HL Deb 04 September 1835 vol 30 cc1330-4
Viscount Duncannon,

in moving that the above Bill be now committed, said, that in consequence of what had occurred on a former night, he had received a communication from the Undersecretary of State for Ireland, in which he stated, that no communication had been made to the Corporation of Dublin with respect to this Bill. The reason which the Undersecretary assigned for having adopted this course was, that no part of the Corporation Funds were affected by the Bill, and therefore he did not deem it necessary to consult that body. The noble Viscount, in order to show the necessity for an alteration in the Police system of Dublin, read an extract from the Appendix to the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Irish corporations, and concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.

Lord Farnham

opposed the Motion. He had received a letter from the Lord Mayor of Dublin, in which he stated that he had never seen the Bill until half an hour before he began to write. Now, surely, a measure involving in its effects the peace of the metropolis of Ireland, ought not to be passed, without making the chief magistrate of Dublin acquainted with its contents. The system of Police in Dublin had been in existence for twenty-seven years, and ought not to be altered without giving proper notice to the Corporation. He should move, that the word "now" be omitted for the purpose of introducing the words "this day three months,"

The Earl of Wicklow

demanded, whether, when their Lordships were called on to pass a Bill of this nature, they ought not to take care that the Corporation had proper notice of the measure? He would recommend the noble Viscount to withdraw the Bill altogether for the present. He advised this from his conviction that it was the most prudent course. No great inconvenience could result from postponing it till next Session.

Viscount Duncannon

said, if the Bill applied in any way to the Corporation, that might be a reason for postponing it; but as that was not the case, he could not consent to withdraw the measure. The Police of Dublin was wholly inefficient, and therefore it was necessary to pass this Bill.

The Earl of Wicklow

did not wish to be driven to vote upon this occasion, but if he were obliged to do so, he would vote for the Amendment of his noble Friend.

Lord Plunkett

said, the state of the Dublin Police was such as to call loudly for the Legislative interference. Individuals could not proceed through the streets in safety. A barrister could not go to the Four Courts without encountering a very great probability of having his pocket picked. The necessity of altering the whole system was manifest, when it was known that great defalcations had frequently taken place in the rates collected for Police purposes. It was stated that the Recorder of Dublin had been written to, and that he had not seen the Bill prior to his leaving London. He did not, however, understand that that learned Gentleman had made any complaint against the Bill. He had every reason to believe that the Bill would prove a beneficial measure.

The Duke of Wellington

could not help thinking that the noble Lords opposite were in error, in supposing that the Corporation of Dublin were not interested in the Police establishment in that city. Why, the Corporation were the parties who had charge of the Police, and, that being so, was it proper that their Lordships should alter, without giving the Corporation any notice of such an intention, a system which had existed now for twenty-seven years? It might be as the noble Lords opposite stated, that the alteration proposed by this Bill would not affect the interests of the Corporation of Dublin, but still he thought, as they had charge of the Police, no change should be made in that establishment without their concurrence. He had received a letter from the Lord Mayor of Dublin, saying, that as he had never seen the Bill, until the morning on which he wrote, it was wholly impossible for either him or the Corporation to examine it, and with such a fact before them, would it, he must ask, be just on the part of that House to pass a measure which possibly might affect corporate rights, which it was the bounden duty of their Lordships to respect? Besides the letter he had mentioned, another had reached him from a Magistrate of the county, in which letter the whole of the statements made by the Lord Mayor were corroborated. He had not been able him- self to peruse the Bill up to that hour, nor had he thought it necessary to do so, inasmuch as he could not believe that the Government had any serious intentions of passing it through Parliament during the present Session. Agreeing, for the reasons he had stated, that the consideration of this measure should be postponed until the next Session, he should certainly vote for the Amendment of his noble Friend.

The Earl of Radnor

regretted that a Bill of such importance should be lost on what appeared to him to be a mere matter of form. He believed that the Recorder of Dublin was in London when the Bill was introduced, and if he had any objections to it, he might have communicated those objections to any of his friends in Parliament. No such course was, however, taken; and as the Bill had been three weeks in the House, abundant time was afforded for its due consideration. The letter of the Lord Mayor did not state any specific objection to the Bill.

Lord Wharncliffe

said, no notice with respect to the Bill had been given, either to the magistrates or to the Corporation, The Lord Mayor of Dublin actually had not time to examine the measure. Certainly the Corporation, who were now at the head of the Police, ought to have been furnished with an opportunity to state their sentiments respecting it. He thought it would be an act of great injustice to proceed without giving them notice.

The Marquess of Clanricarde

said, the Police of Dublin was admitted to be in a most inefficient state. Now the Corporation of Dublin had the charge of that Police, and, therefore, he contended, that they who had so long sanctioned this bad system, ought to have been the last persons whom the Government should consult on the subject. Were the public of Dublin to be deprived of the benefit of an efficient Police system for another year, because those individuals were not consulted? The Dublin Police was useless by night and by day. There was not, in any part of the British empire, or in any town of Europe, of the same size, so wretched a system of Police as now prevailed in Dublin.

The Marquess of Westmeath

said, that the 39th of George 3rd., and several other Acts of Parliament, gave to the Corporation of Dublin the charge of the Police, and the system ought not to be altered without giving that body notice. He admitted that the Police of Dublin might be improved, but he could not assent to passing this measure unless the Corporation was first consulted.

Lord Hatherton

said, no specific objection had been advanced against the Bill in either House of Parliament; and so inefficient was the Police System in Dublin, that he conceived the Bill ought to be passed immediately. A guard of soldiers had been allowed for the protection of property in the neighbourhood of the Grand Canal, in consequence of the want of a proper Police force. That Guard was withdrawn by order of the Lord-lieutenant, on a representation made by the Commander-in-Chief. But depredations were immediately carried on to such an alarming extent, that the Lord-lieutenant was compelled, contrary to the wishes of the Com-mander-in-Chief, to send the soldiers back again. This showed the necessity of altering the system.

The Marquess of Westmeath

again rose to address the House. [Lord Brougham," Question, question," a noble Lord called "Order"]. I will not be put down in that way.

Lord Brougham

Then I speak to order. [Confusion.] It is a standing order of your Lordships' House that noble Lords shall speak but once on any given question.

The Earl of Wicklow.

If the noble and learned Lord had enforced that order at the commencement of the Session, I should have been delighted at it. But, my Lords, it is extraordinary, indeed, to hear the noble Lord speaking to order on a point that he never observes himself.

Lord Brougham.

Oh! if it were the commencement, and not the end of the Session, I should not have taken the matter up. It is very well to make a number of speeches when the Session is all before us, and we have nothing else to do. But it is a different thing at the end of a Session, when we have a great deal to do, and but little time. Then we can't afford it.

Lord Ashburton

said, however necessary the change proposed by the Bill might be, they ought not, in making it, to lose sight of the principles of justice. It would not be right to make a great change in the police of a city, without allowing those who were interested to be heard. They would not treat the smallest borough town in England on a different principle. It might be perfectly true that the police of Dublin was the worst that could be imagined—the Bill also might be a very good Bill—but still the citizens of Dublin, who were as ignorant of the measure as the municipal authorities, might wish to have an opportunity to make some suggestions relative to it. When an alteration was contemplated in the police of Westminster, the different parishes assembled and discussed the matter.

Lord Holland

said, if they wished to keep the police of Dublin in a state of inefficiency, and thereby subject the inhabitants of that city to robbery and plunder, the effect of the proceeding of noble Lords opposite, if they were in a majority, would be to accomplish those two purposes. Proceedings, he admitted, ought not to be carried on in Parliament without giving due and fair notice to his Majesty's subjects. And what was the case with this Bill? He did not find that it was hurried through any of its stages. It was introduced in the usual manner, and proceeded regularly through all its stages. And he wished to know, that being the state of the case, what right the Corporation of Dublin had to call on Parliament to consult them on the subject, when the measure did not interfere with their funds? In what mode, he would ask, was Parliament to communicate their proceedings to the Corporation of Dublin? He really did not understand the force or the wisdom of such a proposition. He thought that no noble Lord who voted against the Bill could fail to feel uncomfortable when he heard of any outrage committed in Dublin.

The Earl of Haddington

merely wished to express his opinion that a Bill of this kind ought not to be passed in the absence of all information, and without communication with the parties most interested in it.

Amendment agreed to. Bill postponed for three months.