§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [3rd May], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ MR. E. H. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
, continuing his speech, which was interrupted by the operation of the 12 o'clock Rule on 3rd May, said he had had an opportunity since he last spoke of reading the speech of the Under Secretary for the Home Department in introducing the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the expenses entailed by the Bill would be about £6,400. "But they ought to know the basis upon which this sum had been estimated, and the specific items of which it was composed. With regard to the salaries of the clerks in the police-courts, he found that the total amount was about £19,000 per annum. They ought to have been informed by what percentage it was intended to increase these salaries, he had been told, in answer to a question, that it was intended to increase the salary of the chief clerk by.£100, and that of the second clerk by £50; but there was no information with regard to the increase in the salaries of the remainder of the clerks. With regard to the increase in the salary of the 206 chief clerk he could not think that that estimate had been fairly made. It must be remembered that the chief clerks in the Metropolitan police-courts were gentlemen of very great and, in many cases, unique experience; and he did not think that the maximum of £600 now proposed was adequate for such an office. Inevitably these clerks would compare their salaries with those received by clerks to Justices in the several Petty Sessional Divisions in the Metropolis, and they would find that their salaries were very much lower, and would bring pressure at the Home Office to increase the maximum very much beyond the limit now contemplated. As to the proposed increased borrowing powers, they had been informed that the money was to be spent in two directions—in enfranchising the leasehold tenures of the building and also on erecting further buildings. But surely they ought to have been informed what proportion of the money was to be spent in the one direction and what in the other. Although that information had not been given, they knew that a very large expenditure on bricks and mortar was contemplated. The House was left in the dark so far as specific information was concerned, but they knew that the Bill proposed to remove two statutory bars now existing upon expenditure. With regard to the promise that £7,000 should be paid annually by the Treasury in respect of services rendered by the police to the Houses of Parliament, he thanked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for recognising that there should be an authoritative record of this engagement. It appeared to him, however, that that record should be made before and not after the Bill passed. There was one further item which ought to be included in the record. He referred to the expenditure upon the Extradition Court at Bow Street. That court was not a Metropolitan but a National institution, and clearly the Exchequer and not the ratepayers should pay for it. He understood the justice of this claim was admitted, but they ought to know in black and white what contribution was to be made by the Treasury in respect of the expenses of that court. He appealed to the Members for Richmond, Croydon, West Ham and other parts of the home counties which were included within the Metropolitan police district, 207 to join in opposing the Bill. These districts would have to meet a double expense, first for their own Petty Sessional Courts, find, secondly, the cost of the Metropolitan police-courts, in which they had no interest as ratepayers. He could not understand what reasons could be alleged for precipitate haste in passing this Bill. The circumstances were different from what they were when the late Government brought forward a similar Bill. This question, with others, had since been referred to a Commission, and it seemed scarcely respectful to the Royal Commission for the House to forestall its decision by transferring these charges from the Treasury to the Metropolitan ratepayers. It might be said that it was absolutely necessary that the salaries of the clerks should be raised, and that new buildings should be erected. Well, if the Government would limit the Bill to these two purposes, without altering the present incidence, he, for one, would not oppose it. But in its present shape, he must offer it the most determined opposition. He moved to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ *MR. CHARLES HARRISON (Plymouth)
seconded the Amendment. He said the first proposal of the Bill was to transfer the staff of the London police-courts, other than magistrates, from the Consolidated Fund to the Metropolitan Police Fund.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. JEESE COLLINGS,) Birmingham, Bordesley
said that the hon. Member was under a misapprehension. The Bill transferred nothing from the Consolidated Fund to the Police Fund. It did not interfere with any payment made out of the Consolidated Fund.
§ *MR. HARRISON
observed that that might be the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, but the language of the Bill would not carry it out. At all events, the cost of the police-courts staff, chief clerks and others, and their superannuation would, by the Bill, be thrown on the Metropolitan Local Police Fund, and the general taxpayer would be relieved. The-second object of the Bill was to transfer the police-court buildings and their maintenance, now supported by funds voted by Parliament, from the Office of 208 Works to the Receiver General, which would throw the expenses of these courts upon the Metropolis Police Fund. The only argument which had been urged in support of that proposal was that the Metropolitan police area was really the Municipal area for the Metropolis. But it was no such thing; it was an Imperial area, and the richest part of it, the City of London, with its 4½ millions of rateable property, contributed nothing towards the Metropolitan police. While the richest part of the Metropolis was taken out of the police area, a large area outside, extending some 15 or 20 miles round about London, was included in it. This extension was made because it was from the first intended to form an Imperial area for rating and policing. It included four corporations or towns, the whole of Middlesex, and parts of four other counties, or 668 square miles in all. There seemed to him to be no reason why any portion of this Imperial expenditure, whether for the police-court staffs or for buildings, should be thrown upon the Metropolitan, ratepayers. So Imperial was the police force that its duties were not confined to the area which he had described. It was an area of criminal assize for a vast population beyond that of the mere Metropolis, and its police were employed at Her Majesty's dockyards at Devonport, Plymouth, Sheerness, and other places. The force was also employed at Imperial functions, and to protect the House of Commons. That being the state of the case, why should the buildings required for currying on what was Imperial administration be thrown upon the local fund instead of being defrayed out of sums voted by Parliament? There was no intention to make any change in regard to the payment of the Metropolitan police magistrates, who would still be paid out of funds voted by Parliament. Why then should the staff of clerks be treated separately, and why should the cost of the buildings and the expenses be thrown upon the Police Fund, which is contributed by ratepayers? In 1839, when the Receiver was appointed, the ratepayers had to provide the court buildings, but as they came to be used more and more for Imperial purposes an Act was passed in 1871 transferring them from the Receiver General of Police and from local rate to funds contributed by 209 the Imperial taxpayer. This Bill proposed to undo the arrangements made in 1871, and to throw the cost of the courts back again upon local funds. It was suggested that the Government would take care that no expense should be thrown upon, the ratepayers, but would they assent to a provision to secure the ratepayers against extra burdens? When the force was first established in 1829 it was to be supported by a rate not exceeding 8d. in the pound. In 1868 the sum was increased to 9d., the Government contributing 4d. Upon the faith of the understanding as to the rate, leases had been granted and liabilities assumed; but if the proposal of the government were carried the effect would he to enlarge the expenses, to alter the conditions of contracts, and to do away with the conditions which limited the ratepayers' liability to a rate not exceeding 9d. in the pound. In 1801 and in 1890, there being till then no power to provide pensions, Parliament imposed an additional liability on the locality, and something like £255,000 per annum was now paid for pensions which had been removed from the control of Parliament. The, pensions were not subject to any control either by the ratepayers or by Parliament. The matter was in the hands of the Home Secretary and the Receiver General. A subordinate Imperial officer, uncontrolled by Parliament, spent about £1,447,000 per annum. In this case representation and taxation were absolutely divorced. No control was exercised over the Fund, and what had been the result? Why, the Receiver General had always levied up to the full amount of the 9d. rate, and the levy had been far in excess of the expenditure. The excess during the past 20 years had amounted to £245,000. It was suggested that it had been necessary to raise this extra amount to provide a working balance for the fund, but if the fund contributed by ratepayers were worked as other and with other funds, similarly administered, there was no necessity why one set of ratepayers of years past should provide this large sum. If the Police Fund were under the control of the ratepayers there would not be that excess. The Receiver General was an official over whom neither that House nor the ratepayers had any control, and the result was that his administration had been extravagant. The present Bill would lead 210 to further uncontrolled extravagance. The cost of the police was 4s. 7.36d. per inhabitant, or on rateable value 8.33d. In Birmingham the cost was only 2s. 7d. per inhabitant, or 6.76d. on rateable value. He maintained that if any transfer of business were to be effected it ought not to be effected as proposed by this Bill. He urged that the expenses of the police-courts ought not to be thrown on local funds, that the Act of 1871, under which the buildings were transferred to the Commissioners of Works, ought not to be repealed, and that the staffs, as well as the magistrates, ought to be paid out of Imperial funds. There was no justification for burdening the ratepayers in what was really an Imperial area with the whole cost of the administration of public justice.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said that this Bill was of great concern to the Metropolis, not only within the four walls of the Bill itself, but also because it was part of a large and general question. He did not refer to the question of the control of the police, though he thought that might fairly be raised. But he wished to look on this Bill from a financial point of view. London had a considerable number of items on both sides of the account with the Treasury. On the one side were the contributions to London in aid of the rates, which were derived through various channels, and on the other side there were the expenses which London had to incur, a considerable portion of which were undoubtedly incurred for Imperial purposes. The right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill admitted that there were several charges falling upon London, which he reckoned at £7,000 a year, which would not fall on London but for her Imperial situation. He did not admit that the right hon. Gentleman had any right to take a particular item in police expenditure and set it against what was proposed to be put on London by this Bill. He did not think it was a reasonable or proper way of proceeding to isolate individual items on the one side or the other of the account, and say these ought to be borne by London. He contended that if the present situation in London were to be altered by this Bill, it ought to be shown that the contribution in aid of local rates in London was too large by the amount with which the Bill dealt. 211 What, then, was the situation in London? The main grievance lay in a most important point. The amount of the licence duties contributed under the Act of 1888, which is given back to London, was only 13 per cent, of the whole, the remaining 87 per cent, going to the rest of the country. If London's share were calculated by population, a much larger proportion than that would be due, and if it went by rateable value, then the rateable value of London was one-fifth of the whole rateable value of the country, which would make her share 20 per cent. As a matter of fact London received 21 per cent, of the grant from the probate duties. That being the recognised proportion, the amount received from the licence duties put London at a very great disadvantage indeed—a disadvantage of between £200,000 and £300,000 a year. That grievance had been more or less recognised by the occupants of the Front Bench on both sides of the House. He passed from that point to other and larger grievances in connection with contributions to local rates. Recent legislation had put London at a greater disadvantage still. There was the Agricultural Rating Act. What were the contributions that individuals living in London had to make to that. Quite apart from the question whether it was a good or a bad Act, it placed London at a great disadvantage so far as contributions to local purposes were concerned. Then, there was the Voluntary Schools Bill. The effect of that Bill would be again to put London at a very serious disadvantage, and the method in which the Government had chosen to deal with School Boards, the balance between London and the rest of the country had been still more altered. Having treated London in that way the Government now came forward with their Bill to deprive London of another advantage. On the other hand, what was it proposed to do for London? It was proposed to give London a sum of £7,000 a year, whereas the Bill made it absolutely incumbent on London to pay the expenses to which it referred. He did not admit that £7,000 was anything like enough, and it would depend upon the Vote of the House of Commons and would be uncertain. The right hon. Gentleman dwelt on the anomaly of London police courts being held on leasehold terms; one of the objects of the Bill 212 was to secure the purchase of the freehold, and a large sum of money would undoubtedly have to be spent for that purpose. Well, they were going to throw all this expense upon them and that was most inadequately met by £7,000 a year. The Bill came to a large sum indeed—he believed 10 or 12 thousand a year—and that would not cover it. They proposed to give them £7,000 for the service rendered by the police. Why was it not given long before now? They were paying for the services of the police in that House and elsewhere, and that Bill did not give them in the least adequate return. In other words, they would be losers without gaining anything in return. This Bill, in fact, created an additional charge on London rates. Formerly the expenditure on the police was limited to a 9d. rate, the Government paying in proportion. He thought that the House ought to know how this 9d. rate stood. He showed from figures which he quoted that the expenditure on the police was rising higher in proportion than the property that they had to protect. Then there was another point, and that was the confusion of areas that the present system, brought about. The hon. Member seemed to think that this Bill affected only the Metropolis, but that was a mistake, and a new grievance was about to be started between London and the outside authorities. Some rearrangement would be unavoidable. These questions were always coming up in connection with London finance, and he was afraid that they were making confusion worse confounded.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
thought there was a good deal of truth in what was said by the hon. Member. London was willing to pay its charges in connection with the police courts as in all other matters. ["Hear, hear !"] There might be a question raised as to Bow Street, which was, however, a separate matter. He supported the Bill on the understanding that it was to be the beginning of the readjusting of affairs as to London, which he regarded as unfairly treated in comparison with other parts of the country. London was receiving less than other parts of what was going. He referred to the Beer Bill and the Voluntary Schools Bill as examples to show that London was getting less than it ought. No doubt these were 213 matters which might be laughed at, but they were very serious for London itself. ["Hear, hear !"] If London were not so uniformly of one colour—if it were partly Radical and partly Irish Nationalist—it might receive closer attention from the Government. He supported this Bill, but he hoped that the Metropolis would receive the same treatment as other parts of the country. In parts London was rich, but they were bound to point out that there were poor parts of London for which they ought to claim the full share of these grants.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
said he opposed a Bill similar to this, which was introduced by the Liberal Government, and he must oppose this Measure. He admitted that the London people had a certain grievance so far as the probate and the licence duties were concerned. Every other portion of the United Kingdom got its fair share of the probate and the licence duties, and he never could understand how it was that London did not. Doubtless the amount of which London was deprived in respect to those duties was considerably larger than any sum it could possibly get under this Bill. It was also true that London had a grievance in regard to agricultural rating, Voluntary Schools, and Board Schools; but then against whom had it that grievance? Against the other portions of England only, because whatever London was deprived of in respect of those matters by the action of Parliament, went to the rest of England. As between London and Scotland and Ireland there was no grievance. There was no international grievance because Scotland and Ireland got their proportion whether London got its proper proportion or not. In what respect, then, had the people of Scotland and Ireland a grievance as regarded this Bill? The Bill professed to do away with the objection taken on the Estimates that the expenses of the metropolitan police courts were defrayed out of Imperial funds, whereas those of the police courts in every provincial town were paid out of local funds. The contention of the objectors was admitted to be sound, but how did the Government suggest it should be met? It was proposed that the buildings, for instance, should be handed over to the London authorities. Why should the buildings be so dealt 214 with? In Scotland and Ireland the expenses attending such buildings were borne by the local rates. Upon what principle, therefore, if effect were to be given to the just contention he had previously mentioned, should the buildings in London be handed over as a present to the London authorities? Again, it was proposed that the salaries of the magistrates, amounting to £37,700, should be borne by the Consolidated Fund as at present. In the provinces of England, and other parts of the United Kingdom, the salaries of the magistrates were paid out of the local rates. Furthermore, the pensions of the magistrates were to be borne by Imperial funds, and they amounted to upwards of £7,000. In all about £45,000 was to be charged to the Consolidated Fund, with the result that these subjects would be withdrawn from the criticism of the House. He would like to know what was the interpretation put on Section 9 of the Metropolitan Police Courts Act, 1839? That section provided that an annual sum not exceeding £50,000 was to be paid out of the Imperial funds for the purpose of the police courts. That section was to remain in force, and therefore a sum up to £50,000 might be paid. The fees were not to be paid into the Imperial Treasury, but were to be given to the police-courts. Was it meant that, in addition to the £45,000 for salaries and pensions, about £50,000 was to be given annually, and no new provision made as to fees? Another objection to the Measure was that in reality it was a pension Bill. There was no provision in the appointment of clerks and other officials as to pensions, but the Bill entitled the present holders of offices to pensions. There was something to be said in favour of giving pensions to those appointed in the future, but it was hardly proper to spring this proposal as to present office holders upon the House. He mentioned that the Bill in no sense provided that equality of treatment which was said to be the reason for its introduction. There was to be a transaction between the Treasury on the one hand and London on the other, and in the end the Imperial taxpayer would be in a much worse position than he was in at present.
§ MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)
wished to refer to the position which the extra-metropolitan areas would occupy under this Bill. As far as he understood, there were districts in. Essex, Surrey, and parts of Middlesex which maintained their own police-courts at the present day, but which, under this Bill, would also contribute to the cost of the London courts. He knew there was some considerable misapprehension in these extra-metropolitan districts as to the effect of this Measure, and he thought they ought to have that difficulty cleared away before they were called upon to vote for the Second Rending. It appeared to him that the districts which were already discharging their own local affairs satisfactorily should not be called upon, under such a system as this, to contribute to other districts in which they had no particular concern.
§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
thought it would be well if the Government would accept the wise advice of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark that it would be better to leave things as they are. The two questions which had come out in that Debate were those of control and of money. With regard to this question of control, if this Bill passed they would create a scandal of no slight magnitude. He quite admitted that theoretically the police-courts should be given over to the control of the local authority, but in London, unlike other towns, they had no properly constituted local authority, and, therefore, it was proposed to give the courts over to the control of a mysterious functionary called the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police. He did not think anybody knew exactly who he was, but the effect of this Bill would be that he would be empowered to do anything he pleased with public money. Practically speaking, he would be responsible to no man. He agreed the present position was anomalous, but it had this advantage, that when they discussed the Estimates these courts came before them, and they could criticise any extravagance in salaries, any extravagance connected with the buildings, or any scandal that arose in connection with the courts. That control would disappear if the courts passed into the hands of the Receiver, and, therefore, on that ground, he hoped the House would refuse to pass 216 the Bill. He would deal for one moment with the question of money. The hon. Member for West Ham, had had suggested to him the little trouble the outside areas would get into, financially, if the Bill were passed, and he had asked what was the cost that would be thrown on those areas. The right hon. Gentleman answered that question when he was explaining the Bill the other night. He said a charge would be thrown upon them, but it was a very small one. He would ask the hon. Member for West Ham not to rely on that. Whenever these bad principles were introduced into finance, they were always asked to assent because it was such a little thing. He commended to his hon. Friend the suggestion he had received from his own conscience to oppose the Bill, because it was not satisfactory that any charge should be thrown on these outside areas for this purpose. The right hon. Gentleman said, that it the £7,000 were not sufficient, the Treasury would make some addition to it. That was one of those slippery remarks—
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
did not think the hon. Gentleman could find that in his speech. What he stated was that the Treasury would give £7,000 for an ordinary Session, but that if there was an autumn Session or a long Session that amount would be increased.
§ MR. LOUGH
said that was his point—that if there was any loss, and representations were made to the Treasury, they would probably increase the amount. This was another suggestion to get the Bill through. He protested against their going on in a matter of this kind, in which there was no necessity to do anything under all these disadvantageous circumstances. The hon. Member for North Islington said he should vote for the Bill in the hope that this was the beginning of a general readjustment. This was a readjustment of £10,000 or £20,000 against London, and they should have no more of these financial scandals against the Metropolis attempted until, as the hon. Member for North Islington said, the whole matter was treated in a broad, liberal, and proper spirit. Because the finance of the Bill was bad, and because there would really be no control over these courts if the Bill passed, he hoped the House would agree to reject it.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said that during the Debate many very important questions had been raised, but they had nothing to do with the Bill. [Opposition cries of "Oh !"] The Bill did not raise them in any form, and he hoped hon. Gentlemen would not think him discourteous if he did not go outside its scope. It was a very simple Measure. At the present time, he thought all hon. Members would admit, the management of the courts and of the stations was simply a mass of confusion, and when business matters were managed in a confused, mixed, and unsatisfactory way there was always a loss. They had at this moment police-courts belonging to the Office of Works where the freehold was vested in the Receiver. There were other wises where the police-courts and the police-stations were one and the same building, half of which belonged to the Office of Works and for half of which the Receiver was responsible, and there was the case of a site part of which was leasehold and part belonged to the Receiver. He was sure that no business man would in his own affairs tolerate for a, moment the existence of the state of things resulting from such divided control. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green made some extravagant references to what this Bill was going to do with regard to salaries. It was simply a matter of removing the limit placed on the clerks' salaries by an Act nearly 60 years old. The salaries were very small, but a Departmental Committee of the Treasury had reported in favour of their increase. The Treasury resolved to increase them, but found themselves barred by this old Act. The scale of increase was very limited, and the amount involved would not in the first instance be more than £270, and would ultimately be about £1,000. On the other hand, the sums received by police-court clerks for furnishing copies of depositions, amounting to £700 a year, would in future be paid into the Police Fund. With regard to the outside areas, even supposing nothing was paid by the Treasury, the burden thrown on the whole of Essex would be £194 on an assessable value of over one million sterling. In the case of Surrey the amount would be £271, or 1–25th of a penny in the pound. The total amount which would come out of the Metropolitan Police Fund under the Bill was £5,749, 218 and against that there was paid into the fund £7,000 in respect of the services rendered by the police to the Houses of Parliament, besides a debt of £7,000 cancelled by the Treasury, and the buildings would be handed over to the fund. The expenditure of the money would be just as much within the purview of Parliament through the Home Secretary and the Receiver as it was now. With regard to the Extradition Court, his own opinion was that the demand that some consideration should be paid into the Police Fund in respect of it was a just one. He would communicate with the Treasury, and he was inclined to think that the Treasury would view the request with favour. Looking at the matter as a whole, he was disposed to think the advantage was with the Police Fund and the ratepayers, and that the Treasury had not made quite as good a bargain as they might have made. He desired to give a word of warning to the outside districts. The alternative was to make a, separate rating area, and that was always objectionable, or to keep that a separate account with regard to the London police-courts, which would involve an enormous amount of labour and expense. This expense would fall on the Police Fund, and the outside areas would have to bear their share, while the £7,000 in respect of the police at the Houses of Parliament would be paid in for the advantage of the county of London only. The Bill would put the administration of the police-courts on a businesslike footing, and instead of throwing any extra burden on the ratepayers, would benefit the Police Fund to the extent of £1,500.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said, with the exception of the argument that from the business point of view this reform should take place, the right hon. Gentleman had given no reason why it should take place at the present moment. The present arrangement had in practice worked fairly well, and there was certainly no immediate hurry in regard to the transfer. He objected to a question of this character being dealt with in piecemeal fashion. At present the House of Commons had the opportunity of exercising some control over the expenditure of this police fund, but if they agreed to the proposals of the Government they would part with 219 their control over this very large sum, which came partly from Imperial sources and partly from local rates. He did not wish to cast any imputation on the Home Secretary or the Receiver General, but he was certainly of opinion that they ought to retain the power to move reductions of the salaries of the officials who administered the police fund. If the Government thought that these expenses ought to be defrayed municipally, why did they not grant London municipal control over the police? As long as the Government chose to exercise Imperial control over the police, no additional burdens in respect of that force ought to be placed on the shoulders of the ratepayers. Regarded both from the point, of view of the ratepayers' control over the police, and from the point of view of Parliamentary control over the Estimates, this Bill was a retrograde Measure. The right hon. Gentleman had dealt with the question whether this Measure would or would not throw some additional burdens on the police fund, and had said that in his opinion the £7,000 which he proposed to supply would make up for any additional charge on the fund. But there were Estimates worked out by the statistical officer of the London County Council, and his calculation, founded on the proposed increase of salaries, and on the large increase of expenditure that would be incurred by the acquisition of the freeholds of the police courts, was that there would be an additional charge of over £9,000. There were under the existing law statutory limits to the officials' salaries, and to the capital expenditure upon buildings, but the right hon. Gentleman proposed to get rid of these limits, and the past administration of the police fund did not encourage Members to think that when these limits were abolished there would be much economy.
§ *MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield. Hallam)
asked why the hon. Member did not pass equally severe criticisms on the Bill brought in by the right hon. Member for East Fife in 1894 or 1895? [Mr. BUXTON: "I am now in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility."] The reasons why it was not proposed by Her Majesty's Government to transfer the police courts to the London County Council were the same good reasons an influenced the right hon. Member for 220 East Fife not to make that transfer. The statutory limits which had been referred to as removed by this Bill he regarded as public mischiefs. The limits on the salaries of the clerks led to their leaving London and taking service under provincial authorities, who paid them better. That showed that the market rate of payment was not being paid in London. Then the statutory limit upon capital expenditure upon buildings resulted in an unwillingness to spend sufficient public money for the purpose of having suitable buildings. There was no foundation for the fear that the House would be deprived of the control which it had hitherto exercised. But the kind of control which prevailed now was almost as great a public mischief as the statutory limitations. That control amounted practically to opposition to every kind of expenditure, and the Home Office had the greatest difficulty in inducing the officials of the Treasury, who feared what might be said in Parliament, to consent to any expenditure on the service of these police courts. The Treasury believed that the House had a radical objection to spending public money on local objects, and the result was that the police courts were not as efficiently provided for as they would be if this Bill were passed. The area affected by the Bill returned 88 Members to that House. Were they incapable of moving reductions on the Vote for the Receiver's salary? Then the accounts for the Metropolitan police were presented to Parliament annually in detail, and afforded the amplest opportunity for criticism. They knew from sad experience in the past that the voices of 88 Members were quite sufficiently powerful to influence the conduct of Ministers, and there was the indisputable fact that Debates and Questions asked in that House attracted a good deal more attention among Londoners than would be attracted by any number of debates on the same subject in any County Council that could be created. In the proposals of the Government he saw a very practical, if not a theoretically perfect, solution of a difficulty which ought to be dealt with in the interests of the public.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill rend a Second time, and committed to the Standing Committee on Law. Etc.