HL Deb 20 August 1839 vol 50 cc424-6

Upon the question that the House go into committee upon the Manchester Police Bill,

Lord Brougham

said, that the opinion which he had given on the preceding evening with respect to the operation of the Municipal Corporation Act in repealing the local police Acts affecting Manchester was not at all weakened by the reflection which he had since bestowed upon the question. Nevertheless, as his noble and learned Friend upon the Woolsack had arrived at a different conclusion, and as several learned Friends whom he had consulted, and who agreed with him in opinion, thought that the point was by no means free from doubt, as was indeed manifest from the disagreement of the views taken by his noble and learned Friend and himself, he withdrew all the opposition to the bill which he had founded upon his construction of the Municipal Corporation Act. He still entertained, with respect to this bill, the same objections as he had urged against the Birmingham Police Bill, but he should not trouble the House to divide upon the question.

Viscount Duncannon

said, with reference to the objections made by the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Wellington) on the preceding evening to this bill, the noble Duke could not have adverted to the circumstance, that a very considerable portion of Manchester, in which property of great value was situated, was not under the jurisdiction of the present commissioners of police. He had reason also to believe, that the noble Duke was mistaken as to the amount which could be raised under the powers of the present bill. It was true that this bill limited the powers of the commissioners to the levying of a rate of 8d. in the pound; but he was informed that that would produce a sum equal to 23,000l. a year. By the accounts which he had received, the assessment for the township of Manchester was stated to be 526,269l.; and for all the other townships 175,423l.; making the total assessment 701,692l.; and a rate of 8d. in the pound on that assessment would produce 23,389l. The account which he had received of the total expenditure for the purposes of police at present was 19,659l.; so that their Lordships would see that the present bill would afford largely increased means for the establishment of an efficient police. He was aware that in the township of Manchester there was the rate of 1s. 6d. in the pound mentioned by the noble Duke; but that rate was levied for lighting, paving, and other purposes, and the commissioners could only apply 8d. in the pound out of it to the purposes of watching. He thought that under these circumstances the objection of the noble Duke must be removed, that objection being, that they were about to give up the existing and more efficient police to supply its place by one which must be less efficient.

The Duke of Wellington

said—My Lords, what I thought was, that it was desirable to preserve the existence in Manchester of a police force, which has been found up to the present time, under all circumstances, effectual in preserving the peace of that town; and I thought that I had proved very sufficiently that when the rates levied, and the resources of the police existing at present were compared with the resources created by the bill now under your Lordships' discussion, that those now existing are superior to those about to be established by the bill. I then reminded your Lordships, that under the Act of the 10th of George IV., which provides for the regulation of the police of Manchester, and the levying of rates in Manchester for the purposes of police during the period of the continuance of this Act, that under that Act as soon as this bill comes into operation and the police to be created under this bill is notified as being in action, from that moment forward all other descriptions of police established in Manchester, either the corporation police, to which the noble Viscount had just adverted, or any other police, are from that moment at an end. Now, my Lords, in the statement which I made to your Lordships, I limited the amount of money which I said could be collected from the rate to be levied under the bill now proposed. I limited that amount to 13,000l. The noble Viscount, however, calculates that a rate levied at 8rf. in the pound will produce 23,000l.; and I shall be extremely happy to find that the noble Viscount is correct in that esti- mate; but I still doubt whether this bill affords the means of raising so large a police as that which at present exists in Manchester. The commissioners of police under the local Acts are authorized to raise a rate of 1s. 6d. in the pound, which for all the purposes of the Act produces 34,000l. per annum; but of that sum the commissioners are only allowed to apply 14,000l. for the purposes of a day and night police; and that is more than would be applied under this bill; but, besides that, they have a sum of 4,000l. from the rates, making a total of 18,000l.; and, in addition to that, they have the power of raising a still further sum if they should think fit. Now, as soon as this bill has passed, all that will be at an end. However, considering the opinion which has been delivered on the subject of the operation of the Corporation Bill on this question; considering the opinion which has been delivered by the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, who was so kind as to say that he would further consider this question during the interval between the discussion of yesterday and that which was to take place to-night; and considering, likewise, what has fallen from the noble and learned Lord opposite, feeling, also, a great disinclination to oppose myself—and to invite this House to oppose itself, to this bill under these circumstances, and to incur any risk in respect to the establishment of any police for Manchester, I am disposed, if it really is the opinion of the noble and learned Lord that such risk will be incurred in consequence of the present state of the law, I am disposed not to press those objections which I make to this bill, because, as I have already stated, I really wish to see the best possible means framed for giving the security of a police to this large and important town. Under these circumstances, my Lords, I shall withdraw my opposition to the bill.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that since his attention had been called to this question, last night, he had again looked into the Corporations Act, and the consideration which he had been able to give to the subject had confirmed him in the opinion which he yesterday expressed; but unwilling that it should rest upon his single opinion, he had taken the opinions of the Attorney and Solicitor-general, and they entirely concurred with him.

The Bill went through the Committee.