§ Viscount Duncannon
rose to move the second reading of the Constabulary Bill for Ireland. The present measure was similar to that which had been introduced towards the end of last Session; and, as there did not appear to be any serious objection to the principle of the Bill, it was not necessary for him to take up the time of their Lordships with many remarks, especially as the details could be more conveniently discussed in Committee. It was proposed by the present Bill to grant to the Lord-lieutenant the power to appoint one inspector-general, who should be authorized to provide for the regulation and management of the police force throughout Ireland, instead of four inspectors-general, who now directed the police force in the four provinces. Under this chief it was proposed that there should be two deputy-inspectors. Power was also granted by the Bill to the Lord-lieutenant to appoint county-inspectors, one inspector for each county, with the exception of Cork, Tipperary, and Galway, each of which, in consequence of the great extent of those counties, would require two. Power was also conferred on the Lord-lieutenant to appoint pay-masters, store-keepers, and clerks, who were to give proper securities, and also to appoint sub-inspectors. This course was adopted because one of the objections to the present system was, that there was not an effectual and efficient supervision of the police force. The Bill placed the appointment of all constables, whether chief-constables, head-constables, constables, or sub-constables, in the hands of the Government. The power of appointment was transferred from the local Magistracy of Ireland to the Lord-lieutenant. In adopting that course, he disclaimed 874 the idea that his Majesty's Ministers had the least intention of casting any slur on the local Magistracy of Ireland. The power of making these appointments would be nominally vested in the Lord-lieutenant, but really in the inspector-general; and it was conceived that a single officer was more likely to select persons suitable to fill the office of chief-constable, &c, than a large body of individuals, such as the local Magistracy of Ireland. The selection made by the former would not be exposed to that sort of bias which it was by no means impossible might operate with reference to the latter. The Bill empowered two or more justices to impose on constables a fine not exceeding 51. for neglect of duty. It would authorize the establishment of a supernumerary or subsidiary force, the men composing which were to meet once or twice a-year, for the purpose of being instructed in their duties; and from this force all future appointments of constables and sub-constables were to be made. It was also proposed to empower the inspector-general, subject to the approbation of the Lord-lieutenant, to remove any part of the force from one county to another, as the state of things might require. A superannuation fund was to be provided by a deduction of two per cent from the salaries of all the officers of the force, which would tend, in a very great degree, to lighten the burthen imposed upon the public. By a deduction of 10s. per cent on all salaries, it was proposed to create a police reward fund, from which gratuities might be paid for special services, and which would also be available for the widows and children of men who might fall or be disabled in the discharge of their duty. He might add, that Government intended, as far as it was possible, to avail themselves, in the new arrangement, of the services of officers on half-pay. The noble Viscount concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.
The Earl of Haddington
observed, that this Bill extended to the Government very-great powers indeed. It swept away several existing Acts of Parliament, and, in their stead, substituted a single measure. The Bill being of such importance, he was very glad to find that it was not the intention of his Majesty's Government —and, indeed, after what had been said on the subject, it was impossible that it could be their intention—to hurry such a sweeping measure through the House, 875 He was very well satisfied that some increase should be made in the lower class of constables. But, considering the very great changes contemplated by this Bill— considering the great difference between what was proposed last year and that which was now proposed—he wished to have had a much fuller, to have heard a less meagre, statement of the nature of this measure, upon its introduction by the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount had begun by stating, that the present Bill was exactly similar to the former—that there was scarcely any difference between the two measures. Now, he would say, that where a common object—where the same object—was to be obtained by the one Bill as by the other, it was impossible for the ingenuity of man to have framed two measures more completely unlike each other, than the Bill of last year and that which was now before their Lordships. It would be in the recollection of their Lordships, that last Session of Parliament was followed up, during the recess, by a great deal of itinerant oratory and agitation, the object of the chief performer being to incite the minds of the people against that House—to misrepresent all their motives and proceedings—to hold them up to public scorn and detestation, and to call for a reform—which, in other words, was equivalent to an abolition—of the House of Lords. Now, though undoubtedly they did not generally join in that cry, yet there were two personages, very high in his Majesty's Government, wearing silk gowns, and by profession conservators of the public peace—he alluded to the Attorney-General of England, who addressed, at that time, his worthy constituents of the city of Edinburgh; and Mr. Attorney-General of Ireland, who proceeded to harangue his constituents of Dungarvan. In the course of their speeches, they dealt very hardly with that House, and thereby gave a good deal of weight and currency to the abuse and vulgar slang which had been levelled at their Lordships. The English Attorney-General did not, he believed, advert to the Constabulary Bill, though he did to other measures which their Lordships had thrown out. But the Attorney-General of Ireland naturally went over all those measures which related to that country. Amongst other things, the learned Gentleman said, "he could see no solid reason for the rejection of the Constabulary Bill;" and he further asserted, "that it was an economical measure, the object of which 876 was to reduce the expense of the police force." On that point he would say, with great deference to the learned Gentleman, that he was entirely mistaken. The learned Gentleman further observed, "that the measure would render the police much more effective; and he could not, therefore, sec why it had been rejected." There was, he added, a clause in the Bill against the admission into the police of persons who had taken an oath as Orangemen, or who were connected with secret societies; and the learned Gentleman inferred, that the Bill was rejected on account of that provision. This declaration was followed by groans on the part of those whom the learned Gentleman addressed, who thus manifested their indignation at the course which their Lordships had adopted. The real motives, however, for throwing out the Bill were plain and simple. They were very short, and they were mentioned at the time. The Bill was brought into the House of Commons on the 10th of August, and it came up to their Lordships' House on the 20th of August. It passed through the Commons' House with little or no examination; and their Lordships did not choose to take upon themselves the responsibility of passing a Bill of so important a nature at a period of the Session when it was not possible maturely to consider it. But he thought that the learned Gentleman to whom he had alluded, and who, he believed, was one of the framers of the present Bill, had afforded to their Lordships a most triumphant answer to his own assertion. If the measure then before their Lordships were a wise and well-considered measure, if its provisions were properly suited to meet the objects which his Majesty's Government professed to have in view, then was he justified in saying, that the Bill of last Session was one of the most useless, the most worthless, the most slovenly, pieces of legislation that was ever submitted to the consideration of Parliament, and, as such, fully merited the fate which it had met. The two measures were most unlike each other. In the present Bill there were forty-seven clauses; the former contained only twenty. Was it not perfectly obvious, from this one fact, that it was found absolutely necessary most materially to alter the measure? The Bill of last year incorporated in its provisions the Peace Preservation Act; but the present Bill repealed all the Acts that related to the subject—the Peace Preservation Bill and the Police Bill—and 877 formed a consolidated Act. This might be an improvement, he did not argue against that; but what he contended for was, that the more it was an improvement, the more were their Lordships justified in throwing out the other measure. He, for one, never would yield to that summary and authoritative manner in which they were called on by the noble Viscount opposite to pass those ill-considered edicts which were hurried before them from the other House. By the present Bill, the inspector-general, with the approbation of the Lord-Lieutenant, had the power to form rules and regulations for the government of the police force throughout Ireland. That power was granted by the 4th clause of this Bill. But by the 12th clause of the former measure it was enacted, "that the Lord-Lieutenant, or other chief governor, or governors, of Ireland, for the time being, should be empowered to frame rules, orders, and regulations, in respect of the several duties to be performed by, and for the general government of, the general superintendent or inspector, his deputy, and of all local inspectors, paymasters, clerks, chief and other constables, and sub-constables." Here was a considerable difference between the two measures. By the 4th clause of the present Bill, it was, as he had shown, enacted, that the inspector-general, with the approbation of the Lord-Lieutenant, might frame whatsoever sort of rules, orders, and regulations he pleased, for the general government of the several persons appointed under him, "as well with respect to the places of their residence, their classification, rank, and particular services, the extent and limit of their respective duties, and their conduct and proceedings in the performance thereof." The question here occurred, whether it was expedient or right to give this extraordinary power to his Majesty's Government? If it were right and proper, then it should be granted to the Lord-Lieutenant in Council, and not to the inspector-general. That, however, was not the only, nor the greatest, objection which he felt to the extent to which the inspector's authority went. If the noble Viscount would look at the Bill, he would see that it gave to the Lord-Lieutenant a right to overlay and overrule the proceedings, customs, and obligations of the constable at common law. By the common law of the land, the constable was obliged to serve certain processes, as in the case of tithe. But, by this Bill, they gave to the Lord-Lieutenant the 878 power to overrule and control that customary proceeding. That was one strong case. If this part of the Bill were an improvement, undoubtedly it was a very extensive improvement. With respect to the execution of warrants, it was enacted by the 10th clause of this Bill, "that no sub-inspector, chief or other constable, or sub-constable, shall be employed in the recovery of tithes or tithe composition, or in the levy of rents by distress, or in the levying of fines or penalties, under any Act or Acts relating to the revenue in Ireland, nor in enforcing of any Acts relating to the laws for the preservation of game or fish, except only in cases where forcible resistance shall have been actually made, and proved by information taken on oath, or unless by the special orders and directions of the Lord-Lieutenant or other chief governor or governors of Ireland." By the 5th Geo. 4th, clauses 7 and 9, specific powers were given with reference to serving warrants. The constable refusing was, by clause 7, subject to the forfeiture of his recognizance, and, by clause 9, he was liable to pay certain penalties in case of refusal. The Bill of the last year left the law precisely as it found it. But here, by the new measure, the constable was forbidden to afford any aid, except where forcible resistance was proved, on oath, to have taken place. First of all, a riot must take place, and then the constable was sent down to repress it. Really, after the riot had taken place, after heads had been broken, after life had been endangered, then to send down the constable with his warrant, appeared to him (and he meant no offence to his noble Friend) to be a true specimen of Irish legislation. A noble and learned Lord(Plunkett), whom he was sorry he did not see in his place, had told them that the principle on which the present Irish Government had acted, was the same that had been adopted by their predecessors in office. This, however, -judging from certain letters from the Chief Secretary, which had appeared in the newspapers, did not seem to be the case. When Sir Henry Hardinge was Chief Secretary of Ireland it certainly was not his policy to afford constabulary assistance after the riot was over. He said that aid should be granted on affidavit being made before a magistrate, showing reasonable and well-grounded apprehension that a riot was likely to occur. In that case he was anxious that the constabulary force should be employed to prevent the apprehended riot, 879 No two systems could, therefore, be more distinct or different than these; and he certainly should rather recommend to their Lordships to act on the latter. With respect to the nomination of chief constables, there was an essential difference between the two Bills. The 7th clause of the last Bill limited the number to be appointed; but, by the present Bill, the Lord-Lieutenant might appoint as many chief constables as he pleased. With respect to the appointment of resident Magistrates, there was not a single word on the subject in the Bill of last Session; and that was certainly one of the most obvious improvements that could be made. He was sorry to be obliged to occupy their Lordships' attention so long; but he could not avoid minutely examining a Bill which gave so very great an increase of patronage—patronage, too, of the most valuable sort—to his Majesty's Government. It was, he repeated, patronage of the most valuable kind that could be given to a Government. It might be very proper—it might be quite necessary —that such a course should be adopted, that this force should be strengthened and increased; for he was one of those who thought that the efficiency of the police force in Ireland required to be earnestly watched over, since on it the security of life and property in that country mainly depended, and therefore he would not stick at trifles in providing for it; but when they saw the sort of change which was effected in this measure in the course of a few months—a change which gave so much additional patronage to his Majesty's Ministers, he conceived that it was a subject that called for serious observation. The Bill of last year proposed one inspector-general, with 1,000l. per annum. They now had an inspector-general with 1,500l. That was a point on which they ought to receive some explanation. Then, by the former Bill, there was only to be one deputy-inspector, at 600l. a-year; there were now to be two deputy-inspectors, at 800l. a-year each. He would, however, say, that whether there were one or two deputy-inspectors, he did not think that a salary of 800l. was too much. One gentleman, Major Warburton, had, he understood, been appointed a deputy-inspector; and of that individual he felt bound to state, that if Government had searched all through Ireland, they could not have selected an individual better calculated to fill the situation efficiently. According to the former Bill, they were to have thirty- 880 three county-inspectors, thirty-two for the counties, and one for the county of the city of Cork, each to receive 300l. a-year, making an aggregate of 9,900l. per annum; but by this Bill they were to have forty-two inspectors, not at 300l., but at 500l. a-year, raising the expense to 21,000l. per annum. Sure he was, that the increase of number and the increase of amount of salary was a subject which required investigation, and which ought to be maturely considered before their Lordships agreed to confer such enormous patronage on the Government. Before they assented to the measure, it should be shown that it would effect a real and substantial improvement. He now came to the sub-inspectors. By the Bill of last year, there were to be 132 sub-inspectors, at 100l. a-year each; and he wished that encouragement should be given to that class of persons. But now a new light had broken in on his Majesty's Government, and it was proposed that there should be forty-two sub-inspectors, at 250l. a-year salary. He would ask, why it was necessary to create this new class of officers with more than double the salary originally proposed? He did not very well understand that part of the Bill which gave to the Lord-Lieutenant the power of creating constables and sub-constables, which was taken from the local Magistracy. He had no doubt, however, that the expense of the whole plan would be much greater than that which would have been incurred under the Bill of last year. The former measure would have cost, including a sum of 70,000l. for arms, clothing, accoutrements, horses, &c, 340,600l., while the present measure would require 407,080l., being an increase of 60,450l. Here was a very essential difference between the present and the Bill of last year. He regretted much that the appointment of constables should be taken from the local Magistracy. Gentlemen who lived on their own estates, and who acted as Magistrates —at very great risk, often at the hazard of their lives—deserved, in his opinion, the approbation and protection of his Majesty's Government and of the country. He could not approve of this part of the measure, and he regretted that the power of appointing constables was taken from the Magistracy. He was perfectly aware of the vast importance of the police force to Ireland; and he, for one, would say, and he thought he could answer for every noble Lord on that (the Opposition) side 881 of the House, that they were all most anxious and most desirous to agree to any measure necessary for the improvement of that most valuable and useful force. But he would not dissemble that he entertained a very great distrust of this measure—a distrust which, from the comparison he had made, appeared to him to be well founded—that constitutional distrust which every man might fairly experience, and which it was the duty of both Houses of Parliament to entertain, when they saw such a lavish abuse of patronage. Looking to the situation of the present Government, he confessed that he was unwilling to place any considerable degree of patronage in their bands, not, indeed, from any distrust of them, but from a deep distrust of the designs of those without whose aid they would not be able to remain in office one hour. The noble Earl concluded by stating, that he would, on Thursday next, move for a return of the numbers and expense of the present constabulary force in Ireland.
§ Viscount Duncannon
said, it was very true that in the Bill of last year but one deputy-inspector was mentioned; but it was deemed advisable that two should be appointed, especially as the services of Major Miller and Major Warburton had been secured. It had been also found necessary to increase the number of county-inspectors, in consequence of the great extent of some of the counties. The salaries of the sub-inspectors had been increased because the number had been reduced, and the labour was consequently greater.
The Earl of Bandon
approved highly of the appointment of Colonel Kennedy as inspector-general. He had known that gentleman for several years; and if one individual were more proper for that arduous situation than another, Colonel Kennedy was that individual.
§ Lord Hatherton
said, the necessity for this measure could very easily be justified, if the subject were properly inquired into. The noble Earl had not succeeded in showing to their Lordships that there was any essential difference, in point of fact, between this Bill and the Bill of last Session. There was certainly some difference, but it was not essential. What was the object of the last and of the present Bill? It was precisely the same—namely, to concentralize, under one inspector-general, the whole police force of Ireland. That object was preserved in the present mea- 882 sure. It was hardly necessary for him to point out the necessity of the alteration. Where there were four inspectors-general great discrepancy of practice must necessarily take place, and considerable delay must occur in cases where, of all things, despatch was most desirable. If aid were wanted, a message must be sent by the chief constable to the Secretary of State, who must communicate with one of the inspectors-general, and this last with the officer immediately under him. But by the mode now proposed, an immediate communication would be secured. Another object of the last Bill was to create a superannuation fund—that also was one of the objects contemplated by the present. And, looking to the great saving which would be by that plan effected, he believed it would be found that any additional charge which might be created by increased salaries would be more than provided for by the enactment which made the members of the constabulary force subscribe to their own superannuation fund. Another object was, to insure, whenever it was necessary, an immediate increase of the constabulary force. That could not be done as the law stood at present, but the measure now proposed obviated the difficulty. There was on this point no substantial difference, then, between the Bill of last Session and that of the present. But all these were details for the Committee, and were not fit for discussion on the present occasion. Lord Anglesey and the Lords Justices were no doubt perfectly justified in preventing the constables from assisting in the collection of tithe; but things were come to such a pass in Ireland with respect to tithes, that no power on earth was sufficient to insure their collection, and policy, therefore, required on the part of his Majesty's Government the invention of some new course with reference to them. As to his noble Friend's observations upon that part of the Bill relative to resident Magistrates, that was a provision which resulted from the circumstance of its being a Bill of consolidation, instead of a Bill of amendment.
§ The Duke of Wellington
would not take up the time of the House by saying anything as to the difference between the Bill of last year and the present measure, after the able statement on this point of his noble Friend. He, however, wished to direct the attention of their Lordships to some other topics which he considered 883 well worthy of consideration. Under the Bill of last year there would be an expense of 346,000l. a-year, which was about 100,000l. more a-year than the average expense of the existing system. The expense of the present system was about 250,000l. a-year; but the expense of the system proposed in this Bill would be 407,000l. a-year, to which there would be an additional expense of from 17,000l. to 18,000l. a-year, thus making a total of 425,000l. a-year. Therefore, the expense of the system now proposed was nearly 100,000l. a-year, more than that proposed last year, and nearly 200,000l. a-year more than the existing system. Under these circumstances, he thought that the House should be well convinced that great benefits would result to the country from this system before they adopted it. He trusted, therefore, that the details of the Bill would be well discussed in Committee. He had thus stated, as far as the expense was involved, what was the result on his mind. He admitted, that he had come down to the House with a very strong feeling as to the dismissal of the whole of this force, as well as all the officers who had served for so long a time, and so advantageously to the country. The noble Viscount, however, had stated that it was not intended that their dismissal should take place. On this point, therefore, as far as the declaration of the noble Viscount went, he was satisfied; but he thought that it would be much better that a few words should be introduced into the Bill declaring that the Government should not put an end to the whole police force if this Bill should pass. He did not object to allowing the Lord-Lieutenant the power of dismissal from this body, but he objected to giving him the power to put an end to the whole force in the manner which had been described. He also felt with his noble Friend, very great objection—and he was sure that it would be felt by the country—to the enormous appointment of officers at the present moment by the Government. They would have the patronage of above 100 offices, with salaries of 300l., 400l., 500l., and 800l. a-year. These were very serious matters, and more especially when they recollected, that the present system had been carried on in Ireland for so many years, at an expense not much exceeding one-half of that now proposed. He repeated that these were serious matters, and be hoped that noble Lords would 884 come down to the Committee with the view of amending the measure, so as to bring it within more reasonable bounds of expense. He entertained strong feelings on this subject, because a great additional expense would be thrown on the landed property in Ireland by it. The counties had now to pay about 100,000l. a-year for the police force; but the expense imposed upon them hereafter would be above 200,000l. a-year. This would be a very considerable additional burthen to throw on the landed interest in Ireland. He felt this the more strongly, as by this Bill the law was made more strict as to proceedings with regard to the police in the recovery of tithes and rent. At the same time, then, that they increased the expense to the landed interest, they deprived that body of the aid of the only constabulary force in Ireland. There were no other constables or police force in Ireland, and this was the only body they could call upon to aid them in the maintenance of the peace or in the recovery of their property by civil procedure. With respect to the clause in the Bill which referred to the restrictions imposed on the Magistrates in Quarter Sessions, he would make an observation. The noble Lord had stated that the Clause in this Bill was exactly the same as the Clause in the 7th and 8th George 4th, called the Petty Sessions Act. By the Clause in this Act certain restrictions were imposed on the employment of the constabulary force, in certain cases, under the direction of the magistrates in Petty Sessions. This was to a totally different effect from the 10th Clause in this Bill. The Clause in this measure was not only made applicable to Petty Sessions, but to Quarter Sessions. The Clause also would be made to include those cases which were lately before the Court of Exchequer in Ireland. This Clause gave the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland the most extraordinary powers. By it the Lord-Lieutenant, a political officer, would have to determine in what cases the constabulary force—the only police force in Ireland—should be employed in assisting in the recovery of tithe and rent. He was convinced that when their Lordships came to compare this Clause with that in the Act of Parliament, to which allusion had been made, that they would admit, that there was ample reason to justify his noble Friend in finding fault with the Clause, He certainly should draw 885 the attention of the House to this part of the Bill, and would try to persuade their Lordships to adopt instead of it the Clause out of the 7th and 8th of George 4th.
§ Lord Hatherton
thought, that exactly the same language had been used in the two clauses in question. He was not aware of the mention of the orders from quarter sessions.
The Earl of Wicklow
observed, that, as it was not the intention of his noble Friend to move the rejection of this Bill, he would not do more, on that occasion, than make a few observations, and certainly not more were required after the able speech of his noble Friend. When he heard noble Lords opposite state, that there was very little difference between this Bill and that of last year, he was sure that they must have paid very little attention to the subject. From the late period of the Session at which the Bill of last year was brought forward, it was probable that noble Lords did not make themselves masters of the details of it, and, therefore, were now ignorant of its provisions. This circumstance, however, fully justified the course taken by that House with reference to it. It was consolatory to him to hear the noble Viscount, on the part of the Government, declare, that it was not intended to dismiss the present police force; but it would be much more satisfactory to him to have an enactment in the Bill to that effect, as was proposed by the noble Duke. The declaration that had been made would give satisfaction to persons in the police force in Ireland; but it would occasion great dissatisfaction to another class. He had received several letters from Ireland, by which he was informed that officers commanding the forces in Ireland had been written to, requesting them to recommend men, now under their command, to the Government, with a view to their being appointed to situations in the police force. This probably had led to the opinion, that a great body of the officers of the constabulary would be changed. He trusted, therefore, what had been said by the noble Viscount would allay the alarm that had been excited. He could not help feeling that it was an insult to the Magistrates of Ireland, to deprive them of the power of appointing to the police—it was not called for by any very urgent reasons. The noble Viscount said, that no blame was attached to the Magistrates for the appointments they had made. All the well-disposed 886 classes in Ireland supported the police force, and admitted that it was a most useful body; but there was a faction against it, which was a sufficient reason, in his mind, not to make such a radical change in the constitution of the force as was now proposed. There could be no doubt that the real object of the measure was to introduce a great number of Roman Catholics into the police force. Although it was not admitted, there could be no doubt that this measure was forced upon the Government by those who wished to throw power into the hands of the Roman Catholics. He did not wish to excite or keep up religious dissensions, or to maintain power in the hands of Protestants against Roman Catholics, but he felt that he should be departing from his duty, if he did not protest against intrusting those with power who would have it conferred on them by this measure. He denied that the Magistrates deserved anything like reprehension for the course they had pursued with regard to the police force. On the contrary, he was satisfied that their conduct had been most exemplary, and deserving the highest commendation. The present Bill deprived them of power, and gave it to the Lord-lieutenant for the time being. Indeed, it gave such power to the Lord-lieutenant as ought not to be intrusted to any one in a free country — a power which went beyond the extent of improving the police, and even to that of creating a permanent standing army in the country. In this country, the King had not the power of increasing or arranging the number of his army, but this was done by an annual vote in Parliament; but there was no limitation in this Bill, and the Lord-lieutenant might increase the number of the police at his will and pleasure. There was nothing in this Bill also to prevent the Lord-lieu-tenant from throwing a greater or less burthen on a more or less favoured county, thus giving and creating a most objectionable species of influence. He could not sit down without adverting to an expression that had fallen from the noble Lord opposite, and he was glad that he had not heard such sentiments emanate from any Member of the Government. The collection of tithes was still a part of the law of the land, and it was a constitutional desideratum, that as long as a system or principle was a part of the law, it should be maintained, and he trusted, until a 887 change was effected by Parliament, that the law in respect to tithes would be enforced by the Government. The noble Lord (Hatherton), however, said, that the payment of tithes could not be enforced by any power on earth, and he trusted that the Government would disavow such opinions which had been uttered by their indiscreet friends. If the Bill was not amended in Committee, he should feel himself called upon to resist to the uttermost the third reading of it. Two things had surprised him more than the manner in which this Bill had passed the other House. It did not appear to have attracted the attention of those who always looked so narrowly to the public expenditure, and to the mode by which economical arrangements could be effected. No allusions had there been made to the great increase that would be made to the burthens of the country by this Bill. If the Irish counties had had alone to bear this additional expense, perhaps no notice might have been taken of the matter; but, as it was, one half the charge fell on the consolidated fund. A great number of new places were created, with large salaries, and a most enormous and dangerous patronage was given to the Government. He did not know Colonel Shaw Kennedy, but from what he had heard from all quarters respecting that officer, he was bound to believe, that his appointment was a fitting one, and that the command of the police force was well bestowed on him; but, when he looked to the Bill, he found that that officer had no control whatever, but that all the power rested with the Lord-lieutenant. It appeared to him, that in suffering the Bill of last year to pass the other House of Parliament, those who were opposed there to his Majesty's Government, sought by that means for an argument against another measure—namely, the Municipal Corporation Bill; but he thought, that each measure should be left to rest on its own merits. He should not now oppose the second reading of the Bill; but he should feel it to be his duty, in the Committee, to propose one or two amendments.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, it was not his intention to oppose the second reading of the Bill, but he would support in Committee those amendments which had been announced by the noble Lords near him. He looked with extreme jealousy on many 888 of the provisions of the Bill, and especially on the 10th clause, which gave to the political governor of Ireland, the Lord-lieutenant, the complete power of superseding the law, and of withholding all assistance for the protection and recovery of property. He thought it better to leave the appointment of the police officers in the hands of the Magistrates, who were not charged with having abused their authority, than to place it exclusively in the hands of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. In his opinion, it was not a little remarkable, that the Bill of last year, which was doubtless very maturely considered by the Government, increased the expense of the police force by the sum of l00,000l.,and that the present Bill still further increased the patronage of the Government to the amount of another sum of 100,000l.
The Marquess of Londonderry
said, that the ground of his opposition to the Bill was, his distrust of the Government in reference to the disposal of their patronage in Ireland. He was ready to admit, that much of his objection would be removed by the introduction of a clause, such as had been suggested by the noble Duke near him, continuing the present police force in existence. He recollected that the Government had declared, with reference to the appointment of Magistrates under the English Municipal Act, they would not be biassed by party considerations; and their Lordships were well aware how far the Government had acted according to that declaration. He should, therefore, be more satisfied with a positive enactment, than with the mere statement of the noble Lords opposite, that the present police force should be continued. If the appointments to that force were left to the Lord-lieutenant, how could the House be sure that they would not be disposed of at the dictation of that individual, who already had the control of so much patronage in Ireland? He was not speaking on this subject without good information. He had a few days ago received a letter from a gentleman in that country, which, after alluding to a discussion in their Lordships' House, on the fact of a high sheriff being superseded, because he would not join in a congratulatory address to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, went on to say,What your Lordship stated in the House of Lords, as to the O'Connellism of the Government, will be universally responded to in 889 Ireland, in consequence of the shameless manner in which Catholics only are selected for preferment. If your Lordship presses for a return of all persons promoted in the police, and in the law, especially in the former department, you will find the Roman Catholics selected are as ten to one. I reside in the county of Armagh, and can venture, from my own personal observation among moderate men, to assure your Lordship, that there exists in the public mind a deep feeling of disgust at Lord Mulgrave's conduct with respect to the disposal of patronage. The complaint is not merely that Roman Catholics are selected, but that among the Roman Catholics the O'Connellites are always preferred. I am confident that any Irish gentleman, connected with my part of the country, could give your Lordship numerous instances of the most glaring O'Connellism on the part of the present Administration.It was for these reasons that he (Lord Londonderry) distrusted the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, who was entirely moved by one faction. Unless great changes should be made in the Bill in Committee, he should feel it his duty to oppose the third reading.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
inquired whether there would be any objection to introduce into the Bill, a clause applying to the members of the police force in Ireland, the same restriction with regard to the right of voting at elections, as applied to members of the police body in London?
observed, that the Metropolitan Police Act did not prevent policemen from voting at elections.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
believed that it did: but, supposing that it did not, he submitted whether it would be right to allow a large body of persons appointed by the Crown, and removeable at the pleasure of the Crown, to exercise the elective franchise?
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that that was a subject for future consideration; but he was hostile to all such restrictions, and would not consent to their extension. If the Metropolitan Police Act disfranchised the members of the police force, it then might be proper to consider whether the police force in Ireland ought not likewise to be deprived of the right of voting. But unless such a disqualifying clause was to be found in the English Bill, and he was almost sure it was not, he would certainly not agree to its insertion in the Irish Bill. With respect to the provisions of the measure now before their Lordships, he had only one or two observations to make. 890 Considering the fair disposition which had been evinced to allow the Bill to go into Committee, and there to consider whether any improvement might be introduced into the present organization of the Irish police force, he did think that his noble Friend would have done well to abstain from all reference to what had passed in that House last year, and elsewhere during the recess—a reference only calculated to produce angry altercation, which on that, as on every other occasion, he was anxious to avoid. He was anxious to have it remarked, that he did not begin these observations; that he was not the first person to throw out these imputations. He begged it to be distinctly understood by their Lordships and by the country, that on the present occasion, these imputations and attacks did not proceed, in the first instance, from the Ministerial side, but from the other side of the House. His noble Friend had given as a reason why the Bill was not agreed to last year, the lateness of the Session. That reason might have weighed with the noble Lord, but he begged leave to observe, that there were other noble Lords in that House who stated entirely different grounds, of a personal and political nature, for the rejection of that Bill. Those grounds, though not noticed by the noble Lord in the beginning of his speech, were yet distinctly adopted by him at the conclusion; for he had declared it to be exceedingly improper to bestow a profuse power of patronage on any Government. That was a clear and undeniable proposition; but then the noble Lord added, that he particularly distrusted the present Government, because its patronage would be placed at the disposal of those persons without whose support the Government could not exist for a single day. He (Lord Melbourne) had heard similar observations made in other quarters, but he had refrained from noticing them, not out of disrespect to those from whom they proceeded, but because he was unwilling to introduce violence and heat into their Lordships' debate. But as they had been repeated, he begged their Lordships to consider how far that sort of observation was consistent with reason, justice, or sense. The charge was, that they, the Ministry, were dependent on certain Members of the House of Commons for support. Why! every Ministry, he ap- 891 prehended, was dependent on the majority of the House of Commons for support. The noble Duke and the noble Lords opposite knew that pretty well, though they had contrived to keep in office some time against a majority of the other House. Well, then, the Ministry being dependent on the majority of the House of Commons, they were necessarily dependent on the Members of that House, and they were necessarily dependent pro tanto, on every individual; but that the present Ministry was more dependent on one individual than another in that House he utterly and entirely denied. He should not perform his duty to his Sovereign or his country, if he were unnecessarily to reject the support of any of those who were thought worthy by the electoral body of sitting in the House of Commons. If he did so, he should be violating all the principles of the British Constitution under which it was our fortunate lot and condition to live. With respect to the Bill before the House, he begged to confirm the statement of his noble Friend, that it was not intended to make any great or sweeping change in the manner in which the police force was at present constituted. It was not intended to dismiss any person from that force who was found efficient for his duly, or whom the Lord-Lieutenant would not dismiss, if the present Bill were not to pass into law. He did not know what amendment the noble Duke opposite intended to propose, but as explained by the noble Marquis (Londonderry) he thought it one to which the House could not agree, as it would give to the present police officers a life-interest in their offices, and take away from the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland the power of dismissal at present possessed by him. He felt great surprise at the statement of the noble Duke relative to the difference of the expense of the two systems; and he had in his hands an estimate which gave a very different result; but he would not read it, as it had been made up before the introduction of some amendments into the Bill in another place. He, however, trusted that the country would not be led away by the statement of the noble Duke, that the expense of the proposed system would be more by 200,000l. than the existing one. Still the Bill was not proposed as a measure of economy, 892 but as one of policy, its object being the improvement of the police force in Ire- land. There was another circumstance which he trusted their Lordships would bear in mind, namely, that this was a Bill in which many previous laws were consolidated; and though some of the enactments might not be found in the Bill of last year, they must not on that account be regarded as entirely new. With respect to the abuse and violent attacks which had been directed against the House of Lords, he, for one, was no party to them. Whatever he had said about that House he had said in it; and he had always considered it the best course to adopt the sentiment expressed by Cicero— Mihi semper in animo fuit in senatu populum defendere.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, he had referred to the Metropolitan Police Act, and he found that one of its clauses prevented the officers from voting at elections.
The Earl of Haddington
said, that some of his observations had been misunderstood by the noble Viscount opposite. He was quite sure that if the Bill had been considered last year, many of its provisions would have required explanation, but it was rejected on the second reading, on account of the lateness of the Session precluding the possibility of the measure receiving due consideration. The noble Viscount had complained of some remarks which he said proceeded from the Opposition. He (Lord Haddington) had, however, done nothing more than state the facts as he found them. In the first place he stated, that he felt a constitutional jealousy against giving unnecessary patronage to any Government; and he had also observed, that he distrusted the present Government in consequence of the nature of the support by which they were kept in office. He had made that statement as shortly and temperately as he possibly could, and he considered it worthy of their Lordships' consideration; but though the remark proceeded from the Opposition Side of the House, he begged to say, that the anger appeared to be all on the other side.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, he held an estimate of the comparative expense of the two systems of police, which he would read to the House. [The noble Duke here read the estimate, according to which the expense of the proposed 893 system of police would be about 420,000l.]
§ Bill read a second time.