the answer he gave him some days ago in regard to the case of Glennie. The right hon. Gentleman was once a leading practitioner at the Bar, and he could hardly think the opinion he expressed the other day would be endorsed by members of the Bar of equal experience with himself.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that perhaps it was as well he should give an answer as early as possible to the inquiry made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Cunninghame Graham). He had made the best inquiry he could from the Chief Constable concerned, and he reported to him that not the slightest attempt was made by the police to disperse the people at all at the meeting on Clerkenwell Green or afterwards; that no collision took place between the police and the people, but that at the close of the meeting there was a great rush of persons in a particular direction, and some mounted police were caught in the flank, and their horses were rendered restive. No attempt was made to interfere with the persons who assembled, and no collision took place. The only thing that had occurred was that some mounted policemen followed the crowd until it dispersed. Not the slightest complaint had reached the police of anyone having been injured.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
said, he had spoken, in the first place, upon the testimony in the article in The Daily News; and, secondly, on the testimony of various men who came to see him that morning, complaining of their injuries, but who, he regretted to say, absolutely refused to go into a Police Court.
§ MR. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
said, the hon. Gentleman the Member 1202 for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Pickersgill) thought it would be advisable to remove the control of the Metropolitan Police from the Government and the First Commissioner of Police to the new County Council for London. Supposing it was advisable to place the control of the police in the hands of a popularly elected Body, surely it was wise to wait to see whether the new County Council assimilated the various and difficult duties they had, before handing over to them the very onerous and difficult task of administering the police of the Metropolis. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had been able to cast to the winds the attack made upon him by the hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Cunninghame Graham). It was hardly possible to conceive that an hon. Gentleman could impeach a Minister of State on a statement made in a morning or a halfpenny evening newspaper. Before an hon. Member made the serious charges with regard to the administration of the police which the hon. Gentleman had made, he ought to be careful to verify his facts.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
said, he wished to inform the hon. Member that he did not impeach the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary on the statements of a daily newspaper only, but on events which had happened in London since the 13th of November of last year.
§ MR. WEBSTER
said, that the hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) had posed as the champion of the poor. He would like to ask the hon. Gentleman, whom he might be excused for describing as a demagogue, and anyone else who took the lead in mob oratory, whether the driving away of capital from London conduced to the benefit of the working classes? He was credibly informed that the hotels in the neighbourhood of Trafalgar Square were at the time of the disorderly occurrences less frequented than usually; and also that the tradespeople suffered very considerably in their business. If the tradespeople suffered, the poor men suffered, for the tradespeople found employment for a vast amount of labour. The hon. Member for Hoxton (Mr. James Stuart) asserted that the cost of the police had increased beyond what was warranted 1203 by the increase of population. The hon. Gentleman took the years 1878 and 1888 as the periods of comparison. Now, prior to 1878 there were no dynamite conspiracies. There were not the troubles in Ireland that there were now and there were no occurrences in London such as those of last year. These reasons alone were sufficient to account for the increase in the Metropolitan Police. But there were other reasons. Owing to the increased facilities of transit, the Metropolis was much more frequented by people from the Provinces and various parts of the world than it was in 1878, and this fact necessitated the provision of increased protection. Whilst, however, there had been an increase in the police, there had been a great decrease in crime in the Metropolis—a fact which had not been sufficiently noticed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), in a speech of considerable ability, said that in times past there was good feeling, good temper, and forbearance between the people and the police, but he regretted that that satisfactory condition of affairs had been entirely changed, and changed, as he said, within the last two or three years. Let him (Mr. Webeter) recall to the hon. Gentleman's mind the fact that during the last two years there had probably been the largest concourse in London within the century. During the Jubilee fêtes the streets were crowded with people, but there never was better order kept in the Metropolis than on that occasion; indeed the police were then described as "our heroes in blue." Speaking of demonstrations in London, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bradlaugh) said "until now public demonstrations in London had been orderly, but never till recently attended with ebullitions of feeling." Did the hon. Member recollect that in 1886 there was an ebullition of feeling? It was then that the disorderly scenes in London took place. Did he wish those scenes to be enacted again in the London streets? The hon. Member for West St. Pancras said that during the last two or three years the Police Force had been militarized, that there had been a systematic attempt to separate the police from the people. The hon. Member added that the feeling between the people and the police was 1204 very bad at the present time. He (Mr. Webster) contradicted that statement. He knew that, as a matter of fact, in St. Pancras, a portion of which district the hon. Gentleman represented, the feeling between the police and the people was never better than it was at the present time. As to the militarization of the police, let him say that the people of London did not care how or by whom the police were governed; what they wanted was a Police Force which would protect life and property within the Metropolis, and not be deterred from the discharge of their duties by the attacks made upon them by a body of demagogues.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, he did not think that either the Members of the Government or hon. Gentlemen opposite had sufficiently appreciated the point the Opposition were endeavouring to make, which was, that recently the Police Force had come to entertain the notion that they were sent for the defence of a particular class, and a particular set of interests, as against the large masses of population in the Metropolis. In the section of the Police Code relating to meetings, it was set forth—That the police are the servants of the public at large, not of any political Party, or of the advocates of any political opinion. Whatever the individual views of the police officers may be, they must not give expression to them, either on duty or off duty, or join in any act in furtherance of them so long as they remain in the public service, works of benevolence always excepted.How far was that rule acted upon at the present time? He held in his hand the Report of the Superintendent of the A Division of the Southern District. The Report opened with a most effusive and eloquent description of the popular enthusiasm on the occasion of the celebration of Her Majesty's Jubilee. The sentiments might be very proper ones to express in the right place, but he did not think the report of an official of police was the right place. They were told in the Report how—The ceremonial itself, apart from the grand display in the public streets, was a sight never to be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to witness it. The effect when Her Majesty, surrounded by various Foreign Princes and the Princes of Her House, took Her seat on the dais, was such that words could scarcely convey, and the whole surrounding was one of unsurpassed magnificence.1205 What had that to do with the administration of the police? He could not help thinking it was introduced for a purpose, for the next paragraph proceeded, in a patronising sort of way, to praise the good behaviour of the masses of the London populace on that great occasion. The Report went on to refer to the doings in Trafalgar Square—and here opinions were expressed that no one in the Police Force bad any right whatever to express; the Commissioner of Police ought not to have allowed them to appear. After speaking of what led to the assembling of the unemployed in Trafalgar Square, the officer went on to say, that when the police attempted, in the interest of law and order, to put an end to what was quickly becoming a scandal, they were assailed on all sides. Then the writer proceeded—It is a great defect of the law of this country, in my opinion, that persons who prompt these crowds to disorder cannot be brought to justice and severely dealt with. My own view of this matter is that the genuine working man in distress would shrink from such exhibitions as London has had exposed to it for some time past. I think a remedy for the evils of Trafalgar Square would be found in its conversion into a garden. Whatever its capacity and fitness for public meetings when first formed, the day for such purposes has clearly gone by.Was that in conformity with the rule so well laid down in the Police Code? The policeman distinctly gave expression to his own personal opinions, which were of a party character, and advocated the views of a particular section of society. But the Commissioner of Police seemed to have taken it so much as a matter of course that he made no attempt to cut down the report, or to refer it back to the officer to be corrected. The Committee would agree with him that there was good ground for suggesting that the police had recently been converted into an engine, not for serving the public, but for maintaining the particular views held by a section of society. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had a perfect right to give his opinion as to what should be done in Trafalgar Square, but he could not help regretting that, in the course of his speech last night, the right hon. Gentleman offered, unconsciously of course, an incitement to violence and disturbance such as had rarely been offered by any right hon. Gentleman in the Home 1206 Secretary's responsible position. Did the right hon. Gentleman not know that the question of Trafalgar Square was one of the sorest topics that could possibly be mentioned in the Metropolis? Did he not know that for 12 months past hon. Members of the House had had the very greatest difficulty in persuading, not the mob, not mere agitators or rioters, but respectable men, to quietly and peaceably await the decision of the Courts of Law? These men had insisted, again and again, at meetings of their own, that they would not stand it, that Englishmen were not to be trampled on in the way they had been during the past year. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had not sufficiently appreciated the tone of feeling that had prevailed amongst the people of the Metropolis, or he would never have spoken of Trafalgar Square being restored to what he called its ancient use. Its ancient use! As though Trafalgar Square had never been used for public meetings before the 13th of November in last year. It was well known that over and over again, for almost a generation past, Trafalgar Square had been used for public meetings; in fact, those who formed the Square seemed to have intended to have invited public meetings. Trafalgar Square was the forum of the Metropolis; there was no place like it for the purpose of public meetings in the United Kingdom. Now the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, because people had been batoned out of the Square by violence, and as he and his hon. Friends believed, by illegal violence, wanted to assure the Committee that the people had surrendered their position and would contend no more. But he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he was very much mistaken, and he only hoped that the language of the right hon. Gentleman would not be regarded as a taunt which would tempt the people to any violence in the assertion of their rights. Throughout this controversy, not only on the part of the Police, but on the part of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, there seemed to be a continuous underlying assumption that it was only what is called a mob that wished to hold meetings in Trafalgar Square. That was a groundless assumption. Reference had been made that afternoon to what had taken place in the attack on the procession 1207 in Broad Street, Holborn. He had been assured by a venerable man, whose life had been one of disinterested devotion to the cause of the people around him, that he had accompanied the band, that he had no idea there would be any scenes of violence, that the people felt it their duty to assert their right to meet in Trafalgar Square by marching as far as they could, and until they were met by police opposition. The people expected there would have been a moment in which they could have held parley with the police; if they could have spoken to the officer in command, and received an answer that they were not allowed to proceed further, they would have turned aside and returned whence they came. But nothing was said; the police fell upon these men, broke their instruments, and tried to break their heads as well. That was a scene which he could not but think was a disgrace to the Metropolis, and far worse than the riot which extended from Trafalgar Square to Audley Street and had resulted in the plunder of property, which was much to be lamented, and which he believed could have been stopped by the exercise of a little common sense on the part of the authorities. If that disturbance was to be lamented, much more so was it that, in a country boasting of Constitutional freedom, men were treated as mere slaves, and bludgeoned because they dared to assert their right of public meeting. He very much regretted the tone of the Ministry in assuming that this question was at an end. But the matter was not to be decided by the shopkeepers and hotel-keepers of Charing Cross, whose interests were alone considered by Gentlemen like the hon. Member for East St. Pancras. If the hotel-keepers or shopkeepers did not for a day or two get so much custom as commonly, was that a sufficient reason for suppressing this right of meeting in Trafalgar Square? He believed that people took shops in the neighbourhood on account of the great advantages offered there, and that being so, they must take the rough with the smooth; at any rate, the question was not one which would be settled by the West End aristocrats, but would have to be settled in the long run by the millions of the East End of London. It was, of course, possible that by pauperising charity 1208 and by casting the seeds of dissension among these people the matter might be postponed, but sooner or later they would understand the true principle of union, and assert their right to meet in Trafalgar Square, and make it once more the forum of the Metropolis.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, he must now make an appeal to the Committee. The debate had lasted for some time, and the subject was one which fully justified the prolonged and interesting discussion which had taken place; but he trusted hon. Members would see the importance of curtailing the observations they had to make so as to allow Progress to be made.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he agreed that Progress ought to be made, but hon. Gentlemen on those Benches wanted Progress by getting an explanation from the Treasury Bench. The right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee that he was perfectly willing that all these rights should be looked into. He had, on one occasion, asked the hon. Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Cunningham Graham) why he was so foolish as to go to Trafalgar Square and get his head broken, and his reply was, that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had said that he was perfectly willing that political meetings should be held there. After that his hon. Friend went to Trafalgar Square and had his head broken by a police constable. He (Dr. Clark) wanted to get at the claim made by the Government. Did they claim for themselves the power to prohibit meetings in Trafalgar Square? He admitted that some meetings were of a class which could not be desirable on any grounds; for instance, he did not think that any class had a right to meet day by day at a particular place and put an end to trade or traffic. He had had the arrangement of meetings during 20 years in Trafalgar Square, and even before the Mansion House, Bank of England, and the Royal Exchange. But these meetings were held on Saturday afternoon and on Sundays when nobody could be prejudiced by them. He remembered a former agitation, when they were told that they might meet in Trafalgar Square, but could not meet in Hyde Park. The meeting was held in Hyde Park, and he 1209 thought the right of meeting in Trafalgar Square would be as successfully asserted. If the Judges decided against the claim they could then come down to that House and get the law changed, and they wanted the Government to state a case in order that the question might be tried. He frankly admitted that there was a class in London which might be occasionally dangerous. There was the class called the friends of labour, who, when there was work, were quiet, but were the cause of trouble when trade was dull. He did not say that Trafalgar Square was a proper place for holding these meetings in; but, as a medical man, he would tell the right hon. Gentleman that if he drove these popular eruptions inwards there would be greater damage done under the surface. They had had a reply from the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary with regard to the attack made by the police on a procession in Holborn, and they would hereafter find whether it was not like many other official explanations, the very reverse of the truth. The right hon. Gentleman had not done what he had promised—that was to say, to make an investigation into the cases brought before him by the Members of that House. He (Dr. Clark) had gone to Trafalgar Square to look on, and saw his hon. Friend assaulted by the police. He saw him driven off the Square; he saw the wheel of a cab pass over his foot; and he saw an ex-Member of the House caught hold of by a Sergeant of Police—whose number he had given to the right hon. Gentleman—and rushed on in the midst of the confusion; and he had also seen a minister of the Church of England treated in the same fashion. He asserted that these police constables had no more right to assault the people than a robber had to pick a pocket, and that if they prosecuted one they ought also to prosecute the other. He thought the London police had been on good terms with the London people, and that many of them had done what they could to oblige the people; but, undoubtedly, since there had been this political work to do their conduct had been the reverse. He contended that every one of the policemen engaged in this work ought at once to be dismissed from the Force. Since the events he 1210 referred to, there had been a feeling of estrangement between the police and the moderate Radicals. He thought that feelings of that kind ought not to exist, and that they ought to be on friendly terms with the police, and be always ready to support them in doing their duty; but if the police were to be used for political purposes, and they were to have a recurrence of what had taken place in the past, the relations would undoubtedly be changed. It was very unfortunate for London that the Police Force was not organized like that of all other towns in the world, and he hoped, before long, that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would be no more responsible for the police of London than he was for the Police Forces of Manchester, Leeds, or any other part of the country.
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
said, that the Committee had a perfect right to complain that this question had not been thoroughly debated a few months ago; and he submitted to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that if an attempt were made to prevent those interested giving expression to their sentiments on the subject, it would crop up again on other occasions. He had the honour to represent a portion of the Metropolis in which there resided one of the most sober, industrious, and law-abiding body of citizens to be found either at the West End of London or in any part of the United Kingdom. They were not a rabble or a disorganized mob; but were thoroughly well drilled and organized. In that part of London were the best clubs among the working men that could be found in the civilized world. There were nearly 4,000 members belonging to two clubs in the district, and they organized themselves last year to take part in what they considered a useful and patriotic demonstration, and honestly believed that they had a right to meet in Trafalgar Square, especially as that right had been exercised for a long series of years without any interference on the part of any Government. They had a right to resort to that course. The hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) was quite correct in saying that 20 years ago, when the question of the right of the people to meet in Hyde Park was challenged 1211 by the Government of the Day, the people were distinctly told by those then in authority, and who were responsible for law and order in London, that they had no right to meet in Hyde Park, but were at liberty to do so in Trafalgar Square, and they were encouraged by the Government to take that course. He had it on the best authority, and there were plenty of witnesses to prove that the police provoked the disturbance on the 20th of November last, and that so anxious were the people to prevent collision with the police, that they had even left their walking sticks at home, and were going through Holborn with the intention of proceeding to Hyde Park, where even the Government admitted they had a right to assemble. They were, however, batoned by the police in all directions; heads were broken and clothes were torn and men so brutally treated that they had to be maintained for several weeks by their clubs in consequence of being unable to follow their occupations. These were occasions on which people ought to manifest indignation at the conduct of the police, and at the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary who supported them. It was a mystery why the Government, over and over again, declined to appoint a Commission to inquire into the alleged grievances of the people of London, such as those which took place on the occasion he referred to. He should like to tell hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were continually sneering at demagogues, that if they only knew the secret history of the agitation which took place 20 years ago, they would understand how much the public were indebted to the men now sneered at for having saved the Metropolis from civil war and bloodshed. He hoped the Government would give the Committee some guarantee that what they now complained of should not occur again. He was desirous to test the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in saying that he was as anxious as they were to preserve the rights and liberties of the people of the Metropolis. It was quite clear that, from time to time, occasion would arise when people must meet together to express their opinions in regard to the conduct of the present and future Governments. That would always be the case under a Constitutional Go- 1212 vernment, and it was necessary that the people should have places within their reach where they could freely express their opinions. He had listened attentively to the right hon. Gentleman, in the hope that he would tell the Committee where the places were situated in which the people could assemble; he (Mr. Cremer) knew the Metropolis extremely well, and was quite unable to understand where these vacant spaces were. There was, at the East End, Victoria Park, and in the South-West, Battersea Park, and Hyde Park in the West; but in the North or centre of London, there were absolutely no places where the people might assemble. It was difficult for the people of the extreme East to go to the extreme West, which amounted almost to a day's journey. He differed from the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) when he said that Trafalgar Square was an excellent place for assembling. It might have been so formerly, but those who had spoken in it, and listened to speeches there, would know how hard it was, owing to the traffic in the streets, to address a large gathering upon that spot. But there was another, an alternative site, and that was the Horse Guards' Parade, which was a large space with no traffic, and crossed by very few people; and it would be a great convenience to the masses if this parade, which belonged to the people, and was maintained out of a grant made annually by that House, were made available for purposes of public meetings under similar regulations which existed for the holding of meetings in Hyde Park. He believed that if this concession were made, the soreness which now existed among the people of London in regard to the conduct of the police and the Government, would diminish, and that peace and order would be re-established in the Metropolis. He hoped that before the debate was concluded the Home Secretary would state the views of the Government concerning the holding of meetings on the alternative site which he (Mr. Cremer) had indicated.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
said, he wished to say a few words on this important subject, as a Metropolitan Member representing a constituency containing a large number of working men, and also as occupying a residence in close proximity to 1213 Trafalgar Square. He was very much pained to hear the remarks of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton), who stated that the people of the East End of London were determined that the people of the West End should not live in quiet ["No, no!"]. Yes, he had himself attended several meetings in Trafalgar Square, and he could confirm the statements made by police officers that the speeches delivered at them were pernicious in every respect, both from a political and social point of view. One of the speakers whom he had heard proposed that the mob should go down to the House of Commons and turn out the Members. He thought that those who lived in the West End had as much right to go about their ordinary business without molestation as any other class; and that Members who did not represent Metropolitan constituencies should not come down and tell them that the people would prevent them doing what they had a perfect right to do. He was not an admirer of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, and never had been; but, at the same time, he thought that the greatest gratitude was due to those who, in a perilous time, had saved London from riot. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members opposite that he had defended the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) on the very regrettable occasion which showed London the danger in which it stood, so that he did not speak from a Party view; but he could not but think that the resignation of Sir Charles Warren had been due to want of tact on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. There was no doubt that, as between the Head of the Home Office and the Chief Commissioner of Police, it was desirable that there should be on both sides the greatest amount of forbearance.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, the point at issue was whether the police or the Government had the right to act illegally in connection with Trafalgar Square. He was not going to say a word against Sir Charles Warren to which exception could be taken; he had many good qualities—amongst others he was a total abstainer—but a man more unfitted for the post of Chief Commissioner of Police he could not imagine. As to the feeling 1214 between the Police Force and Sir Charles Warren, he believed that the police were not contented, that they considered they were not treated as they ought to have been, because fines and punishment were inflicted upon them for venial offences, and that, in fact, a military system was being introduced into the Service. The Report stated that barracks were set up in which the police were kept separate from civilians, and practically treated as soldiers, subject to all the orders of barrack life. But, as between the police and the people, there had grown up a strong feeling of irritation, which he considered unavoidable in the present circumstances, when policemen were allowed to bludgeon citizens engaged in the exercise of their rights. He had 10 years' experience of residence in London; and, although the hon. and gallant Member for Hammersmith (General Goldsworthy) taunted him and others with not being Metropolitan Members, and having no right to speak on this question, he had attended, probably, more meetings in that time than all hon. Members opposite together had attended; and he could say that the meetings which had been brutally dispersed were not those of a dangerous class, but were composed of respectable workmen and artizans living in different parts of the Metropolis. Why did not the Government, who talked of protecting life and property, do something to put down crime in London, whore there were more cases of crime undetected than occurred in any other part of Her Majesty's dominions? They talked of putting down crime in Ireland; why did not the Government pass a Coercion Act for London, and introduce a measure to find out who had committed the Whitechapel murders? They had to complain not so much of police action, as the perfidy of the Home Secretary's Department. The right hon. Gentleman had given a distinct pledge, before the 13th of November last, that bonâ fide political meetings, under responsible authorities, should be permitted in Trafalgar Square.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, in that case he was sorry the replies of the right hon. Gentleman to deputations were not more accurately reported.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, he did not, of course, dispute the right hon. Gentleman's statement. They complained that the Government had acted in a distinctly illegal and lawless manner in prohibiting meetings on insufficient evidence, and in permitting the proclamations of Sir Charles Warren, who, in the most arrogant fashion, prohibited all meetings in Trafalgar Square until it was his sweet pleasure that they should be renewed. If time permitted, he could quote chapter and verse from the Law Reports to show that there was no power in the police or in Her Majesty's Government to issue any such proclamations. With reference to the attack by the police on a few men near the Marble Arch, he said that the Government had not acted up to their professions, and that in no single case had they permitted meetings to be held without the interference of the police. In this case a small band of Socialists had been holding a meeting in Hyde Park, and were proceeding in an orderly manner, were set upon by the police, who tore away from them a large flag, and mauled and dispersed them. There was no more justification for that than for dispersing a Jubilee procession, or the Lord Mayor's show, with all its tomfoolery. So long as this continued, and so long as the right hon. Gentleman would not promise that such scenes should not occur in future, they could only reiterate their firm opinion that the Government were deliberately striking a blow at freedom of speech and the right of public meeting in the country.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, there was one rule which policemen and detectives ought scrupulously to adhere to in all criminal cases—they ought never to approach any workman in his employment, because there was nothing which working men were more sensitive upon than to have a policeman making inquiries about him at his employers'. In the case to which he referred, an Inspector of Police wrote a letter from the police station at Stoke Newington to the employer, to say:—I will meet your man at the Chief Engineer's Office at 12 o'clock to-morrow (Saturday), and I ask you kindly to arrange for him to meet me there.This was an instance of what these men 1216 objected to, because they feared they might lose their employment if they became mixed up in police cases. He would suggest that it would be wise in the interests of the discovery of the truth, and in order to procure the friendly and hearty co-operation of witnesses in that discovery, for the members of the Detective Forces to take care that they did not wound the proper sensitiveness of the working classes on this point. With regard to obstructing the passage through the streets: Sir Charles Warren had now resigned, and he had no personal quarrel with him upon the subject, but on a former Lord Mayor's Day he discovered that the street from Westminster to the Temple was blocked at 11 o'clock in the morning, the time when he and a lady were passing down the Embankment; he called the attention of Sir Charles Warren to the circumstance, and the inconvenience which resulted from the street being closed five hours before the show passed that way, and he had received no satisfactory information.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
said, he had not heard a word in reply to the statement he had made to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he had so often made an explanation on the subject, that he had not deemed it necessary to rise again. With regard to the case of Glennie, it was perfectly clear that no policeman ought to put questions to a prisoner in order to elicit a proof of his guilt. On the other hand the hon. Member must feel that it would be a gross injustice to a merely suspected person in custody not to give him an opportunity of saying what might procure his release. With reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member who last spoke (Mr. Hunter), he agreed that there was nothing more annoying or hard to working men than that members of the Detective Force should approach these men when engaged in their employments.
§ MR. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
said, the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had brought under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the cases of several men who, as they said, had been abused by the police. He (Mr. Nolan) had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that if these 1217 men were abused by the police, they had the right of action at law against the individuals, and that they should do this, or that the hon. Member for Northampton should take up their case. He had been under the impression that if a case of this kind arose, and the people concerned were not in a position to bring an action against the police, it would be the duty of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to make inquiry into the matter. He thought it would be the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to do this, and if the police could not give a satisfactory account of the injuries inflicted on prisoners while in custody, that then the policemen ought to be sent about their business.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 91; Noes 207: Majority 116.—(Div. List, No. 288.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ And, it being after half-past Five of the clock, the Chairman rose to interrupt the Business:—
§ Whereupon Mr. William Henry Smith rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question he now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 198; Noes 89: Majority 109:—(Div. List, No. 289.)
§ Original Question put accordingly.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 198; Noes 67: Majority 131.—(Div. List, No. 290.)
§ Whereupon the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.