S .A. ROYAL COMMISSION GRANTED. THE NEW GOMMISSIONER TO BE A ?£?■:> W :H -' MEMBER. .: v ... • [FIiOM r OPB REPOBTiBByj " ".:■:., ttiie-for-the : dinner atf jownment y toferday tbj». Pbsmier made a'Mlnuteri&l,»raiemerib' "rs'tlie polioe. •Hei.l*4id:\,thati of polioe had caused 1 4j;itat|||ft i the country; haying fArmed ! ' the Buojecb of .mttohj discussion; ! both .in the ""House and ith"e.Pre|p. " ihe.Govi6rnment : "had taken up this.poiition until 1 - the- arrival iti the -colony of tie ?. new Commissioner' "of Police ....(Mr 3 Turibndge)':'. no- action' ■would >be = taken ijq. the matter'by them. . (Here- the membei: ; *for Wai--rarapa' made Borne remark which wis in : the gallery. It caused the Premierto remark that if ib were made outside the; Housi tt wouloV characterise it by other language;) "He- repeated that the Government had decided that no aotion should be taken with respect to an inquiry into police administration till after: Mr Tunbridge's arrival;Vand they maintained that position firmly, not- : withstanding that considerable pressure had J been put upon themuby:^their.supporters inside and outside the House, and by a septum of the Press. The new Commissioner had now, arrived, and the Minister of Defence and himself had;'conferred with him. The first thing he (Mr Seddon) wished to point out was this: 'that for some months—for the past eight months, in fact—Government were hot satisfied with* the condition of the police, reason the Cabinet had decided to appoint a hew Commissioner. The selection of Mr Tnnbridge was proof positive on that point. He (Mr Seddon) had stated in: the House that the administration of the police had in one respect been lax, but'iri'so saying'he-wished it to be carefully remembered that in any aotion i had deemed'necessary they did nob wish to-cast any reflection whatever on the present Commissioner, Inspector Hume. That officer was brought l Out from Home to look after our gaols. That was his special business, and he thought all the members of the House would admit that Inspector Hume had done really good work. In order to secure economy the police had been handed, over to. Mr Hume, bub in his (Mr Seddon's) opinion a military man was nob the best-man to have charge of our polioe. What they wanted was someone who had had considerable experience of police l ' administration ? and special experience. The growth of population and of the country had rendered'' it necessary to now place the police in charge of a man with the experience and ability he had indicated; and he ventured to say that Mr Tunbridge would possess the necessary decision, character, firmness, and experience as head of the police: of the colony. He had no hesitation in saying that the colony had been very fortunate in getting the services of a man of Mr Tunbridge's experience. The Government had placed before the new Commissioner the position.
Mr Taylor : What position have you pui before him? -
Mr Seddon : The allegations which have been made from time to time with respect to the police: The Government had endeavored to pub before him fully, fairly, and impartially the present position of the police. They had not attempted to conceal or keep back anything, v and the Government had given him a free hand. He was not trammelled in any way, shape, or form. The Government, in asking Mr Tunbridge to take charge of the police in this colony, had given him complete control, feeling sure that he would perform . his work with credit alike to himself and to the Administration who had appointed him. Captain Russell : You will give him, I suppose, the same free hand you gave to the commandant of the forces ?
Mr Seddon : Which cost us from £15,000 to £16,000 for a new-rifle, and last night I heard another £15,000 or £20,000 is wanted for another rifle'; but lam determined in this matter to piotect the taxpayer. Coming back to the question of the police, the Government, he said, .had Bought the advice of the new Commissioner as to whether he would first visit the centres and from a personal inspection see for what the state, of. the force wag, allowing this matter, to stand over till be had seen for himself what was the condition of the. force, or whether, in view of what had taken place, an inquiry should at once be held. The answer was that ho thinks matters bad arrived .pi such a stage. 7 that au inquiry should be held at once. ; Mr. Tayioei Who thinks so? MrBfiDDOiM The new Commissioner. Ho thinks to refuse an inquiry" aitet arriving at ths present stage ot aglUtioa would bo a mistake, and be held to be detrimental to the force. That meant it was not fair that .the whole force should be condemned be. cause a few policemen had done wrong. Ashe had stated at the outset, the Government would do nothing till the new Commissioner arrived. He was now here, and they had consulted with him, with the result that he (the Premier) now intimated to the Houbo that the Cabinet had decided to inquire into the specific allegations against the police by members of the House and the Press; but it would no! be just to make the entire force the subject of inquiry. That inquiry would be conducted by two persons, one of whom would be one of our most experienced stipendiary magistrates. Taking into consideration the fact that the new Commissioner of Police was absolutely unbiased and quite independent of those now here, the Government thought that, in justice to the police force, he should bo one of those appointed to conduct the inquiry, * : . Mr Taylor : What sort of inquiry ? Mr Seddon : A royal commiision.—(Hear.) As to setting up a parliamentary committee or committee of the House, he did not oppose either course himself. The decision of the Government was this : that after consulting with the new Commissioner a royal commission would be appointed to inquire into the specific allegations against the police made in the Houße and by the Press. Mr Taylor asked if the intention was to limit the commission to two members—an experienced magistrate and the new Commissioner?.
Mr Seddon replied in the affirmative. Neither Prohibitionist, the. trade, nor politicians would be on the commission.—(Hear.) He'thought they should get'their. most experienced magistrate, and he,, hoped to be able to announce shortly a name that would be satisfactory both to the House and to the country. ..,.....' Later. It will be noticed in the Premier's remarks re the police that he made no direct statement as to the strength of the proposed commission. In one part of his speech he said experienced stipendiary magistrates; in another, in reply to Mr Taylor, he said the latter was at liberty to construe his remarks into the singular or plural as he pleased," but the undoubted implication was that Mr Tunbridge would have for a colleague one of our most experienced magistrates in sifting the evidence. The Govern.menthave not yet considered the composition of the commission, but in the lobbies the general feeling prevails that Mr Beetham, S.M. at Christchurch, will be selected if only one is needed. Some members think it be better if the stipendiary magistrate in each centre be associated with Mr Tunbridge when inquiring into the administration of each police district. It appears that Mr Seddon intended making the statement at an early.period of the afternoon, but Mr Fraser sprang. a surprise in his privilege motion. . The Premier evidently thought that the Left Wingwould have the full assistance of the Opposition in carrying their contemplated motion to -Supply, and checkmated them by making his announcement just as the answering letter reached the hands of the member for Sydenham. Discussing the commission, the 'Times' says^/editorially:—"la carrying out the inquiry arranged for we trust that justice will be done .to those men who will be called on ta answer oharges, and that no
attention wijl be'paid to 't%tittie'Uttie which is encouraged by thoße who expect a policeman to tf an upright -trust: ' day is far ,of the force will; be expected' annoy/ the .public by a,ble. interference. "At" the sal^e l.manifest"that therehas 'laxiityi whioh must at Id deciding, that Mr Ttfubridgeentirelyfree'hand in c the';.cdhtrpl ! bf::il»ei torce the Government will booing-'Wore :\o 'uphold the dignity- of the- heW ment andireeinen from of a set;of £ußy..bbaieß than"a'riythtnff;thaVtiar in the" "Wnen' in; Jhe sioher'it becomes necessary, to m&ke changes' there will be ham/pre ra bera of the Ho'iise, • such; 4a ,haff pccutred- fn flie paist The'scope p'f the'jbomniissyra willbe. toi .inquire . inlbi; past; ;'• what bhahges; if any,; should';,ba'made j what ;have ( been the caused -qlfLfaxity'ln the; admihistratioh bf~ the la#s ; and' what steps''were; p&iesßary';to; t&ke; to; make the force" thoroughly The Commisioner will Tnot 1 be\r»rmltted Vestigate general chargesj' bd& r J'Will". ba; limited to the investigatiori;pf made on the .floor of the House ,and in thepublib; Press." Under the' second- .heading' it appears quite likely that the;que4tion of the administration of the licensing law in the Clutha district will be fully gone into;Members of-the force who are-ontheir trial; as it were, may depend on MrTuubridge probing matters to the very.;bottom; but at the same time he will stand by* and;be pre : - pared to defend the good nam*of the force where he thihks the same <is .unjustifiably attacked. lam credibly informed, thatvbe gave Ministers plainly to understand that the inquiry should be thorough; so far as he is concerned, and means to assert his position. ■■■-...' . :. 0.'.-.;-x' : :'■'/■■ ".•'.;.
In answer to Sir R. Stout's Ministerial supporters point to the recent'scandals in the police administration:in Manchester, wbioh, though very grave, after investigation to the dismissal of the prominent offioers, did' not involve*.the Home Secretary in impeachment of cenfeure. " Mr Toui Tnj lor audtUc Premier. The Premier's action yesterday-, afternoon in announcing that he had resolved!after consultation with the new Commissioner of Police to set np a royal commission to inquire into the charges against members of the police force came as an agreeable Surprise to members of the, House, I .none of whom had any idea what .they had'been earnestly contending for' was so" nearly realised. No one was more intimately acquainted with all that wais "going; On than the junior member for Christbhurch, yet at half-past four o'clock he sent to the Premier a letter intimating his intention, to move for a commission. Mr Taylor's letter was as follows: '..-';:.;"■'.'".'■ :;i.- : ~
•, ~„,'; : October 19.1857. Right Hon. R. J. Seddon, Premier. - r . Dear Sir,—After carefully considering the prospects afforded by the Standing Ordere of my being_ able to secure ajvote of the House .on the question of the necessity or otherwise of setting up a royal commission to inquire into the organisation and administration of the Police Department, I have come to the conclusion that the persistent refusal of the Government to.permit the. inquiry suggested renders it practically, useless for me to proceed by the way of customary' riotice- of motion, and under these circumstances, and iri ytevv of the great public importance of" the issues involved in this question, I have.decided to endeavor to obtain the opinion, ofvmembets by moving an amendment to the nibtion lor going into Supply on the Financial Statement. I shall simply ask members to express an opinion Jree from party considerations, and do not in any .way desire that my action should bo regarded as antagonistic to your Cabinet's legislative policy. I trust you will permit the vote of, the Houee to be' recorded on this question free from party considerations, so that the administration of'the Defence Department may be vindicated, if possible.—l am, dear sir, yours faithfully.
T. E. Taylor. To this communication the Premier replied as follows : '"V..
Premier's Office; „, „ „, Wellington, 19th October, 1897. T.E.Taylor, Esq., M.H.R. .',. Dear Sir,—l beg to acknowledge the receipt at 5 p.m. of your letter of even date. In Cabinet this morning it was decided that I should make, a Ministerial statement in reference to the question of the police and to the allegations made-in respost thereto. I shall make ' the statement, and after that if you think ybu are justified in moving any amendment -the responsibility must rest with you. I cannotagree to Supply being interrupted, especially when it has been brought up for the purpose of debate on the Financial Statement.—Yours sincerely, '• ■ ■ •■ ,■- R. JT; SEnnbjt.
It was generally anticipated that, tbe statement to be made woujd .simply be that the Cabinet had resolved to consult MrTunfridge and abide by whatever course he might recommend, and the the Premier'aletter suggests •thafcw&ij all. that was in his mind when he .wrote it. The House, however, manifested signs-of relief at the which removed the strained relations between it and the Cabinet, ___ '.'.:--. v, v-'' -'•'"
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POLICE ADMINISTRATION., Evening Star, Issue 10449, 20 October 1897