HC Deb 11 March 1908 vol 185 cc1625-53
MR. MEAGHER (Kilkenny, N.),

in moving, "That this House is of opinion that the system whereby the maximum amount sanctioned by law at a time when the valuation of the city of Dublin was comparatively low still continues to be levied is unjustifiable, in view of the fact that the valuation of the city has greatly increased, and that the number of police has not appreciably increased; that the crimeless condition of the city does not warrant this heavy expenditure; and that the control of this police force should be vested in the local authorities, as is the case in cities in Great Britain," said that the cost of the upkeep of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Force was quite unnecessarily large and should be borne by an Army Vote and not by the contributions of the ratepayers of Dublin. In 1836 an Act was passed to make more effective provision for the police of Dublin and other places within certain boundaries. The cost of the police in that area in 1836 was £40,511, and when the Act was passed it was considered that the rate for the maintenance of the police force should not exceed a total amount of £40,511. But he found that the cost charged on the rates had increased in 1870 to £99,000, and in 1905 it amounted to £160,950, or an increase of £61,950. Comparing the amount of crime and the amount of expenditure on the police, he found that the number of indictable offences in 1870 was 5,186 and in 1905 3,235. The summary convictions in 1870 numbered 47,310, and in 1905, 29,916, or a diminution of crime to the number of 19,345 cases. Notwithstanding that, the increase in the charge on the rates during the period 1870 to 1905 was £61,950. He wished to draw the attention of the House to how Dublin was situated, contrasted with other cities in the so called United Kingdom. The population of Dublin was 390,187, and that of Sheffield was 409,071, but in Dublin the police numbered 1,426, and in Sheffield 550. In Glasgow the population was 840,910, or more than double that of Dublin, and the police force only numbered 1,519. In Dublin they had 8d. in the £ police charge—the highest in the United Kingdom. They had 327 of the population for every policeman. In Sheffield it was 4Jd. in the £, and 794 people for every policeman. In Glasgow it was 3½d.in the £, and 523 people for every policeman. More startling still, in Bolton they had 3d. in the £, and 950 people to every policeman. Were they to infer that the population of Dublin were all lions, and the population of Bolton all lambs, or was it the fact that one policeman in Bolton was as good as three in Dublin. [A Voice: The other way about.] He should think so, as was demonstrated in South Africa when the British ranks swerved before the Boers and the Dublin Fusiliers went forward and showed them how to do their work. It was a monstrous thing, and he was sure Members of the House would not find in any part of the world an instance to compare with the city of Dublin in this matter. If they walked the streets of Dublin they would find two burly policemen standing against the street corners, with two or three between them. He wished to know what they were there for. So far as he could see they were there for nothing but to obstruct the public thoroughfare. Let them go to the Castle Yard. He was there a few times for the purpose of seeing that great edifice of English tryanny and oppression. He walked round the Castle, and if one was a good judge of human nature he would see that the policemen were doing nothing. [An HON. MEMBER: Except minding the jewels.] He would not be associated with the disappearance of the jewels. He was not responsible for their disappearance, nor were the Dublin police credited with their safekeeping. The Dublin police appeared always to be sleeping. They always seemed to be conspicuous by their absence when any purse snatching or pocket picking was going on. When all was right they came on the scene and took out their books. In Sheffield, Bristol, Glasgow, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford, Hudders field, and Birmingham, the police were members of the fire brigade and were inspectors under the Contagious Diseases Act and inspectors of workshops. In Dublin they were not. They were lounging round the lower Castle Yard or in some Department where they could sleep their time away, and the unfortunate ratepayers were compelled to pay 8d. in the £, or 8s. 4d. for every man, woman, and child of the population. It was too much to expect this thing could continue. Year after year they were making a demand for the redress of that awful grievance. Honeyed words were not good enough for them. They had too much of honeyed words in the House. He preferred a reduction of 8d. in the £. His Majesty's Fleet could carry off honeyed words. How were the Dublin Police constituted? There were on the active list two commissioners, and on the retired list two commissioners; on the active list seven superintendents, and on the retired list, nine; on the active list, twenty four inspectors, and on the retired list, forty three. The inspectors retired at the age of fifty three on a pension of £260 a year. It was as plain as a pike staff what was increasing the police rates year after year. He had brought with him a letter which showed an awful state of things with regard to the Dublin Police, but he did not intend to read it because it was anonymous. [A laugh.] If the hon. Member desired him to read it he would do so. The hon. Member referred to several cases, including one mentioned in the anonymous letter, of misappropriation of money by police officers, which, he said, had been dealt with in an unsatisfactory manner, and it was little surprising that huge sums were expended year after year when the police took sums intended for the payment of their comrades in the force. Some time ago a circular was issued by some superior officer of the force, giving the name and rank of every constable, with the particulars of the cases in which he had been engaged for the last twelve weeks or the last twelve months, and that was only a corollary to the action of a sergeant who issued a mandate that each constable should afford five cases a week. This meant that they should do something for the purpose of getting credit for their industry. In this sense they had too much crime in Ireland, and he appealed with confidence to the Chief Secretary to deal with this matter. Let no hon. Member be mistaken, however, as to his attitude towards the right hon. Gentleman; but for the underlying current behind the scenes, he believed he would be a good friend to Ireland. He hoped they would have something more than honeyed words from the right hon. Gentleman. They had unfortunately had too much, of them to rely upon them in the future. When the hon. Member for College Green moved last year to reduce the Vote, the Chief Secretary made some very honeyed remarks. He had he would hesitate, to express an opinion of his own as to whether Dublin was over policed, but he was disposed to think there was a larger body of police there than will necessary to maintain peace and order in that great city. He was glad to notice that everybody who had spoken had paid a high tribute to the general character and integrity of the Dublin Police. The right hon. Gentleman agreed that it was the duty of the Corporation of Dublin to make reports as to the necessity of reducing the cost of the force, and he was disposed to think the Government would safely and wisely do something in that direction. He wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman whit had been done from that day to this. What had been done to reduce the enormous cost of the Dublin Metropolitan Police? He noticed that, later on, the right hon. Gentleman said that so far as the Treasury was concerned the view was that they should be approached with a view to fixing the amount of their grant. His hon. friend the Member for College Green asked if the Government would assist the Corporation of Dublin in finding out in what proportion the money was paid away. He wanted information as to how reductions should be made. The right hon. Gentleman, in replying, said that the hon. Member's request was absolutely reasonable; but no definite conclusion could be arrived at as to how a reduction of such a force of men could be effected without a complete knowledge of all the circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman was now in the harvest of his power to do justice to Ireland. He was sorry to have to admit that the spring-time of his administration was attended with very unsatisfactory results. The seed sown by him on that occasion was blown away; and he hoped and trusted that his efforts to redress the many grievances under which Ireland suffered would be attended in the future with very much better results. He appealed to him to grapple with this question in a comprehensive manner. There was at present an element of suspicion underlying the whole thing, and, if the Government did not take the matter in hand in a very short time, the people of Dublin would be very dissatisfied. He pressed the right hon. Gentleman to make some such encouraging move to redress this awful grievance as he yesterday made in regard to the lie of contempt of Court in Ireland. It was one of the most crying grievances that could be considered, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not hesitat, to grapple with it in a comprehensive spirit which would do justice to his administration and to the people of Ireland, who were already handicapped by excessive rates. He begged to move.

MR. J. P. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)

, in seconding, said that he rose with some diffidence to call attention again to this pressing grievance. He dissociated himself from some of the remarks used by his hon. friend in reference to the manner in which the Dublin Metropolitan Police conducted their operations in the city. They were the creatures of circumstances, and, if there were too many of them, and they hung round corners in couples, it was not their fault. They were a disciplined body and were bound to obey orders. He thought he echoed the sentiments of the citizens of Dublin when he said they were proud of the force as a body of men as respectable, as sober, and as well conducted as any force in the United Kingdom. This grievance had at all times met with sympathy from the Treasury Bench, but the time had arrived when something more than honeyed words should be given and some redress vouchsafed. He did not speak as the representative of one section of the community of Dublin; he voiced the sentiments of all sections. Unionists and Nationalists were one and all agreed that the imposition of 8d. in the £ was unwarranted and could not be justified. He would, of course, be met by the answer that the number of police in Dublin was necessary for Imperial purposes; but they did not want an Imperial Force for the maintenance of law and order in Dublin; and, if an Imperial Force was required, it was the duty of the Imperial Exchequer to pay for it. He believed a far less number of men would be competent to keep the peace of the city. When he last brought forward the question, a paper in Dublin, whilst sympathising with them in every way, said they would not be parties to the reduction of the force. He did not know why the paper took that line. All he could say was that the number of police in Birmingham, Sheffield, and Belfast was less than in Dublin. Dublin was the most law-abiding city, and therefore, the number of its police should be far less. The question had become a burning one in Dublin, and if the Chief Secretary did not want more trouble —he did not say it with the slightest intention to threaten—he would advise him to see if he could not redress the grievance. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover, when Chief Secretary, admitted that there was a great grievance and that something should be done to remedy it, but nothing had been done. He had filled a responsible position in Dublin for the last two years, and he knew that, if the question was not dealt with, there would be a strike against levying the rate. He was not in favour of any such thing. He thought it would be a suicidal policy on the part of the corporation, for, if they declined to levy the rate, at the end of the year they would be some £38,000 or £40,000 short in their budget, and the Government would be able to deduct that amount from the Local Taxation Charges. That would mean that there would be no money to pay the men who did the corporation work, and the state of the labour market in Dublin would be aggravated by throwing out of employment that large army of men. It had, however, been moved in the corporation not to levy for the Police Rate, and the motion was only defeated by three votes. That minority might, when the question came up again, be turned into a majority. That three votes might be turned from a majority into a minority in the course of a month. As a member of the Dublin Corporation he could not think with equanimity of the position of his unfortunate people if, at the end of the year, there was no money to carry out necessary sanitary work in connection with the corporation. It would be of no use for the Chief Secretary to say, as he said last year, that he agreed that the impost was too heavy and that the police were too many. Was that any answer to the corporation? They were not responsible for the rate. They had not the control of the police and could not reduce a single man of them. That was the Chief Secretary's duty. It was on him that the responsibility lay, and he would have to solve the problem. In no other town of the United Kingdom was there anything approximately near what they had to contend with in Dublin. He knew the Chief Secretary meant well to their country, and he would be the last to harass him in his work. He desired that his term of office should be peaceful, and that nothing should arise which, would be the means of creating strife or discontent and give him an uneasy time of it. According to the London Police Act 9d. was the maximum, but they had never attempted to come near it. Eight pence was the maximum for Dublin when the valuation was only £645,000. To day it had trebled; a revaluation was taking place and a further increase was expected; they had the consolation of knowing that as the valuation went up, so did the eightpences. The number of men employed, was only sixty four more than in 1850, and yet the sum had increased to its present enormous figure. What was the cause of this? When getting up a meeting of the representatives of Rathmines, Kingstown, Blackrock, and the City he had endeavoured through the. town clerk to ascertain why this enormous sum was needed and how it was. spent. The answer they got from the Castle was that they could look at the Estimates in that House. But they got very little information from the Votes. The money was largely spent on the pensioning of officers, of whom there were, more then there were on the active list. Dublin had four police magistrates, while Manchester had two, and Leeds, and Liverpool but one. It was not even in increased wages to the men that the money went, because their position had in no way been altered. He regretted that the police were not under the control of the local authority. If they were they would be a more efficient body, would do the duty for which they were paid, and would be very much reduced in numbers, because they would not be required. He did not blame the men. They were not responsible for it and they had to do as they were told. He had spoken to several of them, and they all admitted that a terrible grievance was placed on the citizens of Dublin. Where the money went God only knew. It would take somebody with more influence than he had to find out, for the ramifications of Dublin Castle were such that nobody could get very much information there with reference to anything: they had had evidence of that in the last couple of months. He sympathised with the right hon. Gentleman, who had to go and be associated with the individuals there. He was only sorry that when the Government took office they did not cut off Dublin Castle altogether. That would be the best day's work they had ever done, and they would have some prosperity in the country. If these men were to be kept for the purposes of Dublin Castle let the Castle pay for them. It was hard on the corporation that no redress should be given them, and that Ministers, while admitting the grievance, should let it go on from year to year. He hoped this would be the last time they would have to bring before the House this scandalous imposition. He knew he was speaking to sympathetic ears, and that they had the feeling of Members above the gangway with them in this protest. He spoke as much for the Unionist as for the Nationalist members of the corporation. He appealed to the Chief Secretary not to let the matter go on any longer; it would save him from the trouble, which, he anticipated were ahead of him. It was acknowledged on all sides that they had a grievance, and they asked the Government to make an honest and determined effort to remove it.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House is of opinion that the system whereby the maximum amount sanctioned by law at a time when the valuation of the City of Dublin was comparatively low still continues to be levied is unjustifiable, in view of the fact that the valuation of the city has greatly increased, and that the number of police has not appreciably increased; that the crimeless condition of the city does not warrant this heavy expenditure; and that the control of this police force should be vested in the local authorities, as is the case in cities in Great Britain."—(Mr. Meagher.)

Mr. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)

, who was indistinctly heard, was understood to say that they had brought before the House a condition of things which could not be found in any other portion of the United Kingdom. There was no other town that paid a higher police rate than 5d., and in some it was as low as 2½d. In Dublin it had been 8d. ever since it was first established: fifty years ago. They were not asking for a change in the law or in the government of the police. These things must come under different circumstances, and on a different occasion. What they asked was that the citizens of Dublin: should not be required to pay a rate of 8d. in the £, especially when the revaluation was about to take place and the valuation might be increased by 25 per cent. The police did their duty well and intelligently and they were proud of them as a body. They were not asking for a reduction of police. Of course 500 would be quite enough. There were no grounds whatsoever upon which such an: expenditure could be justified. If the corporation refused to levy the rate the Lord Lieutenant could step in and stop the money out of other funds due to the corporation. That was the position of affairs of which he appealed to the Chief Secretary to do something to relieve them. It was a condition of things which would b 5 a disgrace to any city. Why should Dublin pay double the amount paid by all the principal cities and towns, in the United Kingdom in the shape of a police rate? He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to address them in some practical form that evening. He knew the last answer they got when a similar appeal was made to the Treasury. A more monstrous condition of things could not exist, and if the Chief Secretary could not do anything immediately he could at least inform them whether he intended to seek some means of reducing this burden. The present rate was made fifty or sixty years ago and it still continued, and every time attempts were made to improve the city and enhance its value they were obliged to pay additional rates.

MR. GORDON (Londonderry, S.)

said that so far as the question of police rating in Dublin was concerned he did not profess to know anything about the rights and wrongs of the case. The Royal Irish Constabulary were paid for out of the Imperial revenues, and the city of Dublin was the only place in Ireland where there was a direct tax upon the people for the support of the police force. He did not think that Dublin benefited to such an extent from the police force as compared with other parts of Ireland as to justify this rate of 8d. in the £. That rate seemed to him to be too much in proportion to other districts in Ireland. He quite agreed that there was a very strong feeling in Dublin and in the townships contained in the metropolitan area that they were suffering a considerable hardship and grievance in having to pay that rate. Whether that was right or wrong he thought that those who had control of matters of that kind ought to make an effort to satisfy the mass of the people on the point, and to give an account of how the money contributed by the ratepayers was expended. The question was whether the authorities were right in imposing a rate of 8d. in the £ at present, when that was the rate enforced fifty years ago for a smaller population and on a smaller valuation. If the authorities were right, he thought the citizens of Dublin were sensible enough to grin and bear it. If, on the other hand, they were wrong, then the people of Dublin should not be placed under an exaction which was unreasonable and unfair. With that part of the Motion he was in agreement, and if the Resolution was pressed to a division he would support it if the second part dealing with the control of the police was omitted.

MR. KETTLE (Tyrone, E.)

said that they complained clearly and definitely of two things. In the first place they complained that the cost was exorbitant in proportion to the police necessities of the city of Dublin; and, secondly, they contended that the police should be brought under the control of the city authorities. He might say, however, that no reduction in the cost of the Dublin police would be satisfactory to the Nationalist Party unless it was accompanied by a reform which would bring the police force under the control of the elected representatives of the city. The average salaries of the officers and men in the Dublin Police Force worked out at between £120 and £125 per annum. That compared favourably not only with salaries earned by national and secondary teachers in Ireland, but also with the earnings of some members of the learned profession in the city of Dublin. They had to pay through the nose for the police force. At the age of fifty three an inspector in the Dublin Police was able to retire upon an allowance of £266 13s. 4d. per annum. The police rate was fixed by Act of Parliament, passed sixty years ago. It laid down what the rate was to be, quite irrespective of any increase in the valuation. That was a matter with regard to the cost of the force. Then with regard to control, he did not know whether any Member of the House entirely realised what it meant. Some three or four years ago when the late Government was in office, his hon. friend, the late Lord Mayor of Dublin, attended an ordinary public political meeting in his capacity as Lord Mayor, and also as an Irish representative in this House. On that occasion the police were able to be ordered out by the Inspector General to baton down the supporters of his hon. friend. So long as politics did not come into the matter, the average member of the Dublin Police was really a credit to our common Christianity; he not only added to the gaiety but to the beauty of the world. He knew no more ornamental figure than a colossal, blue uniformed member of the Dublin Police. If Socrates were alive to day, he would probably join the Dublin police. He and his friends definitely demanded that Dublin should be raised to the status of any other city, and that it should have some control over its police force. The citizens and ratepayers had attempted to protest against the levy of the police rate. Their corporation some years ago declined to collect the police rate, and the Exchequer contribution was intercepted and handed over for the maintenance of the police force. Their protest was, therefore, absolutely ineffective. This question had been discussed twice since the present Government came into office, and the Chief Secretary had spoken with considerable sympathy upon it. What had the right hon. Gentleman been able to do? The Irish Members had asked for a reform of the law, and they had been told that the business of the session was too crowded, and that the reform could not be carried out. They wanted Dublin well policed. At present it was, perhaps, the most efficiently policed city in the kingdom. There was a mystery, no doubt, about the disappearance of the Insignia of the Order of St. Patrick, but setting that aside, Dublin was hopelessly over-policed. The figures were really striking. The average cost to the ratepayers of Dublin was about four times as great as the cost of the London police to the ratepayers of the City of London. The London police had to deal with an international population. Here there was a professional criminal class, and a considerable number of refugees. In Dublin there were not people of that class to be kept in check. Dublin was free from these excrescences except when pickpockets from this country paid occasional visits when exhibitions were held, and when the King came to Ireland. The valuation of the city increased and crime decreased, but the police rate remained absolutely fixed. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would be able to point to any practical solution of the difficulty. If it was not blasphemy to use the words, he very much feared that the only cure for the evil was Gladstonian Home Rule.


When I had to speak to the House on this subject about a year ago, I had not then what I now enjoy, personal acquaintance with the members of the Metropolitan Dublin Police Force. I am, therefore, able to join in the general concurrence of opinion as to the admirable character of that body of men. They are agreeable in their manners and especially devoted to the safe protection of the Chief Secretary for Ireland for the time being, and I express my recognition for all they have done on my hehalf. The only question, or at all events the first question, we have to consider now is whether there are not far too many of them—in other words, whether Dublin is not very much over policed. Certainly the figures which are within the reach of everybody would indicate that unless Dublin is very much over policed it is indeed a city full of crime and diseension. Take Liverpool, with a population of over 704,000 people, of whom one seventh at least belong to the Irish nation. There you have a seaport city, never, so far as I know, remarkable for its quietude or for its dis- position to obey the law beyond that which is seemly in all citizens. It has a police force of 1,428. Dublin, with a population of 392,797 has a police force of 1,246. In Liverpool there is one policeman for 493 citizens, while in Dublin each of these gentlemen to whom I have referred has as small a number as 315 assigned to his care. Take Manchester, with a population of 606,824. It has one policeman for 520 of the population. All these things, I think, point to the fact that there is room for inquiry as to whether Dublin is not very much over policed, and I cannot but believe these figures. I will not trouble the House with the particulars of Bristol, Sheffield, Leeds, and Cardiff, but the House may take it from me that the figures are equally striking. Therefore, I certainly think there is ground for inquiry as to whether or not Dublin is not very much over-policed. There we have to consider the cost of maintaining this body, and we have been told with perfect truth that for many years the maximum rate the law permits of 8d. in the £ has been charged as police tax in Dublin. Dublin has a great many out townships stretching a long way into the country, upon which this very heavy charge of 8d. undoubtedly falls. No doubt it is true that a new valuation of Dublin and all parts now within the Metropolis is in course of manufacture, and I daresay it may be that when we get that new valuation this tax of 8d. may fall to 6d.


May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that that is fixed by statute?


NO. Only the maximum.


Yes. But they have never taken anything less.


I believe that antiquarian research would show that it has been less than 8d. That is far in excess of what is levied in any of the great towns in England, and even on the new assessment the tax would still be largely in excess of other cities in England. In Liverpool this tax amounts to 5d., in Cardiff to something between 2d. and 3d., in Manchester to a little over 4d., in Bristol to 4 50d., in Sheffield to 4 32d., in Leeds to 4.56d. At present the tax in Dublin is, as I have said, 8d., and even if it were reduced on a new assessment, it would be very largely in excess of other cities. I have a representative of the Treasury at my side—and I desire to play fair with everybody—and I ask him what is the contribution towards the Metropolitan Dublin Police from the Imperial Exchequer. I do not deny that 8d. appears to be a very heavy tax; but Heaven only knows, or rather arithmetic would only tell, what the tax would be in Dublin were it not for the contribution of the Imperial Exchequer. Instead of 8d. it would be 2s. 2d. In the present state of thing the cost of those 1,426 fine, large, stately policemen in whom we are all so interested, not paid for by the ratepayers of Dublin, but received from the Imperial Exchequer, is equal to a rate of between 1s. 6d. and 1s. 7d.


said he did not think it amounted to that; but it did not matter whether it cost the Imperial Exchequer a penny or a million, when the citizens of Dublin had to pay a rate of 8d. in the £.


I listened to the hon. Gentleman's admirable speech with composure and without interruption, and I am not going into the merits of the case as he presented it. I am perfectly disposed to believe that Dublin is over policed, I concede that it is very costly and extravagant in its management. I am only saying that, as a matter of fact, although the ratepayers of Dublin do pay the extravagant sum of 8d. in the £, there is this contribution from the Treasury which amounts to shillings compared with the pence contributed by the City of Dublin. It should be borne in mind, therefore, that heavy as the charge is on the ratepayers of Dublin, the charge on the Treasury is beyond all comparison with what it is in any other city. Whilst in other cities the Treasury does not contribute more than one half towards the cost of the police, in the case of Dublin they contribute two thirds. I quite agree that if Dublin is over policed, and if you can reduce the number of police, you will reduce the cost. I also quite agree that all the reduction should not go into the hands of the Treasury, but that it should be shared with the ratepayers of Dublin, taking the average of several years. I am not in any way or for one moment surprised at the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite. My hon. friend who spoke last insisted a little upon the latter part of the Resolution which says that: "The control of this police force should be vested in the local authority as in the case in cities in Great Britain." He said that it was of the utmost importance that Dublin should have the control of its own police as well as its metropolitan rights. The hon. Gentleman probably does not think very much of the Government of which Dublin is the seat, and that it could do very well without it. I do not quarrel with him for entertaining that opinion, but if he wants Dublin to be treated like other cities in Great Britain, apart from the Metropolitan District of London, he must be prepared to pay half the cost of the police. That is what the other cities have to pay which do not claim to be metropolitan cities of the Empire. They pay half the cost of the police, and the Treasury pays the other half. The entire cost of the force is £151,430 a year. About one third of that is paid by the ratepayers of Dublin, and the other two thirds are paid by the Imperial Exchequer. If that expenditure can be reduced, I am quite sure, speaking on behalf of the Treasury, that they would not be in the least desirous to lay claim to and appropriate the whole of the advantage to themselves, but are perfectly willing that the proceeds should be shared between the citizens of Dublin and the Exchequer. I have been told to use no honeyed words. I have not got any honey about me. [AN IRISH MEMBER: You have money.] I wish I had money; any money I could lay hold of would be at the disposal of Ireland as a whole without distinction of creed or class. I am quite prepared, if the hon. Gentleman opposite think it desirable, to appoint a Vice Regal Commission to inquire into the facts relative to the police in Dublin and its management—as to whether Dublin is over policed or not, because there are two opinions on that subject. There are some people who would look with disfavour on the reduction of this fine force; but you cannot have economy without reduction. As the right hon. the Secretary for War would say, it is always very difficult to reduce your force, whether at Woolwich or at any other place, and if you are compelled to do so you are accused of making life hardly worth living, and making the necessities of life harder to obtain. I believe that Dublin is over policed, and that great economy can be accomplished in that way. I cannot say that we have withheld expenditure on the Dublin police force, and if hon. Gentlemen care to consult the Civil Service Estimates at page 331, they will see there very full information as to the expenditure of money on extra pay for the police force. I have no doubt that economies can be made, and that reduction can be made with perfect safety in the police force; and I am satisfied that the economies would be fairly divided between the Treasury, as representing the Imperial Exchequer, and the ratepayers of Dublin and Rathmines. I therefore go beyond what I did last year, having had greater opportunities during the last twelve months of inquiring into the case. I am willing there should be an inquiry into the numbers of the Dublin police force and their cost, including pensions, in order to see what practical economies can be effected. I do not think that I can honestly go further than that. The first part of the Motion is not open to very much objection; but I cannot accede to the last part: "That the control of this police force should be rested in the local authority as in the case of cities in Great Britain." I feel that Dublin is at present entitled to a larger contribution from the Treasury than other cities in Great Britain, on the ground that it is at present one of our metropolitan cities, and the seat of Government—of its kind. [NATIONALIST cheers.] I am glad to receive the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I do not think that the citizens of Dublin are entitled to a larger share from the Imperial Exchequer, assuming that its metro politan rights, and to lay claim to a larger contribution from the Treasury than one-half of the cost, which would be all that they would have if Dublin were treated as an ordinary town. I think they would be well advised if they accepted an inquiry into the police force in Dublin with, a view of discovering if that force can be considerably reduced and whether large economies can be effected so that this tax of 8d. may be materially and substantially reduced.


said that he had been a long time in the House and his experience was that they should always desire to obtain some practical results from a discussion of this kind. He was not much of a believer in Commissions. They had had Commissions innumerable on every Irish subject during the last twenty five years. Most of those Commissions, it might be said, had led to nothing, but still he thought that the appointment of a Vice Regal Commission in this matter was some sort of an advance, and if it was properly constituted and its reference was sufficiently wide some good might come of it. They were dealing with a grievance which was admitted, and the right hon. Gentleman had said that it was an intolerable grievance to all sections of the citizens of Dublin that they should be called upon to pay 8d. in the £ by way of police tax, whereas there was no other town in the United Kingdom which paid more than 5d. and the majority only paid 3d. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out that there were two questions concerning this case. One was the number of the police, and he thought that no one who knew anything about Dublin would deny that the number was excessive. He was sure that any proper inquiry would lead to a report to that effect, and apparently, therefore, the Commission might have the good result of promoting if not of effecting immediately the reduction of the number. The next question was the excessive cost of the police in Dublin, and there could be no doubt about that, as it was a remarkable thing that the 1,200 policemen in the City of Dublin cost more than 1,200 policemen in London or any city in this country. He had the figures, and it was quite true that, quite apart from what the citizens of Dublin paid, the gross cost of each policeman in Dublin was far more than that of each policeman in London or any city in this country. That was the cause of what the right hon. Gentleman had stated, namely, that the contribution from the Exchequer towards the police in Dublin was larger than its contribution to the police of cities in this country. Why should the policeman in Dublin cost more than in London or elsewhere? It was the same old story; the same cause that ran through the whole of the Government of Ireland in every Department from top to bottom and made it more expensive than the Government of England, Scotland or "Wales. What was true of other Departments was true of the police. He saw no reason why this should be so and why an impartial Commission should not report that the number of police and the cost per constable were excessive. If these two things were found there was no reason why the total cost and the cost to the ratepayer should not be diminished. That being so, while he and his colleagues would prefer that immediate steps should be taken to remedy this grievance, they recognised that this Commission got them somewhat forwarder, and therefore he would be inclined to accept this proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the control of the police, there was a great deal to be said, and no doubt if they were to insist upon taking the opinion of the House on their full case with reference to the police they would stand to every syllable of the Resolution and divide the House upon it. But there was something in what the Chief Secretary had said that this question of the control of the Dublin police was mixed up with great political and constitutional questions, and he would not be in favour of refusing this inquiry simply because they were not able to get a satisfactory answer on the question of control. Of course, he was not satisfied; he considered it an intolerable thing that this grievance had gone on un redressed for fifty years, and that they had come to this House for the last quarter of a century with a grievance admitted and nothing done. While he was not satisfied, under all circumstances he thought that for the sake of getting some practical advance his hon. friend would be well advised in withdrawing his Motion and asking the Chief Secretary to appoint a Vice Regal Commission such as he had indicated. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not only appoint a competent and impartial body but would enter into some consultation with the Irish Members in order that the reference to the Commission might be sufficiently wide to take in all the questions which arose in reference to the excessive cost of the police and the excessive burden on the taxpayers of Dublin.

MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)

I rise primarily to congratulate the Chief Secretary on the way his path is smoothed by the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway.


Surely I am entitled to some assistance.


I allude to the way in which the hon. Gentleman has acknowledged the very small favour he had got to night.


I got nothing from you.


If it had come from us it would have been received in a different way altogether. What did the right hon. Gentleman tell hon. Members below the gangway? He told them that it is very unlikely that this inquiry will result in any very material decrease in the cost of the police to the citizens of Dublin, because the cost of the police is borne now between the Treasury and the local ratepayer, as to one third by the local ratepayer and as to two thirds by the State. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has said that the police in Dublin are under this system, more costly than the police anywhere else and he says that that is his experience throughout the government of Ireland. But we cannot on this Motion discuss the general question of the expenditure on. Irish government. With regard to the Dublin Metropolitan Police, I of course raise no objection to the inquiry, and as a Member for the county which contains Dublin, I shall be extremely glad if those of my constituents who are in the metropolitan area derive something from the inquiry. But I think we ought to know what is exactly its scope. The Chief Secretary has said that there ought to be a further inquiry into the actual cost of the police themselves, and to that obviously there can be no objection on our part, because, if it Can be shown that it costs more to keep a policeman to do the same duty in Dublin than in any other part of the United Kingdom, obviously there is a case for consideration, although I hope it will not be assumed that the change will necessarily be one which will injure the police force itself. I confess I was rather surprised and sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman, who is a distinguished Liverpudlian, choose Liverpool as the town for his comparison and say that Liverpool was not remarkable for its law-abiding character.


It is a lively place.


It may be, but I think it is most remarkable for its law abiding character, and as one who once had the privilege of representing a portion of it, I could not allow a remark of that sort to pass unchallenged. But the right hon. Gentleman forgets that there are occasions in Dublin when large numbers of police are called for, not by lawlessness or disorder, but by excitement of popular opinion. The other day a force of police was called to intervene in the Mansion House itself during the consideration of an ordinary Bill. These are causes which lead to the withdrawal of the police from their ordinary duties. I do not say it is any imputation on Irishmen, but I hope it will not be assumed from what has fallen from the Chief Secretary that a case is made out for a material reduction of the force, which might, if it were embarked upon, be a serious danger to the ordinary peace and quiet of the city of Dublin. Subject to those limitations, I have no objections to offer to the course the Chief Secretary intends to pursue, because I understand that while he makes the proposal of an inquiry in answer to the first part of the Resolution, he absolutely refuses to accept the latter part, which proposes to transfer the control of the police from the Irish Government to the local authority. On previous occasions distinguished Members of the party below the gangway have expressed the view—Mr. Sexton himself expressed it during the debate on the first Home Rule Bill— that such a change ought not to he embarked upon and that it would be undesirable, and therefore I hear with profound satisfaction the Chief Secretary's declaration that he is opposed to that part of the Resolution.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

said that the Motion was one largely in the interests of the constituents of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, but probably he could hardly point out his constituency on the map. So far from there being any disorder in Dublin comparable with what existed in many English cities, he ventured to say that for something like thirty or forty years there had not been fired there rifle shots such as were heard only last year in Belfast, where something like 1,200 or 1,500 men were required to keep the peace. That condition of affairs existed in a certain loyal city in the North of Ireland, which in the last five years had never made one 6d. contribution to the Imperial Exchequer, and now only paid 3½d. in the £ instead of the 8d. they were compelled to pay in Dublin. That 3½d. was only exacted from them by a Conservative administration after they had continually pointed out that Belfast was in the enjoyment of three-fourths of something like 1,100 men without a contribution of 6d. from the ratepayers. There was an additional contribution made in Dublin that had not been mentioned. He referred to the half soverign exacted from every publican under an old Act. Until 1888 every pawnbroker in Dublin had to contribute £95 16s. 8d. to the upkeep of the city. Furthermore, large contributions came from the Fines Fund of the city in aid of the Treasury, and, most exasperating of all, every time they paid 6d. or 1s. to a carman for his car fare they were making a contribution to the Imperial Exchequer, because the whole of the licence duties of the eleven or twelve hundred carmen in Dublin went in aid of the police. The tram company of the city thus actually paid £3,000 or £4,000 a year for the upkeep of the police. Did that exist in Belfast or any other part of the United Kingdom? He challenged any man to deny that a woman, whatever her rank, could walk through the city at any our of the. day or night without insult. So. far as the maintenance of peace and order was concerned he ventured to say there was not a city to compare with Dublin in the United Kingdom, and certainly not in that very loyal portion of Ulster about which they were in the habit of hearing so much. He thought they might make this complaint about the Chief Secretary: he said it to one of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors in office, and would say it to him: "You do not seem to be the Chief Secretary for Ireland; you seem to be the Chief Secretary for England, because very time the Treasury makes a demand upon our officials, you instantly shrink into your dens and say Oh, we must obey the Treasury. What they wanted was an Irish Secretary. They "wanted some man who would stand up for their country and tell the British Treasury: "Your conduct is unfair; I will not be a party to it." If they had someone who would do that,: men who had, not an English conscience but an Irish conscience, and would say: We will not be any party to your exactions," they would very soon nave a change in the conduct of the Treasury towards Ireland. Upon that be always took his stand on the declaration of Lord Salisbury in the House of Lords, which ought to be rubbed in again and again and again. Lord Salisbury speaking as Prime Minister, regarding the Boer War, placed the whole liability for the misconduct and folly of that campaign on the shoulders of the British Treasury. This body, which was at one time simply regarded as a body that tried to save them from exaction, was now, next to the Press of England, their greatest curse. They had to complain that no consideration was ever given to any of the demands they put forward. As regarded this question of the Dublin Police, while he shared cordially in what had been said as to their general good conduct, they were entitled to ask the Government to put them on the basis of Belfast, which enjoyed a force of 560 men, and received a Treasury, contribution amounting to half the cost. Why should not Dublin be put on the same footing? What had Belfast, the city of riots and disorder, so far as the month of July, at all events, was concerned, done to entitle it to a contribution from the Treasury greater than Dublin received? He sincerely trusted that if the Commission, which the right hon. Gentleman spoke of, issued, it would take into consideration the subject of Belfast, the contribution which Belfast made to the Imperial Treasury, the annual cost to the country of the drafts for the Royal Irish Constabulary going to Belfast in July and August, and whether Belfast should not be compelled to pay a contribution in the same way as Roscommon had to do when cattle driving or any other matter of that kind was in force. The whole condition of the police force ought to be taken into account. He would like very much to see the Commission extended beyond the Dublin area to the police force as a whole. He believed the amount paid to officers as compared with the amount paid to the men was excessive, and that much discontent arose from that fact. If the Government extended the inquiry in this way such incidents as arose in Belfast recently out of the discontent there would disappear, and the police throughout the country would find that so far from there being any desire on their part to see them unjustly treated they were more in favour of seeing pay and promotion, which was at present largely given to officers, fairly and equitably distributed amongst the rank and file.

MR. MOORE (Armagh, N.)

said he would not have intervened had it hot seemed to him that in the speech they had just heard there had been a certain amount of somewhat gratuitous challenge and offence to a part of the country which it was not necessary to name and which had only been referred to, not so much to point an argument or adorn a tale as to do what the hon. Member had so frequently done before, to seize the opportunity of dragging his coat across the path of those of his countrymen who hailed from the northern portion of Ireland. Whatever their faults might be, he did not know that they ever refused a challenge of that sort, and less than ever on that occasion did he feel disposed to do so. But before they talked of war they ought to recognise how thoroughly in every department, and on every point, the olive branches of peace had been exchanged between the Chief Secretary and hon. Gentlemen below the gangway. Night after night minatory threats were made as to what would happen to the right hon. Gentleman should he attempt to put off what were called unconditional demands, as he had done that night, with honeyed words. They were told of the wonderful and sudden and calamitous end that would happen to the right hon. Gentleman if he did not yield on the spot to their demands in respect of the repeal of the Crimes Act, of contempt of Court, or of evidence in the case of persons held to find sureties of the peace for good behaviour. The right hon. Gentleman took these threats at their real value. It was not their face value. At present they enjoyed rather a debased currency, because the right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that no matter what the threats might be, Gentlemen, below the gangway, in spite of un conditional refusal, would immediately troop into the division lobby behind him. They had seen that time after "time and would probably see it until a certain measure was introduced dealing with higher education in Ireland, for the make of which the insults and grievances under which hon. Members suffered would be meekly swallowed and pocketed. One matter had struck him very much. When the hon. Member for the Harbour Division said it was not really the object of those who thought with him to transfer the present government of the Metropolitan Police and his attention was drawn to the fact that the resolution did not carry out that view, he said that that was a matter of form. The hon. Member absolutely declined to change the present government of the Dublin police and vest it in the Corporation. He knew his own Corporation. Then they had the hon. Member for East Tyrone, whose constituency was a very long way from Dublin. He was quite willing in the name of his constituents that the control of the police should be put under the Dublin Corporation. Then came the hon. Member for North Louth, who was not going to trust the Dublin Corporation with the control of the police. He wanted to treat them as they were treated in Belfast, and to merge them to all intents and purposes in the Royal Irish Constabulary. They did not often find such diversity of opinion amongst hon. Members below the gangway. Whoever had the control of the Metropolitan police in Dublin it certainly ought not to be the Corporation of Dublin, and that was the reason why they objected to this Motion. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth had referred to the fact that there was unfortunately a rifle shot in Belfast last year. He might point out that for ten years there had not been one before. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] He challenged any hon. Member from Ireland to contradict his statement. If there had been a rifle shot in Belfast it had occurred in the Nationalist quarter, and in an affray between the Nationalists and the police. In Dublin they had a minority whose misfortune it was that they were Unionists, but they never heard of the Dublin minority being brought into conflict with the police. This debate had taken place not in the interests of the police at all. He was glad to note the great change in the feelings of hon. Members below the gangway towards the police, for they were now professing an intense love for the police authorities. This Motion was also claimed to be put forward in the interests of the ratepayers of Dublin. What was the actual position? No less than two thirds of the rates for the Metropolitan area of Dublin were paid by the Unionists of the City of Dublin. Surely they were the people who ought to have a voice in this matter and whose opinion ought to carry weight. The late Lord Mayor of Dublin had put the case clearly before the House on behalf of the employees of the Corporation.


said he spoke on behalf of the Unionists as well as the Nationalists. Upon this question he represented the Unionists of Rathmines and Dalkey, and spoke on behalf of the ratepayers who had joined with the Corporation of. Dublin in protesting against this police tax.


said that one of the arguments of the hon. Member was that the ratepayers for whom he professed to speak would be driven to strike against the rate, the immediate effect of which would be that the scavengers and others in the employ of the Corporation would be out of work, and he made a very strong point of that. Now the right hon. Gentleman opposite knew perfectly well that the Unionist ratepayers, who paid two thirds of the rates, had not the slightest intention of striking against the rate.


said that what he stated was that the Corporation of Dublin had the power of levying and collecting this police rate, and they might be disposed not to levy the rate at all. In that case he said the people employed by the Corporation might be thrown out of employment.


said the Corporation were powerless in the matter, because if they refused to levy the rate the money could be deducted from other funds. The proposer of this Resolution had said that if this tax was continued there would probably be an anti rate war, that the ratepayers would suffer so much that eventually they would refuse to pay their rates, and that was the pious aspiration of the hon. Member who had moved the Resolution. As the right hon. Gentleman might rely upon two thirds of the ratepayers of Dublin refusing to enter upon a war of that Sort, he could sleep peaceably in his bed. He was a ratepayer in Dublin himself, and any ratepayer who was now paying the ordinary respectable amount of 8d. in the £ would prefer that that rate should continue in perpetuity rather than the metropolitan police should be transferred to the kindly care and control of the Dublin Corporation. The hon. Member for East Tyrone had said that the Dublin police were all very well until politics were introduced amongst them. If the control of the police was transferred to the Dublin Corporation they all knew perfectly well that there would not be a man admitted to that force unless he was nominated by a publican, or an out and out Fenian, or a sworn member of the United Irish League. He had read that day a letter in the Freeman's Journal, written by one of the leaders of the numerous sections into which hon. Members below the gangway were divided, Mr. Arthur Griffith, a Nationalist. What did he say about his own Corporation? This was not the opinion of a bigoted Orangeman, but a bird of the same brood and the leader of the Sinn Fein Party. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: He is not an Irishman.] He did not know his pedigree, but he was the imported leader of one of the Irish sections. Mr. Griffith wrote complaining of the expenditure each year of thousands of pounds in cheques to English lawyers, to Dublin Corporation officials, and to Members of the Dublin Corporation, under the heading of expenses in London. It was admitted that the name of the Corporation of Dublin was a byword among municipalities. It was pretended that for the good of the country and for the protection of property this fine force should be handed over to the control of such a body, in other words, placed under the heel of an Irish Tammany. He would protest against that being done as long as he had words to do so in this House. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth had compared Dublin and Belfast. The affairs of Belfast Corporation were managed by men who were trusted and respected among their fellows. There was nothing to conceal or to be ashamed of in Belfast municipal life. He objected to the Dublin police force being handed over to the publicans and sinners who composed the Dublin Corporation.


said he could assure the hon. and learned Member that if he desired to bring to their feet Ulster Members, and especially those who came from Belfast, he had only to speak of that City as he had done in that debate. He was glad to say that he was ready at any time to allow the City of Belfast to be placed in competition not only with Dublin, but with any other city in the three kingdoms; and he was quite certain that if an inquiry were held in matters municipal, social, or economic, Belfast would come out with flying colours. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth, in making one or two comparisons between Belfast and Dublin, had said, for instance, that a lady might walk through Dublin at any hour of the night without molestation. He would tell the hon. Member that a lady might do the same in Belfast. As to the Belfast riots he would only say that, as the hon. Member was aware, those riots were entirely due to persons of his own political persuasion. That fact was known by everybody, and Nationalist Members dared not deny it. As to 12th July celebrations which had been referred to, he would say that nobody resented more than Orangemen that extra police were drafted into Belfast, and no people had more endeavoured to impress upon the authorities that these extra police were absolutely unnecessary. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth knew perfectly well that for ten or twelve years past Belfast had been absolutely peaceful on 12th July.


There is nothing whatever in the Motion about Belfast or 12th July. I must ask the hon. Member to confine himself to the Motion.


said that he was aware of that, and he would not have got up to make these few remarks had it not been for the insulting observations which had been made about Belfast. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth had ended his speech by saying that Dublin should be put on the same basis as Belfast. That was rather inconsistent with the earlier part of his speech, in which he could say nothing too bad for Belfast. That the 12th of July celebrations had passed off absolutely peacefully for several years had been acknowledged.


asked leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.