THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 1888
The main portion of this issue's report from "EXTRAORDINARY STATEMENT…" to "…not led to any satisfactory result." is reproduced in "News from Whitechapel" pages 221 - 223. The Telegraph then reported:
In the House of Commons, yesterday, in Committee of Supply, on the vote towards expenses of the Metropolitan Police, a discussion arose with respect to Sir Charles Warren's administration of the force. Sir William Harcourt laid down the view that while the Secretary of State should not unduly interfere with the executive authority of the Chief Commissioner of Police, it was impossible to conceive of the Commissioner being independent of the Secretary of State, who was responsible to Parliament. Mr. Matthews thanked the right hon. gentleman for his speech, in which he concurred, and protested against the insinuation which had been made in other quarters that Sir Charles Warren was sacrificed to demagogism. He went on to pay a tribute to the efficiency of the London police, who had done nothing to disentitle them to the confidence of the masses of the people. At the close of the debate an amendment to reduce the vote by £1,500, the amount of the Commissioner's salary, was rejected by 207 to 91.
The Government are said to be quite resolved to select some one other than a soldier for the post of Chief Commissioner of Police, and one who has had experience to guide him in the discharge of the very onerous duties that devolve on the head of the Metropolitan Force. As already intimated, Sir Charles Warren's successor will not be actually chosen for several days to come. Meanwhile Mr. Malcolm Wood, Chief Constable of Manchester, is still in town, and his name is prominently forward in the list of candidates. Page 8 THE UNEMPLOYED IN EAST LONDON. - At a time when much thought is being given to this matter, a practical suggestion may be of service. Last year more than £300,000 worth of foreign matches were purchased by inconsiderate consumers in this country, so true is it that "evil is wrought from want of thought, as well as want of heart." If all consumers would purchase Bryant and May's matches, that firm would be enabled to pay £1,000 a week more in wages, and large numbers of the unemployed in East London would thus be provided with work, instead of swelling the ranks of pauperism. [ADVERTISEMENT.]
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
The SPEAKER took the chair at a quarter-past twelve.
THE METROPOLITAN POLICE.
The House resumed Committee of Supply.
On the vote of £233,520 for contribution towards the expenses of the Metropolitan police, &c.
Mr. BRADLAUGH formally moved to reduce the amount by £1,500, the salary of the Chief Commissioner.
Sir W. BARTTELOT said he thought justice had hardly been done to Sir C. Warren. He was selected as one of the most fit and proper men to undertake the very important post which he had occupied, he thought with general satisfaction to the force during two or three years. The Home Secretary, in the statement which he made to the House, did not give them those full particulars which he thought they had a right to expect, considering the distinguished position which Sir Charles Warren had occupied. (Hear.) He did not wish to cast one word of blame upon his right hon. friend, but he did think that they were entitled to hear and to know that Sir C. Warren, so far as the efficiency and the discipline of the force were concerned, had endeavoured most honestly to discharge his duties. (Hear, hear.) It was an open secret that the force regretted extremely the course which had been taken with regard to Sir C. Warren. (Opposition cries of "Oh, oh," and "No, no.") They might say "No, no," but he was in a position to say that he had heard it upon good authority. They regretted the loss of a man who had, by looking into every department and every detail of a complicated machine, endeavoured to put that machine into the best working order that he possibly could. He had spared himself no time and no labour to discharge the onerous duties that were entrusted to him. Unless full and implicit confidence were placed in whoever had the control of the police force, that man's hands were tied, and he was unable to do his duty. When a man was hampered, as he ventured to say the head of the police had been hampered, by the dual control between himself and the Home Office, he was unable to carry out, in the way he would like, those tremendous duties and responsibilities which were placed upon him. With regard to Trafalgar-square, if his right hon. friend the Home Secretary had been a little more determined with regard to the course of proceedings at that particular time, they might not have had so much discussion. The police force ought to be supported, because to it they looked for the protection of this enormous and vast metropolis. (Cries of "No, no," and an Hon. Member: "Certainly not.) Grave responsibility rested with hon. gentlemen who brought charges which unless proved to be true could only tend to diminish the efficiency of that most valuable force. (Cheers.) An appointment must be made, but when it was they ought to know exactly in what position the police stood with reference to the Home Office. (Hear, hear.) Was the head of the police to be head over the body of which he had supreme command? Was the Detective Department to be a half sort of a department under the Home Office, or was it to be under the police entirely? If it were to be under the police, it should be absolutely under the control of the head of the police, and if it were to be under the Home Office, it ought to be an absolutely separate department, and they ought to know exactly who was responsible for the efficiency of that force, as well as of the police force in general. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. C. GRAHAM said he believed Sir Charles Warren was an honourable and straightforward man, and of his courage he had no doubt, but at the same time he thought him the worst fitted man in the British Empire to fill such a position. If he was asked, "Who killed Cock Warren?" he should say, "Gent-Davis." (Laughter.) Sir Charles Warren had not scrupled to override the Constitution of England, and treated members of Parliament as if they were rebels from the South Sea. The seed sown had borne fruit, for last night a procession to a meeting was ridden through and dispersed for no cause whatever. The meeting was in Clerkenwell-green; the speakers were himself and Mr. W. Morris, the poet, and the object was to protest against interference with the right of meeting in Trafalgar-square, to express rejoicing at the dismissal of Sir Charles Warren, and, lastly, to call for the resignation of the Home Secretary. He did not hesitate to say, before God and the House, that he had stood between the Home Secretary and death many times, but how could he be responsible in future for men like those he desired to protect? If the present state of things continued we should have some frightful horror and have to debate it in the House. God grant it might not go any further. The danger of holding public meetings was so great that he shrank from it.
Mr. BARTLEY, as a metropolitan member who had lived in London all his life, and mixed with people of all classes, emphatically protested against the statement that the people of London were becoming antagonistic to the police. (Cheers.) A certain class of persons, they knew, were always antagonistic to the police, and if that were not so, there would be no need for the police at all; but among the mass of the people there was a kindly feeling towards the police, and it was as great now as it ever was, and even greater. (Hear, hear.) It did seem to him that Sir C. Warren had been sacrificed to the cry of demagogues, who had tried to stir up ill-feeling between the people and the force, and he could not help regretting that he had resigned, as he did his duty well. (Hear, hear.)
Sir W. HARCOURT said he had had a longer practical acquaintance with the police than any other member of the House. The condition of things that had arisen at Scotland-yard was to him a painful surprise. During the five years he was at the Home Office the relations between the authorities at Scotland-yard and the Home Office were, he was glad to remember, in perfect harmony. He did not want to disparage the authority of the Chief Commissioner of Police, which ought to be upheld at its highest point. His view was that the relation between the Secretary of State and the Chief Commissioner of Police should be one of confidence. In his opinion the Secretary of State should not unduly interfere with the executive authority of the Commissioner of Police in preserving peace and order, because he must have the largest experience in such matters; but for the Commissioner of Police to preserve a position of independence of the Secretary of State was a thing which he never could conceive to be possible. (Cheers.) To create in the metropolis an authority not responsible either to the municipal government or the Home Office, with the absolute control of an army of 12,000 or 14,000 men, at whose mercy the civil population would be, was a thing which no statesman of any party had ever contemplated. It was not a dual Government. The man responsible in the House of Commons was the Secretary of State, and he directed the policy, he might say, of the police, while to the Chief Commissioner was left the executive part. Two men would have to be appointed - a Chief Commissioner and a head of the Criminal Investigation Department - new to the work, and unacquainted with the force with which they had to deal. That was an enormous disadvantage, and they must deal with it in the best way they could. He wished to speak with all respect of the abilities of Sir Charles Warren and the manner in which, according to his conscience, he had discharged his work. With reference to his writing in a magazine as to the police force, that was a practice more honoured in the breach than the observance. (Hear, hear.) But what was more important was the point of view of Sir C. Warren's conception of the position of the police with regard to the population of London with which he had to deal. The criticism he should pass upon the article was that it was conceived in an alarmist spirit. That was a great mistake in the attitude of the police force towards London. (Opposition cheers.) Nobody was so dangerous as alarmists. They generally created the perils which they feared. From his experience he believed there was no foundation whatever for an alarmist spirit with reference to the population of London. Something had been said as to public meetings. He did not approve of the view which some seemed to hold, that restriction should be placed on public meetings. Public meetings were part of the life of this country, and he did not credit that there was in London a great floating mass of what people call the "dangerous classes" as distinct from the criminal classes. A policy founded on fear of the dangerous classes was a policy of foolish panic. He should be extremely sorry if the element of public life involved in public meetings was expelled from the metropolis. It was said, "Oh, the Socialists will rally and come together, and there will be great danger." If ordinary precautions were taken there would be no danger at all. (Hear, hear.) The office of the police was to protect such meetings against any such mischief arising among the people themselves or from others outside the meetings. He had always regarded the retirement of Sir E. Henderson with the greatest regret. (Cheers.) There were other merits than vigour and action in the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Sir E. Henderson was not fussy or fidgety, but calm and self-possessed, and although a military man he did not administer the police in a military spirit. Military men were not the best men to be at the head of an essentially civilian force. He attached the greatest importance to the maintenance of the civilian spirit of the police force. No greater disaster could happen to the metropolis than by any error of administration to create a feeling of antagonism between the people and the police. If restrictions were imposed upon the people to which they had not been accustomed, if privileges they possessed were withdrawn, and if it was shown that there was a growing suspicion of them, great risk of producing that state of feeling would be run. Therefore he hoped the policy of the police would be one founded on trust of the great masses of the people of the metropolis. As to a suggested increase of the police, he was of opinion that nothing beyond the normal increase in ratio to the growing population was necessary. Unless there were causes with which he was not acquainted, he should certainly oppose any sensational panic-stricken increase in the police, which in the metropolis were already much more numerous in proportion to the population than in provincial towns. He hoped in the House of Commons they should hear nothing of the demand for what was called vigorous measures. If they were going to have a gendarmerie, they would have to multiply the police by ten. Hence he appreciated the difficulties of the Secretary of State in appointing a new Commissioner of Police. It was much easier to get rid of a good man than to get a better in his place. He advised the Home Secretary, in making his selection, to avoid too much of that active zeal which some people thought extremely desirous in the metropolis. If the Secretary of State wished to sleep at night, he would not have commissioners of police who were too active. He also warned him to beware of reconstructions, which were the resources of weak men. If he was a man of ability and courage he would amend the particular defect in the system and not reconstruct. (Ministerial cheers.) Yes, that was a Conservative sentiment. He (Sir William Harcourt) was a Conservative. (Laughter.) He hoped there would be no militarism. With respect to rewards, he was glad to find the Home Secretary had followed the course pursued by himself when Secretary of State. He had never known a crime discovered through a reward. A much higher authority than the Home Office or the Executive Administration, the Corporation of the City of London - (laughter) - held a contrary opinion. They had always been offering rewards; but he had never heard that they had detected a criminal. (Laughter.) He never knew any benefit result from the system; and he was perfectly aware great dangers were incurred. There had been an attack on the police and the Chief Commissioner in consequence of the non-detection of the Whitechapel murderer; but such an attack was very unfair. The police and the Home Office had exerted every possible means; and, although they had failed at present, that was no reason to suppose no effort was being made to arrest the criminal. When he (Sir W. Harcourt) was Home Secretary, some impatience was manifested in consequence of the non-arrest of Lefroy, and public feeling was aroused in regard to the dynamite explosions, the perpetrators of which in some cases were fortunately convicted. It was impossible to detect in every case; all that could be expected was that the police would exhaust the means at their disposal. Therefore any attack made on responsible persons in this respect was unfair and unreasonable. He desired to say that there existed in this country a thoroughly sound system of police, and he did hope that the Home Secretary, with the support of the House, would maintain the old-established traditions and discipline of the metropolitan force and set his face against ephemeral attempts to revolutionise the practice and introduce new systems. Such an attempt would not improve, but would damage and injure the system which had hitherto been productive of excellent results.
Mr. MATTHEWS thanked the right hon. gentleman for the judicial, fair, and moderate speech he had just delivered. He concurred with what had been said about the right of public meeting. The Government had always held that to suppress public meetings in London in general would be most disastrous and unwise. Having taken precautions for the legitimate expression of public opinion in various convenient places in the metropolis, the Government felt it incumbent upon them, looking at the unfortunate occurrences which had attended meetings held in the midst of crowded thoroughfares, for the preservation of public order in the metropolis, to set their faces against the holding of meetings in those inappropriate localities. With reference to the resignation of the Commissioner of Police, he wished to do the fullest justice to Sir C. Warren. He was a man not only of the highest character but of great ability. During his tenure of office as Commissioner of Police he had displayed the most indefatigable activity in every detail connected with the organisation and administration of the police, and by his vigour and firmness he had restored that confidence in the police force which had been shaken by the regrettable accidents which occurred in 1886. (Ministerial cheers.) He desired to enter his most emphatic protest to the observation that Sir C. Warren had been sacrificed to demagogism. His resignation had been accepted because the Government felt it was absolutely necessary to uphold and enforce the principle that in the ultimate result the last resort must be to the Secretary of State, who was responsible to the House of Commons for the Metropolitan police. It would be totally unconstitutional that there should be a police force in such a town as London the commander of which force should hold irresponsible authority, and be able to disregard the instructions of the person who had to answer in Parliament for the conduct of the men under his command. (Hear, hear.) Respecting the numerical strength of the police force, it was true that in the metropolis the police were in larger proportion to the population than in other great towns. London had 26 police for every 10,000 of the population; while Manchester had 23 and Glasgow 20 for the same number. It must not, however, be forgotten that it was more difficult to control the criminal classes in a population of five millions than in a smaller population. Besides, in the metropolis a great number of police were withdrawn from their ordinary duties for such exceptional work as the protection of public buildings, on which more than 600 were engaged, for the hackney carriage service, for the theatres, and for the management of general traffic. He believed there was no occasion for alarm or anxiety in London. The police had discharged their duties most efficiently. The detective force, in particular, had exhibited on many occasions marked and conspicuous ability. He did not contemplate anything like re-organisation or extensive changes in the force, although some improvements in details were engaging his attention, such as the management and distribution of the force. He hoped the discussion would make it clear that the expressions used in some quarters in disparagement of the police were not justified by the facts. They had done nothing to disentitle them to the confidence, if not the affection, of the general masses of the population, and this he believed they held. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. C. GRAHAM begged the Home Secretary to give some information as to the occurrences of the previous evening, when the police in London had attacked a perfectly peaceable meeting and had injured several citizens.
Mr. J. STUART said his indictment against the system of police management by the Chief Commissioner was that the increase of expenditure arose in respect of all those items, which, if the management were conducted on ordinary business principles, required special superintendence, in order to keep down excesses.
Sir R. LETHBRIDGE did not admit that there had been any undue manifestation of the military element in connection with the metropolitan police force.
Mr. J. ROWLANDS testified to a growing disaffection between the people and the police in London, and contended that the existing system of control was to blame for it.
Sir R. FOWLER, as a Londoner, expressed his gratitude to Sir Charles Warren for the way in which he had maintained order in the metropolis during the time he had been Chief Commissioner of Police, and regretted the circumstances that had led to his resignation, but thought that in the circumstances the Home Secretary had no alternative but to accept the resignation. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. PICKERSGILL congratulated the committee on having heard the death-knell of the attempt to turn the Metropolitan Police into a military force, against which some of them had struggled for so long. In 1887 there were five undetected murders in London, which, taken in conjunction with the failure to detect the author of the Whitechapel outrages, showed that there was some defect in our detective force.
The HOME SECRETARY: Allow me to answer the question put to me by the hon. member for Lanarkshire (Mr. C. Graham) with regard to the alleged dispersal of a meeting by the police at Clerkenwell-green last night. I am informed that no collision whatever took place between the police and the people. At the close of the meeting an ordinary rush was made in one direction, and some of the mounted police were caught in the throng and their horses rendered restive. No attempt was made to interfere with those leaving. The only thing that occurred was that some of the mounted police followed the crowd, as was the custom, until the numbers were reduced. Not the slightest complaint has reached the police of any one having been injured.
Mr. C. GRAHAM said that he spoke on two testimonies. The first was an article in a London newspaper, and the second was that of various men who had come to him that morning complaining of injuries, but all of whom absolutely refused to go into the witness-box.
Mr. R. G. WEBSTER thought that it was very desirable, before the hon. member had accused the Home Secretary as he did that morning, that he should have verified his statements.
Mr. C. GRAHAM: I rise to inform the hon. member that I did not solely indict the Home Secretary on the statement of the newspaper, but on the events that had happened in London since Nov. 13 last. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. WEBSTER would ask the hon. member and anybody else who took part in mob oratory what good he thought the poor would get if capital were driven out of London, as it was at the time of the Trafalgar-square riots. He denied that the feeling between the police and the people of the metropolis was anything but satisfactory.
Mr. PICTON was of opinion that the police had been taught to suppose that they were the protectors of a particular set and of a certain class of interests as against the mass of the population.
Mr. W. H. SMITH, while not underrating the importance of the debate, hoped that hon. members would enable progress to be made.
Mr. CREMER asked whether the Government would permit meetings on the Horse Guards Parade.
General GOLDSWORTHY was not an admirer of the Home Secretary - (laughter and cheers) - and never had been - (laughter) - but he believed that a debt of gratitude was due to the right hon. gentleman for having prevented riot.
The discussion was continued by Mr. Conybeare, Mr. Hunter, and Mr. Nolan.
The committee then divided, and the numbers were -
For the reduction... ... ... 91
Against ... ... ... ... 207
Majority against ... ... 116
Mr. PICKERSGILL then rose to continue the discussion, when
Mr. W. H. SMITH moved "That the question be now put." (Ministerial cheers.)
The motion was loudly challenged by the Opposition, and the committee divided.
For the closure ... ... ...198
Against ... ... ... ... 89
Majority for ... ... ... 109
The committee divided on the main vote, and it was agreed to by 198 to 67.