§ LORD TRURO
rose to ask, Whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take any and what steps to inquire into the condition and administration of the Metropolitan Police Force. The noble Lord reminded their Lordships that in the present Session he had brought this subject under their notice when putting a Question to the Government on the subject of the Blackheath outrages. He then complained of the robberies that had been perpetrated on Blackheath, and that the police there had not shown sufficient vigilance in the performance of their duties. On that occasion he was replied to rather in a tone of levity. The police authorities endeavoured to make out that the outrages were some freak of students or schoolboys; but it had since been ascertained that the robberies were real, and bank-notes had been traced. Since the occasion to which he referred other outrages had occurred in the same neighbourhood, though not, perhaps, of so flagrant a character. When speaking on the subject before, he hazarded a remark to which the noble Earl who answered his Question (Earl Beauchamp) did not reply — namely, that certain departments of the Police should be officered by men of a better status and higher intelligence. Recent discoveries went far to prove that such a change would be highly expedient. In 1829, when Sir Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police, the principle he adopted was to create two Chiefs, one of whom should be a military man, accustomed to the dis- 816 position and commanding of large bodies of disciplined men, and a civil Chief, to whom should be entrusted the discipline and conduct of the Police as a detective body and employed in detail for the preservation of order. That system was adopted and was continued till 1856, when Colonel Rowan died. Shortly afterwards Sir Richard Mayne became sole Commissioner, receiving the aid of two Assistant Commissioners under him. On Sir Richard Mayne's death Colonel Henderson, as his successor, was also appointed sole Commissioner. He believed that Colonel Henderson's experience in prison management in Australia led to his appointment as Chief Commissioner; but it seemed to him (Lord Truro) that Colonel Henderson's defect was that he did not possess, or did not sufficiently exercise, the power of discerning character and ability in the men in the force. He thought that the departure from Sir Robert Peel's system and the absorption of the civil in the military element of the Metropolitan Police was much to be regretted. Colonel Henderson had shown great ability in all that related to his own profession, which was that of an officer of the Engineers; but though the gallant Colonel might possess a large amount of professional knowledge and be well versed in the movement of troops, still something more than that was required. The recent discoveries revealed a state of things that was really discreditable. Either the police system was defective or its administration had failed. Or it might be that the system was bad, and the administration not less so. He hoped the Government would see the necessity of an investigation such as he suggested, with a view of securing for the inhabitants of the Metropolis that protection to which they were entitled.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he would, in the first place, answer the Question which the noble Lord had placed on the Paper—namely, whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take any and what steps to inquire into the condition and administration of the Metropolitan Police Force? It was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take any steps, inasmuch as the matter had been determined, and steps had already been taken by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Depart- 817 ment. The noble Lord had also given Notice that he would move for Returns. Perhaps the noble Lord would be good enough to specify the Returns for which he desired to move. He was sorry that the noble Lord had taken advantage of the Notice on the Paper to go into questions which, the noble Lord would excuse him for saying, would have been better omitted. Nothing could be more inconvenient or more injurious to the public service than to make a question of this kind an occasion for severe criticisms on the conduct of the officer at the head of the great Police force of the Metropolis, or to sit in judgment on proceedings still pending before the Courts of Justice. He would not follow the noble Lord into the charges he had made against Colonel Henderson, whose character stood too high to need any defence from him. On a former occasion the noble Lord stated that his house in the neighbourhood of Blackheath had been robbed four or five times, and he gave instances of the manner in which he had suffered from the negligence of the police. When that statement was made, his noble Friend the Lord Steward (Earl Beauchamp), who answered for the Home Office, was not in a position to make any remarks on the misfortunes which the noble Lord had sustained. Neither would he (the Lord Chancellor) now make any observations on that matter; but he must say that the noble Lord had given to the neighbourhood in which he lived a character which it hardly deserved. Inquiries had been made as to the character of the robberies that had taken place in that neighbourhood, and they were certainly not sufficient to stamp the neighbourhood as being a place where property was insecure. The only traces that he found in the Occurrence Book of the Police force of the neighbourhood were these:— On 30th April, 1874, there was an entry of a black hen turkey having strayed from Shooter's Hill, the property of Lord Truro. It was not stated whether the turkey was found, or why it strayed. On the 16th November, 1875, there was stolen in the night one game hen, the property of Lord Truro; and also 30 eggs from an open shed 200 yards in a wood, and out of the view of the police, also the property of his Lordship. On the 9th September, 1876, there were lost—supposed to have strayed—eight 818 white Aylesbury ducks, the property of Lord Truro; and subsequently there was lost—supposed to have strayed—a black and white cock turkey, the property of Lord Truro; and on the 4th June, 1877, two goslings three days old out of a brood of nine strayed away. They must have been very precocious, but there was no doubt they did stray away, because if they had been stolen it was probable the whole brood would have been taken. These were very proper cases for the police to inquire into; but he hoped their Lordships would not think that Blackheath was such an insecure place as the noble Lord would have their Lordships believe.
§ LORD TRURO
said, the police had been extremely ingenious in supplying the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack with an account of these trifling robberies. It was, however, very annoying to lose these things; but they had omitted to furnish any information of the number of houses broken into during the period referred to and the jewel robbery that had been committed there. The neighbourhood was without police for hours, and he himself had driven, between two and three o'clock in the morning, without meeting one policeman in a distance of over two miles. He had no desire to make any charge against Colonel Henderson, but to point out, without making any attack on him, that he appeared to be wanting in those special characteristics that were required for the head of a Department which should have under its control activity and intelligence in the shape of good detective officers.