The Earl of Roden
was anxious to take the earliest opportunity of addressing their Lordships, in consequence of his having been unavoidably absent during the discussion of the second reading of this measure, which appeared to him most objectiontionable in its principle, as well as dangerous in the details by which it was to be worked out. He would undertake to say, there never was known, certainly within his recollection, to be proposed to Parliament as a permanent law, which gave all at once such immense patronage to the Government, and which was so unconstitutional in its doctrines, and arbitrary in its enactments, as the Bill now upon the table of the House. He conceived it was totally unnecessary, from the circumstances to which it was intended to apply, and would be most dangerous even under any circumstances in which the country could be placed; for he could not help seeing in the whole spirit of the measure an attempt to cast a stigma and an unmerited censure upon as valuable, as independent, and as honest a class of men as were to be found in any country whatsoever—he meant the resident gentry and unpaid magistracy of Ireland. He protested, in their name, as well as in his own, against the provisions of this measure, and he implored the House to consider well, and at all events to pause before they further assented to this measure, either in principle or detail. It would be no argument in answer to his objections to this measure, to be told by his Majesty's Ministers that at former periods Bills of coercion and measures of harshness, fully as strong, and equally objectionable, had been introduced into Parliament, and had also become the law of the land; but noble Lords would remember that these measures were temporary; were to meet a particular crisis; were to extend over particular districts; and were to be removed when the necessity of the case might cease; but here you have a permanent measure not confined 480 to one part or any particular object, but extending its operations over the peaceable province of Ulster as fully and as expensively as over the disturbed districts of Leinster and Munster. You have a power given to the executive unlimited and uncontrolled, to burden the people with taxation for the objects of this Bill, according to the caprice, it might be, but certainly according to the will, of the Lord-Lieutenant. It would be no answer to his (Lord Roden's) objections to this measure to be told that it was not the intention of his Majesty's Government to exercise these powers to the full extent which they sought for in this Bill. That might be or might not be, and however noble Lords now in office might think their minds made up as to the use they would make of these powers, give him leave to say his Majesty's Ministers were not so much their own masters as to be certain of their own future acts. He could not forget that they must be swayed sometimes by the pressure from without—sometimes from the spirit of the age, and at all times, as it respected the Government of Ireland, by the dictates or commands of that Romish faction in that country, which seemed to be the pivot on which they turned. He could not but unite in the general feeling of the resident and respectable gentry of Ireland, who felt as strongly as he did that no confidence was to be placed in his Majesty's Government in that country; therefore, they could not trust such tremendous powers, as were proposed in this Bill, to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. He felt he had a right to argue upon this measure as it appeared before them now on the table, and not as it might or might not be altered by noble Lords opposite in Committee, he would consider it, as it came from the House of Commons, a specimen of the consistent legislation of his Majesty's Attorney-General for Ireland. He would, therefore, take the liberty of examining its features, and he found, first of all an enormous patronage of various offices of different grades, descriptions, and value, but all subservient to the nomination of the Lord-Lieutenant. He found a power given to the executive to appoint 143 magistrates, at a salary of 400l. a-year each. He was told this was to be limited, but he was speaking of the Bill sent up by the Attorney-General for Ireland. He knew not whether it was the intention, by this power of making so many magistrates, finally to supersede the unpaid and independent magistrates of the country, who lived in the most difficult times, and 481 under the most painful and arduous circumstances, often thanklessly, but always fearlessly and honestly discharging the functions of their important office. He found in this Bill the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland constituted into a very autocrat, little less powerful than the Emperor of all the Russias himself; for, was it to be believed, and one could scarcely credit such legislation, were it not in black and white on their Lordships' table—power is given to the Lord-Lieutenant to raise a standing army of any indefinite number of men, without any application to Parliament, without any sanction of the Privy Council, without any representation of any body of persons with the magistracy, the grand jury, or any functionary whatever, as to the necessity of such augmentation—and he found further power given in this Bill to the Lord-Lieutenant to pay this army one moiety out of the Consolidated fund, and the other moiety by what is called a presentment made by the grand jury; whether they will or not, they are bound to assess these counties for the amount demanded by the autocrat; and to add to the injustice of the whole, this Bill deprives the magistracy of the power they now possess in recommending individual constables who are to fill up the police from the most respectable, and most useful, and trustworthy individuals in their counties. It was true that in some counties the magistracy had handed over the choice of the constables to the inspectors, but that was no argument why the power still being reserved by the magistracy was not a useful and salutary control to insure the important and faithful discharge of the inspector's duty in the selection he may make. This Bill, necessarily increasing the expenditure for this establishment, lays a double tax upon the landed interest of the country; whilst all classes of individuals, both in the towns and in the manufacturing districts, are to derive equal benefit from the protection given under this Bill. But the landed interest alone is to contribute to its support in its double capacity—first, as paying its quota to the consolidated fund, and then its moiety of the whole in the grand jury presentment that is to be made; and to add still more to the injustice of the proceeding, the grand juries of the counties are to have no control over the expenditure of this assessment; nor are they to have a voice as to the necessity of the numbers of that police for which they are bound to pay. Call this a grand jury presentment! It 482 would be much more convenient, instead of troubling the grand jury, that the autocrat of Ireland, whoever he may be, should send his commands to the judge, to order forthwith the payment of the sum required for his troops. The whole of the measure seemed to him to be based upon patronage, injustice, and arbitrary power, inconsistent with the British Constitution, and uncalled for by the circumstances of the country Bad as was the state of Ireland—and nothing could be more deplorable than the situation of the King's loyal Protestant subjects—nothing could surpass the persecution and the sufferings they endured; and not only the Protestants, but those peaceable, quiet, and well-disposed Roman Catholics, who would not bow to the system of terror that was enforced under the machinations of a priesthood who were endeavouring to enslave the nation — he thought the present Police Bill, as a general system, worked well; and he would say, there never was a body of men to whom the country was under a deeper debt of gratitude. In extraordinary cases, and under peculiar difficulties, they were the preservers of the Peace Preservation Bill, which he conceived was fully adequate, in connexion with the common law of the land, if duly and honestly exercised, to meet any emergency that might occur. He could not conceive how any amendment could be made to this Bill, which could deprive this measure of its unconstitutional character, or alter its dangerous complexion. It was indeed a proof to him of those constitutional principles which influenced the mind of its authors. It was a fair specimen of those pares leges which this House had heard so much about in former debates. All he could say was this, and he would leave it to the judgment of any unbiassed man to decide, whether if it were possible to find a minister who would have the temerity and folly to propose such a law for England as a permanent measure, whether the cry throughout the land, from the Land's End to John O'Grote's house, would not be—Nolumus leges Angliœ mutari. He was sure if his noble Friend, the noble Duke (Wellington) when he was in office, had ventured such a measure in all its bearings on the country, there is no language of condemnation which would have been found too strong—there was no charge of ambition which would not have been vehemently urged against him. The partisans of that violent party from without, who now act in concert with noble Lords opposite, would not have hesitated to de- 483 nounce the noble Duke in the public press, and at their Radical meetings, as attempting not only to alter the succession to the throne, as they maliciously, falsely, and wickedly, have laid to the charge of the late loyal Orange Society of Ireland, but they would have declared, that it was the ultimate intention of the noble Duke to place King Arthur on that throne (pointing to the throne) which rightfully belongs to King William. He protested against the Bill as a gross act of injustice to his country, as unnecessary for the circumstances to which it would apply—as laying on the people an additional burden of taxation, for the sake of patronage, which they are little able to afford. He protested against giving such power to any man, be he who he may. We are living in times of great change—we know not who may be called on to rule over the destinies of the country—we know not into whose hands such tremendous powers as are given in this Bill may fall. In the name of the Protestants of Ireland he protested against the measure. In the name of those Roman Catholics of Ireland who desired peace, and who were not under the sway of the tyranny that prevailed, he lifted up his voice against this Bill. It was inconsistent with the doctrines of a free Government—it was decidedly opposed to those most valuable principles of the British Constitution. He should say not content to further proceeding with this measure.
§ Viscount Melbourne
did not wish to detain their Lordships from going into Committee on this measure; but, accustomed as he was, and as the House was, to the loud and hostile tone of the noble Lord— accustomed as he was to his confident assertions and gross exaggerations—he could not, at the same time, avoid expressing his surprise at the tone, manner, style, and tenour of the speech of the noble Earl on this occasion. If their Lordships were not acquainted with this measure, he would ask them, would they not suppose, after the speech of the noble Earl, that he was going to introduce some new and wholly unheard of measure?—that he was going to sanction a power before unknown to the Constitution?—that he was going to establish in Ireland a system that was totally and entirely new—that he was going to make some severe law perpetual, which had been established for a temporary purpose? Ministers contemplated no such thing, and he must, therefore, beg leave to deny all the assertions of the noble Earl. He denied that the measure was introduced 484 for the purpose of increasing patronage— he denied that it would add materially to the expense of the present system of police in Ireland. The Bill would give no greater powers to the Government than they had at present the opportunity of exercising. Every man knew the nature of the establishment of police in that country—every man knew that it was called for by the peculiar circumstances of that country. The noble Earl had given his distinct approbation to one of those Acts which was connected with the police of Ireland—the Peace Preservation Bill. Now, all those powers which the noble Earl had attacked, as being contained in the present Bill, were also to be found in that very measure. It gave the power to the Lord-Lieutenant, with the advice of the Privy Council, to increase the police force in any part of the country—it enabled him, with the advice of the Privy Council, to send into any place where it might be deemed necessary, any number of police that he might think proper, and to charge on the country the payment of that force, exactly in the manner now complained of by the noble Earl, and represented by him as a dangerous, unconstitutional, and oppressive novelty. Ministers having embodied the provisions of that Act in the present Bill, he did think that it was a most unjustifiable mode of proceeding, for the noble Earl to represent a measure consolidating others, and introducing certain ameliorations and amendments, as an unjust measure, thus endeavouring to create a hostile impression against those whom he thought proper to attack, as the supporters of an oppressive measure, unknown to the proceedings of former Parliaments, and contrary to the spirit and practice of the Constitution. The noble Earl had repeated those hackneyed taunts about giving way to the pressure from without, the spirit of the age, and the subserviency to a party. He, however, upon these points would meet the noble Earl with the most decided denial. And he would ask their Lordships, did they mean, in order to conciliate Ireland—in order to maintain the warm and friendly feeling of Ireland—in order to conciliate and secure the affection of Ireland—did they mean to lay it down as a principle, that for the purpose of effecting such an object no Government should receive their confidence—no Government should receive their support, or be looked upon with favour, unless it was visited by the inve- 485 terate opposition of the representatives of that part of the United Kingdom to which the Bill related? Was that what noble Lords opposite demanded? Was it right that such a feeling should prevail? If so, he did not think that those who had such an opinion acted wisely or prudently, or in accordance with the language which they were constantly holding, as to the necessity of consolidating and cementing the Union between the two parts of the empire.
The Earl of Wicklow
expected, when the noble Viscount rose to answer his noble Friend, that he would have given some explanation on the part of his Majesty's Government to justify them for bringing forward this Bill. He expected that the noble Viscount would have taken that course, instead of making an intemperate attack on the majority of their Lordships' House. When the Bill was first before them, it was admitted by noble Lords opposite, and by all, that the police of Ireland was a most useful and efficient force. He had heard no objection urged against that body—he had heard no necessity stated for the total change which was now contemplated in that body. At the present moment, one would suppose that Ministers had sufficient Irish business on their hands. They came forward with a measure respecting the Irish Church—respecting tithes— respecting Municipal Corporations. They proposed to effect improvements in the law of the country on these points, with reference to all of which it was admitted that reforms were necessary. That, however, was not enough; and they came down with a measure to alter a system which was at present in full operation, and with which no fault had been found. He conceived it to be a gratuitous insult to the magistracy and gentry of the country. He did, therefore, expect, that the noble Viscount would have given the House and the country some reason why it was deemed necessary to introduce such a measure now. At the present moment, he could see no legitimate or proper reason for bringing it forward at all. Looking to the evidence, on the subject of the police force, which was given some years ago before a Committee of the House of Commons by a gentleman whom he did not much respect, though, no doubt, the noble Viscount did, he found a few questions and answers which were very much in point, and which he would read to the House. The witness was asked, "Are you acquainted with the mode in which the police in your county 486 are appointed, and how they perform their duty?" And the answer was, "The Magistrates kept to themselves the nomination of the police, and I never heard the least complaint of any outrage committed by them." [Viscount Melbourne: Whose evidence is that?] The next question put to the witness was this:—"Do you know whether the majority are Catholics or Pro-testants?—I believe in my county the majority are Catholics." [Viscount Melbourne: To whom does that evidence apply.] He was asked whose evidence this was, and he replied, it is that of the master of his Majesty's Ministers. The measure was, in fact, contrary to the avowed sentiments of those who introduced it, contrary to the constitutional principles of this country, and certainly had exćited his most unfeigned surprise. In what the noble Viscount said, as to the present Bill only conferring on the Lord-Lieutenant the same power that he now possessed, the noble Viscount confounded the Police Act of Ireland with the Peace Preservation Act. It was quite true that, under the Peace Preservation Act, the Lord-Lieutenant had very great additional power, but then that power was only granted in case of rebellion or dangerous disturbance. That was not the fact with respect to this Bill. Were they, he would ask, to consider the country in a state of permanent rebellion? If Ministers wished them, by this Bill, so to consider it, then they had not done their duty, for in that case they should have brought forward measures even stronger than this. But the contrary was the fact, and a measure was wanted to meet the circumstances of a country where disturbance prevailed, but which was not in a state of rebellion. But the noble Viscount's speech, short as it was, showed to him that the noble Viscount did not understand the measure which he had brought forward. It therefore behoved their Lordships to look carefully to the Bills which Ministers introduced, and in the present instance they should adopt such safeguards and provisions as would prevent a Bill of so tyrannical a nature from operating injuriously.
§ The Duke of Wellington
was surprised to hear the noble Viscount assert, that this Bill was no more than a repetition of the Peace Preservation Act. Let their Lordships look at the Peace Preservation Act, and then examine this Bill. The Peace Preservation Act was the 54th of George 3d, c. 131, and by it the Lord-Lieutenant "is empowered, by and with the advice of 487 the Privy Council, to proclaim any county, city, town, &c, in a state of disturbance, and to appoint one chief police magistrate for every such county, city, town, barony, half-barony, &c, that may be disturbed, and may remove him from one county, &c., to another, as necessity may require." [Viscount Melbourne: The Lord-Lieutenant might send them to any barony.] But in the first instance it was necessary that the district should be proclaimed to be in a disturbed state. But the clause in the present Bill, empowered the Lord-Lieutenant to appoint chief or other constables, and it was as follows:—And be it enacted, that it shall be lawful for the Lord-Lieutenant, or other chief Governor, or Governors of Ireland, to appoint, from time to time, at his will and pleasure, in and for each county, county of a city, county of a town, town and liberties in Ireland, except the said county of the city of Dublin, such number of chief constables, head constables, constables, and sub-constables, as may be deemed by him or them to be necessary and sufficient for the preservation of the peace therein, and from time to time, as to him or them shall seem fit, to dismiss any such chief or other constable or sub-constable, and upon any vacancy in any of the said offices by death, removal, or otherwise, to appoint some other fit and able person to fill the same; and all such chief and other constables shall have all such powers, authorities, privileges, and advantages, and be liable to all such duties and responsibilities as any constable duly appointed now has or hereafter may have, either by the common law or by virtue of any statute now or hereafter to be in force in Ireland, but shall be guided in the performance of such duties according to the rules and regulations to be made as hereinbefore provided.He was one of those who were willing to go into Committee on the measure to amend it, as he conceived it ought to be amended, and to grant to his Majesty's Government such powers, and such powers only, as they ought to have, with reference to this subject. But to give to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, or any other officer, the power mentioned in this clause, as his noble Friend had described it, of raising as many men as he pleased, half the expense to be paid out of the consolidated fund, and half out of the grand jury cess, he never would consent to. It was a power which ought not to be intrusted to any officer, and so far as he could prevent it, it never should be.
§ Lord Hatherton
said, that the noble Lord who had spoken last but one had been pleased to observe, that the Government who proposed this Bill had offered no 488 justification or even explanation of its enactments. Now, not only since he had been honoured by being a member of their Lordships' House, but ever since he had been connected with the affairs of Ireland, had he heard of the principles of this Police Bill. Since the year 1822, when it was first introduced, had he continually heard of it, without its having received any alteration whatever, through every succeeding Government to the present day. It had been prepared in the first instance under the Marquess of Anglesey, and had received the approbation of Lord Stanley. It should be understood that he was now speaking of its principles. It had also been prepared during the administration of the Marquess Wellesley. He was not certain whether it had been submitted to the noble Lord (Haddington), who was the last Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; but he had heard that it had been, and that that noble Lord had given his sanction to it. In point of fact, it could scarcely be said, that the present Bill contained a single principle which was not recognized in all those which had preceded it, and which had been sanctioned by every successive Government. He would detain the House no longer, because he thought that the whole of the observations which had been made by noble Lords at the other side of the House related more to the details than the principles of the Bill.
The Marquess of Londonderry
had received communications from various quarters in Ireland, complaining that the Bill now before the House was of a most objectionable nature, and likely to afford a great deal of dissatisfaction. He could not but feel convinced, looking at the general nature of the Bill, and viewing in particular this circumstance, that no less a sum than 37,000l. was to be expended for the staff alone, that it would form an instrument in the hands of Government for the distribution of patronage and other purposes. Having no confidence in the patronage of the Lord-Lieutenant, from the manner in which he had seen it exercised with reference to the appointment of stipendiary magistrates and assistant-barristers, he could not give his support to the Bill in any shape whatsoever. A very excellent and gallant officer, Colonel Shaw Kennedy, had been named for the office of Inspector-General, and to such an appointment no one could object; but how long would he be continued in that situation? He should say, that, 489 looking at the appointments made by the present Government since they came into office—looking to their nomination of Mr. Fogarty to an assistant barristership, and Mr. Gore Jones to the office of stipendiary magistrate, he did not know but that in six weeks Mr. Maurice O'Connell might be appointed head of the police in Ireland. Having no confidence in the Government, he should protest against any such Bill passing into a law.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
protested against the mode of arguing a subject adopted by the noble Marquess opposite. Of Mr. Fogarty he knew nothing; but this he must say, that the appointment of that gentleman to be an assistant barrister had nothing to do with this question. And then as to Mr. Grove Jones, he, of his personal knowledge, was able to state this, that Mr. Grove Jones was not appointed by the present Government; that he was now a police magistrate for five or six years. It was not becoming in that House to refer to individual cases, or to make comparisons. He did not see why the name of Mr. Maurice O'Connell ought to be introduced into this subject. He had not the honour of Mr. Maurice O'Connell's acquaintance, nor did he know any reason why he could not be a proper inspector of police; neither could he perceive that the nomination of that gentleman would be an improper one, if he should be appointed. That was not a course of argument that he would consider as proper, becoming, or seemly, upon any question in that House.
The Earl of Haddington
, in reference to what had fallen from the noble Lord (Hatherton), begged to say, that during the very short period of his administration in Ireland the question of any large measure respecting the police force of that country had never been entertained by him; but he at the same time had no doubt, that if the Government then in office had been continued, a measure of the kind would have been submitted for his consideration. With regard to the Bills of Lords Anglesey and Wellesley, which the noble Lord (Hatherton) had said differed nothing in principle from that now before the House, he could assert that nothing could be more dissimilar; and if that were the case, he should be glad to know which of them it was, that the present Bill resembled? He would not say, "Not content"; he was for going into Committee, because he was anxious to have preserved whatever portion of the measure their 490 Lordships should deem necessary for the peace of the country.
The Earl of Winchilsea
observed, that there was a wide difference between the statement of the noble Lord (Hatherton) opposite, who had asserted that the present was only some former measure again brought forward; and the recollection of his noble Friend (Haddington), who had declared that it was altogether new to him and to the House. For his own part, he would never consent to intrust such powers as were conferred by the present Bill on the Lord-Lieutenant to any individual. Under this measure the Lord-Lieutenant would have the uncontrolled power of raising an unlimited number of men under the name of public constables, and also of taxing the Irish counties to any amount. These powers ought not to be intrusted by the Parliament to any man. Upon the ground that he hoped the Bill would undergo very considerable amendment, he would not oppose the motion for going into Committee.
was opposed to the Bill. He would take that occasion to refer to the taxation of Limerick, which he declared, in its present state, was beneficial to a noble Marquess opposite. The Government had altered all things, and established "a piebald education, in which every book was included except the Bible."
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, that the observations made by the noble Baron tended to convert the present discussion into one of a piebald character, inasmuch as nothing that had been said by the noble Baron had any reference whatever to the measure before the House. He should not detain the House to correct the errors of the noble Lord, for they had nothing to do with the present Bill.
§ Lord Cloncurry
contended that the Bill before their Lordships differed very little in principle from the Act which had been so long in existence for the regulation of the constabulary force of Ireland. Under the Bill before their Lordships the expense would not be greater than existed at present, and the advantage would be that the force would be better managed, inasmuch as it would be officered by persons more qualified to perform the duties to be intrusted to them. Originally the constables were chosen from among old soldiers, but an alteration in that respect took place some years ago by taking a portion of the force from the sons of the cess-payers, but for some reason or other, best known to the 491 Magistrates themselves, they delegated this power of selection to the sub-inspectors; and in some parts of Ireland, particularly in the north, the selection was made in a manner which gave it the appearance of party. The consequence was, that great ill will was the result in those parts of the country where these proceedings took place. After that period such was the state of things that the army were actually let loose upon the people. The right hon. Baronet who now led the opposition in the other House of Parliament, who, to his honour, when Secretary for Ireland, did a very thing in his power to improve the condition of that country, brought in a Bill, which passed the Legislature, adopting a new description of police force for Ireland. They were called "Peelers," and were distributed through the disturbed districts, and were told, that when the disturbances ceased, their pay and emoluments would cease also. And yet these were the people who were to be relied upon to give information as to when the disturbances did actually cease. Such was the system pursued at the time to which he referred. He contended that it was only the ill treatment which Ireland had received from successive Governments which rendered the present mea-sure necessary.
§ The House then resolved itself into Committee.
§ The first clause was agreed to.
§ On the second clause being put from the chair, which enacts, that "Visiting magistrates, inspectors, constables, &c, are to continue until it is notified in the Dublin Gazette that a constabulary force is fully organized according to this Act."
proposed to add to it a proviso. By this clause the present constabulary force was to continue in existence only until the new was ready to act. It was admitted that it was not intended to remove any members of the present constabulary force, unless they had been guilty of misconduct. He wished that the tenure of their office might be the same under the new Bill as under the old, and that the members of the constabulary force might not he removed, save by some act of the Government. He therefore proposed to add a proviso to the clause to this effect, "that all constables and sub-constables acting under this Act should also be entitled to act under the new Act, without any fresh warrant from the Lord-Lieutenant.
§ The clause so amended to stand part of the Bill.492
§ On the fourth clause, which gives power to the Lord-Lieutenant to make "rules, orders, and regulations for the general government of the several persons to be appointed under this Act, 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, or of any duties imposed on them by law, their distribution and inspection, as to the description of the arms, accoutrements," &c.
said that the amendment which he was going to propose upon this clause was one to which he wished to call the particular attention of their Lordships. Whoever had drawn up this clause had evidently had in his view a similar clause in the Metropolitan Police Act. There were, however, certain words which were not in that Act, interpolated into this clause. The object of that clause appeared to be to give the Lord-Lieutenant power to make general regulations for the government of the police force. To that there could be no objection, but at a recent trial it had been held by the law officers of the Crown, that the power given to the Lord-Lieutenant by statute to regulate the police, overruled the common law of the land, and the effect of certain words in this clause would be to give colour to that assumption of the law-officers of the Crown, which had been repudiated by all the judges; he would, therefore, make this clause identical with that of the Metropolitan Police Act, by expunging from it the following words: —"the extent and limit of their respective duties, and their conduct and proceedings at the office thereof, or of any duties imposed on them by law."
§ Viscount Duncannon
objected to the omission of these words, as they were most important to the object of the Bill. If their Lordships would take upon themselves the responsibility of all the bloodshed which might occur from the mismanagement of the police when withdrawn from the control of the Lord-Lieutenant, he would consent to the erasure of these words from the Bill.
The Earl of Wicklow
was glad that the object of this Bill was at last avowed. It was to rob the courts of law and his Majesty's subjects in Ireland of the protection to which they were now entitled by the common law. Up to that moment he had not been aware that Government entertained any such insidious intention as was 493 now avowed; he hoped that his noble Friend would persist in his amendment, for a more dangerous and unconstitutional provision could not be introduced into any act of legislation.
§ Viscount Duncannon
said, that the object of the clause was entirely misrepresented by the noble Lord. These words were inserted solely for the regulation and government of the police. He likewise added, that when the power for which the noble Lords opposite were contending was given to the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, it was a power which enabled them to call out, not an armed police, but an unarmed body of constables.
The Earl of Haddington
had objected to these words on the second reading of the Bill, and nothing that he had since heard had altered his objections. If his Majesty's Government wished by these words to give the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland power to override the common law, let them say so openly and manfully, and give the House the power of deciding whether they would support them in so unconstitutional a proposition.
The Earl of Winchilsea
protested against leaving the life, liberty, and property of every man in Ireland at the mercy of one individual. It was not to be borne that none of the courts of Justice in Ireland should be able to execute their writs with-! out leave from the Lord-Lieutenant. The Court of Exchequer had shown that it had not only the power but also the courage to enforce its process. If that court had not acted with energy and decision, neither life nor property would have been safe in Ireland. Let the country know that the object of this clause was to deprive the courts of justice of all power of executing their writs, and so leave them utterly at the mercy of the Lord-Lieutenant. He hoped their Lordships would reject with scorn this unconstitutional proposition.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
said, that the words of the clause would not make that difference in the construction of the Act which was contended for by the noble Lords opposite.
§ The Earl of Harrowby
hoped that the words of which his noble Friend proposed the omission would rouse the House to an extraordinary degree of diligence. Their Lordships were bound to look at the manner in which his Majesty's Government had introduced into a measure which they admitted to be of no great importance, words which, though apparently so simple, 494 effected so mighty a change in the law. Those words would do no more nor less than this—they would set aside a solemn decision of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland of vast importance and magnitude. There was so little to alarm in these words, that one branch of the Legislature had not discovered the meaning couched under them. If the Government intended to set aside the power which was at present given by the common law to the courts of justice, let them not hide the policy under a bushel, let them hold a candle to it and say, "These are the principles upon which we intend to govern Ireland." He hoped their Lordships would look at every clause and syllable of this Bill with the utmost suspicion and caution, after finding the conduct of Government so very slippery upon the commencement of it.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
denied that there had been any intention on the part of Government to conceal from the country the object of this Bill. The Bill had long been printed and in the hands of hon. Members, and these words had not escaped notice in the Commons; he had himself conversed with a Member of that House respecting them, and from that conversation he believed the House of Commons to have been perfectly aware of the effect which they would produce. The House of Commons thought the words of no importance, and had passed the clause with the words in it. Their Lordships would do injustice to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, by taking the control of the police force out of his hands if they struck them out.
said, that the object of the Bill was to place in the hands of the Lord-Lieutenant a more efficient instrument for the preservation of the peace; to that he had no objection. The object of the Bill was not to give the Lord-Lieutenant greater power than before to wield that instrument. If it were proposed to give the Lord-Lieutenant such power, he would refuse it.
§ Viscount Duncannon
If these words be left out, the omission will prevent the Lord Lieutenant from making proper rules for the regulation and guidance of the police, and will enable any attorney or common bailiff to call out the police, not only without the presence of a magistrate, but also without any necessity for their interference.
§ The Duke of Wellington
felt, that if it were not proper that the constabulary force 495 should be employed in the execution of writs issuing from the courts of justice, it was incumbent on the Government to introduce a Bill preventing the courts of justice from so employing the constabulary force; but so long as there were constables, he thought that the courts of justice should have the power of employing them in the execution of their processes., and at any rate that the power should not be taken away by words introduced as these were.
§ Viscount Melbourne
must be allowed to say, in reference to the observations which had fallen from the noble Earl (the Earl of Harrowby), that when expressions were bitter, it was no extenuation of their bitterness to say, that they were delivered calmly and coolly. That did not render them more soothing to the feelings of the parties to whom they were addressed, nor more creditable to the feelings of those from whom they issued. Notwithstanding the taunts of the noble Lord, there was no other object in this clause than to give the Lord-Lieutenant power to make regulations for the government of the police force. Whether these words affected the jurisdiction of the courts of justice was a matter, at any rate, open to dispute. The object of the clause was, not to invest the Lord-Lieutenant with any power which he had not before possessed. The clause was followed by another, containing a long enumeration of those points to which the Lord-Lieutenant's power of regulating the police was to extend, and he had no power to make any rules for anything not enumerated therein. It was quite impossible that these words could give the Lord-Lieutenant control over the common law. The omission of them was not of that importance for which the noble Lord contended, nor was their presence capable of affecting the decisions of any court of justice. Some inconvenience might arise from their omission, as the omission would imply that the Lord-Lieutenant would not make a proper use of the powers intrusted to him.
§ Lord Abinger
was understood to say, that without throwing the slightest imputation upon any one until after the Bill had been read a first time, he was not aware that there was any provision which could bear such a construction as had been put upon the one now under discussion. He had not thought it possible that a matter of such importance should have been allowed to pass the other House without observation, especially as of late "equal laws for England and Ireland" had been 496 such a favourite topic. Here, then, was a deviation from the English Bill; and what was the purpose of that deviation? He had not, in the first instance, supposed that power was given to make any rules inconsistent with law; but when he found the words "or of any duties imposed on them by law" all doubt was at an end; here was an express provision, giving most distinctly a power superior to the law—a power to free the police force from that authority which the courts of justice, under the common law, possessed over it. So long as the civil law or cannon law remained in force, such a proceeding could not be sanctioned. If they proclaimed military law, then it might be all very well to deprive the civil courts of their power. The effect of the provision would clearly be, that though the courts of justice might continue, they would yet be deprived of all authority if the Lord-Lieutenant only chose to make such an order. The King himself had no power like that; he could not prevent the enforcement of a writ of rebellion, or a writ of equity; and would their Lordships then intrust such a power to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland? In England such a proposition would be at once rejected, as a violation of all liberty. He should decidedly support the amendment.
§ The Earl of Ripon
said, that the words of the ninth clause threw considerable light upon the words now proposed to be omitted. They were to this effect:—"All such chief and other constables shall have all such powers, authorities, privileges, and advantages, and be liable to all such duties and responsibilities, as any constable duly appointed now has, or hereafter may have, either by the common law, or by virtue of any statute now or hereafter to be in force in Ireland." If the clause stopped there, all might be well, but then came these words, which might seem to exempt them from the operation of the powers of the courts of justice—" but shall be guided in the performance of such duties according to the rules and regulations to be made as hereinbefore provided." He thought that on account of the termination of this clause their Lordships ought not to leave in the fourth clause words which were liable to so dangerous an interpretation.
had intended to call the attention of their Lordships to these words in the 9th clause, when that clause came regularly under discussion; that clause was also copied from the Metropolitan Police Act, and there was the same 497 interpolation in it that there was in the present clause.
The Earl of Wicklow
said, that when their Lordships recollected that the Attorney-General, who contended for the assumption that the police were not hound to obey or to execute the writs of the courts of justice, was the same person who had introduced this Bill into the other House of Parliament, there could he little or no doubt what the object of this clause was.
§ Lord Cloncurry
observed, that the police rules and regulations, which had been in existence, for the last ten years prevented the constabulary force from executing any civil bill process, and from interfering in any pecuniary suits, save for the recovery of wages and from interfering in the collection of tithes.
§ The Lord Chancellor
observed, that as a writ of error had been lodged against the decision of the Irish Court of Exchequer, he would not now refer to that subject, but wait until the proper period for discussing it had arrived. He begged to observe, that whatever doubts might be entertained as to the effect of the language of this clause, there could be none as to the fact that the Bill contained a provision for rendering it the duty of the constables to be appointed under it to act in conformity, not merely with this Bill, but with the existing law. This provision, therefore, confirmed to the courts of law all their existing powers.
§ Lord Wynford
wished to know, whether the rules and regulations prescribed by the Lord-Lieutenant were to be binding on the police; and, if they were, whether they were to be equally binding with the law of the land. If it were intended to take away from the courts of justice the power of employing the police in their ordinary writs, it ought to be openly done, and not to be obscured and mystified as it was in this clause. The Lord-Lieutenant had monstrous power given him by the other clauses of this Bill, and might enlarge that power still further if he chose to adopt the construction which these words naturally bore. Nothing could, in his opinion, be more dangerous than to unite in the same person the power of executing and expounding the law.
§ Words expunged, and clause as amended agreed to.
§ On the 5th clause, giving to the Lord-Lieutenant the power of appointing two inspectors of police in the counties of Cork, Tipperary, and Galway, and one in every 498 other county, county of a city, and county of a town, except the county of the city of Dublin,
said, that by the law as it now stood, the Government could appoint four inspectors, one for each province, and between these and the chief constables there was no officer whatever. The present Bill proposed to appoint an inspector-general, two deputies, forty-two inspectors, and forty-two sub-inspectors. The appointment of so many officers gave to the force a totally different character from that which it had now. It was at present essentially a civil force, and it was impossible, from the inadequate number of officers, to employ it in a military capacity. With respect to the question, whether the salary of the inspector should be 500l. or 250l. a-year, he thought it expedient that it should be fixed at the latter sum. He considered that this would be an adequate remuneration, especially as 70l. a-year was allowed for age, and as the inspectors were allowed by this Bill to receive half-pay if they were entitled to it, which had not been permitted under any former measure. Then came the question, whether it was necessary to have inspectors at all? He thought it was proper that officers should be appointed to see that the sub-inspectors in command of the police force performed their duties faithfully, and that each should have the charge of an extensive district of the country. In his opinion, four persons would be sufficient to overlook the force, and to maintain it in a state of efficiency. He thought, that if this proposition were adopted, they would be doing all that could be fairly and reasonably asked by his Majesty's Government. Beyond this they were not at liberty to go; they could not create officers for any purpose but that of increasing the utility and efficiency of the force. The noble Lord moved an amendment to the effect, that the Lord-Lieutenant should have power to appoint four persons to be county inspectors of the police force, to be sent from one district to another, as the exigencies of the public service may require.
§ Amendment agreed to, and clause agreed to.
§ On clause 9, which empowers the Lord-Lieutenant to appoint as many chief and other constables as may be deemed necessary for the preservation of the peace,
The Earl of Roden
objected to the appointment of the sub-constables being taken out of the hands of the magistrates, and transferred to the Lord-Lieutenant.
thought that the 499 Government ought to have the power of naming a chief constable, and a sufficient number of constables, in cities and towns, without the intervention of three magistrates, as was required by law at present. He should move an amendment to the effect, that the Lord-Lieutenant should have the power of naming a chief constable, and any number of constables and sub-constables, not exceeding 100, in all counties of cities, and counties of towns.
§ The clause as amended was agreed to.
§ The remaining clauses of the Bill were also agreed to.
§ The House resumed and the Bill to be reported.