§ Clause 2 (Composition and election of Council and position of chairman).
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, that before his hon. Friend the Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson) moved the first Amendment on the Paper he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentle- 263 man the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) to the wording of the second line of this clause. He did so in no hostile sense, but with a view of securing that the drafting of the Bill should be improved. The clause spoke of "the administrative business of the justices of the county." He thought that that was a new phrase in legislation. It was certainly a very slip-shod phrase, if he might use the word, and it would be very difficult to devise what the transference of administrative business precisely meant. He would suggest the substitution of the words "jurisdiction and power," phrases with which they were perfectly familiar.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, he was much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for having called his attention to the matter, but he would rather not make any alteration then. He would, however, consider the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion.
§ MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
, in moving, in page 3, line 7, to insert as a paragraph—The preparation and revision of a basis or standard for the county rate, which, with such additions and modifications as may be necessary, shall be the basis or standard for all rates in the county,said, in moving that Amendment, he could not understand why Clause 5 provided that in relation to the preparation or revision of a basis or standard for the county rate, or in relation to appeals by any overseers or persons against that or any other rate, should be retained in the hands of the Justices, and not transferred with the other powers to the County Council. The rating question in the counties was a very big one, and he did not think it should continue on its present basis. The state of assessment and valuation in the counties was extremely unsatisfactory. What they wanted to arrive at was a uniform system of valuation and assessment. He was quite certain the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board knew that there had been many unsatisfactory incidents connected with the present system. Some residences were said to be so spacious and splendid that it was impossible to fix the assessment, because not letable. The right hon. Gentleman would also 264 be aware that there had been cases where the Chairman of the Court of Quarter Sessions had himself appealed against the assessment made by the Committee of the Union, and had got it reduced. He maintained that the ideal at which they should aim was the Metropolitan model. He was not very proud of the way in which the government of the Metropolis had been administered, but the system, as a rule, was good. Under the Act of 1869 there was a quinquennial valuation, so that every five years the whole property of the Metropolis was revalued, and the rateable value fairly represented the property of the Metropolis, while the contributions to the rates kept abreast with the wealth of the community. Perhaps he might be allowed to point out how the system worked, because he thought it would be generally appreciated. Every five years there was a revaluation; the overseers' forms were filled up as to the rent and terms of holding, and the occupier had notice of increase or decrease, and could appeal to the Assessment Committee. The surveyor of taxes was always present, and had such large powers that he could insist on his own value being taken, so as to make unfairness or jobbery almost impossible. Of course, there were provisions for intermediate valuations between the quinquennial periods. When any property was rated for the first time or the assessment increased, it was placed in a provisional list by the overseers, and notice of the increase in the value was given to the owner, who could object, if he chose, and go before the Assessment Committee. Then, if he were not satisfied with the decision of the Assessment Committee, he could carry the case still further and appeal to the Assessment Sessions, and thence to the Court of Queen's Bench. The Assessment Committee inserted the new rateable value in a supplemental list, which, together with all other lists, was taken into consideration when the quinquennial valuation was made. The advantage of this system, he thought everybody would admit, was obvious, especially in regard to the application of the Schedule to the Act of 1869, under which there was a certain fixed proportion deducted from the gross value, sometimes amounting to a sixth, sometimes a fifth, and sometimes a fourth. He believed that it would be impossible 265 to obtain an equal and regular system of assessment upon valuation except under some provision of this kind and he, therefore, moved the Amendment which stood in his name.
In page 3, line 7, after "namely," insert as paragraph (i),—The preparation and revision of a basis or standard for the county rate, which, with such additions and modifications as may be necessary, shall be the basis or standard for all rates leviable in the county."—(Mr. Lawson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. DUGDALE (Warwickshire, Nuneaton)
said, he had been somewhat surprised to hear the hon. Member refer to the work of the Assessment Committee as purely administrative business. He should have described it as one of the most essentially judicial duties of Quarter Sessions. The methods of the assessment and the levying of rates were laid down in a Statute of 1852, which provided for the appointment of a County Rate Assessment Committee, and it gave them power of levying rates, of having all the officers before them, and examining them on oath. After that was done, the rate was sent to the overseers and submitted to the Vestry, and the overseers were required to forward any objections they might have to the County Rate Assessment Committee, who were compelled to fix a day for hearing such appeals. The County Rate Assessment Committee thereupon appointed a meeting, heard the overseers, or whoever made an objection to the basis of the rate, and, after hearing them, settled the rate, and laid it before the general Court of Quarter Sessions. The Court of Quarter Sessions could alter it in any way they liked; and by the Act of 1852, when confirmed by them, it became the basis for the county rate. So far he did not think there was very much objection to the functions of the Court of Quarter Sessions being transferred to the County Council; but Sections 17 and 18 of the Act of 1832 gave parishes and persons affected a right of appeal to the Quarter Sessions against the decision of the County Rate Basis Committee. Section 17, which gave that power of appeal, placed appellants in the usual position of persons appealing. They were to issue notices and state the grounds of appeal, and to go 266 through all the forms of procedure in an ordinary case of appeal. When the cases came on for hearing, the Quarter Sessions were required to hear witnesses on oath, and he did not think the County Council would be a proper tribunal to perform such a duty as that. Therefore, although he thought the making of the basis might be transferred to the County Council, he was of opinion that it would be unwise to put on them the judicial business of hearing appeals.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson) did not quite, as far as he could see, embrace all the matters which he had referred to in his speech. The hon. Member desired to have a new system of valuation and a uniform system of assessment. In regard to that, the Government were in entire accord with the hon. Gentleman. Originally, these matters formed a portion of the Local Government Bill; but so many clauses were intricate and controversial that, at the last moment, it was found quite impossible to deal completely and satisfactorily with so large a question as that, in addition to the other important subjects in the Bill. They, therefore, struck those clauses out; but he hoped that they might have an early opportunity of dealing with the whole question of valuations, and he was inclined to agree with the hon. Gentleman that if they were to take any standard on which the present system was to be amended or reformed, probably the system existing in the Metropolis was the system which they ought to take. Therefore, although there was no proposal of that kind in the Bill at present before the Committee, he could assure the Committee it was not because he was not fully aware of the great importance of the subject. He earnestly hoped that within a reasonable time the Government would be able to deal with the whole question, As far as the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman on the Paper was concerned, it dealt with two questions. One of them was the question of the basis of the standard county rate, and the other was the question of the basis of the standard of all rates leviable in the county. In regard to the question of the preparation of a basis for the County Rate, he had listened attentively to what 267 his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Nuneaton Division of Warwickshire (Mr. Dugdale) had said, and he agreed with most of the observations which fell from his hon. and learned Friend. As the Committee were aware, they did not propose in the Bill to transfer the duty of the preparation of the standard or basis of the county rate to the County Council, because they desired to deal with that question also in connection with the whole system of valuation; but they had received large numbers of representations from Quarter Sessions in all parts of the country, strongly urging them, along with the duty of levying the rate, to transfer the preparation of the basis of the rate to the County Council. They were, therefore, prepared to accept that portion of the proposals which were made in various Amendments on the Paper, in accordance with the view of his hon. and learned Friend. They were prepared to propose an Amendment by which not only the levying of the county rate, but the preparation of the basis of the county rate, should be transferred to the County Councils. But in reference to the appeals which were twofold—an appeal by the parish against the assessment of the county authorities, and another, an appeal by an individual against the rating in his particular case—these appeals appeared to the Government to have an important judicial element connected with them; and they did not, therefore, propose to make a transfer as far as the question of appeals was concerned, but they proposed to leave the question of appeal, as now, in the hands of the judicial authorities which now exist edin the counties—namely, the Quarter Sessions. He hoped the suggestion he had made would meet with the acceptance of hon. Members who had put down Amendments on the Paper. He proposed to move the insertion of the following Amendment, in page 3, line 12—"And the preparation and revision of the basis of the plan for the county rate." With regard to other rates, he wished to remark that there were a large number of Unions which overlapped counties, and until they had all matters brought within the area of the county they could not give the County Authority power to deal with them. Some Unions were in as many as three counties, and if they gave to the county the power of fixing the basis for 268 all rates, there might be three different bases in the same Union.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
said, that although he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the concession he had made, he did not think that it went quite far enough. Speaking of the experience he had gained in connection with the County of Lincoln, he might say that they had been now waiting for 15 years for a new county rate. The whole assessment at the present moment was entirely unsatisfactory—for instance, the docks of Grimsby had sprung up and had made the value very different from what it was. Then, again, the assessment for the different Unions was framed on entirely different principles, so that it was utterly impossible to arrive at any uniform basis by a comparison. Therefore, unless the Government were prepared to go one step further, it appeared to him that they would be in exactly the same position after the Bill was passed as they occupied now. He had placed an Amendment on the Paper giving the County Council—The revision of the present county and poor rate assessments, and the preparation of one uniform basis or standard of assessment for all rates leviable within the area of their jurisdiction under this Act, as well as the hearing and deciding of all appeals in relation to the county, district, or local rates.The object of his Amendment was to secure that there should be one uniform assessment for all purposes, whether for county rate, district rate, or local rate. He himself would go much further, and desired that there should be one collection and one Department. What he desired was that in consultation with the Revenue officers some authority or other—and he could not conceive a better authority than a County Council—should have power to lay down an assessment that should be the sole assessment for all purposes throughout the county. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would undertake to bring in a valuation Bill, or some clause that would enable a provision of that nature to be carried out. As far as the speech of the right hon. Gentleman went, he was much obliged to him for the concession he had made, although he thought it did not go far enough.
§ MR. LLEWELLYN (Somerset, N.)
said, he thought there ought to be power on the part of one parish to appeal 269 against the course pursued in another, instead of allowing matters to go on as they did at present. One parish ought to be able to go in and see that another parish was kept up to its proper valuation.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
said, he had heard with satisfaction the concession which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had made in this matter; on the wider subject of valuation generally, he thought it was, perhaps, unreasonable to press the Government at this stage. He was glad to hear the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for the Nuneaton Division of Warwickshire (Mr. Dugdale) that as regarded rating the functions of Quarter Sessions should be limited to hearing appeals. He should like to point out that this was, in fact, to adopt the principle of the Amendment he had on the Paper, which exactly carried out the view of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. It provided that the County Council should have "the preparation and revision of the basis or standard for the county rate." He had also an Amendment on Clause 5 reserving appeals to the Quarter Sessions. He understood that to be the principle adopted by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)
said, he was afraid he had not followed the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board clearly, and he therefore wished to ask him what was the purport and extent of the clauses it was originally intended to include in the Bill which dealt with the question of the basis for the assessment of the rate? Was it to extend beyond the county rate, and apply to the whole of the rates in the county? He had no desire to raise any objection against the Bill of the Government; but he was bound to express his very great regret at the statement the right hon. Gentleman now felt himself compelled to make. If there was a subject of primary importance, then he maintained that in any scheme for the reform of County Councils the question of assessment and the fixing of all the rates within the county on a uniform system was of the greatest importance. It was not a question which needed argument, and the right hon. Gentleman could not deny its importance, because it was 270 originally part of his measure. Comparing it with other matters that were contained in the Government proposals, what could there be so important for the simplification of the affairs of county government as securing a uniform assessment of property, and why should it not be undertaken now? The Government had intended to undertake it, and it formed the subject of a certain number of clauses in the Bill with that object. They were not very numerous, and they were not clauses which were likely to be discussed in a contentious spirit. The uniformity of assessment was not a Party question. Every Member of that House, to whatever Party he belonged, was bound to desire uniformity of assessment, at any rate throughout the county, if not throughout the country altogether. Since the right hon. Gentleman put the Assessment Clauses in the Bill, and afterwards withdrew them, certain things had happened—for instance, the right hon. Gentleman had withdrawn the Licensing Clauses, which were contentious, and would have occupied much more time in discussion. He would therefore suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should take an opportunity of revising his intention of not including the Assessment Clauses within the Bill, with the view of reinstating those clauses, and, at any rate, of giving his Bill a more respectable appearance when it was passed in the shape of an Act than it now presented. The functions to be handed over to the County Councils were very limited in their nature. They were to manage the main roads, to look after the lunatic asylums, and they were to have something to do, although he did not know exactly how much, with the police. Those were not very large functions—in fact, hardly sufficient to justify the creation of the new Body and the position it was intended to occupy in the county. There was a clause, it was true—namely, the 8th clause, which was of a very remarkable character—to enable by Orders in Council all the administrative business of almost every Department to be handed over without any actual discussion or assent on the part of Parliament to the future County Councils. That clause would have to be discussed in due time. He did not think it would meet entirely with the acceptance of the House; but before anything of that kind was at- 271 tempted, which the right hon. Gentleman himself regarded as an important matter, in the future establishment of County Councils, surely they should endeavour to deal with the question of assessment. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House that he entirely agreed in the opinion that the securing of uniformity of assessment in the counties was a great object, and he took it from the right hon. Gentleman that he originally thought he could accomplish that object in this measure, and that it would not be necessary to introduce a separate Assessment Bill. The right hon. Gentleman only withdrew the clauses because he thought they would occupy too much time. He had an opportunity now of reinstating them, and it was perfectly certain that they would be discussed in a non-contentious spirit. All desired that the Bill should be reasonably amended, wherever it was necessary, so that when it became law it should be as complete as possible. Moreover, it would reflect greater credit on the right hon. Gentleman, on the Government, and on the House if they could succeed in carrying these clauses.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
said, he should like to say a few words on this subject, seeing that it was one in which he took a considerable interest when he first entered Parliament 25 years ago. No one would accuse the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) of any desire to defeat the Bill. So far as he was aware, the right hon. Gentleman had supported the Government wherever he could, and had acted fairly and straightforwardly in the discussion of the measure; but, in spite of that, the effect of the acceptance by the Government of the proposal the right hon. Gentleman had so insidiously made would be tantamount to the defeat of the Bill. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to remember what had happened already on the subject of assessment. The first Select Committee upon which he ever sat in that House was one appointed in 1866, and it was engaged for that whole Session upon this single question of assessment. If hon. Members knew anything of the discussions which took place in that Committee they would be aware that the subject was discussed with an utter 272 absence of Party spirit; but there were numberless Divisions and endless differences of opinion in regard to points of valuations, as to the amount of deduction to be made in calculating the rateable value of property, and especially as to the powers to be given in relation to the Revenue officers arising from a uniform assessment for Imperial and local purposes. The result of the inquiry of the Committee was that a Bill was introduced by different Governments on more than one occasion in that House—a Bill of 35 or 40 clauses—but no Government ever succeeded in passing it into law, although Members of all shades of opinion were agreed as to the desirability of introducing the principle of uniformity of assessment. Yet with all this information before him, and with the Departmental knowledge he must have obtained when at the Local Government Board, the right hon. Gentleman calmly, at this stage of the Bill, with he did not know how many clauses contained in it, in the middle of June, asked his right hon. Friend to introduce this most difficult and complicated subject into the Bill, and add some 25 or 30 clauses to it. If that was not practically an attempt to defeat the Bill he did not know what was. It was their duty to act in an impartial spirit. The first thing, in his opinion, to be done was to institute reform of county government. When that was done, no doubt, the powers of the tribunal instituted might from time to time be increased; but it would be as absurd to try to place in this Bill all the matters with which county government might have to deal, as to insert in a measure for the reform of Parliament all the social changes which those who promoted Parliamentary reform might hope to secure from a reformed Parliament. Therefore, with as strong a feeling as the right hon. Gentleman could possibly entertain of the desirability of securing uniformity of valuation for Imperial and local taxation through the machinery they were now setting up, and with the firm intention, as expressed by his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, of taking the subject up at the earliest possible moment, the Government could not consent to encumber and defeat their Bill by inserting such clauses as the right hon. Gentleman suggested.
§ MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire,) Arfon
said, he could not altogether agree with the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. For 30 years they had looked for the promised Valuation Bill, and they wanted, if possible, to get some instalment without waiting for another 30 years. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill whether something might not be done by this measure, and by a very simple addition to the Amendment before the Committee? The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had pointed out that it was impossible to take up the last part of the Amendment, making the standard for the county rate the standard and basis for all the rates of the county, because in a great many counties the boundaries of the county cut the boundaries of the Union. That was a very reasonable objection; but in a great many counties that was not the case, and, as he understood the Bill, it was intended that where they did cut the boundary of counties there was to be a revision of boundaries. He thought the following addition to the Amendment would meet the case—namely, "where or as soon as the boundaries of the county do not cut the boundaries of the union." If the Government would adopt that principle, it would be possible to give a good instalment of what they all wished.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he was afraid it would be impossible to deal with the question in the off-hand way suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. It would be necessary to give suggestions as to the lines upon which the boundaries were to be settled. Such directions would be absolutely necessary, and clauses that would be essential for the proper carrying out of the view of the hon. Gentleman would be very numerous. Therefore, to come to a satisfactory concession in a few lines, as suggested by the hon. Gentleman, was hardly possible.
§ MR. LAWSON
asked if the Government were inclined to go no further than the first line of the Amendment?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.274
In page 3, line 12, after the word "found," to insert "the preparation and revision of a basis or standard for the county rate."—(Mr. Channing.)
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ MR. HENEAGE
, in moving an Amendment in the same clause, to insert, at the end of line 15—The appointment, control, and dismissal of chief constables, and the management of the police in pursuance of this Act,said, his object was to hand over the control of the police to the County Councils. He was bound to say that since he put the Amendment on the Paper circumstances had very considerably altered, because the Licensing Clauses of the Bill had been withdrawn; but, at the same time, he still objected to the proposal of the Government to give the control of the police to a joint committee of the magistrates and the members of the County Council. For his own part, he was in favour either of one or the other; and eventually there could be no doubt that the control of the county police would be given to the County Council. Therefore, in order to clear the way, he proposed to give them that control now by his Amendment; but he wished to make it perfectly clear that he should prefer that it should still remain in the hands of the magistrates than it should be handed over to a joint committee. If he did not carry his Amendment now, he should support an Amendment to provide that the control should be retained in the hands of the magistrates instead of being handed over to a joint committee. His objection to a joint committee was that it would be no joint committee at all. It would be a committee either of the Quarter Sessions or of the County Council. How was it to be elected? According to the Bill, it was to be elected one-half by the magistrates and the other half by the County Council, so that one-half, under any circumstances, must be magistrates; and if the County Council, in electing their half, elected one-half magistrates, three-fourths of the entire committee would be magistrates. If, on the other hand, in order to prevent the magistrates from having a predominant voice on the committee, the Council decided not to elect magistrates at all, the effect would be to exclude the most 275 efficient magistrates. That was his chief objection to the present proposal of the Bill; but, for many other reasons, he thought that the County Councils had better deal with the police altogether. There were many duties which the police would have to perform under the County Councils with which the magistrates would have nothing to do. He, therefore, hoped the Government would either agree to place the police under the County Councils, or if they thought it would be better at the present moment that the control of the police should remain in the hands of the magistrates, let them take that course. He sincerely hoped that they would not agree to appoint a joint committee.
In page 3, line 15, at end, to insert the words "the appointment, control, and dismissal of chief constables, and the management of the police in pursuance of this Act."—(Mr. Heneage.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N. W.)
said, he had an Amendment on the Paper, which he intended to move in Clause 5, in regard to the powers, duties, and liabilities of the Quarter Sessions with regard to the police, and perhaps it would be convenient to the Committee to take the discussion of that question on the Amendment which had been moved by his right hon. Friend. This was a very serious question, and one which he hoped the Committee would not pass by in a light way. They were only seeking to retain the powers possessed by the magistrates in regard to the police, and they looked upon it as a question of vital consequence to the interests of the country. He looked upon the maintenance of law and order as the one which, above all others, should be in the hands of the magistrates; and if upon them devolved the duty of maintaining law and order, the police should be absolutely under their control. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) proposed to place them under the control of the County Council; whereas his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board proposed, with the exception of the appointment of the Chief 276 Constable, which was to be retained by the Quarter Sessions, to place them under the joint custody of a Committee appointed by the Quarter Sessions, and one appointed by the County Council. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) contended that that was an unfortunate arrangement for many reasons. He wished to put the case very shortly—and he hoped without any prejudice—before the Committee. He thought they ought in this country to maintain, as far as possible, the control of the police in the hands of those persons who happened, from circumstances, to be in a position to undertake the duties of magistrates. Men of all classes, as soon as they were in a condition to support the position, tried by every means in their power to be made magistrates. It was a very laudable desire. [Laughter.] He saw that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) was very much amused; but he had no doubt that there were a good many persons who were anxious to become magistrates and perform the duties connected with the office. If they took away the position they now occupied from the magistrates and their sons, and did not give them something to do in the country—[Laughter.] He knew that would provoke a laugh from the other side of the House. But if they drove these men away and prevented them from rendering services that were, in his humble opinion, of great advantage to the counties, they would only drive them into the towns for amusement, instead of allowing them to learn the most useful part of man's education—namely, the administration of law and justice. That was one point he wished specially to call attention to; but there was another—and there he felt he was treading on delicate ground—but he would not mention names or places. Instances had occurred lately—he would not say where, or whereabouts, although a good deal had been stated in that House on the subject—where, if the whole control over the police had been in the hands of the County Councils, there was every reason to believe that in many instances there would have been a grave dereliction of duty. [Dissent.] Hon. Members shook their heads; but in dealing with a question of this kind it was most important to look at all the considerations 277 involved, and, after mature consideration, to come to the conclusion which they believed to be the best, not only for particular localities and individuals, but for the whole country. He believed it would be far wiser, more prudent, and far better in the interests of the country that the police should remain, as they were at present, under the control of the Quarter Sessions, and it was with that object he had ventured to put down the Amendment which stood in his name on the Paper.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
said, the Committee had in this case a means of testing the earnestness and sincerity of the Government in conferring upon the County Councils as much power and dignity as they undoubtedly ought to have. If the magistrates were to lose many of the powers which they had hitherto enjoyed, and which they esteemed so highly, why not give the new County Councils, which were to replace them, all the power and dignity the magistrates had enjoyed, and especially with regard to the control of the police? He was of opinion that the only way in which they could make local government successful was to give all the dignity and power they could to the elected representatives of the people. On that account he was anxious that the control of the police should be given to these Councils. There had been no complaint that the control which the large Corporations possessed over the police had worked badly. On the contrary, all the evidence showed that it had worked well, and he asserted fearlessly that some of the scandals of police administration which had appeared lately in the newspapers—and some of the instances occurred not far from where he was speaking—could not have occurred in localities that were controlled by Watch Committees. For that reason he supported the Amendment which had been moved by his right hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage). Last Session he had to bring before the House an instance of the brutal treatment on the part of the police of a child in his own Division, and that case would have been inquired into with much less friction in a borough where the Watch Committee had control. Having been a member of a Watch Committee, his own opinion was that it was most desirable that the representa- 278 tives of the people should control the police of the district in which they were elected. He believed that course would bring about a far larger amount of sympathy between the people whom the police controlled and the police themselves. Nowadays there was a strong tendency to convert the police into a quasi-military force. He objected to that, because he wanted to see the police in closer sympathy with the people, and to bring that about it was necessary that they should be placed under the control of elected representatives of the people. He believed that the Amendment would accomplish that object. The hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) spoke of the preservation of law and order; but there were few instances of the violation of law and order in towns where a popularly elected Watch Committee controlled the police. It was only where the police were under the control of the magistrates or the Government that these questions of law and order cropped up. The best way to preserve law and order was to place the police under the entire control of elected representatives.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
said, the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Mr. Heneage) had declared his desire that the police should remain as they were, under the control of the magistrates.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he had not said anything of the sort. What he had said was, that rather than leave them under the control of a joint committee he should prefer that they should remain as they were.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, there were four proposals before the Committee, and it would, perhaps, be better to consider them separately. There was the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, who wished the police to be under the control of a joint committee. The proposal of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) was that they should remain as they were. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) desired them to be under the control of the County Councils; and he (Mr. Stanley Leighton) had a further 279 proposal that they should be under the control of the Home Office. He did not propose to consider the advantages or disadvantages of all these proposals at once, but he wished to suggest only the objections he entertained to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman that the police should be under the control of the elected Body. Now, an elected Body would not be always and altogether in favour of law and order. In certain cases the elected Body would be entirely in the hands of one class of the community, and that class might be opposed to the law. In the mining counties, for instance, it would be altogether in the hands of the Miners' Organization; and the Miners' Organization was, like every trade organization, not always in favour of law and order. These trade organizations, if they used their power, would be able to command a majority in the County Councils. Now, the police ought to have nothing to do with one class of the community or another. Their only business was to carry out certain laws passed in that House, and they ought not to be influenced in any way by any local or popular feeling. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Sir Walter Foster) said that all the evidence was in favour of the management of the police in large towns by an elected Watch Committee. He (Mr. Stanley Leighton) denied altogether that there was any evidence whatever to justify the assertion. On the contrary, the weight of evidence went against the theory that the Watch Committee of the towns managed their police either as well as they were managed in the counties, or in London, or in Ireland. There were certain Acts of Parliament that were never put in force at all by Town Councils. In some places, like Leicester, the authorities refused to put in force the Vaccination Acts; in other places these elected Bodies would not put in force the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts; and in others they would not allow the police to interfere with licensed houses, because a good many of them belonged to members of the Town Councils; in many of the boroughs they would not allow the police to interfere in any way with weights and measures; and in others the Food and Drugs Act was a dead letter. He was, therefore, justified in saying—and he did so without fear of contradiction—that these elected Bodies did not con- 280 duct their business satisfactorily on the whole. He thought that before this Bill was brought in it would have been prudent to have had a searching investigation into the manner in which the Town Councils had managed their affairs. The Commission which had considered the question in 1839, just before the new Constabulary were established, made this Report—It appears to us essential that any paid constabulary should, as far as possible without impeding their general action, be under the judicial supervision of the local magistrates.That Commission, at all events, was in favour of the police being under the control of persons who were responsible for the maintenance of law and order; and for these reasons he strongly opposed the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON (Devon, South Molton)
said, he was sorry that his right hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) had moved his Amendment. In his opinion it was positively a mischievous Amendment, and, taking into consideration the views of his right hon. Friend on other questions, he was sorry that it had been moved. It was impossible for him, and he hoped that it was impossible for any other Unionist, in view of the question of Ireland, to vote for a proposal to hand over the control of police entirely to elected Councillors. [Ironical cheers.] He heard the cheer which hon. Members on that side of the House gave; but they did not shake his position in the least. If his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) went to a Division he should certainly vote with him, because on other grounds—not upon political grounds, but upon grounds of principle—he considered that the police and its administration should be under the control of and directed by a Judicial Body—he was in favour of placing the police under the control of a committee of magistrates, instead of handing them over to a committee of elected Councillors. He was quite aware that there were many objections to the compromise which had been offered by the Government. He knew from considerable experience—having served for many years on the police committee of his own county—that there were questions of friction and of difficulty that might arise; but, on the other 281 hand, he preferred the compromise proposed by the Government to the Amendment proposed by his right hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby. He thought the Committee ought to view the matter as a very serious one. They need not only look to Ireland; but there were, unfortunately, other parts of the United Kingdom where popular feeling or popular excitement for the moment might interfere most unjustly and most unfairly with the practical administration of the law. [Cries of "Where?"] If hon. Gentlemen asked him "Where?" he should like to recall their attention to the position of affairs in many of the Welsh counties. The point was that it was the law; and the law, until Parliament thought fit to abrogate it, should be maintained. This was no question whether the law was just or unjust; and hon. Members were returned to that House by a democracy in their constituencies, and if the law was unjust they should get Parliament to repeal it, but as long as the law existed it was the duty of the Executive, with complete impartiality, to see that it was carried out. What he objected to was that they should be asked to offer any opportunity or means by which in times of excitement, or in the passion of the moment, the laws might be defeated, and their administration be obstructed by pressure being put on the police, and the police prevented from carrying out their first and primary duty. Before he sat down, he desired to say that if the police were to be prevented from performing that duty, experience had repeatedly shown that the only force on which the country could rely was one which it was most invidious and objectionable to use in such circumstances—namely, the military.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
Sir, I am afraid that I shall not be able to keep the debate on so high a level as that to which it has been raised by my noble Friend (Viscount Lymington), who, according to his speech, seems to imagine that the real question at issue is not the control of the police, but that, at all events, the important consequential question is the dismemberment of the Empire. The touching appeals which the noble Lord has addressed to those whom he calls Unionists shows that he is duly impressed with the magnitude of 282 the subject we are now discussing The challenge of the noble Lord is very serious, because he says no Unionist will support the proposal except the renegade who proposed it. But my noble Friend will find there are more renegades than one, for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) had, in debating this very Bill, stated that he objected to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government, and that his vote would be in favour of placing the police under the control of the County Councils. Having now done justice to the lofty and statesmanlike elements which my noble Friend has introduced into the debate, I will descend to the more humble mode of conducting the discussion, which I think the Committee will be content to pursue. I regret that in some speeches—not from the Treasury Bench—an element of suspicion and distrust has been introduced. It has been stated, with a good deal of tact and caution, by the hon. Baronet opposite, and with much greater courage by the hon. Member who followed him, that they cannot really trust popularly elected Bodies with the administration of the police in connection with the maintenance of law and order. I venture to express the confident conviction that when the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board comes to defend the proposal, he will not found his defence upon any such ground as that a representative Body cannot be trusted in this matter, because, if no representative Body can be trusted, how deplorable is the position of the inhabitants of the great towns, who amount to half the population of the country, and who are in the most serious danger in respect of life and property in consequence of the arrangements made for giving them the control of the police. I have no mistrust of anybody in this matter. I am far from saying that the magistrates have misused their powers in this respect; and it is not because they have mismanaged the police, but because I think that the plan proposed by my right hon. Friend is more excellent, more historical, more traditional, more Conservative, and more agreeable to the ancient usage of the country that I shall heartily support his proposal. I must say one word, however, with regard to the magistrates. They are a 283 Judicial Body, and I do not think that as a Judicial Body they are particularly well qualified to exercise control over the police in the matter of the Game Laws. I think in that respect their control of the police might be attended with a certain amount of injurious effect. I am far from making any imputation on the magistrates; but I doubt very much whether the magistrates, personally concerned as they are to so large and special extent with the subject-matter of the Game Laws, are on that account the best chosen authority for the control of the police. However, I do not want to put the case on that ground. But the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that he had an apprehension that the Bill was likely to lead to expense. Well, Sir, I am afraid that is not altogether a chimerical apprehension. We are now going to create a separate Body for the management of the police. But every new Body means new expense, and upon the ground of economy, if that were the only ground, I shall certainly prefer a plan which keeps the police under some Body which is about to exist for other purposes, than a plan which creates a now Body for the sake of this arrangement. I think, however, what has been said in this and in former debates is of very great importance. We are now about to create new offices of considerable moment—at least, new offices which we wish to wear considerable dignity, and we can only invest them with dignity by giving them special functions. And, for my part, I own to the desire of giving to the County Councils every duty which it cannot be shown that they are disqualified from performing, or which it cannot be shown that they will perform worse than others. It is most important that in creating these County Councils we should not run the risk of setting up in any shape whatever offices of great prominence which, at the same time, will not be sustained in the mind and view of the people by adequate duties; because the immediate consequence would be that the quality of the men who will seek election will infallibly and very seriously decline. The County Authorities in my own recollection have had no connection whatever with the police. At the time when I came into Parliament there was not the slightest connection between the county and the 284 police. The police were a parochial affair; they were appointed parochially, such as they were. No doubt they are defective, and require to be improved; but they are not defective because they are appointed under a representative authority. Go as far back as you will in history, and you will find that the management and appointment of police, as well as the responsibility for the maintenance of life and property, was admitted to be one of the very first and most essential functions of self-government. In my opinion, self-government without the maintenance and control of the police, and without responsibility for the preservation of life and property, is a mere skeleton or phantasm of self-government. And how came the magistrates to exercise the functions that they now exercise? Simply on this account—that it was thought right, very properly, to put the county police on a new and better footing, and there was no other County Authority whatever to whom, except the magistrates, the management of the police could be entrusted. When I come to a case like that of the Municipality of London, where there are 4,000,000 people to be protected in person and property, it may be wise to adjourn for a reasonable time the transfer of the Police Authority; but, unquestionably, in principle, in my opinion, whether it be in London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow, or elsewhere, the normal and the permanent arrangement—nay, the only arrangement—agreeable to the ancient usages of the country, is an arrangement which entrusts to the inhabitants, and the representatives of the inhabitants, the appointment and the control of those who are to see to the security of life and property. I earnestly contend that that is not only a tolerable, enduring, and allowable mode of securing that life and property, but that it is the best of all modes.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
The importance of the question now before the Committee is, I think, fully recognized by us all. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has adverted to ancient usages; but I do not think that we should derive much benefit in respect of this discussion from the system of parish constables. The old police of the country was of 285 the most imperfect and inefficient kind. But I think I could show that the police force, such as it was, and totally inefficient as it was, was not entirely divorced, as this proposal would divorce it, from something of judicial authority. The old parish constable was under the authority of the Court Leet, and, primarily, he was the servant of the law, and not the servant of a merely public body, such as the Vestry, or any elective body. Judicial authority of some sort has always been deemed necessary in this matter, and to divorce them wholly from such authority would not be wise or expedient. There is a great deal of truth in what the right hon. Gentleman said—namely, that when the ancient and parochial system of police was set aside and superseded, there was no other visible body in the country to whom the management of the police could have been committed, except Quarter Sessions; but I apprehend that if the Acts dating from the beginning of this Reign were carefully looked at, that was not the only consideration which guided Parliament in the matter. Is it true that we can expect greater impartiality and calmness and more judicial temper in the administration of the law from a purely elective body than from the magistrates, or a body in which the magisterial element has its influence? I think not. I agree that a poacher in some parts of England has not much chance if he comes before a preserver of game; but it does not seem to me to touch the sort of control which we think it desirable to keep up. Though I am far from saying a word that would imply distrust of an elective body that had the confidence of the people, yet I do think the influences which operate on an elective body is a matter to be borne in mind. It is impossible that they should not be swayed not merely by a general sympathy with the people, which is a good thing, but by sympathy with temporary gusts of popular feeling, which is not always a good thing, and may lead to uncertainty in respect to the administration of the law. No doubt, when prejudice, passion, and feeling come into collision with some particular law, and when a special law becomes unpopular, a great gust of popular feeling arises which does not represent the true feeling of the country, but only the passion of the moment; 286 and it must be recognized that a body of men dependent for election on the sympathy of the masses may be less able to resist that gust of feeling than the magistrates. An hon. Member opposite spoke of the manner in which the Watch Committees of the boroughs administered the police. I admit that it deserves admiration, but when the hon. Gentleman said there was never any disturbance of law and order in the boroughs, I would point out that—
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
I said that certain breaches of the law which had occurred lately could not have arisen under the borough system.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I do not know what the hon. Gentleman has in his mind at this moment, but I think the hon. Gentleman has forgotten the incident at Cardiff. I do not think electioneering influences are desirable things to introduce into the administration of the police. Can it be said that because there are magistrates in one county who are not in sympathy with the people, that where they are drawn from the people, they do not represent all classes and ranks of life? Such a position cannot be maintained. What, then, is there to load us to say that they are not to have any share in the enforcement of the part of the law which is committed to them here? It seems to me that this Bill, in offering to the County Councils a joint share in the management and administration of the police, is as large a concession as can reasonably be made on this subject. The whole system of the financial part of the administration is committed to the care of the County Councils, and the various duties they have to perform are certainly sufficient to satisfy the ambition of any man likely to become member of a County Council without the extraordinary course of putting the whole force responsible for law and order into the hands of a purely elective Body.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
said, he felt bound to say a word or two with regard to the observation of the Home Secretary that it was a matter of importance that the police should be under the control of the judicial authorities. He took exception to that observation as a matter of principle. If there was any authority which would do its work better by being confined strictly to its own duties, 287 for very obvious reasons it was the judicial authority. And when the noble Lord behind him (Viscount Lymington) shrank from supporting the Amendment, because it would be setting up a had example for Ireland in the future, when he asked whether they would hand over the control of the police in Ireland to elective Councils, he (Sir George Trevelyan) would ask him whether he was ready to accept the alternative, and hand over the control of the police in Ireland to the Justices of the Peace? But they need not go to Ireland. Let them look at Scotland, where law and order were maintained, and in no part of which were the police under judicial authority. They were under the Commissioners of Supply.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
said, he was in a position to state the exact contrary. The police force in Scotland was under a judicial authority—namely, the Sheriff of the county.
§ MR. DONALD CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
said, with the greatest deference to the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, he wished to say that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was in error. The Sheriff had, no doubt, a voice in the control of the police, but no one knew better than the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the Sheriff had two distinct functions, one judicial and the other representative of the Crown. It was not in his judicial capacity that he was connected with the police.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN
said, he thought the Lord Advocate by his interruption had not attained the end which in a moment of hurry he had in view—namely, for throwing doubt on his argument. The Chief Constable in a Scotch county was selected by a Committee of the Commissioners of supply, who were not judicial persons. He would, however, pass from the counties to the boroughs of Scotland, where law and order was preserved, sometimes in the most trying circumstances and in the most admirable manner, by the police who were under an elective authority, not only such as they had in English boroughs, but such as they were now desirous of establishing in the counties. What great city was there in which they could imagine it more difficult to keep order than in 288 Glasgow? And yet its police were most admirably managed by a purely elective Council. In addition to its great floating population, there was in Glasgow a large imported population from Ireland, belonging to the two conflicting parties in that country, but the police discharged their duties in a manner which was unsurpassed in any other part of the country, and they were under an elected authority which contained no Aldermen or selected Councillors. In his opinion, the more purely elective they made their authority the more they would bring on the side of the authority those moral forces which were the basis of law and order. He believed there was much less danger of favouritism and jobbery in an elective than in a nominated Body. Of all important concessions that could be made in the shape of self-government, almost the most important was the disposal of offices of responsibility and emolument, and he believed that this had, perhaps, as much to do with the question to which the noble Lord behind him had referred as any other part of the question. They were going to give Home Rule to counties, and were they to keep from them about the best and most important piece of patronage in the counties? In Northumberland, on the election of Chief Constable, after a committee of magistrates had carefully selected three candidates, a majority of the magistrates, from personal motives and under personal pressure, appointed a candidate who proved to be a most unsuitable person, and whose appointment was most unfortunate for the county. He did not believe that would have been done if the great influence now exercised in the county by his hon. Friend the Member for the Blackpool Division of Lancashire (Sir Matthew Ridley) had at the time been exercised as extensively as it was at that moment. But the thing was done, and he believed it always might be done in any nominated Body, and it was for the purpose of preventing such abuses, as well as for the purpose of separating administrative from judicial functions, that he should vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
said, he had no intention of intervening in the discussion, but thought it right to make a short statement with reference to the management of the police in Scot- 289 land. It was perfectly true that it was not in his judicial but in his administrative capacity that the Sheriff of a county in Scotland took charge of the police in its administrative work. He took that to be true of every magistrate, but it did not alter the fact that, as in England, a judicial officer was entrusted with the control of the police; and not only had the Sheriff control of the police in a county, but, if at any time disturbance arose in a borough, and he came on the spot and took the steps necessary to put an end to it by means of the borough police, the magistrates of the borough could not interfere with his orders and directions. He was the executive officer of the State, and the responsible administrative official to take charge of the police in that capacity in all cases. His right hon. Friend referred to the fact that in the boroughs the police were administered by elective Bodies, but he ventured to point out that in that respect the right hon. Gentleman was entirely mistaken. The police were not under the orders of the borough council, but under the orders of the magistrates, who were gentlemen elected and chosen by the Town Council as Aldermen were in England, but had to take the position of judicial officers as well.
§ MR. DONALD CRAWFORD
said, it was no accidental or verbal distinction which existed between the functions of the Sheriff as Judge and as the representative of the Crown in his county, and it was in the latter capacity only that he had certain authority over the police. The control of the police rested with a body of men who were in no sense a judicial body—namely, the Commissioners of Supply, who were qualified in virtue of certain property, and it was to a police committee, nominated by them, that the control of the police was entrusted, an arrangement which corresponded in all respects to the police in an English county. It was entirely a mistake to say that the control of the police was made dependent on judicial functionaries either in counties or boroughs.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said, he did not wish to refer either to Scotland or Ireland in the few observations he had to make on this subject. All he desired was to submit one or two practical considerations in connection with the Bill, which related 290 solely to England and Wales. In that light it appeared to him that there was a good deal of force in the objection taken by the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Mr. Heneage) to the dual control of the police, and that being so there remained the choice between the County Councils on the one hand and the magistrates on the other. If they were to transfer the police to the County Councils, it would be acknowledged that that would be a very considerable change, and if it was to be made, the least hon. Members could do was to offer some serious reasons for making it. What reasons had been given in the whole of the discussion? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) had, by way of illustration, cited a certain case which he said occurred in Northumberland. He (Mr. Chaplin) was unable to speak on that subject from personal knowledge; but he believed it was a solitary instance, probably the only one which could be quoted. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!) Then he hoped they would have other illustrations, because the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that there was less jobbery in elective Bodies in appointing to important offices than there was in nominated Bodies, and he was bound to say that, so far as he and the great majority of the Committee were concerned, that was totally opposed to their experience. Was it pretended that the administration of the police, as conducted by the magistrates in the past, was to be generally condemned? They had heard something from the hon. Member for Chester about the scandalous administration in the past, but he believed the hon. Gentleman stood alone in the assertion he made. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), last night, expressly repudiated the making of any charge against the magistrates, so far as their duties were performed, although he complained of the manner in which they were appointed; and that repudiation was re-affirmed that day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. The right hon. Gentleman made some remarks in connection with the Game Laws; but he expressly guarded himself against making any imputation against the magistrates. That being so, he (Mr. Chaplin) was 291 bound to come to the conclusion, which was a perfectly fair one, that up to the present time no good reason had been advanced for making any change in the system which by general, if not by universal, admission was acknowledged to have worked well up to the present time. Who was in future to be responsible for the administration of the law—the County Council or the magistrates? There was no question that for some time it must be the magistrates in whose hands the responsibility was to rest. Why, then, should they be deprived of the means of discharging the responsibility? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian made a somewhat sweeping assertion when he said that the County Council ought not to be entrusted with every duty unless it was shown they were qualified to undertake them. But how were they to prove a negative? How were they to prove they were disqualified for duties until they had shown themselves unfit to perform them? He would rather put it in the other way—reversing the contention of the right hon. Gentleman—and say, "Give to the County Councils, and impose upon them every duty that you like, as soon as it is shown that they are qualified to perform them." He was opposed to binding these new Councils with too many and too onerous duties until, at all events, they had had an opportunity of seeing how these bodies performed their duties. He hoped that when his right hon. Friend (Mr. Heneage) went to a Division, and he supposed that his right hon. Friend would go to a Division, they—on the Ministerial side of the House—accompanied by a great number of good Friends on the other side of the House, would go solid against the Amendment. Then, when the Amendment was rejected, it would remain to consider at a future time whether the control of the police was to be entrusted to the authority contemplated by the Government in the Bill, or whether it should be left, as in his opinion it ought to be, in the hands of the magistrates as at present.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, there were some on the Opposition side of the House who regarded this matter as inferior in importance to none in the Bill. He, for one, must express his surprise that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 292 West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) was not in his place to take what he (Mr. James Stuart) regarded as the popular side, at any rate, upon this important matter. He listened with astonishment to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Matthews), and to that of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald). He listened with astonishment to those speeches, because in them what the right hon. Gentleman seemed to argue in favour of, was the status quo in respect to the police. He was astonished that those two Gentlemen were prepared to support the proposal of the Government contained in this clause. If it was desirable to remove the police from the danger of popular control, which was really the essence of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, surely, then, the argument was that the police should remain as they were, and dead against the proposal of this Bill, which was to put the police under a joint committee of the two Bodies specified in the Bill. It ought to be borne in mind why the police were placed under the Quarter Sessions. If they looked through the country it would be seen that the police had, by the wisdom of Parliament, always been placed under the control of the Body most nearly representative of those among whom the police acted. In the boroughs they were put in the hands of the representative Body, and the boroughs were the only places where they had representative Bodies; in the counties, the nearest approach to a representative Body was the Quarter Sessions. In the case of London, they found that the very reason for not putting the police under the control of any Body short of Parliament was given by Sir Robert Peel at the time of the passing of the Metropolitan Police Act, and the reason given was this, that there was no representative Body in the Metropolis in whose hands the control of the Police Force could be placed. Now, why he and his hon. Friends argued that the police should be put in the hands of the Councils, was that Parliament was creating a representative Body in the counties where no representative Body had hitherto existed. If the Government followed, as nearly as they could, the conditions which had been 293 laid down previously, they would place the police in the hands of the new Bodies. They need not go very far from their own doors to see the evils which arose when the police were entirely managed by some Body away from and outside the people. He asserted, without referring in detail to a matter which he would have to refer to again,—he meant the question of the London police—there was no place in England where the control of the police was more removed from the people than London, and there was no place in England where there was more dissatisfaction generally in connection with the police. He did not put that at the door of the police, but at the door of the method of their control. If they went over the water to Ireland, where they found nearly continual the conflict between the people and the police, the police were controlled from a great distance. It had been noticed by people coming to this country how ready the people were to assist the action of the law. People here assisted the action of the law because they knew the control over the execution of the law emanated, to a very great extent, from among themselves, much more, at any rate, than it did in other countries. Even as the police were now constituted, in the counties they were more under the control of the people than they were on the other side of the water. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary spoke as if a popularly elected Body would be subject to the whims of every passing impulse, and as if the Justices of the Peace or the Commissioners of the Police in London were Bodies of persons who, like the gods, were entirely free from the influence of human affairs. They needed to go no further than London to see that the controlling Bodies were certainly not altogether free from the pressure of certain prejudices, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary whether there were not as many instances of unelected Bodies, controlling the police in this country, being affected by passing events as there were of elected Bodies? Although a previous speaker had referred to some temporary difficulty at Cardiff, that was altogether exceptional. The borough police of this country had, as a whole, been well conducted and managed, and, as a whole, had been free from those influences which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary sought 294 to attribute to the police in the counties if they were made subject to popular control. If the right hon. Gentleman feared popular control in that way, why did he introduce popular control in the Bill to the extent it was introduced? He (Mr. James Stuart) had abstained intentionally from entering into the question which affected Londoners more than any other body of persons—namely, the relation of the police in London to the people. He had done so because the question would come up again for discussion. He dealt with the matter on general grounds, and he repeated that there was no question which to him was of more importance, there was none which required more discussion, there was none on which he and his hon. Friends would criticize more closely the votes of those Liberals who sat upon the Opposition Benches, but who generally voted with the Government.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E. R Holderness)
said, he thought it was very unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman who had moved the Amendment (Mr. Heneage) had coupled together two subjects, each of which seemed worthy of discussion. These subjects were the control of the police and the appointment of the Chief Constables. His sympathies were entirely with the right hon. Gentleman in the one; in the other they were entirely opposed to him. His right hon. Friend the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) in his speech just now, pointed out that no one had shown any reason to suppose that the County Councils would be capable of undertaking the duties proposed to be entrusted to them. But he would point out to his right hon. Friend that when they were constituting a new and great Body like the County Council there ought to be some strong reasons shown for withholding from them a duty so important as the duty of controlling the police. He held that the more power that was given to these assemblies, the greater would be the position they would occupy in the county. Nor did he believe there was any reason whatever to suppose that popularly elected Bodies had any sympathy at all with disorder. There were exceptional cases, no doubt, but he thought it could be shown that elected bodies generally did exercise with rigour the 295 executive powers entrusted to them in the direction of suppressing disorder. He must say there was one difficulty which presented itself to his mind—it was one of those anomalies, however, which he supposed were frequently found in our system. The magistrates of a county were responsible for the peace of the county, and it certainly did seem an anomalous condition of things to deprive them of all power of keeping the peace. As a matter of fact, the same circumstances existed at present in the boroughs, and although it was an anomaly, it was one of those which had been found to work well. Therefore he supposed it might be equally applied to the counties. That was the only consideration which seemed to be against placing the control of the police in the hands of the County Councils, but he should not oppose the proposal on that account. He desired, however, to say a word in reference to the appointment of the Chief Constables. That appeared to be a matter of much greater importance. He did not believe the appointment of any high official could be satisfactorily made by any large body whatever, by the Quarter Sessions or the County Council. He had been informed by various people who were familiar with the working of Quarter Sessions that when the appointment of a Chief Constable came up it did happen that gentlemen who did not usually attend the Sessions turned up in considerable numbers. He did not think there was any reason to suppose that County Councils would be any freer than Quarter Sessions from this peculiar fallibility of human nature. Personally, he thought elected Bodies were much more likely to be swayed in that direction than Quarter Sessions; his belief was that Chief Constables ought to be appointed by some individual, be he the Lord Lieutenant or the Home Secretary, with the power of removal by address from the County Council; and he had a strong suspicion they would get better men in that way, and that there would be, by address from the County Council, a check upon the appointment of men who were not fit for the office. He was, under these circumstances, in some doubt as to the way he ought to vote. He had to weigh in his mind which was the more important feature of the case—the appointment of the Chief Constable or the control of the police. He was bound to say that, on 296 the whole, the control of the police being placed under the County Councils was of more urgent importance than the appointment of the Chief Constable, and it would, therefore, be his unhappy fortune on this occasion to dissociate himself from very many of his hon. Friends.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
said, he thought there was a little confusion in the debate arising from the mixing up of the administrative and the judicial control of the police. The Committee would see the essential difference if they would allow him to recall to their minds what was the position of the police both administratively and judicially in the boroughs of the Kingdom. He knew nothing about the law of Scotland, but he knew how the police were administered in the boroughs with large populations. The administrative control of the police in those boroughs was in the hands of a Watch Committee appointed by the Town Council of the borough, and if the contention of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was correct, that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) amounted to a divorce of the police from all judicial control, the greatest sinner in that respect would be the borough which the Home Secretary had the honour to represent, in which he ventured to say the police were as well and as efficiently managed as they were in any county in England. But in boroughs there was also judicial control of the police, the judicial control to which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary alluded when he went through all the various processes of issuing summonses controlling the action of the police with reference to the preservation of the peace, and that maintenance of law and order to which so many hon. Members had alluded. That was in the hands of the magistrates, and was not in the hands of Town Councils. If they went into the counties, they found the magistrates exercised a two-fold jurisdiction. As the magistrates are responsible for he maintenance of law and order, they controlled the police in the exercise of those functions to which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had alluded; but the administrative control of the county police was in the hands of the Police Committee of the county, which 297 was appointed by the Quarter Sessions, and really he did not suppose for one moment that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) would contend that that was a judicial function at all. That was a purely administrative function which the magistrates had discharged with great efficiency and economy. The point, therefore, was not whether they were going to transfer what was judicial, but whether, when they were setting up in the county a popularly elected Body, who were to have control of the expenditure of the finances, they should not place that elected Body in precisely the same position in regard to the administrative control of the police as Town Councils were placed in the boroughs. Of course, they might argue from theory or from experience; they might argue that a nominated Body as magistrates were a better Body for exercising these functions than an elected Body; but the whole theory of the Bill was that it was desirable to transfer the administrative functions of nominated Bodies to the hands of elected Bodies; and the arguments which had been addressed to the Committee against elected Bodies applied not only to this clause, but to every other clause of the Bill. If they wanted to judge from experience they must take the experience of the large boroughs. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary raise some doubt about the administration of the police in large boroughs. Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, had all larger populations than most of the counties; they had a larger number of police, and they had a more difficult population to deal with. They contained large numbers of the criminal classes, and they were subjected to what had been called popular gusts of feeling. Yet no one had ever complained that the administration of the police there had been ineffective or unsatisfactory, or that in any way the administration of law and order had been prejudiced by being placed in the hands of the elected representatives of those boroughs. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary alluded to the case of Torquay; he (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) intended to quote that as an illustration of his point. There the police were in no way interfered with by the elected 298 Body. The elected Body was the prosecuting Body in that case, and the police were perfectly independent. Speaking from his own experience in a Watch Committee, the police, in the discharge of their functions, in the preservation of Laws, were not interfered with by the Town Council. For all purposes of the maintenance of law and order the police were under the control of the magistrates. If any question arose the magistrates communicated with the Home Secretary, and if it was necessary action was taken through the magistrates. All that the supporters of this Amendment argued was that the administration and financial control of the police and the patronage of the police should follow the administration and financial control of all the other business of the county. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Holderness Division of York (Commander Bethell) referred to the question of the appointment of the Chief Constable. He (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) thought he could show to the Committee, if they could go through the various elections which had taken place, that the election of a Chief Constable in a large borough was not conducted on those principles of popular election which prevailed in counties. The appointment of a Chief Constable—say, at Birmingham, or any other large town—vested in the hands of the Watch Committee, which was a small Body. There had just been a Chief Constable elected in Staffordshire, and the election had aroused as much interest among the magistracy as a Parliamentary Election Votes had been sought East and West, and North and South. He had no doubt the Quarter Sessions elected the very best man, but to say that there had been anything of a judicial character in the election proceedings was to caricature judicial functions. The principle which underlay the whole of this question was, were they prepared to maintain that constituents who were competent to elect men to sit in the House of Commons to control all the naval and military expenditure, and to control the policy of the Empire, were incapable of electing a Body of men in order to control financially the police force in the counties in which they lived. If popular election was worthy of the name, if popular government could be trusted to any extent, it surely could be 299 trusted to the extent which the very small Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Heneage) proposed. He (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) trusted the Government would accept the Amendment, and that they would not maim the Representative Councils of the Counties by depriving them of functions which similarly elected Bodies in great towns had efficiently discharged for upwards of half a century.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that what they all desired was that now they were constituting new county authorities they should make adequate provision for the maintenance of that force which had the preservation of law and order in its hands in a state of effieiency. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had drawn an analogy from the case of towns, and had endeavoured to prove from that analogy that they would be perfectly safe in dealing with this question of the police in the counties in precisely the same manner as had been for a long time past done in towns. But he (Mr. Ritchie) had ventured once before in discussing this question to point out that, in the opinion of the Government, there was a very marked and wide difference between a borough and a county for purposes of this kind. He ventured again to press upon the Committee that there was that very real distinction, a distinction which made it essential that they should consider this question of counties altogether apart from the question of how the matter was arranged in the large towns for which the right hon. Gentleman was no doubt competent to speak. What was the position in large boroughs, at Birmingham, and Liverpool, and Wolverhampton? It was perfectly true that the administration of the police was in the hands of elected Bodies, but he was sure the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) would acknowledge that the representation of individual interests in the borough he represented was very much more complete than it was possible for them to hope for in the case of the smaller areas over which the County Councils would have to exercise control. The Town Councils of the large boroughs consisted of a very large number of representatives; they were elected in considerable number from all parts of the borough, and they represented all sec- 300 tions of the community within the borough. A borough itself was a comparatively small area; although the population was large it was confined within a very limited space, and the condition of affairs in every part of the borough was within the knowledge of all the members of the council having to administer the police who had the care of law and order. But what was the condition of things in counties? They had a very large number of districts in the counties, some of them rural, some of them municipal boroughs, and if they were to follow out the analogy of the boroughs, the fit and proper system would be not to give the control of the police to the County Councils at all or to any Joint Committee, but to have a separate police force for all the various districts over which the District Councils which were to be created should have separate administrative control. But the right hon. Gentleman did not propose that, and no Member of the Committee had proposed it. What the right hon. Gentleman proposed was that the County Council—which was elected from a very large area, an area which contained many smaller areas often very widely scattered, and very often in no sense connected by interest or association—that they should give to the County Council which represented all the various places in the county the control of the police for the whole area of the county including both rural and urban districts. Now, in some counties the area was so large and the population was so great that the number of representatives which were to be retained in order to make a workable Council compelled them to limit very much indeed the number of representatives to be returned from the various areas, and many of these areas, some of them boroughs, some large urban districts, others rural districts, would only return one or two members. Now, under these circumstances, he did not think that it could be in any sense considered that the representatives of these districts or the ratepayers of these districts could have that complete control over the police force which the ratepayers of a borough had over their police force. That being so, and the county itself consisting of a very large area of very scattered population, and a very large number of districts, hardly any one of 301 which had connection with the other, they considered that the Representative Council of that county was not in the same sense as qualified to efficiently represent all the various communities, as able to give that same kind of control over the police force as a Town Council of a borough was. These things considered, let him observe what, in the opinion of the Government, was the best means for providing for the adequate administration of the police force. They found that hitherto it had been entirely in the hands of the magistrates. They recognized at once that, having set up a great Representative Institution, they could not propose in the House of Commons that the representatives of the people duly elected were to have no control over the administration of the police force, but they considered that, having set up an entirely new Body under the circumstances he had named, it would not be wise to put the entire control of this force which was responsible for law and order throughout the great county area under the new Body. They, therefore, thought it was a perfectly justifiable proposal that along with this new Body they should associate the old body which had for so many years adequately performed its duties respecting the administration of police. He did not anticipate that there was at all likely to be any conflict whatever in connection with this matter. He knew that some of his hon. Friends thought that possibly there might be some conflict between the two component parts of the joint committee, but the Government did not think there would be anything of the kind. There were many joint committees at the present time, some of which had been mentioned before, where nothing like the conflict which had been spoken of arose, or was likely to arise. The sole and only desire of the Government had been, in handing over to the new Authority these large powers, to obtain efficiency. There had been no question whatever of suspicion on their part of the newly-elected Bodies. It would, indeed, be a sorry compliment to these great Bodies, which the Government, as their authors, would be naturally the last to pay, if they were to say that they had a suspicion as to the way in which they would exercise their authority. What they were seeking to obtain was a Body so composed as would in their 302 opinion be the best for maintaining in efficiency the police force; and in associating the old and new Bodies for that object, they thought they had arrived at a solution of the difficulty which met exactly the requirements of the case, and which did not in any shape or form reflect the smallest discredit or suspicion upon the new Authorities.
§ MR. BOWEN ROWLANDS (Cardiganshire)
said, he confessed he was unable to follow the arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) to show the difference between the new Councils as the representatives of the interests of the counties and the Watch Committees and Town Councils as the representatives of the interests of the boroughs. As he was unable to follow the course of the right hon. Gentleman's arguments, he did not intend to attempt any refutation of them. He hoped that the Government would carry out loyally their expressed intention of endeavouring to make the County Council as representative a Body as circumstances would allow, and, in his opinion, as far as it was representative it warranted the analogy which had been drawn between its functions and these of existing Town Councils. On the general question he did not know whether one ought not to sympathize with the Government in this matter, because they seemed to him to be anything but at one with their supporters. While the Government professed to be actuated by no distrust of the Bodies they proposed to set up, the speeches of their supporters behind them had breathed an entirely contrary spirit. The Committee were told by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Oswestry Division of Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton) that an elected Body was not in favour of law and order. He (Mr. Bowen Rowlands) did not know in what quarter the hon. Gentleman had pursued his historical researches, but they must have been in quarters entirely misleading. If there was one charge more than another as to this matter which had been urged against republics and elected Bodies generally, it was that they had been too arbitrary in the exercise of the powers conferred upon them, and had put down with too strong a hand any attempted invasion of the rights and authority of which they believed themselves to be 303 possessed. He saw in the present proposal of the Government a gloomy foreboding as to the way the Body which the Bill called into existence would exercise their functions. While the Government were prepared to confide lunatics, the most helpless part of the community, to the care and consideration of the County Councils, they considered that if they entrusted to them the administration of the police force they would be putting power into the hands of persons who knew not how to use it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) had rebuked certain hon. Gentlemen who sat behind him in no uncertain tone. He had argued that it was impossible to prove a negative. He had argued that because there was no proof as yet to show that the new County Councils were fitted for the duties conferred upon them by the Bill, the control of the police should not be given to them. That was another example of the forebodings which they had heard uttered in dismal tones by some of those who had spoken from behind the Front Government Bench. If they pursued the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division to its logical conclusion they would give these County Councils no duties at all. They were not, according to the right hon. Gentleman, to be entrusted with duties until they had shown their fitness to discharge them; but that could not be shown until they had had duties to discharge. This language of the gloomy prophets contrasted very strongly and markedly with the language of the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), who looked with a cheerful countenance to a not far distant period, when all, or nearly all, the functions of county government, would be vested in these new Bodies. The noble Viscount the Member for the South Molten Division of Devon (Viscount Lymington) had referred to Ireland and Wales. He (Mr. Bowen Rowlands) did not think that the tithe riots in Wales was a very happy instance for the noble Viscount to select, because the tithe disturbances occurred at a place where the police were under the control of the county magistrates. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Mat- 304 thews) had alluded to disturbances which had taken place in Cardiff. He (Mr. Bowen Rowlands) was unable to see how the case of the disturbances at Cardiff helped the argument of hon. Gentlemen opposite. At Cardiff an inquiry was held into the conduct of the police on a certain occasion. It was not for him to criticize the capacity of the tribunal which investigated the conduct of the police, nor to say anything in regard to its findings; but how an inquiry into the conduct of the police in a borough could assist the argument that the control of the police was not to be given to the County Councils, he was at a loss to understand, especially in view of those instances which were given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) showing how admirably the control worked in the larger towns and boroughs throughout the Kingdom. It was far from his intention to do anything to delay the Committee in arriving at a conclusion by a vote upon the question; but there were one or two other matters he wished to refer to. It was a curious fact, with regard to the control of the police by the authorities in boroughs and the authorities in counties, that in the disturbances which took place in Cardiff (and he believed it was also the case at Belfast) it was to the police who were imported from outside that the bulk of the disorders were mainly, if not altogether, attributed, and not to those who were under the control of the authorities within the borough. That was another instance which went to support the argument adduced on the Opposition side of the House; but among the gloomy pictures drawn on the other side, there was one bright spot shown by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot). The hon. and gallant Baronet gave as a reason for the continuance of the present system that everybody in his district was desirous of being a magistrate; this might be true and might be an example of well or ill regulated ambition, but it proved nothing that could be of service in this discussion. The complaint they had to make in Wales was that magistrates were almost invariably selected from one class of people, and persons who were fairly entitled to a seat upon the Bench 305 were denied the position by those who had the power of appointment. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had referred to the enforcement of the Game Laws by magistrates, and had appeared to confess that it was not all that could be desired. But his (Mr. Bowen Rowland's) and his hon. Friend's complaint was not by any means restricted to the hearing of cases under the same Laws, but rather as to the employment of police as additional gamekeepers. There was a Statute which prevented gamekeepers being constables, but the action of the magistrates really turned constables into gamekeepers. He was not there to make any special charge against the magistrates, although he was obliged to confess that their training and prejudices disposed them to run in one groove. On the grounds he had enumerated, he hoped the Committee would grant full control of the police to the County Council.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had had, he thought, a difficult task, and he had not been perfectly successful in fulfilling it in endeavouring to justify the scheme of the Bill in regard to the control of the police, because the measure of the right hon. Gentleman was founded on the precedent of the Municipal Corporations Act, and everyone knew that in the Municipal Corporations the police were under the Town Council, and not under any mixed Committee or under any foreign Body. How did the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to justify and account for the proposal in his measure? As far as he (Mr. Stansfeld) could understand it, the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to draw a distinction between the boroughs and the counties with respect to the management of the police. He had said, in the first place, that if they were to go by analogy they ought to confer on District Councils the superintendence and management of the police; and he added that the County Councils were not as distinctly and as definitely representative Bodies as the District Councils were, or might be, in regard to the question of police. But what was his proposal? To give the superintendence of the police and the patronage of the police to a Body which was less representative than the County 306 Council itself. There was no justification, it seemed to him (Mr. Stansfeld), for that argument. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the County Council was in some respects less fitted than the Council of a borough to undertake these functions. When the Municipal Corporations Act was passed, what experience had the Councils which were created for the first time under that Act? Besides, the County Councils of the future would be largely, and perhaps mainly, composed of the very men, or, at any rate, the class of men, from whom magistrates were chosen, and who had peculiar experience in the management of police. It was no use casting doubts on the Councils which they proposed to create for popular government in the counties, unless they could justify those doubts, and he asserted, without fear of contradiction, that the conditions of the case were such that the future County Councils would largely consist of county magistrates, and almost exclusively consist of owners of property and county gentlemen, from which classes of the community magistrates were chosen. Therefore, he maintained that on the ground of experience there was more reason for conferring on County Councils the administration of the police than there was reason when the Municipal Corporations Act was passed for conferring that power on the Councils which were thereby created. He wanted to give the Government to understand that they had come at length in this Bill upon what was a vital question, a question upon which they on the Opposition Benches felt deeply, and upon which their friends and constituents, and those who were politically in accord with them felt deeply; and he said this without fear or hesitation, that upon the conclusion to which the Committee came that day would depend largely the aspect in which the measure would be regarded by the people of the country, and that it would be impossible to avoid dissensions and political discussions, particularly with reference to that part of the measure. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford Division of Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) seemed to think that they (the Opposition) would find a difficulty in stating positively their reasons for objecting to the Government measures 307 or to the proposal of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) and of approving of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Heneage), which they were discussing at this moment. He (Mr. Stansfeld) felt no difficulty in stating the views and principles by which he believed they on that (the Opposition) side of the House were guided on this subject. First of all, they objected to the very thing which many people seemed to desire—they objected to mixing judicial with executive functions. They objected to too close and intimate an alliance between the Judges or magistrates and the police, and they adopted entirely the lucid and unanswerable explanation and arguments which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had put forward so clearly, to the effect that what they desired was not to interfere with the judicial functions of the magistracy, or to take away from them any power which judicially they were entitled to exercise over the police in the county, but simply to place in the hands of a popularly elected Body, which was to pay for the police, the right of nominating and managing the police. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton had placed in his (Mr. Stansfeld's) hands the words of the Municipal Corporations Act which referred to this subject, and the thing was perfectly plain. The words were contained in the 91st section of the Act, and it was plain from that section that the powers conferred on the Watch Committees of Town Councils were purely administrative, and that the police remained absolutely at the disposal of the Justices, who were entitled to call upon them to act. In the 2nd sub-section of that clause, he found that every constable should be liable to obey all such lawful commands as he might receive from any of the Justices having jurisdiction in the borough or in any county in which that constable was called on to act. Therefore, there was no difference at all between hon. Members on that and hon. Members on the other side on the question of the magistracy retaining all that power which might fairly be called judicial as distinct from the administrative power, and all that he claimed was that the measure, 308 the principal object of which was to take away from the magistrates of counties that which was not judicial, but purely administrative, should follow that principle when they came to deal with the subject of the administration of the police. They on that (the Opposition) side of the House had another reason. They objected to the refusal to give the County Councils of the future that control over the police which the Borough Councils had, and which the Councils of Boroughs which were to be Counties were to have in the future. He thought it was a sorry compliment on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board to pay to the County Councils, which he was instrumental in creating, to refuse them administrative powers which were vested in Town Councils by the Municipal Corporations Act. He (Mr. Stansfeld) ventured to think, or to suspect, that the right hon. Gentleman's feeling was not very strong against the arguments and the resolution which he (Mr. Stansfeld) was now advocating, and that it had been a matter of Party tactics and of concession to what might be called the Quarter Sessions element which had led the right hon. Gentleman to propose this compromise, which many even on the opposite side of the House did not think would work without difficulty and friction. But he (Mr. Stansfeld) should like the Committee to take a somewhat larger view of the matter, and would put it in this way. He contended that they could not do a more useful thing for law and order than to call upon the local representatives, freely chosen by the people, to administer the police, subject always to the right of the magistracy to call upon them when it might be necessary to do so. He had yet to learn the very A B C of Constitutional Government, if it was not a fact that if they wanted to rule the people with law and order, the people must be put on the side of law and order. Did not everyone know that looking back at the history of the Municipal Corporations of the country, how eminently successful the adoption in practice of that principle had been? There might have been occasions when there had been some difficulties to encounter, and when there had been some partial failure, but, looking at the question broadly and fairly, could anyone say to himself that any 309 other measure or proposal or method could have conduced so much to the successful observance of law and order in the big boroughs of this country as the principles and arrangements of the Municipal Corporations Act, which placed the police under the administrative control of the Town Councils? Why, it was common sense and common knowledge that about the best thing they could do with men was to sot them to a good work—was to define their duty and set them to do it. Under such circumstances most men would do their duty. If an elective Body of men were given the administration of the Bill whether they were a Borough Council or a County Council, however popularly they were chosen, they placed them at once upon the side of the law, and infused into their minds a high sense of responsibility. There had been many occasions in the history of the Municipal Corporations of this country when popular feeling was strongly against the exercise of police power, but the popularly elected representatives of the people in the Councils had not hesitated in the fulfilment of their duties, and had called upon the police to perform theirs. He said, therefore, that if they would do the best thing for law and order, they would place the police entirely under the control—subject to the right by law of the magistrates to call upon them to act in certain cases—entirely under the superintendence and control of the County Councils. What he had noted, he must say with some surprise, was that the objection to the present proposal had sprung from the other side of the House—from the supporters of the Government who had brought in this measure. He would put it to the Gentlemen who opposed this proposal to invest the County Councils of the future with the management of the police—he would put it to them on what ground did they support the proposal to create County Councils, if they could not trust them? These County Councils would undoubtedly consist to a large extent of gentlemen who were magistrates at the present time. They would further consist of persons coming mainly from the class from whom the magistrates were chosen. Was it for hon. Gentlemen opposite to cast discredit and a slur upon their own class, and upon their fitness for the fulfilment of their duties, and to 310 take refuge in the argument of the President of the Local Government Board, when he said that those duties which the Borough Councils and their Watch Committees had conducted and fulfilled with admirable success for half a century, those who would compose the County Councils were not fitted to perform. These were the views and the principles which they (the Opposition) entertained. They held the strongest opinion upon the subject, and they would vote upon it that day with the strongest and deepest conviction, and they would never rest satisfied, even if it were carried against them now, until they had reform, and had invested the County Councils with the same rights in regard to the police as the Borough Councils possessed.
§ MR. SWETENHAM (Carnarvon, &c.)
said, he had listened with admiration to the very eloquent and theoretical speech with which they had just been favoured by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld); but, with the permission of the Committee, he should like to recall it to a few dull, common-place facts. Now, let them just look for a moment at what was the proposal of the Government in this Bill. First, in regard to the position of the Chief Constable, it was proposed by the Bill that he should be retained, and that the power of appointing him should still rest with the County Magistrates; but before he dealt purely with the Amendment which they were now considering, he would draw the attention of the Committee for one moment to what the powers were which the magistrates had over the Chief Constable. They had power to appoint him, but they had not, to use the words of the Amendment, the power of controlling the Chief Constable. The Chief Constable, he apprehended, acted independently of the magistracy, nor did he think—and he spoke under correction if he was wrong—that they had the power of dismissing him, except indirectly, because, of course, they controlled the purse-strings. But the Amendment they had now under consideration went a great deal further, and proposed to give to the County Council much more power over the Chief Constable than the magistrates now had, because they not only proposed to give to the County Council his appointment, but the power of controlling him and dismissing him 311 as well. He ventured, therefore, to think that the matter was one to which the Committee should devote very careful consideration before they decided in which way they ought to vote. Something had been said in regard to the magistrates, and in particular by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff (Sir Edward Reed). Well, he could not help thinking that, as a rule, the magistrates had performed their duty, so far, in a most exemplary manner. He could not help thinking himself that if attacks were made upon them from time to time, such as were recently made upon them by some Members on the other side of the House, and if these attacks were unjustifiable, he did not think the present wish to belong to the magistracy would long continue; but, on the other hand, he felt certain that if Lords Lieutenants of counties were to take care in appointing magistrates that they only chose the best men, men of culture and intelligence and position, and who had characters to lose, the magistracy would continue to enjoy the very high respect it had hitherto secured on the part of the community. He should further like to say this: he could hardly help thinking that it was a mistake to suppose that when gentlemen took upon themselves the office of magistrates, they did not put on one side, as the Judges did, all considerations of politics and all considerations of religion, and he thought that when they came to the decision of cases brought before them, they endeavoured to decide them as the Judges did, however they may have felt politically on certain subjects beforehand. Therefore, he was one of those who maintained that magistrates ought never to be selected on account of their religion or politics, but entirely on account of their intelligence and capacity. Now, let him say one word with regard to the appointment of the constables. He confessed, himself, he should have preferred to see both the appointment of the Chief Constable and of the other constables still kept in the hands of the magistrates, or given over to some Government Department—say, the Local Government Board; but it seemed to him the Bill proposed that there should be a joint committee, so far as the management was concerned. As a matter of course, he should vote for it; but he should draw attention to what 312 he thought was an argument from which they could pretty well form an opinion as to how they ought to vote in this case. Suppose for one moment that a County Council, say, in the North of Wales, were to be composed—[Cries of "Divide!"] He would undertake not to trespass on the time of the Committee for more than a few moments; but perhaps the Committee would allow him to put this case. Suppose for a moment, what was not impossible, that in some of the counties of North Wales County Councils were composed largely of highly conscientious, excellent men, Nonconformist ministers who thought that the payment of tithe was wrong, and were entirely opposed to its payment. So long as tithe was payable, it was, of course, payable by law, and if the people would not pay when the law was set in motion, the police when called upon were bound to assist in carrying it out. Suppose the Chief Constable and the other constables were absolutely under the control and subject to the dismissal by a County Council such as that he had referred to, would it be in human nature either for the Chief Constable or the other constables to dare to act contrary to the wishes of those under whom they served—of those who had the control of their appointments and of their dismissal? Those appeared to him to be practical subjects which they ought to consider. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) had asked, rather triumphantly—"Are you going to distrust this body which you are now creating?" No; he did not distrust them; he would not distrust them any more than the right hon. Gentleman himself; but there were certain cases in which people ought not to be judges, and those cases were where their own interests were concerned. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he did not distrust the magistrates. No; but he would distrust them just as much as anyone else, where they were made judges in their own cases. Certainly, with all admiration for the way in which magistrates had fulfilled their duties, if he had had the power to stop them, he never would have allowed them to be judges in game cases. As he objected to the magistrates being judges in their own cases, so he objected to the police, whether the Chief Constable or 313 the other constables, being put under the control or power of the County Councils, against some members of which they might from time to time be called upon to act. He would detain the Committee no further. He was obliged to them for having listened to his remarks, and he could not help feeling that they ought thoroughly to consider the proposal in the Amendment before they agreed to it.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he hoped they might now be allowed to divide after a debate which had lasted two hours and a-half.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 218; Noes 264: Majority 46.316
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Craig, J.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||Crawford, D.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Cremer, W. R.|
|Allison, R. A.||Crilly, D.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Davies, W.|
|Asher, A.||Deasy, J.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Dillon, J.|
|Austin, J.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Dodds, J.|
|Ballantine, W. H. W.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Barbour, W. B.||Ellis, J.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Ellis, J. E.|
|Barran, J.||Ellis, T. E.|
|Bethell, Commander G. R.||Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Evans, F. H.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Farquharson, Dr. R.|
|Bolton, T. D.||Finucane, J.|
|Bradlaugh, C.||Firth, J. F. B.|
|Bright, Jacob||Flower, C.|
|Bright, W. L.||Flynn, J. C.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Foley, P. J.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Foljambe, C. G. S.|
|Brunner, J. T.||Forster, Sir C.|
|Bryce, J.||Foster, Sir W. B.|
|Buxton, S. C.||Fowler, right hon. H. H.|
|Byrne, G. M.|
|Caine, W. S.||Fox, Dr. J. F.|
|Cameron, C.||Fry, T.|
|Cameron, J. M.||Fuller, G. P.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H||Gaskell, C. G. Milnes-|
|Carew, J. L.||Gill, T. P.|
|Causton, R. K.||Gladstone, right hon. W. E.|
|Channing, F. A.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Childers, right hon. H. C. E.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Graham, R. C.|
|Clancy, J. J.||Grey, Sir E.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Gully, W. C.|
|Cobb, H. P.||Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F.S.A.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Harrington, E.|
|Corbet, W. J.||Harris, M.|
|Cossham, H.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Cox, J. R.||Hayne, C. Seale-|
|Cozens-Hardy, H. H.||Holden, I.|
|Hooper, J.||Playfair, right hon. Sir L.|
|Hoyle, I.||Plowden, Sir W. C.|
|Jacoby, J. A.||Potter, T. B.|
|James, hon. W. H.||Powell, W. R. H.|
|Joicey, J.||Power, P. J.|
|Jordan, J.||Power, R.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.||Price, T. P.|
|Kenny, C. S.||Pugh, D.|
|Kenrick, W.||Pyne, J. D.|
|Kilbride, D.||Quinn, T.|
|Labouchere, H.||Rathbone, W.|
|Lalor, R.||Redmond, W. H. K.|
|Lane, W. J.||Reed, Sir E. J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Reid, R. T.|
|Lawson, H. L. W.||Richard, H.|
|Leahy, J.||Roberts, J. B.|
|Leake, R.||Robertson, E.|
|Lefevre, right hon. G. J. S.||Roe, T.|
|Roscoe, sir H. E.|
|Lewis, T. P.||Rowlands, J.|
|Lockwood, F.||Rowlands, W. B.|
|Lyell, L.||Rowntree, J.|
|Macdonald, W. A.||Samuelson, Sir B.|
|Mac Innes, M.||Schwann, C. E.|
|Mac Neill, J. G. S.||Sexton, T.|
|M'Arthur, A.||Shaw, T.|
|M'Arthur, W. A.||Sheehan, J. D.|
|M'Carthy, J. H.||Sheehy, D.|
|M'Donald, P.||Sheil, E.|
|M'Ewan, W.||Simon, Sir J.|
|M'Kenna, Sir J. N.||Slagg, J.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Smith, S.|
|M'Laren, W. S. B.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|Mahony, P.||Stack, J.|
|Maitland, W. F.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Mappin, Sir F. T.||Stansfeld, right hon. J.|
|Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|Stevenson J. C.|
|Marum, E. M.||Stewart, H.|
|Mayne, T.||Storey, S.|
|Molloy, B. C.||Stuart, J.|
|Montagu, S.||Sullivan, D.|
|Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.||Summers, W.|
|Morgan, O. V.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Morley, right hon. J.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Morley, A.||Thomas, A.|
|Mundella, rt. hn. A. J.||Thomas, D. A.|
|Murphy, W. M.||Trevelyan, right hon. Sir G. O.|
|Newnes, G.||Tuite, J.|
|Nolan, Colonel J. P.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Nolan, J.||Waddy, S. D.|
|O'Brien, J. F. X.||Wallace, R.|
|O'Brien, P. J.||Watt, H.|
|O'Connor, A.||Wayman, T.|
|O'Connor, T. P.||Whitbread, S.|
|O'Hanlon, T.||Williams, A. J.|
|O'Hea, P.||Williamson, S.|
|O'Kelly, J.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Palmer, Sir C. M.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Parker, C. S.||Woodall, W.|
|Parnell, C. S.||Woodhead, J.|
|Paulton, J. M.||Wright, C.|
|Pease, A. E.|
|Pickersgill, E. H.||TELLERS,|
|Picton, J. A.||Gardner, H.|
|Pinkerton, J.||Heneage, right hon. E.|
|Addison, J. E. W.||Aird, J.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Allsopp, hon. G.|
|Allsopp, hon. P.||Duncombe, A.|
|Ambrose, W.||Dyke, right hon. Sir W. H.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Egerton, hon. A. J. F.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Elcho, Lord|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Elliot, Sir G.|
|Baden-Powell, Sir G. S.||Elliot, G. W.|
|Elton, C. I.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Ewing, Sir A. O.|
|Baird, J. G. A.||Eyre, Colonel H.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||Fellowes, A. E.|
|Banes, Major G. E.||Field, Admiral E.|
|Baring, T. C.||Fielden, T.|
|Barry, A. H. S.||Finlay, R. B.|
|Bartley, G. C. T.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Bates, Sir E.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Baumann, A. A.||Folkestone, right hon. Viscount|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-||Forwood, A. B.|
|Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Fraser, General C. C.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Fry, L.|
|Beckett, E. W.||Fulton, J. F.|
|Beckett, W.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.|
|Beresford, Lord C. W. de la Poer||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.|
|Bickford-Smith, W.||Gedge, S.|
|Biddulph, M.||Gent-Davis, R.|
|Bigwood, J.||Gilliat, J. S.|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.||Goldsworthy, Major General W. T.|
|Bond, G. H.|
|Boord, T. W.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Borthwick, Sir A.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Bristowe, T. L.||Granby, Marquess of|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Gray, C. W.|
|Green, Sir E.|
|Brookfield, A. M.||Greene, E.|
|Brooks, Sir W. C.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Burdett-Coutts, W. L. Ash.-B.||Grotrian, F. B.|
|Gunter, Colonel R.|
|Burghley, Lord||Gurdon, R. T.|
|Campbell, Sir A.||Hall, A. W.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Hall, C.|
|Carmarthen, Marq. of||Halsey, T. F.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Chaplin, right hon. H.|
|Charrington, S.||Hamilton, Col. C. E.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.|
|Coddington, W.||Hanbury, R. W.|
|Colomb, Sir J. C. R.||Hankey, F. A.|
|Compton, F.||Hardcastle, E.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.||Hartington, Marq, of|
|Corbett, A. C.||Heath, A. R.|
|Corbett, J.||Heaton, J. H.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hervey, Lord F.|
|Cross, H. S.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Cubitt, right hon. G.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|Dalrymple, Sir C.||Hill, A. S.|
|Darling, C. J.||Hoare, E. B.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Hoare, S.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Hobhouse, H.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Dixon-Hartland, F. D.||Houldsworth, Sir W. H.|
|Donkin, R. S.||Howard, J.|
|Dorington, Sir J. E.||Howorth, H. H.|
|Dugdale, J. S.||Hozier, J. H. C.|
|Duncan, Colonel F.||Hubbard, hon. E.|
|Hughes, Colonel E.||Norton, R.|
|Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.||O'Neill, hon. R. T.|
|Paget, Sir R. H.|
|Hunt, F. S.||Parker, hon. F.|
|Hunter, Sir W. G.||Pearce, Sir W.|
|Isaacson, F. W.||Pelly, Sir L.|
|Jackson, W. L.||Penton, Captain F. T.|
|James, rt. hon. Sir H.||Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.|
|Jeffreys, A. F.||Plunkett, hon. J. W.|
|Jennings, L. J.||Powell, F. S.|
|Johnston, W.||Price, Captain G. E.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Puleston, Sir J. H.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Quilter, W. C.|
|Kenyon, hon. G. T.||Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.||Rankin, J.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.|
|King, H. S.||Reed, H. B.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T.||Richardson, T.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Ritchie, rt. hn. C. T.|
|Knowles, L.||Robertson, Sir W. T.|
|Kynoch, G.||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Lafone, A.||Robinson, B.|
|Lambert, C.||Ross, A. H.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Round, J.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.||Russell, Sir G.|
|Lawrence, W. F.||Russell, T. W.|
|Lea, T.||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Sellar, A. C.|
|Lees, E.||Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Leighton, S.||Sidebotham, J. W.|
|Lennox, Lord W. C. Gordon-||Sinclair, W. P.|
|Smith, right hon. W. H.|
|Lethbridge, Sir R.|
|Lewis, Sir C. E.||Smith, A.|
|Lewisham, right hon. Viscount||Spencer, J. E.|
|Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Llewellyn, E. H.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Long, W. H.||Stephens, H. C.|
|Lowther, hon. W.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Lowther, J. W.||Swetenham, E.|
|Lymington, Viscount||Sykes, C.|
|Macdonald, rt. hon. J. H. A.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Talbot, J. G.|
|Maclean, F. W.||Taylor, F.|
|Maclean, J. M.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Theobald, J.|
|Madden, D. H.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Makins, Colonel W. T.||Townsend, F.|
|Malcolm, Col. J. W.||Trotter, Colonel H. J.|
|Mallock, R.||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Maple, J. B.||Vernon, hon. G. R.|
|Matthews, rt. hon. H.||Vincent, C. E. H.|
|Mattinson, M. W.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Webster, R. G.|
|Milvain, T.||Whitley, E.|
|More, R. J.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Wilson, Sir S.|
|Morrison, W.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Moss, R.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.||Wood, N.|
|Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Mulholland, H. L.||Wright, H. S.|
|Muncaster, Lord||Wroughton, P.|
|Murdoch, C. T.||Yerburgh, R. A.|
|Newark, Viscount||Young, C. E. B.|
|Norris, E. S.||TELLERS.|
|Northcote, hon. Sir H. S.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Walrond, Col. W. H.|
Bill read the third time, and passed.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, the next Amendment was 317 in his name, to strike out from the fourth Sub-section the words—Subject as to the use of buildings by the Quarter Sessions and the Justices to the provisions of this Act respecting the Joint Committee of Quarter Sessions and County Councils.The clause proposed to give to County Councils certain powers. It transferred to the Councils administrative business at present transacted by the Quarter Sessions in respect of certain matters. Sub-section 4 provided for the transfer to the County Council of the powers of Quarter Sessions with regard to shire halls, county halls, Assize Courts, Judges' lodgings, lock-up houses, Court houses, Justices' rooms, police stations and county buildings, works and property, but this power was subject to their use by the Quarter Sessions under other provisions of the Bill respecting Joint Committees of Quarter Sessions and County Councils. He brought forward the Amendment because he had a strong objection to the principle of dual control by the joint committee which it was proposed to establish, consisting partly of the Justices of the Peace and partly of the County Councils; and just as the principle of the control of the police by such joint committee was open to very grave objection, so he thought that the same dual control as applied to the question of shire halls, county halls, Assize Courts, Judges' lodgings, and so on, was liable to friction and very great abuse. It would be said, no doubt, by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, that as these matters related to the administration of justice, therefore it was desirable that the magistrates should have something to say as to the use of these buildings. Well, he took the position himself in the first place, that to retain the existing magistrates as a judicial Body was a mistake, and that they ought to be abolished altogether; but that, of course, he was not going to argue at the present time. Another principle upon which he went, in opposing the dual control intended to be set up, so far as regarded the matters specified in this sub-clause, was that, as those buildings and so forth had to be maintained out of the rates, and as the people were to be taxed for the purpose of providing such rates, it was only proper that their elected representatives 318 should have control over these specified buildings and other places. It was a fundamental principle that was known in the constitution of this country that there should be no taxation without representation, and if it was argued that the magistrates were entitled to share this control, his answer would be that the magistrates, having the opportunity of being elected on the County Councils—an opportunity which they were pretty certain to exercise to the fullest extent, because they would have better opportunities of becoming elected, in all probability than other persons, because they would have greater advantages under municipal nominations under this Bill—would have all the control over these buildings as members of the Councils, either nominated or elected, which they could desire. In view of the great difficulties that would arise, and, in view of the great objections that might exist on many grounds to this principle of dual control by joint committees, he thought that it was undesirable that these buildings and other arrangements should be left under the control of any such joint committee. The principle they went upon was that those who had to pay for these things should be unfettered in their control and use, and that, if the Justices of the Peace wanted the use of those buildings for particular purposes at particular seasons, they should apply to the Councils for permission to use them. Under the clause as it stood, what would happen would be this: county buildings would be entirely under the control of an unrepresentative section of the Councils and unrepresentative magistrates, because it would hardly be denied that the joint committee would, in all probability, consist almost exclusively of the magistrates who had not been, and would not be, the elected members of the Councils. Now, that being so, he thought it would be very hard indeed on the majority of the people in any county that the buildings they had put up there, and which had to be maintained by a rate paid by them, should be entirely and exclusively under the control of those who did not directly represent them. He thought there could be no doubt as to what would be the result. That would happen which was happening to-day in many parts of the country, especially in country districts, at political meetings— 319 namely, that they who represented the party opposite to the parson and the squire were excluded from the only room in villages in which they could possibly hold meetings—that was to say, in the village school-room. That was a great grievance, and just as they felt it to be a grievance in that small matter, so he apprehended the ratepayers would find it a grievance to be excluded from their own buildings through the prejudices of the unrepresentative members of the Council who would constitute one part of the joint committee. It was in order to obviate such difficulties as those, which it was pretty sure were likely to arise, and, in order to insist upon the great principle that the people had a rightto control their own buildings and works and property, that he ventured on this sub-section to enter the strongest protest against the dual control mentioned in this sub-section, and that he ventured to move the Amendment which stood in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 18, to leave out from "subject" to end of paragraph (IV.).—(Mr. Conybeare.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. LONG) (Wilts, Devizes)
said, he did not know whether the hon. Member seriously contemplated the acceptance by the Committee of this Amendment. He (Mr. Long) could assure the Committee that there need be no apprehension of that which the hon. Member referred to—namely, unfair execution of these duties by the joint committees. The only object of the sub-section was to enable the joint committee of the Quarter Sessions and the County Councils to have the use of the buildings mentioned so far as they might be required by either of those Bodies. The Quarter Sessions would have to make use of those buildings for several purposes.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, that surely the representatives of the ratepayers ought to be supreme in managing the property of the ratepayers. The representatives of the ratepayers were the County Council, and the joint 320 committees would be by no means representative. He did not think that it was in the slightest degree probable that the representatives of the ratepayers would be unreasonable people, and it was in the highest degree likely that they would always allow such use of the county property as was requisite for the carrying out of the law. He thought it was in the highest degree unlikely that any difficulty would arise through the carrying of this Amendment, and he considered it most desirable that the County Council should be supreme on this subject, and should have complete control over the property of the ratepayers.
§ It being ten minutes to Seven of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.