§ Viscount Duncannon
, in moving the second reading of the Manchester Police Bill, observed that the case of Manchester was similar, in some respects, to the case of Birmingham, particularly as regarded the charter of corporation, the validity of which being-questioned, there was no power of levying a rate for the support of a police force, until that question was decided. The corporation of Manchester had already endeavoured to raise a police force, but 377 had not very well succeeded: he therefore hoped their Lordships would allow this bill to be read a second time.
§ The Duke of Wellington
agreed with the noble Viscount, that the cases of Birmingham and Manchester were similar as regarded the disputed validity of the charters, but in no other respects. Although in Birmingham there was a local police, it certainly was insufficient, as had been recently shown by the necessity of sending for a large force of the metropolitan police, and of collecting in the town a large body of troops, both cavalry and infantry, yet the peace of the town, for some reason or other, was not preserved. In Manchester, as in Birmingham, it was perfectly true, that the legality of the corporation was questioned, and that the question was still undecided in a court of law. But there existed in Manchester a very large and efficient police force, entirely independent of the force attempted to be raised by the corporation. A very large and efficient force had been raised under an Act of Parliament, for the maintenance of the police of Manchester and the neighbouring districts, which had proved itself in very recent instances to be a most effective body in preserving the peace, and putting down the riots which had been there attempted. Seeing what the present state of the country was, and that bodies of men were moving about, endeavouring to disturb the working classes from their occupation, and threatening the destruction of the property of their employers, he could not but think, that all these questions of police were questions of a most important character, which ought to be fully and minutely examined in detail, before their Lordships decided upon them. It was perfectly true, as stated by the noble Viscount, that an attempt had been made by the corporation to raise a police force, and that the police force so raised was not efficient, and probably never would be. But there was another police force—and to this he called their Lordships' particular attention which was an exceedingly efficient force, more efficient than that to be created by the bill under their Lordships' consideration, could possibly become. The whole bill depended upon the first clause, which enabled her Majesty's Government to appoint a commissioner of police at Manchester, and to levy a rate upon what was called the borough, the limit of which rate 378 was to be 8d. in the pound, and the money accruing from which was to pay, not only the expenses of the police force, but the salaries of the commissioner and receiver. The total revenue to be realised by the rate, would amount to 15,000l.; after deducting from which the salaries of these two officers, a balance of 13,800l. only would be disposable for the police of this great town. He begged their Lordships to observe, that the act of 10th George 4th., by which a police force was established in the metropolis, provided, that, when that police was raised, all other descriptions of police force were done away with, together with all rates, &c, for their support; so that this 13,800l. would be the total amount applicable in this case. The police under the commissioners of police at Manchester, which had been lately found so efficient in preserving the peace of the town, would be done away with when this other police force would be established. Let their Lordships see what that police force was. The commissioners of police under the local acts of Manchester were authorized to raise a rate of 1s. 6d. in the pound, for maintaining a police force, and also for the purposes of lighting, paving, &c. That rate produced 34,000l. a-year. Of that sum, the police received 14,000l., which was more than would be raised under this bill. But that was not all; they had, in addition to that sum, the sum of 4,000l.under an act of George 2nd..making the amount applicable to the police of Manchester 18,000l. He thought the noble Viscount was mistaken in supposing, that the town of Manchester could not have a police force, if the present bill did not pass into a law. It would continue to have its own police, and would have larger funds for its maintenance than those which would be provided by the measure now proposed. Under these circumstances, he earnestly entreated the House not to pass this bill. The question was one of detail. The town of Manchester could not have its present police and that now proposed to be established, at the same time; it must have either one or the other. He recommended the House to permit the people of Manchester to keep that which they had got, and with which they were satisfied. He hoped the House would agree to his amendment, which was, that the bill be read a second time that day three months.
§ Viscount Duncannon
said, it was true 379 that there existed, as had been stated, a power to levy an eighteenpenny rate, but whether that part of the rate, which was applicable to the purpose of watching, could be levied, supposing the charter to be good, was a question.
supported the amendment. Neither of the reasons which were given for passing the Birmingham Police Bill, applied to the present measure. There was no application for such a bill on the part of the inhabitants of the town, nor was any sum of money required to be advanced by the public. He could only agree to such a course as he had suggested with respect to the Birmingham Police Bill, which was to give the commissioner power in ease it should be decided by the proper tribunal, that the corporation had not the requisite authority under its charter.
The Earl of Wicklow
supported the bill on the same grounds as those on which he had supported the Birmingham Police Bill. He felt bound to add, that in the present disturbed state of the country, the House could not refuse to furnish the Government with the force which they sought, without taking upon itself an awful responsibility, and one in which he could not consent to participate.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
said, the question was not as to the establishment of a police force, but whether the police, at present existing, was sufficient for the purpose of preserving the peace, and whether the present commissioners could still lawfully exercise those functions which were necessary for maintaining the existing force. He believed that, according to the true construction of the Municipal Corporation Act, the powers of the present commissioners still continued, whether the charter granted to the town of Manchester was valid or not; and as the inhabitants were satisfied with the existing police force, he could see no necessity for the present measure, and should therefore vote for the amendment.
§ The Lord Chancellor
had not anticipated a discussion upon the question of the continuance of the authority of the present police commissioners, supposing the charter to be valid. He had, therefore, not come prepared to give an opinion upon the question. Upon looking, however, at the words of the Municipal Corporation Act, he conceived there were strong grounds for contending, that if the charter was held 380 to be valid, the acts which had been done under its authority must have put an end to the power of the commissioners. The 84th section provided, thatAs soon as constables shall have been appointed by the watch committee for any borough, a notice signed by the mayor of such borough, specifying the day on which such constables shall begin to act, shall be fixed on the door of the town-hall, and every church, within such borough; and on the day so specified in such notice, so much of all acts named in conjunction with such borough in the schedule E to the Act, and of all Acts made before the passing of the Act, as relates to the appointment, regulation, powers, and duties, or to the assessment, or collection, of any rate to provide for the expences of any watchmen, constables, patrol, or police, for any place situate within such borough, shall cease and determine.Now, this clause applied to the boroughs which were expressly mentioned in schedule A of the Act; but then there was the 141st clause, which providedThat if the inhabitant householders of any town or borough in England and Wales should petition his Majesty to grant to them a charter of incorporation, it should be lawful for his Majesty, by any such charter, if he should think fit, by advice of his Privy Council, to grant the same, to extend to the inhabitants of any such town or borough within the disstrict to be set forth in such charter, the powers and provisions in that Act contained. So that as soon as the charter was granted to any town under the 141st section, the town became subject to the provisions of the 84th section.Taking the two clauses together, therefore, and assuming the charter to have been properly granted, it certainly appeared that the authority of the police commissioners must have ceased and determined as soon as constables had been appointed by the corporation, and the day had arrived for their beginning to act according to the notice signed by the mayor. The Legislature could never have intended two co-ordinate and conflicting authorities to be in force in the same town, which would lead to the greatest inconvenience and confusion. It was evident that there was no intention to place boroughs to which corporations should be granted under the 142nd section, upon a different footing from the boroughs in schedule A of the Act; and he thought it must be held, that in both classes of boroughs the police to be appointed under the provisions of the Municipal Corporation Act was intended to be substituted 381 for, and not to exist in addition to, the local police existing at the time when the respective charters were granted.
differed from his noble and learned Friend in the construction of the 84th section. The words "so much of all Acts made before the passing of this Act as relates to the appointment, &c, of any police within such borough," referred, of course, to the last antecedent— namely, the boroughs comprised in schedule E, and not to boroughs in generator to those in schedule A. Now, Manchester was not named in the schedule; and, therefore, if his noble and learned Friend thought that the local Acts affecting that town were repealed by the 84th section of the Municipal Corporation Act, he must hold that an Act of Parliament might be repealed by implication. No doubt, the 84th clause might easily have been framed so as to extend to this case, but because the framers of that statute had been unwary in constructing its provisions, that circumstance would never induce any court of law to depart from the ordinary rules of construction. In fact, this was a casus omissus, and the parties interested would take advantage of the omission, as they always did, and as they were entitled to do.
§ The Lord Chancellor
said, there would have been no doubt if the 84th clause had only referred to the boroughs mentioned in schedule E; but the words were not only "all Acts named in schedule E," but also "all Acts made before the passing of the Act."
Then what is meant by "any place situate within such borough?" To what borough did that refer?
§ The Lord Chancellor
thought that "such borough" meant the borough to which reference had been made in the previous clauses, which would be those comprehended in schedule A. Then the 141st section brought within the scope of the other clause, towns to which charters should be granted afterwards. He certainly was of opinion that the subject-matter of the 141st clause might have been much more clearly expressed. But the question for the consideration of their Lordships was, whether it would be safe to 382 leave Manchester in that position in which it would have no police at all. He understood it to be the prevailing opinion in the different districts of Manchester, that the operation of their local Acts was at an end.
§ Lord Fitzgerald
thought, that the House was placed in circumstances of great embarrassment, considering the great difference of opinion which existed between the two noble and learned Lords on this important question. Were their Lordships prepared to decide a point like this on such imperfect information? He would suggest the propriety of not pressing forward the bill until the House was more competent to judge. The noble Lord on the Woolsack admitted, that he had not directed his attention to this question before. Had any legal opinion at all been taken by the Government upon it? He (Lord Fitzgerald) had been assured, upon the best authority, that in the town of Manchester the prevailing opinion was, not that the operation of the local Acts had ceased, but that they would still continue in force whatever became of the charter.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
would not at present give any opinion on the legal question, not having considered the clause. But he found parties to be generally very astute in the consideration of questions in which their own interests were involved; and it was worthy of remark, that a rate had been made in July last, against which not one single appeal had been made.
§ The Duke of Wellington
suggested to the noble Viscount (Duncannon), either to postpone the second reading of the bill until to-morrow; or read it a second time, with the understanding that the discussion on the principle of the bill should be taken on the next day.
§ On this understanding, bill read a second time.