Wednesday, 14 November 1888.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
TUESDAY, Nov. 13.
THE RESIGNATION OF SIR C. WARREN.
Mr. MATTHEWS. - In order to avoid misunderstanding as to the grounds of Sir C. Warren's resignation, which I announced yesterday, I ask the leave of the House to make a statement. On November 8 I directed the following letter to be written to Sir C. Warren: -
"Sir, - Mr. Secretary Matthews directs me to state that his attention has been called to an article signed by you in this month's number of Murray's Magazine, relating to the management and discipline of the Metropolitan Police Force. He desires me to forward to you the enclosed copy of a Home Office circular which was duly communicated to the Commissioner of Police in 1879, and to state that the directions in that circular were intended to apply to the Metropolitan Police and to every officer in the force from the Commissioner downwards. I am accordingly to request that, in the future, the terms of this order may be strictly complied with."
The following is the Home Office minute:-
"The Secretary of State, having had his attention called to the question of allowing private publication, by officers attached to the department, of books on matters relating to the department, is of opinion that the practice may lead to embarrassment and should in future be discontinued. He desires, therefore, that it should be considered a rule of the Home Department that no officer should publish any work relating to the department unless the sanction of the Secretary of State has been previously obtained for the purpose."
I received on the same day the following reply:-
"Sir, - I have just received a pressing and confidential letter, stating that a Home Office circular of May 27, 1879, is intended to apply to the Metropolitan Police Force. I have to point out that, had I been told that such a circular was to be in force, I should not have accepted the post of Commissioner of Police. I have to point out that my duties and those of the Metropolitan Police are governed by statute, and that the Secretary of State for the Home Department has not the power under the statute of issuing orders for the police force. This circular, if put in force, would practically enable every one anonymously to attack the police force without in any way permitting the Commissioner to correctfalse statements, which I have been in the habit of doing, whenever I found necessary, for nearly three years past. I desire to say that I entirely decline to accept these instructions with regard to the Commissioner of Police, and I have again (Lord R. Churchill and other members, - ‘Again!’) to place my resignation in the hands of Her Majesty's Government."
I answered this letter on November 10 in the following terms:-
"Sir, - I beg to acknowledge your letter of the 8th inst. In that letter, after contending that the Secretary of State has not the power under statute of issuing orders for the Metropolitan Police, you decline to accept his instructions that the Commissioner and all officers of the force should comply with the Home Office minute of May 27, 1879, by which officers attached to the Home Department were enjoined not to publish any work relating to the department without the previous sanction of the Secretary of State, and you place your resignation in the hands of Her Majesty's Government. In my judgment the claim thus put forward by you as Commissioner of Police, to disregard the instructions of the Secretary of State, is altogether inadmissible, and accordingly, I have only to accept your resignation. At the same time, I am glad to acknowledge the services which you have rendered to Her Majesty's Government during the course of your administration of the police force."
The Government accepted the resignation of Sir Charles Warren on the ground stated in the correspondence I have read and on no other ground. The failure of the police to discover recent crimes in the metropolis and the differences of opinion between Sir C. Warren and Mr. Monro had nothing to do with the action of the Government in parting with an officer so distinguished and so zealous in the discharge of his office as Sir C. Warren has been. I wish to add, in justice to Mr. Monro and Mr. Anderson, that since Mr. Monro's resignation he has not interfered in any way with the conduct of the business of the Criminal Investigation Department, nor has he been consulted by myself or by any one else, to my knowledge, on that subject. The advice which I have sought from Mr. Monro was confined to the general question of the organization proper for the department in the abstract, without any reference whatever to the daily current business of the department.
Mr. GRAHAM. - I should like to ask the right hon. gentleman what the world "again" refers to in Sir Charles Warren's letter. Are we to understand that this is not the first time that Sir Charles Warren has tendered his resignation?
Mr. MATTHEWS. - There have been previous differences of opinion which led to Sir Charles Warren tendering his resignation.
Mr. GRAHAM. - When did this occur?
Mr. MATTHEWS. - I do not think it necessary to enter into that matter.
Mr. LABOUCHERE. - What is the precise position which Mr. Monro holds now? He has been consulted by the Home Secretary.
Mr. MATTHEWS. - He holds no office of any kind, and is in no way connected with the department.
Mr. STUART. - Will the correspondence read by the Home Secretary be laid upon the table?
Mr. MATTHEWS replied that it would.
Mr. CONYBEARE asked whether the report in the St. James's Gazette was true, that the post of Police Commissioner had been offered to the hon. member for Sheffield (Mr. Howard Vincent).
Mr. MATTHEWS. - The statements in the newspapers upon this subject are always, so far as I have seen them, without any foundation in fact.