HL Deb 05 July 1869 vol 197 cc1105-6

said, he wished to ask the noble Earl (Earl Granville), Whether the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department has been directed to a conviction in the penalty of forty shillings (before Mr. Knox, police magistrate) of Lieutenant-Colonel G. B. Knox for what is called furious riding in Rotten Row; and whether, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, it is expedient to leave the law in its present state, thereby constituting the policeman who happened to be on duty, and whose judgment it is much to be feared had not been matured by a long course of study on the difficult point of pace an ex officio Judge, whose dictum is to be fatal when once it had been given on oath. He wished to say nothing derogatory to the metropolitan police, for the public were much in-debt to them for their general efficiency and discretion, but they were liable occasionally to fall into the mistake of what Talleyrand used to call trop de zéle, and the present case appeared to him an instance in point. On the part of the gentleman who had been fined, he could state that, in his opinion, he was not riding at the rate of more than ten miles an hour, but one policeman had de- scribed the pace as twelve and another as thirteen miles an hour. The time was half-past seven in the morning, so that the complaint preferred against him was rather hypercritical. He was riding a horse, too, which it was rather difficult to manage, and it was well-known that the only way of managing such a horse was to hold hard to his head and make him go for a little distance. Any of their Lordships might be summoned in the same way unless a little more discretion were shown in instituting prosecutions?


said, he must apologize to the noble Earl for having been rather dilatory in communicating with the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and for being at present unable to give him information on the exact point which he had brought forward. He remembered that, some years ago, there were very great and very just complaints as to the way in which horses were ridden in the park, and that the police were consequently directed to check it. He had heard very different characters of the horse ridden by Colonel Knox; for, according to one description, it was a lady's horse, and, according to another, it was a great kicker. If the horse was one which could only be managed by holding hard by his head and shoving him along, he must say he thought it would be well if that class of horses were shoved from the Park altogether. As to the hour of the day, he could not quite agree with the noble Earl that that was an argument against there being any danger, for at that time of the day there were many pedestrians in the Park, and also many of the younger members of their Lordships' families. The police, no doubt, were bound to exercise great discretion in the matter, and he would make it his duty to inquire into the facts of the case.