§ 1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £36,985, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioner of Police, the Police Courts, and the Metropolitan Police Establishment of Dublin."1088
§ MR. PATRICK WHITE (Meath, N.)
rose to complain of the administration and the excessive numerical strength of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and of the injustice of the exorbitant rates levied on the citizens of Dublin for their upkeep. He occupied, he said, a somewhat anomalous position in rising to move the reduction of a Vote which he considered was already too small, but it was the only means by which he could bring before the House a system of taxation without representation which at present prevailed in Ireland, and which was opposed to every constitutional principle of Government. He wished to say at the outset of his remarks, firstly, that he made no attack on the personnel of the force to whom he was doubtless well known, but rather on the system of government which gave it birth;and, secondly, that he had not much confidence in appealing to Ministers for justice to any part of Ireland. For many years he had been a silent but close observer of successive Irish Ministers, and their invariable practice in reply to the criticisms of Irish government had been to extenuate what they could not decently defend, and where they could do neither to wring their hands in despair and say, "What can I do? I have no power to interfere." And this declaration of a British Minister was supposed to be a final answer to any Irish grievance, no matter how galling the injustice might be. But sometimes there was a change, and when an unconscionable bargain was being forced upon Ireland the Financial Secretary to the Treasury was selected to defend it. In his opinion, if a Minister acknowledged the existence of unjust taxation, and found that under the existing law he had no power to remedy it, he should come to the House and ask for remedial legislation, and he believed the present House would give him the requisite authority, whatever unhappy fate might befall it in another place. He had no desire to say anything unkind about the present Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman was in the springtime of his official career; he had made many legislative promises. He (Mr. White) would patiently await the harvest time to see what he would bring in, but in passing he might say that he had kept close count of the right hon. Gentleman's political pulse, and he 1089 thought he had discovered symptoms which, however slight at present, if he allowed them to develop would eventually, as in the case of so many of his predecessors, impair his political usefulness. He would trace the origin and growth of this infamous police tax. For the year ending the 31st March, 1836, the expenditure on the Dublin Metropolitan Police was £40,511—in round numbers, one half contributed from various local sources and the other half voted by Parliament. To day the amount asked for was £151,000, an increase of £111,000. In the year 1837 an Act was passed "to make more effectual provisions relating to the police in the district of Dublin Metropolis." In describing the area of their operations the Act contained the significant words, "That Her Majesty's Castle of Dublin and all places situate and contained" within certain boundaries. Did the insertion of those words "Her Majesty's Castle of Dublin" not prove their contention absolutely, that the force was nine-tenths military or Imperial, and should be paid for out of Imperial funds? Otherwise, why should special provision have been made for the protection of that malodorous institution called Dublin Castle, that ancient citadel of foul oppression which feasted on the life-blood of the Irish people? The authors of that Act recognised, as the people of Dublin did to-day, that the great object of the police was to uphold and protect a foreign garrison in a hostile because a persecuted country. Since that Act became law down to the present day, the ratepayers of Dublin and surrounding townships had had to pay 8d. in the £ on their valuation, no matter what increase might take place in consequence of now buildings or the re-valuation of the city which was now taking place. Let them see how this rate compared with English cities and towns:—Dublin, 8d.; Manchester, 5d.; Sheffield (and police acting as fire brigade), 4¼d.; Leeds, 3.84d.; Bradford, 3.63d.; Hull, 4.293d.; Glasgow, 4d.; Birmingham, 4d. He was loth to quote Birmingham as a fair case, because he was quite sure the President of the Board of Trade would agree with him that the force in Birmingham was insufficient for the protection of life and property, owing to something in its environment. What was the cause of 1090 this disproportionment in rates between rich and progressive English cities and poverty-stricken Dublin? There could be and there was only one reason. In English towns the police was a civic force responsible to the local authority. It was to the interest of the local ratepayer to keep down the cost, and it was to the interest of the police to serve the ratepayers. They were the willing servants of a free people in a free country. The reverse was the condition in Dublin. The people had no control over the police, and the latter were not the servants of the ratepayers who paid them, but the representatives of Imperial power, who sometimes regarded it as their duty, according to the temper of the occupier of Dublin Castle, to harass mere Irishmen. He would ask the Committee to come back to the year 1841. At that time the population of Dublin was 235,864; in the sixty years to 1901 the population had increased to 290,638, an increase of 54,774; but in the same period of time the total upkeep of the Metropolitan Police had increased from £60,000 to about £160,000, or at the rate of nearly £2 per head of the increased population. Could anyone attempt to justify that enormously increased impost? Dublin at present enjoyed an exceptional immunity from crime of a serious character, with which no English city could compare. In the year 1862 the indictable offences in the whole district of the Dublin Metropolitan District numbered 9,520 while in the year 1902 they numbered only 2,696 or about one-fourth of what they were when the police force cost half what it did now. With regard to summary offences which were returnable for trial, in 1862 they numbered 43,694, while in 1902 they only numbered 29,726, so that increase in taxation had corresponded with diminution of crime. He would give the Committee some statistics with regard to the cost of police in English towns. In Dublin with its population of 390,187 the cost of the upkeep of the police in 1901 was £160,183. In Glasgow, with a population of 760,423, it was only £134,192, while the strength of the force was l,379 as against the 1,172 in the Dublin force. The population of Manchester was 542,872 and the cost of police, £116,808. In Liverpool, with a population of 684,947, it was £193,273. If the cities of England were taken it would be found that the 1091 cost per head for the upkeep of the police was infinitely less than that of Ireland. The sum per head of the people of Leeds and of Sheffield was 2s. 6d., the cost per head in Dublin was 8s. 2½d. There was, as competent authorities agreed, practically no professional criminal class in Dublin, yet let the Committee compare the conditions with those which existed in cosmopolitan London. In London the charge per head of the population for the upkeep of the police was 6s. 6½d. as against 8s. 2½d. in Dublin. In London there was one policeman for every 380 of the population as against one for every 333 in Dublin. In wealthy London the police rate was 5d. in the £; in Dublin 8d. If London was policed at the same rate as Dublin, it would cost the ratepayers £559,000 per annum more than it did at present, while in London the police were expected to do many duties not imposed on the police in Dublin. He thought he had proved conclusively that Dublin was the most lawful and peace-abiding city in the Empire. When a city was over-policed and that city was a crimeless city it led to corruption in many ways. They all knew that from time to time emissaries had been sent out from Dublin Castle to provoke conspiracies to justify the existence of the police, and the existing position was a direct incentive to manufacture charges. He had in his hand a copy of the "Five cases" circular issued by the Chief Commissioner of the Police of Dublin in January, 1897. Would any member of the Committee attempt to justify such a
|Name.||Rank and Number.||Number of Cases made in past twelve months.||Number of cages made in preceding twelve months.||Superintendent's Remarks.|
§ One would imagine that the standard of efficiency of a policeman ought to be the absence of crime in his patrol, or the absence of complaint on the part of people residing or doing business on his patrol rather than the number of cases he succeeded in making. However, it was not so in Dublin. A policeman was put on the black list if he did not make cases. In the effort to make cases he would take the case of the licensed trade. For every conviction secured up to 1905, a case was dismissed. In licensing cases the Chief Commissioner avowed that he had no1092
§ circular if it had to do with any country in the world except Ireland? They would look on it as an outrage; but because it had to do with Ireland somebody would be found to stand up and defend it. In Dublin licensed houses were owned by the licensees. Every man in possession of a licence had his all invested in it. He was not tied to a brewer or to a distiller. It was therefore his interest to conduct his house respectably, for two endorsed convictions and a third conviction not endorsed would put an end to his existence. Yet how was he treated? His house was visited again and again. His customers were cross-examined. They were told to stand up and in some cases they were even asked to walk a chalk line. Why was all this? Not to vindicate the law—a policeman in England as a rule strove to do nothing more—but in Dublin he had to make cases in order to satisfy his superiors, and in order to try to justify his own and their existence. That might seem an extraordinary statement, but the circular to which he had referred was a direct incentive to the police to manufacture cases. It was a kind of black list presented periodically to the Chief Commissioner containing the names of patrol officers and men who had made less than five cases within three months. It contained the name of patrol officers and men who had made (either by arrests or summons) less than five cases within the last three months and was headed as follows:—
function. He said the magistrate was the proper person to investigate every charge. With every respect for the Commissioner of Police, it was his duty to investigate the details of every charge brought against a ratepayer, and to weigh the circumstances carefully before he allowed a summons to be issued. But he only did this when the men under him were likely to get into trouble. He would give a typical example. Within the last few months a sergeant named Cox arrested a man for being drunk on licensed premises. The man had been
removed from the licensed premises five times before the sergeant arrived on the scene, and when he did arrive on the scene the principal assistant in the house was in the act of putting him out. Sergeant Cox made his Report, and the Chief Commissioner ordered three summonses to be issued, one for disorderly conduct, one for supplying drink to a drunken man, and one for permitting drunkenness. The summonses were signed by the magistrate, but withdrawn when the fact was brought to the knowledge of the Chief Commissioner that the prosecuting sergeant had made a Report which would have been contradicted by the station sergeant. In reference to this case a question was asked in the House and the answer given was that the summonses were withdrawn because there was some doubt as to the "recollection" of the prosecuting sergeant. If Colonel Ross's attention had not been called to this case the summonses would, of course, have been issued, and dismissed, as 50 per cent, of the summonses were; but if, in calling attention to the case the person who did so had not disclosed the false nature of the Report made by Sergeant Cox, contradicted as it was by the station sergeant and a constable, the cases would have gone on and the licensed trader would have been put to great expense. That case was but an example, and whatever opinions his hon. friends might have on liquor questions he was sure they were all agreed that those engaged in the licensed trade were entitled to whatever protecton the law gave them. He hoped he had convinced the Committee that Dublin was a most orderly and peaceful city, yet the most police-ridden and police-taxed city in the three kingdoms. He had no doubt that right hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches were eager to stand up and—to their own satisfaction— completely demolish his case with some rusty, but oft-used arguments supplied; by the Lords of the Treasury. There was no one in the House more capable of dressing in soothing words, well used wares than right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He had no doubt that he would be told that the proportion of the British exchequer contribution to the Dublin Metropolitan Police was larger than that
of any other city in the kingdom. He freely admitted that was so, but that furnished no answer to his case, for no other city in the kingdom except London had a force not under civic control; the force in every other town was a civic force, and if they wanted a semi-Imperial establishment in Dublin they should pay for it out of Imperial funds. Ireland did not require one-fourth of the present force; they were for England's purposes, and she should pay for them. The number of police in Dublin bore no proportion to anything except the broken promises of the right hon. Gentlemen's predecessors in office. The matter was once before put before the Lords of the Treasury. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover was most sympathetic and promised to use his influence, but apparently his influence was not sufficient to get any reduction. Four reasons were given against it which were not important. One was the configuration of the roads—which was not a strong argument, because there were roads in other parts of the Empire which contained a greater number of miles. Another argument was that Dublin was not a provincial town but the scat of Government. It was an argument of the Nationalist Members that if for the purposes of the town they were excessive they ought to be reduced and the saving in cost ought to go to the Irish taxpayers. They admitted there was an alien Government in Dublin and said that if the Government gave Dublin the control of the police she would pay for them. The over-taxation of the citizens of Dublin for the upkeep of an unnecessary force was but one of the many instances which abounded in every Government department in Ireland, and the multiplication of which had made Ireland, notwithstanding the fertility of its soil, the poorest country in the world. He quite recognised that the right hon. Gentleman was surrounded by many difficulties; he was the heir to many bad traditions, and the greatest drawback was that the Government of England in Ireland had no moral force behind it. The difficulties might be great, but they were not insurmountable. He would quote for him the noble words recently uttered by an
eminent statesman who had now become Prime Minister of England. These were his words—
The Irish people are entitled to a better and a different form of Government, a Government springing from and controlled by the people themselves.
Let the right hon. Gentleman adopt those words in their entirety and the question would be solved; Ireland would be happy and prosperous; they would cease to bother themselves about the many failings and shortcomings of the Government. They would in their own land mind their own business, for it was only the paternal hand of a paternal Government deriving its power from a Legislature on Irish soil that would need no force to win respect and obedience to its every wish. He begged to move.
§ * MR. J. P. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)
said he seconded the Motion because he happened to be one of the Members of the municipal authority which represented the citizens of Dublin and who had yearly to levy a rate for this heavy import. There was no question that it was creating great annoyance and it was considered a hardship that the Members of the Dublin Corporation should be compelled to levy a rate of 8d. in the £ for the upkeep of the police. He did not intend to say a word against the police as a body. They were as fine a body of men as any in the Empire. They were, however, under the control of Dublin Castle and had to do as Dublin Castle ordered. They had heard from the hon. Member for Meath that it was not expected of the police to preserve the city from crime but rather to make crime. The circular the hon. Member referred to was only a corollary of one issued some time ago, wherein a sergeant of a particular division insisted that at least five cases per month should be brought in by every policeman in the district. Such a thing could not have taken place in this country. It would not be tolerated for twenty-four hours in England that they should pay for the upkeep of the police, and have no voice in the control of that body. Year after year this question came up before the corporation, and they were asked by several corporators not to levy this tax. They had done everything they could 1096 to draw attention to the grievance. They had appealed to the representatives of the Government in Ireland and had received honeyed words of every occasion. The right hon. Member for Dover admitted in 1902 that this tax was excessive, and expressed sympathy with them when they protested, and there the matter ended, and the tax went on as before. Was it the intention of the House to compel the Dublin Corporation to take the matter into its own hands and refuse to levy this unjust tax? The hon. Member for Meath had pointed out what was paid in England and Scotland for the upkeep of the police. Was it expected that the citizens of Dublin would stand idly by and let this go on much longer? He was not one of those who had taken any extreme side with reference to this question in the past. But when it came before the Corporation on the last occasion it was proposed that the levy should not be made. He did not support that proposition, but supported a proposition that they should make the levy and hold the money. The matter came up again last year, and wise counsels again prevailed and the levy was made. He recognised that the police had to be maintained, but contended that they should be maintained at a reasonable cost. The question must come up again, and unless they had some promise from the right hon. Gentleman that something would be done to put Dublin on an equality with such big towns as Manchester, Bradford, Liverpool, and Glasgow, he could not answer for what course would be taken by the Dublin Corporation next year. It was a serious question, but one which had to be faced. He did not wish to put obstacles in the way of the right hon. Gentleman, and did not like to bring the question forward now because he knew it was a legacy from the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors. In 1856 the valuation of the city was £510,569 11s., and the tax was 8d. in the £ for the upkeep of the police; the valuation in 1902 was £871,119, and although the police force was numerically the same as in 1856, the same charge of 8d. in the £was levied on the increased valuation. Dublin was not standing still. Its valuation was increasing, but for every £ of increase an additional 8d. was levied for the cost of the police. Would the right hon. 1097 Gentleman look into that matter and explain how that came about? When the tax was first imposed fifty years ago it was not to exceed 8d. in the £, but the maximum had always been maintained, although the valuation had increased and the police force had not. That was a most extraordinary thing. When he heard of 8s. 2½d. for the upkeep of the police in Dublin he asked himself whether this money could not be put to better uses for which money was urgently required, for the housing of the people and so forth, rather than on an ornamental force, because it was admitted that crime did not exist in the city. His hon. friend had already called attention to what was paid in England as contrasted with Ireland. In Dublin they paid 8s. 2½d., whereas in a place like Manchester they paid only 4s. 3d., and in Birmingham 3s. l½d. Surely there must be something wrong if the City of Dublin was called upon to pay 8s. 2£d. In Dublin the strength of the police was 1,172, or one policeman to every 330 of the population. In Glasgow the strength of the police was 1,379, or one policeman to every 551 of the population. In Birmingham the strength of the police was 1,820 for a population of 522,182, or one policeman to each 636 of the population. Surely, it was hardly necessary to argue the matter further. Was Dublin more turbulent, was crime greater there, that they should be compelled to have one policeman for every 330 of the population? It was an outrage on the city; it was a crime to impose such a charge on a city which wanted development, and where the unfortunate poor had to pay a charge which rightly should only be something like 4d. in the pound. The difference between that charge and the amount actually paid represented something like £15,000, a sum which could be better spent in the upkeep of the city. He hoped and trusted that they would not receive purely empty promises, but that the matter would be seriously considered and something done. It had been stated that the whole sum for the upkeep of the police was £150,000, but, as had been pointed out, if they wanted an Imperial force by all menus let them pay for it. What they objected to was the imposition of this charge on Dublin. In Dalkey, which might be con- 1098 sidered on the borders of Dublin, and where there were suburban residences, they had a population of 3,396, and there were twenty-seven police to keep them in order. Then in Lerwick with a population of 4,500 the number of police to keep that population in order was three. He certainly thought that any honest man—and there were honest Englishmen on both sides of the house—would be prepared to do justice to Ireland and to Dublin. Something must be done to relieve that city of this terrible tax. He spoke as a member of the Dublin Corporation. He had endeavoured in a humble way to persuade his colleagues to see that the tax was levied, and he had promised that the question should be brought before the House. He had come from a sick bed to redeem his pledge, and he appealed to the fairplay of Englishmen to do justice by seeing that justice was done in regard to this tax, which was protested against by every section of the community—Protestants and Catholics, Unionists and Nationalists—who all said that it was a scandal which should not exist, and he hoped the Government would see their way to do something to relieve them from it.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed—"That a sum, not exceeding £36,885, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Patrick White.)
§ * MR. McKEAN, (Monaghan, S.)
said the figures which had been quoted by his hon. friends were irrefutable, and everyone who had listened to the speeches they had made must have come, to the conclusion that they had disclosed a scandal of the first magnitude, and one which required redress at the very earliest opportunity. There was another and very important aspect of this question. If the police force of Dublin were reduced to its proper proportions to-morrow, the question would be still unsolved in many ways, because the whole spirit of the system was vicious and rotten. Why? Because the system on which the Dublin Metropolitan police were controlled and administered was one that was contrary to everything that was natural. The policeman in Ireland was no more than an official 1099 idler. As a rule he degenerated into a uniformed loafer. The police themselves were not to be blamed for this; it was the spirit of the system; the cold, hard, official system was the cause. His theory was that a policeman should be not only an officer engaged in the detection and prevention of crime, but should be a sort of little; parish providence, looking after wastrels, and trying in his own way, and so far as the conditions and limitations of his office permitted him, to rescue these unfortunate people. His right hon. friend had referred to the case of Lerwick; lethim also refer to that case in another connection. He found that in Lerwick a policeman was engaged in various duties in addition to his ordinary duties. He was engaged, for instance, under the Sanitary Acts, and the Food and Drugs Acts, and he looked after the fishing vessels, etc. In the same column of the Return from which he was reading, he found that those duties, in regard to the police in Ireland, were marked nil. They had no extra duties. No; the Dublin policeman stood at the corner, very, near a public-house, a vast mountain of bones and flesh, doing absolutely nothing of value for the inflated salary that he was paid. That was typical of English methods of administration in Ireland—the maximum of expenditure with the minimum of result. They wanted this state of things ended, and ended at the earliest possible moment. The Dublin police were singularly intelligent, and, so far as their conditions allowed, a very reputable body of men. Personally he had not one word to say against the Dublin policemen; but he did say that the present system only resulted in defrauding the public, while it demoralised and degraded the policemen. There were ways in which the Dublin police might be employed. They could, he would suggest, assist in the administration of compulsory education by helping the attendance inspectors to get the children to school. Did they do that? Oh, no; in the place where he lived the attendance inspector got no sort of assistance from the police, who were too lordly to give it. Why? Because they were not under local control. The whole system was useless, owing to the centralised and bureaucratic 1100 methods of the Government. Until they pulled down this centralised system in Ireland, and until they put the police under the local control of the people's representatives, they would never rectify its existing defects and evils. The police could be usefully employed in aiding charitable associations, because they had knowledge of the slums of Dublin, and knew the men who were out of employment and who were deserving of assistance. But the Dublin police would not condescend to that sort of thing, whereas, in fact, these various employments of their time should form part of their essential duties. It was a well-known fact, and it was very frequently the subject of comic illustrations, that the Dublin policeman was always conspicuous by his absence when there was a row; and, when heads were broken, eyes blackened, and noses bleeding, the policeman turned up and settled the whole affair.
§ * MR. McKEAN
said perhaps the hon. Gentleman's information was better than his, but he had himself, in Dublin, looked out for the policeman to see if he would come and separate the combatants. No; he came just after the whole thing was over, and, like the deus ex machina, he appeared and settled everything. In London, the police, he believed, did give value for their salaries. Anybody passing through the main thoroughfares of London could witness the hard work which the policeman did in controlling the traffic. There was one place in England, and one officer in England, which place and which officer presented to his mind a valuable object lesson in what a police force could be made to do, and the magnificent work which could be got out of it. If the Committe would permit him, he would like to quote some passages from an article written by Mr. W. B. Gentle, the head of the Brighton police. He said—The police can also encourage and protect poor children who are suffering from exposure from leading the lives their fathers have been forced to lead before them. For example, perhaps a father goes home at night and finds six or seven children hungry and asking for food, and badly clothed. He has no food to 1101 give them, and goes out feeling that he will get something to eat in some way: During his weary search for work temptation suddenly presents itself—he steals some food for his starving children and is arrested. It is that kind of crime in Brighton that I am endeavouring to prevent. My plan is this with the Children's Clothing Fund: A policeman sees a child badly clothed; he inquires about the father's surroundings and circumstances, and eventually with my approval the family is provided with clothes and food, and employment is found for the father. That obviates the necessity for that man to steal and prevents crime in its initial stage.He thought the policemen in Ireland would be much better employed upon a plan of that sort than in spying after Irish Members of Parliament and other unfortunate people of that sort. The Brighton chief constable went on to say—This would have an excellent moral influence on the police just as much as on the poor; it puts the police in better touch with the public, and cultivates the policemen's intelligence and powers of observation. This scheme will be gradually developed and extended. Every time the subject is discussed and made known some further benefit to the public generally discloses itself, and in whatever police force this plan has been tried it has succeeded. This fund in Brighton is entirely under my own personal jurisdiction, assisted by a committee of local ladies and gentlemen. The policeman always has cards with him with details in each case—name, address, number in family, father in employment or not, if in employment where, and how long in present situation, furniture of house and various other particulars. He then reports to the superintendent; the superintendent inquires still more closely and recommends what is best for each member of the family. The superintendent then reports to me. If the father is out of work every effort is made to find him employment; the mother is requested to bring the children to an arch on the beach, which is used as a wardrobe every Saturday.He had quoted at some length from this article, because he considered it ought to be a sort of gospel for policemen and officers and even for Ministers who were ultimately responsible. He thought the whole police system of Ireland was wrong, vicious, and demoralising, and the same vice ran through the whole criminal code. The Irish Criminal Code, instead of preventing crime, created and put a premium upon crime. In Ireland the system bribed the policemen to manufacture crime. He could never forget the convincing story told by the Leader of the Irish Party of how the Irish police mutilated cattle, sent threatening letters and 1102 committed other crimes, and afterwards brought innocent men into the Court and accused them of those crimes and suborned false witnesses. That was only part and parcel of the abominable system which England maintained and perpetuated in Ireland. He hoped that on this occasion the Chief Secretary would not treat them to the usual explanations which in the past had been given from the Treasury Bench. What they wanted in Ireland was a man who would reform the whole rotten system, root and branch, and the man who tried to butter up the present system had better pack up his portmanteau and clear out. The police tax as administered at the present time in Dublin was really illegal. The Act of Vic. 1, c. 25, did not justify the levy which was made. There was a surplus every year hidden away, and nobody knew how it was appropriated. How was that £50,000 a year, of which no record was given, spent? What was done with it? There were secret methods and they wanted to get to the bottom of the secrecy. The only effective remedy would be to localise and decentralise the system and place the police under the control of municipal authorities and county councils, who would see that they extracted some value out of the police instead of allowing them to lounge about the whole day doing nothing.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said he felt sure that before the debate came to a close they would have a speech from the Leader of the Irish Unionist Party, because this was a matter which affected his constituency very considerably; and if he would refer to the Dublin newspapers of yesterday he would find that strong resolutions were adopted in many of the urban district councils of South Dublin calling upon the Government to inquire into the present position of the police and bring relief to the rate-payers. He had in his hand a resolution adopted by the Black rock, the Rath-mines, and the Dalkey District Councils which were composed of Unionists and Nationalists, a fact which would go to prove that in this matter there was considerable unanimity in Ireland. This was a matter which affected not merely Nationalists but the ratepayers at large, 1103 who urged the Chief Secretary to inquire into the matter and to lose no time in giving some relief to the people. The Chief Secretary for Ireland was learning probably for the first time the position which the Dublin Police Force occupied, and he should take particular note of the fact that the question was entirely separate and distinct from the general question of the policing of Ireland. The Constabulary in Ireland were on a totally different footing, and the Dublin Metropolitan Police occupied a different position as well. He might say on behalf of all the Irish Members, or at any rate on behalf of those who had come into contact with the Metropolitan Police, that against that force there was no sort of objection whatever. As far as he knew and as far as his experience went, the police force in Dublin did the work required of them as efficiently as the police of London or any other great city in the world. It was not against the police individually or collectively that any objection was taken, because, as the Lord Mayor of Dublin had just declared, the force was composed of intelligent and respectable men who were anxious to do their duty by their fellow-citizens. The objection was that the forcewas entirely outside the control of the people. The representatives of the people on the Municipal Council of Dublin had no control over the police force, although they were compelled to levy an extremely heavy rate for upkeep. Sometimes they were told that the Irish representatives made unreasonable requests and exaggerated the disabilities from which the Irish people suffered. He would ask any English or Scottish Member if he could conceive a similar state of affairs in reference to the police existing in any other part of the United Kingdom. Here was a great city governed by a municipal council freely elected by the citizens, and yet the representatives of those citizens were denied absolutely any voice whatever in the control of the force which was to keep order in the city, and to see that the life of the people was carried on under ordinary civilised conditions. In England or Scotland such a state of affairs would not be permitted for a single moment. He asked the Chief Secretary to realise what was the cause of a great deal of the discontent of the people. It was that 1104 they were treated in an entirely different way from the citizens of the United Kingdom or of any other part of the Empire. Why in the name of goodness should not the citizens of Dublin through their representatives be as well entitled to control, manage, and regulate everything in connection with the police force as the citizens of any Scottish, English, or Welsh town? They were generally told that the Irish people had really nothing to complain of. Hon. Gentleman above the gangway would probably oppose this Motion on the ground that the Nationalist representatives were exaggerating, and that Irishmen were in as good a position in this matter, and in every other matter, as Englishmen and Scotsmen. He would point out to the Chief Secretary that in this particular case the circumstances were entirely different from those prevailing in England and Scotland. As a matter of fact the citizens of Dublin were treated as if they were entirely unworthy of having any responsibility whatever cast upon them, and as if they lacked the ability and the intelligence necessary for the ordinary work of policing their own city. The levy made was the maximum and far in excess of what was necessary, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not possible without any unnecessary delay whatever to alter this and to give relief to the ratepayers of the city and county of Dublin. As the Lord Mayor had just declared, if some action was not taken in this matter by the Government, and if the grievance was not recognised, undoubtedly the day would come when the whole case would be complicated and rendered infinitely more difficult by the action which would be taken by the representatives of the city in the municipal council, who would probably strike against the payment of this tax or the paying of it over to the Government at all. He asked the Chief Secretary in the new spirit which they all believed was abroad with reference to Irish affairs, to obviate any difficulty of that kind and to make a statement which would clearly show to the citizens of Dublin that there would be no necessity for their representatives taking any strong course in the matter, that the grievance was recognised by the Government, and that a remedy 1105 would be applied without any loss of time. He would not go into the question of the strength of the force in Dublin, as that had already been dealt with by his hon. friends Certainly when they found that there was really less crime of any sort in proportion to the population than in any other city in the whole Empire—indeed in the whole civilised world—and when they found at the same time that the cost of the police force was infinitely higher in Dublin, he thought every reasonable person must come to the conclusion that something was radically wrong, and that there was urgent need for some change. With regard to the state of the city of Dublin, of ordinary dangerous vicious crime there was an almost entire absence. Any small disturbances that there might be from time to time in the city of Dublin arose perhaps from excess—not so much compared with other cities—in the matter of drink, but leaving that on one side there was an almost entire absence of serious crime. There was no real criminal class, and on the occasion of the Horse Show, and at other times when large numbers of people congregated, they found that in the cases of pocket-picking and other charges of that kind which came before the police court, the persons arrested almost invariably came over specially for the occasion either from Scotland or England. He did not wish in the slightest degree to blame hon. Member from England or Scotland on this point, but he thought it was only fair to say that the conditions were as he had described. They had a police force far greater than was necessary, costing more than any police force in any centre in the world. The people of Dublin and of Ireland generally were as much alive to the necessity of an adequate police force as the people of any other country in the world. They knew that no great centre of population could continue to exist without an adequate force of police. They did not ask for the total abolition of the police force, but that they should not have more than was necessary and that great cost should not be imposed upon them. The root of the whole matter was to be found in the denial of the right of the citizens to manage this affair for themselves. If they were given that right, he was sure they would exercise it with 1106 the greatest possible judiciousness and economy, and at the same time with efficiency, because it was the interest of the whole of the citizens to have efficiency. He asked the Chief Secretary to recognise that a genuine case had been made out by the chief magistrate of the city of Dublin and other representatives of Ireland, and to give them some assurance which would convince the citizens of Dublin that there would be no need to go to extremes in the matter, but that at the earliest stage the police force would be put under the control of the representatives of the people, and that in the meantime this altogether unjust and unnecessary burden of taxation would be removed from the shoulders of the people.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. BIRRELL, Bristol, N.)
said this was a very thorny and difficult question and had been presented with great force. He was very glad to hoar the speech of the Lord Mayor of Dublin. It was rather difficult for a Chief Secretary to deal with a matter of this kind. He had been told by previous speakers that honeyed words or empty promises were not wanted. What was wanted apparently was "a still strong man in a blatant land," who with one sweep of his hand would get rid of this bad system. He was not much of a believer in the "still strong man in the blatant land," for such a man was very apt to be a blatant man in a still strong land. He rather agreed with those who thought that this was a matter which would have to be eventually controlled and worked out by the people of the city of Dublin themselves. There were one or two things to which the attention of the Committee ought to be called. There was no doubt that the Dublin ratepayer did pay a very high police rate, namely, 8d. in the £1 That was larger than the rate paid in London, which was 5d. in the £1. Not only was it a fact that the rate was unusually high, but the ratepayer had no control. It was only fair, however, to point out that in so far as having no control over the police was concerned, the Dublin ratepayer shared that disadvantage with the London ratepayer. The people of the metropolis of London had no control over their police, and that had always been supposed to be due to the metropolitan character of 1107 London. He thought it must be admitted that Dublin was a metropolis also, and that consequently that city was entitled to have a large contribution from the Imperial Exchequer for the purpose of maintaining its police. The maximum rate allowed by the London Police Act was ninepence for London, but the rate was relieved by a grant equal to four-pence in the £1 out of the Local Taxation Account. The police rate was thus five-pence in the £1. The total cost of the London Police was roughly £2,200,000, and of this £1,000,000 was raised from the police rate and the balance was derived from the Local Taxation Account, and from local revenue, fines, carriage licences, and the like. In London, therefore, the cost was borne practically in equal proportions between the ratepayers and Imperial sources, and the whole control of the police was vested in the Imperial Parliament. In Dublin the Police Rate was eightpence in the £1; that was a very large rate, but it was only one third of the actual cost of the police. The actual cost was something like £150,000. The other two-thirds of the cost were derived from the Exchequer. As to the question whether Dublin was or was not over-policed, He would hesitate to express an opinion on his own knowledge on a subject of that kind, but he was disposed to think that Dublin was over-policed. He thought there was a larger body of police than was necessary to maintain peace and order in that great city. He was glad to notice that everybody who had spoken had paid a high tribute to the general character and intelligence of the police in Dublin. Of course the police generally were subject to a great deal of criticism in these days, and he was quite ready to admit that the police would always be open to criticism. Gentlemen from Ireland must not suppose that they had a monopoly of criticism in that respect. It was regrettable that the London police had been made a matter of criticism, and it could be said that they were not entirely free from criticism. He was glad that in the view of hon. Gentlemen from Ireland the police of Ireland were an intelligent and nimble body of men. He was sorry that reference had been made to a very unfortunate expression used by a superintendent about "making cases." It was a sinister kind of expression, and he was glad it had attracted criticism, and 1108 had been the subject of attack. He did not think it necessary that on an incident of that sort any general imputation should be cast upon the police. Barristers talking about eases, and doctors talking about patients used such jargon of expression which, if it became known among the uninitiated, would give me to a good deal of gloomy thoughts. Surely it was not to be supposed that the expression in question was to be taken in its literal sense as expressing the general habit of the police in manufacturing cases in order to show their activity. This temptation was one to which every policeman and professional man was subject, and so far as he resisted it he was entitled to praise, and so far as he fell a victim to it he should be most seriously blamed. The expression had received grave attention at headquarters, and had been condemned by everybody responsible for the police. Everybody responsible for the police, who knew his duty would be alive to the temptation which existed in any body of men to exceed their duties, and to exhibit their zeal in an unnecessary mid improper manner. The police of Dublin were quite as capable of resisting that temptation as any body of police in any part of the kingdom. Dublin was treated as a metropolis. Its police were not subject to local control any more than the police in London, and the contribution of the Treasury to their maintenance was larger than that in any other part of the United Kingdom. He agreed that it was the duty of the Corporation of Dublin to make representations with reference to the size of the force, and anything the Government could do safely and wisely—and he was disposed to think they could do something in that direction—to reduce the Dublin police force, should be undertaken; and it would be a desirable thing if the Treasury could see their way to make their grant towards the maintenance of the police force a fixed sum, so that the ratepayers of Dublin, who for many years past had been paying this maximum rate of 8d., should have the benefit of any economies that could be effected by means of the reduction of the force. That was the only way whore any reform lay in the reduction of the force. Of course, the the number of the police was a question in which the corporation had no voice, but any representations they could make 1109 to the Government showing that in any respect the force could be safely reduced in size, or that the expanses could properly be reduced, would certainly receive the earnest consideration of the Irish Government. So far as the Treasury was concerned, his view was fiat they should be approached with a view to fixing the amount of their grant.
§ MR. J. P. NANNETTI
asked if the Government would assist the Corporation of Dublin in finding out in what proportion this money was paid away. What was wanted was information to show in what way reductions could be made consistent with the maintenance of order.
said that the request of the hon. Gentleman was absolutely reasonable, for no general conclusion could be arrived at as to how the reduction of such a force of men could be effected without a complete knowledge of all the circumstances.
§ MR. KETTLE (Tyrone, E.)
said that this was a question relating to the Government of Ireland, and he thought he would carry with him the sympathy of his colleagues when he said that they recognised the difficulty of the problem with which the Chief Secretary was confronted. He did not think that any weight could be given to the comparison between the police force of the city of London and that of the city of Dublin. London was an international metropolis, it was a city apart. Dublin was a national capital. London had to deal with its own problem, just as Dublin had to deal with its. As to the Imperial grant-in-aid for the maintenance of the police, it must be borne in mind that it flowed first into the Exchequer from the taxpayers of Ireland. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to remember that, when he came with a new spirit to the administration of the government of Ireland. Something had been said as to the history and character of the police force in Dublin. It was constituted in its present form in 1846, and its whole history since tended to show, not only that it was an Imperial and not a municipal concern, but that it was also really a branch of the Military Department, and ought properly to be placed on the Army Estimates. He did not think ii was insignificant to note in this con- 1110 nection that the present head of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the chief inspector were retired soldiers. He thought the right hon. Gentleman himself had reason to feel uncomfortable in regard to his conduct of this extraordinary force, and that from his own point of view, as well as from that of Nationalist Members, he ought to see that something was done to put the matter on a better basis. As he had said there was no comparison between the city of London and a city like Dublin, and any attempt to make one must necessarily be fallacious. He would, therefore, for the purpose of comparison, take the case of the city of Sheffield and compare it with that of Dublin. He had the figures prepared by the Corporation of Dublin to support the protest which they were were now making and had made for many years past, against this indefensible system. The population of Dublin was, roughly speaking, 390,000, and the population of Sheffield was 480,000, so that there were more people in Sheffield than in Dublin. For the purposes of comparison, however, the numbers might be taken as being about the same. He did not think that any Member of the House would maintain that Sheffield was a more peaceable and law-abiding city than the city of Dublin; yet for Dublin the cost of the police was, at the lowest estimate, between £120,000 and £140,000, while in Sheffield it was between,£55,000 and £60,000. The cost of the police in Dublin, however, was understated by his hon. friend the Member for North Meath, who said the total cost for the present year was £151,440;but, as a matter of fact, his hon. friend had omitted to include an item of £14,000, and the cost of the police force including the sum received from local contributions and grants in aid amounted to practically £170,000. Therefore, it worked out in this way: the cost of the police force in Sheffield being between £55,000 and £60,000, that amount was about one third of what it cost to maintain the police establishment in Dublin. Let him put the case in another way, and say that, if the Imperial contributions to the Dublin police force were swept away, they would find that the local contributions to it were equal to, if not in excess of, the cost of the police of the city of Sheffield. Then again, let the Committee consider the question of the source from which the local revenue of the Dublin 1111 police came. It was derived from a statutory tax not imposed by the Dublin Corporation in dealing with the interests of the citizens, but imposed by statute to the extent of eightpence in the pound upon the valuation. In spite of the many reverses with which they had to deal Dublin did not stand still but progressed; but, however much Dublin progressed from the point of view of valuation, the police force remained fixed at the same number, while the sum available for them was, by the increase of the valuation, very largely added to. He should say that within the last fifty years the valuation of Dublin, although He had not the precise figure, had risen by at least £300,000, and upon every single pound of that sum the citizens had been paying eightpence for the upkeep of the police. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had caught the full significance of the figures which had boon brought to his attention by his right hon. friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin. On the previous day, at a meeting of the Blackrock Urban District Council, the district of Blackrock being involved in this expenditure for the Dublin police, it had been said that the Council had written to the officials, not to protest against the tax, not to make any objection to it, but simply to ask for some explanation as to the principle upon which the local contribution of £54,000 was demanded and spent. As He was informed, the responsible officials of the Irish Government wrote back declining to give one single figure. He thought he was justified in interpreting the previous observations of the Chief Secretary to mean that He would give an undertaking that the officials of Dublin Castle should not in futurebe permitted to return a reply of that character to the representatives of so important a district as Blackrock. As he had said, the amount raised by local taxation was derived from this statutory and unchangeable rate of eightpencein the pound on the valuation, and it appeared to be as immutable as the laws of the Medes and Persians which altered not. He found from last year's report of the Dublin Metropolitan Police that they received money from other sources than those he had mentioned. It was a very small income, it was true; still it was an income. For instance, it was reported that two sovereigns were received by drivers of hackney carriages in mistake for silver coins, and no less a 1112 sum than £8 1s. 5d. was found in hackney carriages and surrendered to the police. So far as he knew, the police, with their characteristic habit of clinging to money, had not surrendered these amounts to anybody else. If the Committee would do a very simple sum they would find that the average salary of the Dublin police worked out at £120 to £125 a year, a salary which was handsome compared with that received by persons in other branches of the Government service—men who had to pass a stiff examination, such as principals of national schools. Again, if the Estimates were looked over, the Committee would find that the Vote for the maintenance of the force was not only to maintain the actual and active force, but a great part of it was devoted to retired members of the force. Thus, they had two Commissioners on the activelist and two Commissioners on the retired list; there were seven superintendents on the active list and nine on the retired list; there were twenty-four inspectors on the active list and forty-three on the retired list; so that there were more superintendents and inspectors on the retired than on the active list. If the ages of the retirement of these people were looked into it would be found that the average age of retirement was fifty three, and sometimes they retired on a salary of nearly £300—to be exact, £266 13s. 4d. Retiring at that age, and with such an income, there was nothing to prevent these men reading for a professorial chair. So far as he knew, the large number of police in the streets of Dublin was to restrain and suppress the riot and disorder created by the students of Trinity College, Dublin. That was the only justification he could see for the maintenance of this force. He hoped, however, a new spirit was penetrating every department of life in Ireland, and he trusted that even the students would put off the old Adam and make it possible to have a smaller police force. Another question to which he wished to call attention was the allowances made to the police force in addition to their full salary. This referred to the men in the G Division, humorously described as the detective division. These allowances were, in his opinion, excessive. In conclusion he would recapitulate the points which he had raised. The most significant one was that this force was 1113 entirely removed from the control of the citizens of Dublin, and they did not know whose control it was under or who was responsible for it. Secondly, if the cost was compared with that of a city which was not less criminal, say Sheffield, they found that the latter was a third or a quarter of the cost of the Dublin police. Some remarks had been made about the conduct and personnel of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Force, and to a large extent he agreed with those remarks. These men word the victims rather than the creatures of this evil system, and he thought the Dublin police very respectable and, when they went into the witness-box, very sober citizens. What he complained of was the system under which the members of the force became intimidated or demoralised. Let the Committee take, for instance, a circular which had been issued by the officials, he had no doubt with a sinister motive, calling for a Return of the number of members of the force who had not during the preceding three months made five arrests. The significance of that circular was that any policeman who failed to make or to manufacture at least five charges in three months was in disgrace. If that was not what the circular meant He did not know what it did moan. The fact was the police of the city of Dublin were merely ornamental and, for practical purposes, useless. This, with other abuses, must be swept away, and the principle should be laid down that the people of Ireland should be trusted and not distrusted. The military character of the force should be eliminated, and the police placed under the control of the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of the City of Dublin.
§ Question put, and negatived. Original Question put, and agreed to.