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There must be some reason why the learned Gentleman would not attend to my explanations, otherwise, at least, I cannot imagine how he could have represented this bill as being founded on a principle of centralization similar to that which is established in France.
Mr. Aglionby had seen no proof that the bill was called for by the state of these towns, or by the wishes of the inhabitants. At the same time, he would readily acquit the noble Lord of any wish to take advantage of the situation of those towns. On the contrary, he understood that all parties in Manchester agreed that they were much indebted to the noble Lord for having brought this measure forward, so that their claims might be fairly discussed. He believed, that the noble Lord introduced this measure because he had come to the conclusion, that it was the best mode for preserving the public peace. Still he could not come to the same view of the subject. He asked, if there were any petitions in favour of this bill? [An hon. Member: There are none against it.] It was said, that there were no petitions against it. That might be, but then it must be remembered, that the bill had only been printed two days ago. He understood there was a deputation in town, however, from Manchester, who had come on purpose to oppose it. ["No, no!"] He could only say, that he was in favour of the charter, and would support its powers by every means he possessed. But he viewed the present as a separate matter altogether. He understood, that the commissioners of police in Manchester had ample powers to maintain a police force-that such a police force is still kept up by them-that they possessed full power to levy rates, and that they had funds to keep up the force for four months to come.
man, that this bill does not, as he sup- | formerly.
Mr. Brotherton, under ordinary cir cumstances, should never have given his assent to the bill before the House, but seeing the pressing necessity of the case, he could not think of sacrificing the best interests of a very large portion of the community to any party feeling whatever. There were a quarter of a million of inhabitants in the borough of Manchester, and the state of agitation and excitement in which a great portion of that number were, should have much weight with all persons who respected life and property. He would, individually, have much pre
proper police force for the borough; and he felt bound to say, whatever decision should be come to in respect to that question, no rate could be raised in Manches
stated, that the collection of a rate, for the purposes of the police, had been commenced by the commissioners of streets under the old system, but they had only been able to get together 1,2001. as yet, the amount required being about 8,000%. per annum. To show how effectually the amount of the police-rate had decreased since the question as to the validity of the charter was mooted, he should read the returns of the sums received in two consecutive months of each of three years past. In 1837 the collection for the first two months was :
1st week .....
£1,009 3 0 1,049 10 6
ferred to place the police in the hands of the borough corporation, but, that being now impossible, he felt bound to adopt the lesser evil, which was the bill as it then stood. The charter, which had super-ter until it was settled. It had been seded the power of the Court Leet, would have been sufficient for all the purposes of the borough, but for the efforts of interested parties. The chief opponent of the charter was the steward of the Lord of the Manor, who was also clerk to the street commissioners; and it was mainly through his influence that the legality of the charter was called in question. On obtaining their charter, the corporation of Manchester, like men of business, at once set about establishing a good police; and they had advanced upwards of 20,000l. towards effecting that purpose out of their own pocket. That money they had advanced on the faith of the validity of the charter, and it would be very hard upon them now if it were advanced for nothing. As matters stood at present, ninety-five of the street commissioners out of the two hundred, the number usually acting, had declared the charter invalid, and in consequence of that declaration, the inhabitants of the borough had generally refused to pay the police-rate. The corporation were thus disabled from paying the police any longer. The old establishment could not raise the money for that purpose either, and thus the lives and property of the people of Manchester were placed in imminent jeopardy. Seeing this, he was not at all inclined to throw disgrace upon the corporation of that borough by disbanding the present police, or, by consenting to let the question remain in abeyance, to please the party who had been opposed to the charter. He, therefore, called on the House to give its assent to the bill.
making for the two weeks conjoined the sum
Making for that period. £1,990 18 4 While in 1839, for the same space of time, commencing with the 31st of July, the sum
was no more than :
For the 1st week..
£813 19 8
312 5 1
£1,126 4 9
The fact was, that the rate had been appealed against as invalid by 92 out of 140 commissioners of streets; and after that appeal, which had been published in the local newspapers, together with an assertion of the illegality of the rate, it would be next to impossible to induce the people of Manchester to pay it until the Mr. M. Philips said, that his only mo- question was decided. There was another tive in supporting the measure was the reason why they refused to pay the rate, peace of the community which he re- as attempted to be levied by the commispresented. The facts of the case were sioners of streets under the old system, briefly these. A police force had been which was in itself a sufficient explanation established in Manchester by the corpora- of their objection, if no other existed. The tion on obtaining their charter, but funds commissioners proceeded to levy 1s. 6d. were now wanting to pay them, or would in the pound, while for the same purposes, be very soon, in consequence of the ques-under the charter, the levy was not more tion which had been raised as to the validity of the power of raising a rate for that purpose, under that act of incorporation. Without, therefore, taking upon himself to decide the question of validity, he should support the bill, because it contained the means of providing a good and
than 1s. 1d. in the pound. While the validity of the rate levied under the charter was in question, he thought, unless the bill before the House was passed, that great danger to person and property would accrue in Manchester. Nothing but the perfect consciousness of that danger, and
the impossibility of finding any other remedy, could have induced him by supporting the measure, to abandon for a moment those principles of self-government which he had always professed.
a privilege should be taken away. Nothing had happened to justify this harsh treatment of the corporation of Birmingham. The noble Lord had stated it was not his intention to make this the foundaLord G. Somerset was much obliged to tion of a measure for ultimately establishthe hon. Member for informing the House ing a police force throughout the country, of the exact state of the case as regarded under the authority of the Secretary of Manchester, for, up to that moment, he State. He would not dispute the asserhad not been aware of the immediate ne- tion of the noble Lord, but there were cessity of the measure for that borough. certain facts to show the existence of He was, therefore, a convert to the bill; such an intention in some quarters. and, being so, he was very glad that it In the first place there was the Report had not been made a supplementary mea-of the Commissioners appointed to make sure to assist the corporation. He could inquiries into the state ofthe constabulary, not help feeling some slight degree of which recommended the establishment of surprise, however, at the conduct of the a police force throughout the country, hon. Member for Salford, in supporting under the authority of the Secretary of the bill before the House and opposing State. He warned the people of this the Birmingham Police Bill, which went country to be on their guard against the on the same principle. It was quite clear, introduction of such a system, which would however, from what had been stated, that destroy the liberties of the country. This, there was no power in the corporation of then, was a bill extending the metropolitan Manchester to raise the police-rate until police force into five counties. They the question as to the validity of the knew the people would not stand the incharter had been legally decided; and, troduction of the police all at once, but therefore, that there could be no police- the introduction of it was steadily prorate until that took place. Believing that gressing. Next, they had endeavoured to such a state of things should not be per- introduce the police into the city of Lonmitted at the present time, he was now don. A measure had been proposed ready to support the principle of the bill, which would virtually have introduced the reserving to himself the right of altering metropolitan police into London. There some clauses in committee. had next been a measure to raise 10,000l. for a sort of roving police, liable to be sent to any part of the country at a moment's notice. If they acted as they had at Birmingham, the noble Lord would succeed better in creating than suppressing disturbances. When these bills were agreed to, why the metropolitan police system would pervade a fourth part nearly of the population of England. What did these things indicate? That it was intended to carry the system through the whole country. The corporations of England would practically be deprived of the management of the police. He was glad that the city of London had come forward against these bills relative to Birmingham, Manchester, and Bolton. They had resisted the measure which was intended to deprive them of an authority they had enjoyed for the last 700 years, and they did right to oppose the infliction of the same deprivation on others. He wished to draw the attention of the noble Lord to one important fact, that the two Members for Birmingham had declared that there was so great an antipathy in
Bill read a second time.
BIRMINGHAM POLICE.] Lord J. Russell moved the Order of the Day for going into Committee on the Birmingham Police Bill. (No. 2.)
Mr. W. Williams said, he was so strongly opposed to this measure, that he should move that it be committed on that day three months. The first bill which was introduced gave the town-council the entire management of their police, and no objection was made to that bill, except to the grant of 10,000l., which he considered altogether unnecessary. The withdrawal of that bill, and introduction of the present, which vested the power entirely in the Secretary of State, proclaimed that the magistrates, the town-council, and the inhabitants of Birmingham, were not competent for the purposes of self-government. It took from them the power of taxing themselves for their local government; the power of maintaining a police for the protection of their property. No reason had been shown why so important
the town against the measure, that the whole population, with the magistrates and council, would offer it every opposition. How then could the noble Lord expect to make his bill efficiently operate? The noble Lord had, on several occasions, evinced a readiness to follow the advice of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. Now that right hon. Baronet had been very desirous, when he introduced the metropolitan police system, to extend it to the city of London, and had desisted from the attempt only on account of the opposition it met with, feeling that he never could expect to make it efficient, if it were so decidedly opposed by the population among whom the system was to work. The noble Lord should follow the example of the right hon. Baronet in this respect, and pay that respect to the people of Birmingham to which their intelligence justly entitled them. He ought not to force on this measure in opposition to their wishes. If the peace were to be effectually to be preserved, it must be by a police acceptable generally to the people. Without taking up the time of the House any further, he would move that the bill be committed this day three months.
to encourage fires-God forbid!—but they were generally discontented. Sorry he was to find the noble Lord in such a measure as this, deserting his high principles, and dishonouring his great name. If the noble Lord would not restore his first bill, he would advise him to retire from his situation. There were plenty of Gentlemen opposite who would gladly replace him, and who were his equals in ability. Let him retire while he had something yet remaining of his deservedly high character, unless he were prepared to leave the people of Birmingham to themselves—at least with the aid of the military-of whom the noble Lord had given them plenty; a force which, though unconstitutional, was efficient, and somewhat capable of guiding the people of England, who respected them for their courage, and admired them for their glorious achievements and martial enthusiasm. But the gendarmerie system was un-English; the word "police" was not in our language; we only had “ peace officers" and constables; and the noble Lord would have done well to limit his interference to the giving power to increase the numbers of these-there was ample provision for their support. The Court Leet have certainly-like that Housewofully deteriorated from its original intention, but though a clique, self electing, they had never done anything wrong; they were all Birmingham men, and respectable in their character. If the noble Lord wished for a police force, why did he not apply to the Court Leet rather than press forward this measure of centralization? He would warn the noble Lord, if he proceeded with this bill, he would never get back the money advanced. Nor would he venture to take the soldiers out of Bir
Mr. T. Attwood seconded the amendment. He hoped the noble Lord would now consent to withdraw the bill. He had received a letter this day from the town clerk of Birmingham, informing him that a petition had been presented to the council earnestly praying them, if this bill passed into a law, to terminate its operation as soon as the law gave them power -or as soon as it was decided that the law gave them power to levy the rates for their own police. But the council had rejected the petition, on the ground that it was unworthy of them, as men and En-mingham. The very Tories whose advice glishmen, to have anything to do with this bill. They were grave, and respectable men-very few of them had been members of the Political Union, therefore they were entitled to the noble Lord's respect. The first bill was constitutional and reasonable; this was unconstitutional and arbitrary-the first step towards driving in the wedge for the French gens d'urmerie. The people of Birmingham would never submit to it; if they did, now that the noble Lord was in his weakness, they could never expect to resist it when he was in his strength, which, if he were in at all this time two years, he would possess, The masses of the people were not disposed
he had adopted, would beg of him to let the soldiers remain. The police themselves would be subjected to all manner of obloquy and insult. The town of Birmingham was now quiet; the law had resumed its course, and such being the case, he hoped the noble Lord would pause and reconsider before he carried the judgments passed at Warwick into execution; he hoped he would ponder well before he suffered the extrem penalties of the law to be put in force. He appealed to the noble Lord as a man of humanity on the subject; he knew he was such, for although he loathed his (the noble Lord's) police, yet as a man of humanity, and as a man of gen.
tlemanly and generous feeling he admired and respected him. He hoped the noble Lord would reconsider the subject, and withdraw this bill. If he did not, he should adopt the same course respecting this bill as he had given notice of on the Manchester Bill-he should move as an amendment in committee, that the following proviso be inserted :
"Provided always, that when the authority of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Corporation of Birmingham shall be ascertained by due course of law, and it shall be shown they possess the legal right of levying rates, that from that time the authority of this Act shall cease and
Mr. C. Buller wished to impress on the hon. Gentleman the impolicy of dividing the House at this stage, because it gave an air of factious opposition to a proceeding which had hitherto been conducted on high and constitutional grounds. The House had decided in favour of the principle of the bill. He proposed, therefore, to take the sense of the House as to the propriety of keeping the appointment in the hands of the town-council. He also wished to direct the attention of the noble Lord to the proposal of the hon. Member for Birmingham-that the bill should not go further than the reasons assigned-and that, when any corporation should be established in Birmingham, things should be allowed to return to the ordinary course, and the town should be allowed to be governed by the local authorities. He would also take the opinion of the House as to the propriety of taking the authority out of the hands of the corporation. Mr. Scholefield was afraid he should disappoint the wishes of many of his constituents, whose feelings were very strongly against the bill. The noble Lord had satisfied some of his scruples; and if he would adopt the suggestion of his hon. Colleague, that would remove an additional objection. He felt, in common with many of his Friends, that it would be dangerous to press this matter, without doing something to assuage the feelings of the people. When a petition was proposed in the town-council on this subject, it was rejected, on the grounds that they would not, in any shape, recognise a measure so insulting; they felt it was an infringement of the liberties of the people. Their opposition to it was national, although they felt it as a local attack upon them, that they should be the first selected for the intro
duction of this system, and that at the suggestion of persons who had always opposed the enfranchisement of Birmingham.
Mr. Wakley suggested, that the noble Lord should go into committee, pro forma, and on Monday introduce a clause limiting the duration of the bill.
Lord John Russell had already said, that he did not wish the powers granted by this bill to be continued longer than the decision of the case now litigated. But it was not so easy as the hon. Member for Finsbury supposed to draw a clause on the subject, for other matters were disputed before the Queen's Bench beside the power of levying a rate; besides, it was doubtful, whether there might not be an appeal from the decision of that court to the Exchequer Chamber and House of Lords. He saw no reason why they should not go into committee.
Mr. C. Buller moved an amendment to the effect, that the town-council should have the power of appointing a commissioner of the police instead of her Majesty. He was not so furiously opposed to centralization as some Members. On the contrary, he thought that centralization was a part of civilization; but self-government should be also kept up as an inherent right under our Constitution.
Mr. Attwood seconded the amendment. The Committee divided on the original question: Ayes 63; Noes 20: Majority 43.