« ForrigeFortsett »
After a few words from Mr. R. Stewart (Lord Castlereagh), who doubted, whether, in addition to the large force already voted, a further augmentation was necessary, the question that the bill be committed next day was put, and carried without a division.
June 24. 1793.
The order of the day for going into a committee on the police
bill being read, Dr. Duigenan opposed the bill; he stated that its object was the establishment of a democracy in the city; and that it divested the Crown of that wholesome control which it at present possessed therein; he particularly objected to that part of the bill, which enacted that the election of the magistrates should be in the lord mayor and aldermen, with the approbation of the common-council; the law which rendered the approbation of the Commons necessary, was a radical defect in the constitution of the city.
Mr. GRATTAN declined entering into the minutiæ of the bill at present; the proper time for that would be in the committee, till when he would. wait to combat what the honourable gentleman had asserted, and he would pledge himself fully to refute him. The dominant idea in the honourable gentleman's calculations was, that the proposed plan would be more expensive than the existing establishment; and in order to give colour to the assertion, he had stated the annual expense of the police at 15,4001. and he had particularly said that this was the whole of the expense. Now in the latter part of the assertion the honourable gentleman had fallen into very considerable error; for he would pledge himself to show, from papers on the table, that this was not the whole expense, and that: 19001. per annum, which is taken from the ordinary revenue for the purpose of paying the commissioners, was not included in this estimate [Dr. Duigenan agreed that this was not included.] This sum, which went to support the useless part of the institution, which went to sow the seeds of ministerial influence, added to the other estimate, would make the annual expense be little less than 18,0001. even last year; in former years it bordered on 20,000l. If then the proposed plan were even as expensive as the honourable gentleman has stated it, which it was not, yet would it be cheaper than the present system. At any rate, the very material error the honourable gentleman had fallen into by. the omission of so large a suin as 19001. should teach the House to be doubtful of the accuracy of his statement in other instances, and induce them rather to go into committee on the bill than suffer an enormous estimate of
expense to defeat the principle of the bill. Indeed he should be greatly surprised if after what had been said on this subject, ministers could possibly oppose the committal. For his part he had little doubt that by proper limitations and restrictions of salary which might be proposed in the committee, the whole expense of 550 men on an average of the year round, might be confined to 11,0001, allowing Is. per day to each private watchman. The other expenses, including salaries to the superintending magistrates, divisional justices, &c. would not amount to 3000l. more; thus the whole would be but 14,0001. per annum, which is 40001. cheaper than the present odious and insufficient establishment.
The honourable gentleman had stated that the saving of the proposed plan was in the pay of the watchmen; the contrary was the truth; the difference between the bill and the present police law was this, that by the bill the expense is for the watchmen, not for the patronage; by the law the expense is incurred by the patronage, not by the watchmen. He would prove before the committee, if the bill were suffered to go before one, that the expense of the patronage equalled all the other expenses of the institution put together.
As to the honourable gentleman's assertion that the bill went to establish a democracy in the city, he laughed at it. Did the honourable gentleman remember that the superintending magistrates' by this bill were chosen precisely in the same way in which the lord mayor and sheriffs of the city: were chosen ? Would the honourable gentleman say that the law under which those magistrates were chosen, established a democracy in the metropolis ? Certainly he would not. Much as democracy was now reprobated, and much as it was now ridiculed as it existed in France, yet our respect for corporations and corporate rights should be preserved; or, if the honourable gentleman disliked them, his dislike should rather induce him to propose a repeal of the existing laws for electing lord mayor and sheriffs of the present constitution of the city, than to oppose the bill. In framing this bill he had thought it better to take the constitution of the city as he found it, than to resort to new ideas on that subject ; nor did the constitution of the city appear to him so faulty in this instance, as it did to the honourable gentleman. What ! should it be said that a city is governed by democracy, if the executive power have not the government of it? What was a corporation? What were corporate rights but limitations against the executive power? Whenever the Crown interfered with a corporation, then a principle of the constitution was violated by the executive government. He would warn the honourable gentleman that democracy was more likely to be excited by the line of conduct he was pointing out, than by any another, namely, the interference of the Crown with the rights of corporations. It was that which would rouse up party in opposition to the minister, and would throw the state into a kind of popular fever, which was equally dangerous to the liberty of the people and power of the Crown. But the conduct of his Majesty's ministers was the best refutation of the charge; for they were too sagacious and too vigilant to have admitted the bill, and suffered its progress hitherto, if there were any principle in it that favoured too strongly of democracy.
He did not wish to bind down any gentleman to support the committal of the bill, because he had agreed to it in its former stages through the House; yet he must say, the right honourable gentleman had taught him to believe that he would not oppose the principle of the bill, as he had declared that he despised the patronage of the institution. He could not help lamenting that administration were still so ill advised as to defend the principle of the present system. It was impossible they could long do it; had they the authority of twenty houses of Parliament at their back, they would find themselves unable to support the institution in its present state; they were wrong in principle and practice. The silly argument that the bill created a democracy would not avail them; it was a shallow artifice suggested by the minister; it. could not deceive the public, it could not deceive themselves. Though for the present a torpor had seized the minds of the citizens, and rendered them insensible of their injuries, yet they would speedily shake it off; they would again come forth, and show ministers that the principle and the practice of the law was indefensible; they would tell them, what every gentleman knew to be the fact, that the police was originally but a job for the crown, and now was maintained, only because the city seemed to acquiesce with a torpid indifference.
Gentlemen had denied that the institution was odious : but had those gentlemen examined the various reports which had been made on that subject by committees of that House, they would have known that if ever-a city entertained a
deep-rooted and cordial hatred of any measure, if ever a city entertained an odium capable of being ascertained by numerical calculation, the city of Dublin entertained such an hatred for this institution. No measure, no expense, no enormity of administration had ever excited discontent so strong or so general as this abominable establishment. But an honourable gentleman, (Colonel Blaquiere,) had said as much in one word on the subject of police as he could say in twenty sentences; he had told the House that he had seen the police magistrates at the head of the military.”
This single circumstance spoke the institution. To render recurrence to military aid unnecessary, had been the professed object of the establishment of the police system, yet was military aid resorted to on every occasion. Hence appeared thé inefficacy of the establishment, and the falsehood of its pretext. Would any gentleman say it was fair or reasonable that the people of Dublin should pay 18,000l. per annum, in order that the police magistrates may preserve the peace of the city, by means of the King's army? No man would be so hardy: Yet it was inevitable, he granted, that the police magistrate should resort to the military. The people so cordially and imo in corde abhorred the police, that it was impossible they could ever of themselves be efficacious; the fact was ascertained by the various reports before the House; but gentlemen had not read those reports; they were too voluminous to be read by men who knew how to vote without them.
As to the argument of an honourable gentleman (Mr. Ormsby), that the present bill retained all the
unconstitutional parts of the police law, he would inform that gentleman that whatever strong parts of the police law were judged necessary for the preservation of the peace, those were copied, but with a difference which the honourable gentleman did not seem to attend to, namely, that, in the police law those powers were vested in the Crown, and thence became unconstitutional; by the bill they were vested in the magistrates of the city. As to that other argument (of Mr. Beresford) against this bill, drawn from the corporation being liable to factious influence, it went not merely against the bill but against the constitution of the city, and if it influenced the honourable gentlemen at all, should induce him to move for a repeal of that constitution; else the honourable gentleman would be guilty of the absurdity of asserting that the corporation might, without danger, be entrusted with the election of the superior officers, but that to entrust them with the appointment of the subordinate ones would be fatal.
The bill was opposed by Mr. Hobart, Mr. Beresford, Sir John Blaquiere, and Mr. Barrington; it was supported by Dr. A. Browne, Mr. Curran, and Mr. W. Ponsonby.
The House divided on the question, that the Speaker do leave the chair ;-Ayes 30, Noes 83, Majority against the bill 53. Tellers for the Ayes, Mr. Grattan and Mr. Curran; for the Noes, Dr. Duigenan and Mr. Arthur Wellesley (afterwards Duke of Wellington).
MR. GRATTAN said, before the House should resolve it
self into a committee on the East India bill, he would state his ideas on the subject of East India commerce. It was more necessary to be explicit on the subject now, as the probability was that this would be the last opportunity to say any thing on commercial arrangements. He then entered into a train of reasoning to show the importance of the surrender which the bill made to Great Britain, and to prove that Ireland was not only capable of carrying on a trade to the East, but such a trade as must increase her wealth, and promote her manufacture,
The argument which, on a former occasion, had been advanced against this position was, that this country could not export any article of manufacture to the countries beyond the Cape of Good Hope, for that Great Britain herself could not export any. On that occasion an honourable friend of his stated that 50,0001. was at that moment exporting. He was answered that this was for the use of the British settlements only: but, on enquiry, he found that it was for the general India market. He would prove from authentic documents that the export trade existed; from the accounts of the India company it appeared that the exports of manufacture to India were, in the year 1786, 243,0001.; 1787, 290,000l.; 1788, 384,000l.; 1789, 356,0001.; 1790, 440,0001. continued increasing to the present year. It had been asserted that there was no market in China for British manufacture; "the reverse was the case; as public documents prove the export to India and China last year amounted