HC Deb 13 June 1890 vol 345 cc845-8
MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the points in which difference of opinion between himself and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has led to the resignation of the latter?

MR. P1CKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

Before the right hon. Gentle man answers that question, perhaps he will state whether it is true that for the office of Assistant Commissioner, vacated by the death of Colonel Pearson, Mr. Monro submitted the name of Chief Con stable Howard, a police officer of great experience, and that the right hon. gentleman nominated his own private secretary, Mr. Ruggles Brise, who has had no police, military, or legal experience at all.


With the permission of the House I will read the Commissioner's letter— Secretary of State. The result of our interview yesterday has been to convince me that I can no longer with propriety continue to hold the appointment of Commissioner of Police. The views which I entertain as to the justice and reasonableness of the claims of the Metropolitan Police in connection with superannuation being unfortunately on vital points diametrically opposed to those of the Secretary of State, I cannot for reasons given in my Memorandum of the 5th inst., accept the Pill as adequately meeting such just and reasonable claims. It is, therefore, unfair both to the Government and to myself that I should be placed in the position of having to support a Bill with reference to which I find myself in opposition to the views of the Secretary of State, and in sympathy with what I conceive to be the just claims of the members of the Metropolitan Police Force. For many months I have found myself surrounded with difficulties in attempting to procure recognition of what seem to me to be the fair requirements and demands of police service in connection with other important matters. My views as to police administration, unfortunately, differ in many important respects from those held by the Secretary of State, and I have received clear indications that the duties of the successor of Colonel Pearson are to be in trusted to a gentleman who, however estimable personally, has no police, military, or legal training. I have no wish whatever to trench on the authority and prerogative of the Secretary of State, and, under such circumstances, I feel it only right to place my resignation of the appointment which I have the honour to hold in your hands. I hereby do so, and shall be ready at once to make over charge to any officer who, on my resignation being accepted, may be appointed to succeed me. June 10. J. MONRO. With regard to the question of patronage, I informed Mr. Monro that I could not regard that as a ground for his resignation, inasmuch as I had formed no decision on the subject, and had expressed none. As to differences of view in regard to police administration, I told him. I should hope those were capable of being reasonably adjusted. But, looking at the attitude which Mr. Monro considered he was bound to take up with regard to my views on the subject of superannuation, and at the whole tenour of the letter I have read, I felt I had no alter native but to accept his resignation. The Government Superannuation Bill will be in the hands of Members in a few days, and it will be for the House to judge of the proposals it contains. It will be found to make what the Government consider reasonable, and even liberal, provision for the Metropolitan as well as for the provincial police. It goes as far as any former proposed legislation; and, in particular, it will give to the Metropolitan Police a right to pension after 25 years' service, irrespective of age, and without medical certificate. I regret extremely that the Commissioner should' have considered our proposals inadequate; but we have felt that the interests of ratepayers and the general pension arrangements of the Public Service had to be considered as well as the desires of the police. In answer to the question of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green, I have to inform him that I have not rejected the name of Chief Constable Howard. On the contrary, I propose to appoint him to the post.


Will the right hon. Gentleman lay upon the Table the Memorandum referred to before the discussion of the Bill comes on?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, I wish to say that this is a matter of such grave importance that I would ask him whether he will give an early opportunity to the House of having this statement before us that we may discuss it. I would venture to suggest that the proper course to take in the matter would be to fix a day for taking the Police Vote in Committee of Supply. There is still much Supply to be taken, and if the Police Vote were placed first, there would be an opportunity afforded for the statement, which I am sure the Government is as desirous to make as the House is to receive. I only venture to make that suggestion on account of the extreme gravity of the differences of opinion between the Home Secretary and Scotland Yard.


The suggestion seems to me eminently reasonable, and I hope that the First Lord of the Treasury will be able to accept it and to fix an early date for the discussion of this subject.


There is another question which I forgot to ask. The other night, when we were discussing the question of police superannuation, I understood, from a remark of the President of the Local Government Board, that the Police Superannuation Bill would be in the hands of the House before we came to the discussion of Clause 4 of the Local Taxation Bill.


I have every reason to hope that the Police Superannuation Bill will be circulated by Monday. With regard to the Memorandum mentioned by the hon. Member (Mr. J. Stuart), it contains comments and suggestions of alterations in the clauses of the Bill which the Commissioner had confidentially to communicate, and I do not, therefore, think that the document is one which could properly be laid on the Table of the House.


May I ask whether, in order to avoid these frequent changes in the office of Chief Commissioner, and the differences of opinion which cannot conduce to the safety of the Metropolis, the right hon. Gentleman will advise Her Majesty's Government as to the expediency of placing the management of the police in the hands of the London County Council?


Differences of opinion would be more likely to arise if the London County Council had the control of the Metropolitan Police.


That has nothing to do with my question. I did not ask whether the London County Council would be more likely to agree with the Chief Commissioner than the Secretary of State, but whether, with a view to securing the safety of the Metropolis, he will consider the propriety of placing the management of the police in the hands of the London County Council?