15 November 1888
THE METROPOLITAN POLICE.
The House having gone into Committee of Supply, the adjourned debate was resumed on the vote of 233,520l., to complete the sum necessary for the expenses of the Metropolitan Police; and on Mr. Bradlaugh's amendment to reduce the vote by 1,600l., the salary of the Chief Commissioner,
Sir W. BARTTELOT said he thought that justice had hardly been done to Sir Charles Warren-(hear, hear)-and that the Home Secretary had not given the Committee the full particulars to which it was entitled. He believed that Sir Charles Warren, so far as the efficiency and discipline of the force were concerned, had endeavoured most honestly to discharge his duties. (Hear, hear.) It was an open secret that the force itself regretted exceedingly the course that had been taken. ("Oh, oh.") He had this on good authority. Unless implicit confidence was placed in whomsoever had the control of the police force, that man's hands were tied, and he became unable to do his duty. When he was hampered, as he had been, by the dual control he was unable to carry out the tremendous responsibilities placed upon him. If his right hon. friend had been a little more determined as to the course of proceeding at one particular date there would not have been so much discussion on the disturbances in Trafalgar-square. Every one must see that the police force ought to be supported, because they looked to it for the protection of this great city. ("Hear, hear," and "No, no,") When another appointment was made they ought to know exactly in what position the head of the police stood with regard to the Home Office. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. C. GRAHAM asked the Committee to believe that in censuring the conduct of the Commissioner he was not actuated by personal spite. He believed Sir Charles Warren to be an honourable and straightforward man, and of his courage he had no doubt, but he also believed that he was the worst fitted man in the British Empire to fill such a position as that which he had just resigned. He hoped the Government would not think it necessary to send Sir C. Warren in partibus infidelium; he had a feeling for the unfortunate people who might be committed to the charge of a military official who had not scrupled to override the British constitution, and to treat British citizens within half a mile of the House as if they were rebels in the South Seas. The errors which the Home Secretary said he had taken on himself had borne fruit the previous night, when a meeting was ridden down and dispersed without any reason whatever. He would read the account from the Daily News, which was not an anarchist paper, but was a hard and fast, buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest, bourgeois sheet, and it was on that account he now read from it. The hon. member went on to read the account of the dispersal of a procession, as reported in the Daily News yesterday, and asked whether that was not a fair description of Donnybrook Fair, or a row in Texas or on the Rio Grande. But was it a state of things which should rejoice any man to read of as occurring in the capital of the civilized world? It was on the poor and necessitous, and the small shopkeepers, that all this fell. For the last year he had pleaded with the most violent section of advanced thought, and he did not hesitate to say before God and before that House that he had stood between the Home Secretary and death on many occasions. But if this state of things were to continue-if citizens were to be batoned down in the streets without the Riot Act being read-they might have such things as took place at Chicago. God grant that it might go no further! He appealed to the Home Secretary to take the miserable, destitute, downtrodden poor under his protection, and to put a stop to what was going on before worse happened. The public had a right to ask why the order was given by the police inspector the previous night, and whether the Government were determined to put an end to public meeting altogether, in the metropolis.
Mr. BARTLEY protested against the representation that the people of London were becoming antagonistic to the police. It was quite incorrect. Demagogues had tried to work up such a feeling, but the relations between the police and the people in London were of a very friendly character. Sir Charles Warren had been sacrificed because, by his firmness in maintaining order, he had made himself obnoxious to demagogues, and his predecessor was sacrificed because he allowed the mob to have its own way.
Sir W. HARCOURT said that as he had perhaps had a longer administrative acquaintance with the police force than any other member of the House, it would not be fitting that he should be altogether silent in this debate. The discussion was to him in many respects a painful one. The state of things which had arisen at Scotland-yard came to him as a painful surprise. It was entirely a new state of things. (Hear, hear.) It was one of which during five years he had had no experience at all. During that period the relations between Scotland-yard and the Home Office were, he was glad to say, perfectly harmonious; he did not remember any difference which arose between them. He had no wish to disparage the authority of the Chief Commissioner of Police, which out to be upheld at its highest point, but his view had always been-and he thought it was a very reasonable one-that the relations between the Secretary of State and the Chief Commissioner should be those of confidential colleagues, working together, with great responsibility, for the preservation of the peace and good order of the community. He had heard with astonishment the correspondence which was read the previous night; he had never heard such a question raised as to how far the Secretary of State had a right to direct the Chief Commissioner, or how far the Chief Commissioner was bound to conform to the wishes of the Secretary of State. He believed that the Secretary of State who unduly interfered with the executive authority of the Commissioner of Police would be extremely unwise; but for the Commissioner of Police to declare a condition of independence of the Secretary of State was a thing that he had never met with before. (Hear, hear.) It would be absolutely intolerable to create in the metropolis an authority not responsible either to the municipal government-(Opposition cheers)-or to the Home Secretary, but with absolute control of an army of 12,0000 or 14,0000 men, at whose mercy the civil population would be. That was a state of things which no statesman of any party could contemplate. It was the more remarkable that such a suggestion should have emanated from any Commissioner of Police, because in the article written by Sir Charles Warren, he himself, in giving an account of the origin of the metropolitan police, said "The Scotland-yard office of police was established by Sir Robert Peel in the year 1829, which, acting under the immediate authority of the Secretary of State, should direct and control the whole system of metropolitan police." That was as explicit as words could be. They might discuss the question whether the police authority should be under the municipal government or the executive government, but the notion of declaring it to be independent of either was a doctrine so unconstitutional-(cheers)-that no statesman would support it, to whatever party be might belong. What would Sir Robert Peel, in an unreformed Parliament, have said to it? (Hear, hear.) The preamble of the Act constituting the force stated what the object was; and power was given to the Secretary of State to remove the Commissioner at his will and pleasure. He did not agree that there was a dual government. The man who was responsible to that House was and must be the Secretary of State-(hear, hear)-and the Commissioner of Police was no more an authority independent of the Secretary of State than was the Under-Secretary of the Home Department. It was a matter entirely of discretion how far the principal responsible authority should interfere with the Executive action; the less he interfered the better. (Hear, hear.) The Commissioner was the man who understood the force under him and its work, and how best to accomplish it; but for the policy, the Secretary of State was and must be solely responsible. (Hear, hear.) For instance, the question whether public meetings were to be allowed or prohibited in the metropolis was not for the Commissioner of Police but for the Secretary of State; but for the Secretary of State to decide what measures should be taken to carry out that police would be, he should say, an interference. He had always found the Commissioner of Police most willing to consult with, and in many cases to advise, the Secretary of State, and that was a most beneficial condition of things. It was not his (Sir W. Harcourt's) desire or business to cast blame on any one, but he had heard with great regret of wars and rumours of wars at Scotland-yard, of differences between the Commissioner and the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, of which he was happy to say he had had no experience. It was an enormous disadvantage than in both these departments they must have men new to the work and unacquainted with the force with which they were to deal; but they must meet this disadvantage as best they could. Of Sir Charles Warren's high character and abilities he wished to speak with all respect. He did not enlarge upon the technical point of the question, namely, his writing to the magazine with reference to the police force. For his part, he should say 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 his conception of the position of the police with regard to the population of London which the article revealed. (Hear, hear.) It was conceived in an alarming spirit, and that was an entire mistake in the attitude of the police towards London. (Hear, hear.) His experience led him to believe that there was no foundation whatever for an alarmist spirit with reference to the population of London. (Hear, hear.) There was a criminal population, they all knew, but nobody could have had experience at the Home Office, or watched the statistics of the population of the country and of London, without feeling with immense satisfaction the rapid and marvelous progress, which had been made in the diminution of crime. (Hear, hear.) The notion that the police of England or of London was an inferior police with reference to the prevention and detection of crime he believed to be entirely unfounded. (Hear, hear.) They would have failures in particular cases, but that happened everywhere; but, on the whole, the police system of this country was an admirable one, which had been extremely successful. (Hear, hear.) Something had been said as to the policy of public meetings. He did not share the opinion of persons who held that, apart from the criminal classes, there was a great floating mass of what people called by the cant phrase dangerous. (Hear, hear.) He did not believe in the existence of the dangerous classes to any great extent-(hear, hear)-and a policy founded upon a fear of the dangerous classes was a policy of foolish panic. (Hear, hear.) Public meetings had constituted a great part of the public life of this country, and he should be extremely sorry if, merely in consequence of the density of population, that element of public life should be expelled from the life of the metropolis. (Cheers.) He did not believe that if the most ordinary precautions were taken there was any danger at all to be apprehended. He thought that the duty of the police in regard to such meetings should be to afford protection against any mischief arising amongst the people themselves or to others outside the meeting, and where that was done in good temper, and a good-humoured spirit, he had never known any harm come of it. (Hear, hear.) Nor did he believe any harm would ever come of it in the present state of feeling of the people of London. Nothing but harm could come from regarding this vast population in a spirit of suspicion and animosity. (Hear, hear.) No doubt in the time of Sir E. Henderson there occurred a most regrettable accident, but it was one of those things which had not occurred before for many years, and which, he did not believe, would have occurred again. (Hear, hear.) In his opinion it constituted no ground what ever for altering in any material particular their system of police. (Hear, hear). He attached enormous importance to maintaining the civilian spirit of their police. (Hear, hear.) No greater disaster could happen to this country or to the metropolis than if they were by any error of administration to interfere with the attitude of friendliness which should exist between the people and the police. He fully believed that the great mass of the people of the metropolis did regard the police as their best friends-(Ministerial cheers)-and if, by the introduction of what he would call the military as opposed to the civil spirit in the administration of the police, they should put the police in the situation of a force facing the enemy, rather than as a force mixing with a friendly people, they would do the greatest mischief to the preservation of the order of the metropolis which it was possible to accomplish. (Hear, hear.) They would run great danger of this if they should pursue a policy of imposing upon the people restrictions to which they had not been accustomed, and of withdrawing from them privileges which they had hitherto enjoyed. (Opposition cheers.) If they should show that there was a growing suspicion of the people, that there was a dislike of their enjoyment of rights which they had hitherto practised, there would be a tendency to create a dislike of a force which was necessarily the instrument of imposing these restrictions. (Cheers.) He hoped that the policy of the police would always be one which was founded upon the basis of a real trust in the great mass of the population of this country as a people who did not deserve suspicion. (Cheers.) As to the increase of the police, in his opinion if they pursued the policy which for a great many years had been pursued there was no occasion whatever for any extraordinary increases of the police in the metropolis. It was probably not known to everybody that to this metropolis was added a population every year of 80,000 people or thereabouts, and of course they must have a normal increase every year; but to demand more extraordinary panic-inspiring increase would be a most unwise thing. (Hear, hear.) The statement that the present force was inadequate for the protection of property or the detection of crime was one which, he ventured to say, had not the slightest foundation. (Hear, hear.) He hoped, therefore, that they should hear nothing of the demand for what were called vigorous measures, and if he might tender humbly his advice to the Home Secretary in the choice of a new head of the police, it would be that he should avoid too much of that active zeal which some people thought was extremely desirable and meritorious. Another caution which he would venture to give the right hon. gentleman was that he should beware of reconstruction. (Opposition cheers and laughter.) Reconstructions were the resource of weak men whenever they got into a difficulty. Instead of reconstructing a good system, what should be done was to amend the particular defect which happened to have arisen. (Hear, hear.) Their system of police was an excellent system, and he advised the Government to hold fast to it. It was a system which had been founded upon as little interference with the civil population of the metropolis as was consistent with the immediate necessities of the case. The Home Secretary had been attacked for not offering a reward in the case of the Whitechapel murders. As the right hon. gentleman had truly stated he (Sir W. Harcourt) was responsible for that policy. He had never known any benefit to arise from the system of offering rewards for the detection of crime, while he saw great danger connected with it. With respect to the attacks made upon the police and the Home Secretary for their failure to detect the perpetrator of the murders, he thought there was no foundation for them. (Ministerial cheers.) They had all done the best in their power, and had used all the means at their disposal. If they had failed hitherto he saw no reason to suppose that they were going ultimately to fail. He believed that they had a thoroughly sound system of police in this country. Whatever might have been the unfortunate differences amongst individuals at Scotland-yard, that did not touch the great question of the body of their police, or the system on which it should be administered. He hoped that the Home Secretary with the support of that House would maintain the old-established traditions and systems of the police of the metropolis, and would not endeavour, in consequences of more temporary accidents to revolutionise that system by the introduction of changes which would not be an improvement, but would very likely damage and injure the system which had been productive of most excellent results. (Cheers.)
Mr. MATTHEWS said he had listened, in common with the rest of the House, with great interest and satisfaction to the fair, temperate, judicial, and statesmanlike speech of the right hon. gentleman. (Cheers.) He did not know that there was a single part of that speech to which he had to enter the smallest sort of dissent. In what the right hon. gentleman said about public meetings he entirely concurred. The Government had always thought that to suppress public meetings in London in general would be a most disastrous and unwise thing to do; but, looking to the unfortunate and regrettable accidents that had arisen from the public meetings held in a crowded thoroughfare, they considered it was incumbent upon them, for the preservation of the order of the metropolis to set their faces against that locality for public meetings. (Hear, hear). The right of public meeting had never met with hostility or opposition on the part of the Government; all they had done was to see that that right was not exercised in inappropriate places, in any way which infringed the rights, convenience, and comfort of the peaceable inhabitants of the metropolis. (Ministerial cheers.) He was glad to have that opportunity of doing the fullest justice to Sir C. Warren. He was a man, not only of the highest character and of great ability, but he had displayed during his tenure of office the most indefatigable activity in every detail connected with the organisation and administration of the police. By his vigour and firmness he restored that confidence in the force which, however unjustly, had been shaken by the regrettable accident which occurred in 1886. He must give his emphatic denial to the suggestion that Sir C. Warren had been sacrificed for demagogues. His resignation had been accepted because the Government felt it was absolutely necessary to uphold and enforce the principle that in the last resort the Secretary of State was the person who must be held responsible for the action of the metropolitan police. It was true that in proportion to population the numbers of the metropolitan police were larger than those in other great towns of the country, but the excess was not conspicuous. It must not be forgotten that there were 1,700 or 1,800 police required in London for services different from those required from the police in a great town like Manchester or Liverpool. He did not share, however, in alarming views on the subject, nor did he propose to make any abnormal or unusual increase in the number of the police. He believed the police of London had discharged their duties most efficiently, particularly the detective force, which had on many occasions shown conspicuous ability. He did not contemplate anything like a reorganization or extensive changes in the force, but that there were some improvements in matters of detail to be effected he did not doubt, and to these he had been giving for some time his best attention. He would refrain from referring to the observations of the hon. member for North-West Lanarkshire. The hon. member spoke with a certain amount of warmth, which could be well understood; but he could assure the House that while he was at the Home Office he would endeavour to prevent anything like undue violence towards the citizens of London. He hoped the discussion would end by making it clear to the public that the expressions which had been used in some quarters in disparagement of the police were not justified by the fact. The police, he believed, had done nothing to disentitle them to that confidence of the great mass of the population which they had hitherto enjoyed. (Ministerial cheers.)
Mr. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM, acknowledging the courteous tone of the right hon. gentleman, trusted he would give the House more information as to the occurrences of the previous night, when the police attacked a perfectly peaceable meeting.
Mr. STUART said he would not refer to Sir C. Warren, but would support the reduction of the vote by this particular amount because it represented a payment to the Chief Commissioner of Police in London as the head and front of the offending of the whole metropolitan police system. The man at the head of the force should be under the control of the people, believing as he did that the great expense of the metropolitan police arose from the want of such control. Looking back ten years, it would be found that, while the increase of population in London between 1878 and 1888 was 20 per cent., the increase in the number of police was 34 ½ per cent., and the increase in cost of the police 44 per cent. This was a point which required explanation. If they went through the accounts of the police as they would go through the balance-sheets of a business which required overhauling, they would find the points of defectiveness were the same. While there had been an increase of only 36 per cent. in the pay and clothing of the constables, there had been a much higher increase in the pay of inspectors, in traveling expenses, which had increased 450 per cent., newspapers and advertisements 500 per cent., law charges 84 per cent., and in all those items which went to show that the business required looking after. The rateable value of the metropolis had risen 38 per cent. during those years, but he denied altogether that the increase of police cost should be based on increased rateable value rather than on increase of population. The cost of the police was increasing more than the rateable value, and a financial crash must be the result. Already they were living on their resources, and living beyond the ninepenny rate which was fixed by Act of Parliament in 1868, and which might not be exceeded unless another Act of Parliament was passed. They could not correct this state of affairs except by giving the people control of the police, because under the present system the ninepenny rate belonged to an official over whom the people had no control. The hon. member gave details to show that the cost of the police was rising in a way which would, if permitted in a business house, undoubtedly send that house to the bad. He trusted the new Commissioner would be a man not of military spirit, and that he would not share the views expressed in the article by Sir C. Warren. Shortcomings on the part of the police came not from the individual constable, but were due to the system; and, for the wiping out of the dissatisfaction which existed, much would depend on the selection of the new Chief Commissioner for London. (Hear, hear.)
Sir R. LETHEBRIDGE [sic] could not doubt that every metropolitan member would agree with the view of the right hon. member for Derby as to the relation which must subsist under the system between the police and the Home Office. There was no diminution of respect for the police by the loyal citizens of the metropolis, for he believed the demonstrations of demagogues, as they had been called, had drawn the loyal people much nearer to the police than they were before.
Mr. J. ROWLANDS considered the self-contained egotism of the hon. member for Kensington in constituting himself the representative of the only law-abiding citizens was remarkable. Having taken part in some of these demonstrations, he could refer to his action and those with whom he acted without discredit to themselves in their association with vast concourses of people without danger to limb, life, or property.
Sir R. LETHBRIDGE explained that he was not referring to such demonstrations as the hon. member spoke of. He had taken part in such demonstrations, and he was most anxious they should continue. He referred to demonstrations of a different character. ("Name, name.")
Mr. ROWLANDS was glad he had drawn a qualification from the hon. member, but he objected to his laying down a dictum as to what was a legitimate demonstration and what was not. There was growing dissatisfaction between the people and the police of London, not in relation to individual members of the force or to particular districts, but in connection with new duties which he believed were distasteful to the police themselves. So far from regretting the resignation of Sir C. Warren, he believed the police would be gratified, because they had been put under a system which was objectionable, and many of them had been debarred from promotion which they were entitled to. (Hear, hear.) The Trafalgar-square demonstration was in the same spirit as the reform demonstration and the temperance demonstration; and it was therefore necessary that the right involved should be settled in a more explicit manner than on the ipse dixit of the Home Secretary for the time being. He protested against police superintendents denouncing as "pernicious doctrines" opinions held by people of this country. (Hear, hear.) That was continentalism with a vengeance. It showed we were on the downward grade, and if we did not stop it we should lose our liberties. He drew attention to a report by Superintendent Dunlap, and protested against the action of Superintendent Draper in arresting ten Socialists in April last because they were Socialists. There was an opportunity now to remedy the present state of things, and he assured the Home Secretary the people would never be satisfied until they had better control of their own police. (Opposition cheers.)
Sir R. FOWLER felt that Londoners owed a deep debt of gratitude to Sir C. Warren for the way in which he had put down disorder. At the same time it must be admitted, in view of the letters read by the Home Secretary on Tuesday, that the right hon. gentleman had no alternative but to accept Sir C. Warren's resignation.
Mr. PICKERSGILL, condemning the military system in the management of the Metropolitan Police, pointed out that the failure to capture the Whitechapel murderers was only the climax of a series of similar failures.
Mr. MATTHEWS said that in consequence of the speech of the hon. member for North-West Lanarkshire he had made inquires respecting the proceedings in Clerkenwell, and the police of the district had informed him that not the slightest attempt was made by the police to disperse the meeting last night, and that no collision whatever had taken place between the police and the people. At the conclusion of the meeting there was a great rush of persons in the direction of Farringdon-road. Some of the mounted police were caught in the throng, and their horses were rendered restless. Not the slightest information had reached the police of any one having been injured.
Mr. C. GRAHAM had made his statement, first, on the testimony of an article in the Daily News, and, second, on the testimony of various men who had complained to him of their injuries, but who, he regretted to say, refused to go to the police-court with him.
Mr. R.G. WEBSTER said that before the hon. member made such charges he ought to have verified them.
Mr. C. GRAHAM declared that he did not rely solely on the Daily News, but on the events which had happened in London since the 13th of November in last year. (Opposition cheers.)
Mr. WEBSTER complained of the action of a body of demagogues, and reminded members that during Jubilee year the police were so popular that they were called our "heroes in blue." (Laughter.)
Mr. PICTON believed that the Home Secretary did not sufficiently appreciate the feelings of the people of the metropolis on the question of Trafalgar-square. Had he known how deep and sore was the feeling, and how difficult it was to induce the people to wait quietly until the question was decided, he would not have assumed that the matter was at an end.
Mr. W.H. SMITH, without underrating the importance of the debate, appealed to the House to make progress with it in order that the rest of the business, which was of a very important character, might be proceeded with.
Dr. CLARK said that for twenty years he had been connected with the arrangements for meetings in open spaces. He did not hold with assembling in large crowds day after day during business-hours; but he considered that on Saturday afternoons, and Sundays, when there was not much business doing, demonstrations might safely be held. In these meetings they had to deal with the "fringe of labour," who in good times were in work and making money, but in bad times wished to ventilate their grievances. He might be allowed, as a medical man, to say that it was more dangerous to attempt to drive an eruption of that kind in than it was to treat it on the surface.
Mr. CREMER said that if this matter had not been closured on a former occasion, there would have been no necessity for two sittings of the House being taken up with that discussion. He suggested that under proper police supervision the Horse Guards Parade should be rendered available for public demonstrations. He believed that that would allay much of the sore feeling which at present existed.
General GOLDSWORTHY denied the right of those who represented country constituencies to demand the privilege of the mob to invade the West End. He was no admirer of the Home Secretary, and never had been-(Opposition cheers and laughter)-but he thought that there was a great debt of gratitude due to those who had prevented riots in the West End of London.
Mr. CONYBEARE repudiated the suggestion that the Government should allow the use of the Horse Guards Parade, which was made by Mr. Cremer, contending that the Horse Guards Parade belonged to the people just as much as Trafalgar-square did.
After some further discussion in which Mr. Hunter, Mr. Nolan, and Mr. Pickersgill took part,
The Committee divided:-
For the reduction of the vote . . . 91
Against . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207-118
The CHAIRMAN then put the question that the vote be agreed to.
Mr. Pickersgill rose, and at the same moment
Mr. W.H. SMITH moved the application of the closure. On the Chairman getting the motion, a division was challenged:-
For the Closure . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
Against . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89-109
A division on the main question of passing the vote was then challenged by Mr. CONYBEARE and a few other members on the Opposition side below the gangway. The vote was carried by 198 against 67, and, progress being reported, the House resumed.
On the report of Supply (November),
Mr. CONYBEARE appealed to the Government to allow this order of the day to stand over till to-morrow. He wished to call attention to the Mercantile Marine Fund.
Mr. JACKSON hoped this formal stage would not be opposed. The vote which dealt with the fund referred to by the hon. member had already been fully discussed.
Mr. PICTON rose to order and called attention to the fact that it was past six o'clock.
The SPEAKER said the report of Supply was exempted from the Standing Order, and could be taken after six.
Dr. TANNER objected to the Committee's going on with the report at that hour of the evening, and moved the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. W.H. SMITH did not think there was sufficient ground for an adjournment, but he did not propose to enter into a prolonged wrangle with members opposite, who must take the responsibility of causing inconvenience and annoyance to many members, and of prolonging the session. (Hear, hear.)
Dr. TANNER said the question he desired to call attention to was the arrest of Irish members on leaving the House.
Mr. W.H. SMITH said there was no reference whatever to that subject in the votes to be reported.
Dr. TANNER said in that case he had been under a misapprehension. He did not desire to obstruct the report. (Ministerial cheers.)
Mr. CONYBEARE also withdrew his opposition, and the report of the votes passed in Committee of Supply the previous day was brought up and agreed to.
The House adjourned at a quarter-past six.
An extraordinary statement with reference to the murders at the East-end will be found in another part of our impression.
THE adjourned debate in the House of Commons yesterday upon Mr. BRADLAUGH'S amendment for reducing the police vote by the amount of the commissioner's salary was embellished by an admirable speech from Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT, which, so far as it went, ought to have a good effect in abating the excitement of public feeling. It was probably the necessity of confining himself strictly to the particular question before the Committee which prevented Sir WILLIAM from distinctly stating that he no longer believed in the desirability of exempting the Metropolitan Police from the control of metropolitan ratepayers. Nevertheless, we regret that he did not make this point quite clear. Six years ago even a Liberal Home Secretary might be excused for thinking that it was possible indefinitely to continue the present system. In those days the unfortunate friction which, whatever be its cause, has now been introduced into the relations between the masses and Scotland-yard was unknown and unforeseen. Quiet times lead to neglect of even the soundest principles, while it is a redeeming feature of tumult and disorder that they test the validity of conventional arrangements. Even if Mr. MATTHEWS had made a satisfactory reply to the circumstantial charges of Mr. BRADLAUGH, as he certainly did not, such definite and detailed accusations, some of which hardly amount to breaches of the criminal law, cannot be thoroughly investigated by the House of Commons or by the Home Office. The proper committee of a representative municipality would speedily dispose of them to the satisfaction of all reasonable persons. The resignation of Sir CHARLES WARREN, though it temporarily divorces the pay from the office of commissioner, increased rather than diminished the interest of the discussion, and Mr. BRADLAUGH was quite right in arraigning the HOME SECRETARY as the authority responsible to Parliament. Sir WALTER BARTTELOT and some other Tories, who, with less personal weight, have more claim to speak for London constituencies, are of course perfectly sincere in their assertion that the police are only unpopular with criminals. But their opinion merely proves that they do not know the facts. We have never encouraged any reckless or exaggerated attacks upon either the chiefs of Scotland-yard or their subordinates. We should be very glad to think that the imprudence, to use no harsher term, was all on one side, and it is a most unpleasant duty to cast any censure upon Sir CHARLES WARREN at the present time. His article, however, speaks for itself, and no man who indulges in vague denunciations of "the mob" is fit to be the head policeman in London. There is no permanent organisation to which that name can be applied. A casual crowd in the metropolis, though it may contain a fair sprinkling of pickpockets, is invariably good-humoured, and the police having nothing to do with public meetings in suitable places except to protect them from molestation.
Mr. BRADLAUGH'S amendment was rejected yesterday by a large majority, and the vote was carried after a somewhat peremptory application of the closure before the House adjourned. Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT, who certainly cannot be accused of any desire to embarrass the Government, offered for the HOME SECRETARY a defence very much abler than Mr. MATTHEWS had succeeded in providing for himself. We entirely agree with Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT when he says that "it would be absolutely intolerable to create in the metropolis an authority not responsible either to the municipal government or to the Home Secretary, but with an absolute control over an army of twelve or fourteen thousand men, at whose mercy the civil population would be." We admitted yesterday, and may repeat to-day, that until the government of London has been thoroughly reformed, and not merely put in the way of reformation, the Secretary of State must retain his supremacy over Scotland-yard. But Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT in his turn acknowledges that the Home Secretary and the Commissioner should act together as "confidential colleagues," a description which long since ceased to apply, if ever it applied at all, to Mr. MATTHEWS and Sir CHARLES WARREN. The question is, not whether the Home Secretary is the Commissioner's constitutional superior, but whether it is possible for any Commissioner properly to discharge his duties if fussy and vacillating orders and counter-orders from the Home Office thwart him at every turn. Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT, who was Home Secretary for five years, says that there should be as little interference as possible. Mr. MATTHEWS has acted upon precisely the opposite principle, with results which even he himself must now see reason to deplore. "My experience," said Sir WILLIAM emphatically, "my experience leads me to believe that there is no foundation whatever for an alarmist spirit with reference to the population of London." It is much to be hoped that the new Commis- [ILLEGIBLE TEXT] for an increase of the force. It is a bad workman who quarrels with his tools, and the fact that Sir CHARLES WARREN was always crying out for more men by no means proves that more men are required. Mr. MATTHEWS says with perfect truth that the police themselves have done nothing which disentitles them to confidence. It is the manner in which they have been employed which causes them to be regarded in many quarters as a harassing father than a protecting body.
Mr. MATTHEWS can be very conciliatory when conciliation is too late, and yesterday he was, not unnaturally, on his best behaviour. He blandly denied that there had been any such collision between the people and the police in the neighbourhood of Clerkenwell-green last Tuesday night as was reported in our columns yesterday. The police, says the HOME SECRETARY, made no attempt to disperse the meeting; there was no collision whatever; nobody was injured; and, in fact, nothing happened at all, except that some of the mounted constables' horses were made restless, by "a great rush of persons in the direction of Farringdon-road." The first statement is quite consistent with our report, which does not say that the police attempted to disperse the meeting, but that they broke up a procession formed after the meeting was over. We should be glad to know how Mr. MATTHEWS reconciles his other assertions with the evidence taken yesterday at the Clerkenwell Police Court before Mr. LUSHINGTON. There was a good deal of conflicting testimony as to whether the parties accused assaulted the police or were assaulted themselves. One of them offered at least the mute testimony of two black eyes, and the magistrate dismissed one charge, because there were discrepancies in what the constables said. Mr. LUSHINGTON'S own language entirely corroborates our report, and is absolutely at variance with the statement made by Mr. MATTHEWS to the House of Commons. "At first," he said to one of the defendants, "I thought it would be necessary to have the mounted policemen here, but from the evidence of your own witnesses the mounted men were doing no more than it was their duty to do-breaking the crowd into small knots." Perhaps Mr. MATTHEWS will explain how the police can break a crowd into small knots without coming into collision with it, and Mr. LUSHINGTON why breaking a crowd into small knots is the duty of the police. Clerkenwell-green is an open space, very suitable for public meetings, which are constantly held there. This particular meeting was a perfectly legal one, and it is not disputed that the procession was orderly. Why, then, was it broken up? Until Mr. MATTHEWS became Home Secretary there were none of these irritating and vexatious onslaughts upon peaceful citizens, who, whether their opinions are wise or foolish, have a right to give expression and emphasis to them in their own way. No doubt the police are anxious to be on good terms with all law-abiding Londoners. But this misuse of them prevents any such agreement, makes harmony impossible, and will, if persisted in, create that "mob" which of present exists only in the imagination of Sir CHARLES WARREN.
Mr. Matthew Packer, of Berner-street, the fruiterer who sold some grapes to a man who just before the Berner-street murder was in company with the murdered woman, vouches for the following extraordinary statement. He says:-"On Tuesday evening two men came to my house and bought twelve shillings' worth of rabbits off me. They then asked me if I could give an exact description of the man to whom I sold the grapes, and who was supposed to have committed the Berner-street and Mitre-square murders, as they were convinced they knew him, and where to find him. In reply to some questions by Packer, one of the men said 'Well, I am sorry to say that I firmly believe it is my own cousin. He is an Englishman by birth but some time ago he went to America, stayed there a few years, and then came back to London about seven or eight months ago. On his return he came to see me, and his first words were "Well, Boss, how are you?" He asked me to have some walks out with him, and I did round Commercial-street and Whitechapel. I found that he had very much altered on his return, for he was thoroughly harem scare-em. We met a lot of Whitechapel women, and when we passed them he used to say to me, "How do you think we used to serve them where I come from? Why, we used to cut their throats and rip them up. I could rip one of them up and get her inside out in no time." He said, "We Jack Rippers killed lots of women over there. You will hear of some it being done over here soon, for I am going to turn a London Jack Ripper." The man then said I did not take much notice then of what he said, as he had had a drop of drink, and I thought it was only his swagger and bounce of what he had been doing in America, at some place which Packer says he mentioned, but he forgets the name. But, continued the man, "When I heard of the first woman being murdered and stabbed all over, I then began to be very uneasy, and to wonder whether he really was carrying out his threats. I did not, however, like to say anything about him, as he is my own cousin. Then, as one murder followed another, I felt that I could scarcely rest. He is a perfect monster towards women, especially when he has had a drop of drink. But, in addition to what he said to me about these murders in America, and what was going to be done here, I feel certain, it is him, because of the way these Jack Ripper letters which have appeared in the papers begin. They all begin "Dear boss," and that is just the way he begins his letters. He calls everybody "Boss" when he speaks to them. I did not want to say anything about him if I could help it, so I wrote to him, but he did not answer my letter. Since this last murder I have felt that I could not remain silent any longer, for at least something ought to be done to put him under restraint. Packer states he feels sure the men are speaking the truth, as they seemed very much concerned, and hardly knew what to do in the matter. He says he knows where to find the men; one works at some ironworks and other at the West India Docks, and the man they allude to lives somewhere in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel. The reporter to whom the above statement was made at once sent off a copy of it to the Home Secretary, and also to Sir J. Fraser, the Chief Commissioner of the City Police. Sir William Fraser immediately acted on the information, and sent Detective-sergeants White and Mitchell to investigate it. They read the letter to Packer, who said it was true, and then took the detective to the man's house. On being questioned by the police he stated where his cousin was generally to be found. It transpired that he is sometimes engaged on the Thames, and late last night a search was, it is said, being made for him upon the river.
Yesterday the police were busily occupied in endeavouring to obtain a clue to the identity and movements of the man with whom the woman Kelly was last seen, and a detailed description of whom has been published. Various statements have been volunteered to them on the subject but up to last evening their inquiries had not resulted in any definite information having been obtained. Several men were arrested during Tuesday night and in the course of yesterday under circumstances considered suspicious, but in no case did the detention last more than a few hours. Each arrest caused considerable local excitement. One man owed his arrest to staring into the face of a woman in the Whitechapel-road. She at once screamed out that he was "Jack the Ripper." The unfortunate man was immediately surrounded by an excited and threatening crowd, from which he was rescued with some difficulty by the police. He was taken under a strong escort to the Commercial-street Police-station. Here it was discovered that he was a German unable to speak a word of English. He explained through an interpreter that he arrived in London from Germany on Tuesday only, and was to leave for America to-day. Confirmation of this statement having been obtained he was set at liberty.-The relatives of the murdered woman, who were expected yesterday, have not yet arrived.-The funeral has been again postponed, and may not take place until Monday. Yesterday afternoon the remains were removed from the temporary coffin in which they have been lying at the Shoreditch Mortuary, and placed in a coffin of French polished elm and oak, with brass handles, in which they will be interred. Mr. McCarthy, the landlord of the deceased, offered to defray part of the cost of the funeral, but his offer was declined, sufficient funds for the purposes having already been subscribed.
SIR,-I wish to explain that when I rose this afternoon and was closured by Mr. W.H. Smith, I was about to move the reduction of the vote for the metropolitan police by the amount of 3,400l., being the salaries of the four chief constables and the two assistant chief constables. This intention must have been known to Mr. Smith, as my motion was on the order paper. The debate raised by Mr. Bradlaugh's motion was of a general character. I desired to take the sense of the House upon the specific question of the military offices recently created. I shall still do this, but under less favourable circumstances-namely, on Report. In the meantime I trust that the ratepayers of London, who have recently been complaining that they are inadequately protected, and that the beats are excessive, will note that, whilst these highly paid and military offices have been created, the number of constables has actually been diminished by 89.-Yours truly,
House of Commons, Nov. 14.