§ Order for Consideration, as amended by the Standing Committee, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now Considered."
§ (12.23.) SIR G. CAMPBELL, (Kirkcaldy, &c)
who had a Notice on the Paper of his intention to move, "That the Bill be considered on this day three months," said: I wish to state my reasons for arriving at the conclusion that the 1654 Bill ought not to be considered, at the present time. It is a measure which has been very little discussed, and I do not think that the House ought to be called upon to consider it at a Saturday Sitting. No one knows better the importance of the measure than the Home Secretary It is a Bill which introduces a bad principle, and its financial arrangements are extravagant to a degree which the House and the country can scarcely realise. The Home Secretary, however, is fully aware of all its defects, seeing that he has had a Report upon it from an actuary of his own choosing. I say advisedly that if the same principle is to be applied to other portions of the United Kingdom the result will be to impose upon the ratepayers an effective charge for the expense of the police very considerably exceeding £2,000,000 per annum. [Cries of "Agreed!"] Hon. Members say "Agreed I" Do they think that we are going to allow this Bill to pass without discussion' [Cries of "Divide!'] Hon. Members may cry "Divide!" but they will be very much mistaken if they think they are going to put me down. They should remember how they treated one of their own friends last night. [Cries of "Divide!"]
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must invite the hon. Member to confine himself to the Question before the House.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Certainly, Sir; but, at the same time, I think that the interruptions from the other side of the House are most irregular. I was going to say—
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I bow to your ruling, Sir; but I was only appealing to you for protection against the interruptions to which I have been subjected from hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
It is my duty to keep order. I called for order on behalf of the hon. Gentleman, and silence was restored.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I quite feel, Sir, that I am safe in your hands, and I apologise for having made any suggestion that it was necessary for me to appeal to you for protection. What I was anxious to say was this: That the actuary to whom the Home Secretary referred the 1655 question of cost made an elaborate Report, and explained that under the present extravagant system which exists as to pensions in the Metropolitan Police Force, the expenditure would come eventually to £520,000 per annum, and that the changes which are proposed to be made will increase that amount to at least £600,000 per annum. Broadly speaking, we may take it that the number of the Provincial Police exceed those of the Metropolitan Police by CO or 70 per cent., and, therefore, if the same system is to be enforced in the provinces, the result will be to give a matured pension system of about £1,000,000 there. I am willing, however, to estimate it at £800,000, so that the two together, the Metropolitan and Provincial Police superannuation allowances will come to about £1,400,000, or, in round numbers, to £1,500,000 per annum. In addition, there are the Irish Police, which already cost £300,000 a year, as against £200,000 for the Metropolitan Police, so that we may safely estimate another £600,000 a year in that case, and, including also the Scotch Police, I think it will be admitted that I am much within the mark when I say that the eventual cost of these police superannuation allowances will amount to more than £2,000,000 per annum. Now, I do not think that that is a matter to be disposed of with a light heart at a Saturday Sitting; nor is it a charge which we can impose to day and alter to-morrow. When once imposed, according to the doctrine of vested interests, it will become an irrevocable charge, and will be settled, like the Old Man of the Sea in the case of Sinbad the Sailor, upon the shoulders of the nation. One great reason why we should refuse to dispose of so important a Bill at a Saturday Sitting, is that neither the House nor the country understands the frightful effect which this proposal will have upon the rates. The constituencies and the Municipal Authorities have had no real opportunity of considering and discussing the measure. Many hon. Members whose constituencies are deeply interested in the question abstain from attending a Saturday Sitting, and the result is that the Government and their majority will be able to do as they like. When I say that the Government will have their own way I do not mean to 1656 suggest that it is a wicked Government, or that the Home Secretary is a wicked man, or that he is inclined to do wicked things. On the contrary, I believe that he dislikes this Bill as much as I do, but I am afraid that he does not possess sufficient firmness to enable him to resist pressure. He has "wobbled" in the matter and given away far too much to agitation of the higher officers of the police. He proposes now to concede to the police that which the Committee refused, and I think in a thin house like this that is a very serious state of things. Then again, if the Government rush this Bill through the House without considering the wishes of the Scotch people, they will do much to imperil the Scotch Bill when it is brought forward. That Bill, also, was considered by a Committee in which the Government had a majority. Most of the Members of the Committee were Scotch Members, but even the Scotch Tories upon it were independent, and they managed to alter the measure in various material points. But if this English Bill is carried we shall be told that we cannot refuse to Scotland the gift which has been made to England, with the result that the Scotch Bill will be restored to its original form. I confes that I never liked the Bill. I always thought it a very extravagant measure, and a very centralising measure. When, however, I went into the Committee I gained some additional information, and I was soon satisfied that not only was the Bill extravagant and undesirable, but that there is no reason why we should be in a great hurry to pass it. It seems to me that we require no Bill at all, but simply a declaration as to the manner in which the gift of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to be distributed among the localities. Why is it that this Bill is pressed forward? [Cries of "Agreed"and "Divide!"]
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I believe the reason is very simple. The Government have altogether failed this year to do anything in the shape of legislation. [Loud cries of "Divide!"] I am afraid that hon. Members by these continued-interruptions are simply delaying the proceedings. As I was saying, the Government have effected nothing in the 1657 shape of legislation, but in order to show the country that they have done something, they are pressing forward this Superannuation Bill. It is a measure which has been forced upon the Government by the police officers themselves. The Metropolitan officers have combined together to force upon the Government the excessively liberal terms which it is now proposed to give. Hon. Members will have seen a Circular from the Chief Constable at Hull, stating that in the opinion of that gentleman the police require an increase of pay, and calling upon the Members of this House to vote for it. In other cases I believe the Members of the Government have found themselves able to resist pressure of this kind, and I very much wish that the Home Secretary in this instance had shown similar firmness. The doctrine now acted upon appears to be that the country is made for the Services and not the Services for the country. I know I shall be told that this is not altogether the Bill of the Government, but that something of a similar nature was brought in by the late Government at the instance of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), whom I am sorry not to see in his place to-day. No doubt the Bill does bear a certain amount of resemblance to the Bill brought in by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, but it is a resemblance only. Radical changes have have been made in it, and all of them, without exception, are changes in favour of the police, while none of them are in the public interest. No doubt, seeing the agitation which has been going on, it is desirable that something should be done to settle it, but I deny that this Bill will settle it either one way or the other. I am sorry to see so few of the Metropolitan Members present, but they told the Committee that the men of the police are not interested in the superannuation fund to the same extent as the officers. On the contrary, the men complain that the officers are trying to get this Superannuation Bill for their own ends, and they say that it is not really for superannuation, but for an increase of pay. Therefore, the measure is not likely to settle the agitation on the part of the police, but there will be continued agitation and discontent. There is one question which I 1658 wish to put to the Home Secretary. [Cries of "Divide!"] I can assure hon. Members that they are only wasting time by endeavouring to interrupt me. The question I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman is this: He referred the question of superannuation, as far as the Metropolis is concerned, to a strong Departmental Committee, which sat and took evidence. I want to know why they should not report, and why we have not the advantage of the evidence of the eminent Civil servants who were examined? I believe the reason was that the Chief Commissioner of Police, representing the interests of the officers, would not agree to the Report. He insisted upon having his own way, and the result is that we are not favoured with the opinion of the Committee. Then again, the Local Authorities have had no opportunity of expressing an opinion upon the Bill. In the case of my own constituency I sent a copy of the Bill, late as it was in being introduced, down to Kirkcaldy, and asked for an opinion upon it. There was a meeting to consider it, and the reply I got was that the matter was so complicated and difficult that they must decline to express any opinion upon it, and must leave it to my own discretion. I must confess that that is a discretion I am not very willing to exercise. At first I was inclined to blame the Town Council, believing that with the acumen which Scotchmen enjoy they were fitted to express an opinion; but, after re-considering the matter, I have come to the conclusion that, on the whole, they were right, because, although shrewd and able, they are also cautious Scotchmen, and had really no data before them upon which they could form an opinion. In the exercise of my discretion on their behalf I appeal to the House not to act hurriedly, but to postpone the consideration of the Bill until adequate time shall have been afforded for its consideration. The Government will, doubtless, say that the Bill has been before a Grand Committee. I admit that Grand Committees are an excellent institution, and I should have been prepared to accept the Bill if it had been referred to a Grand Committee early in the Session, with a thorough opportunity of considering it. But, in this case, the measure was thrown at the heads of the Grand Committee in 1659 the middle of July, when most hon. Members wanted to get away from London, and when, out of the 80 Members who composed the Committee, it was very difficult to get together a quorum of 20. [Loud cries of "Divide."]
§ (12.54.) Mr. LAFONE (Southward Bermondsey),
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is, no doubt, within his right in speaking on the Bill, but I cannot wonder at the impatience with which the House has listened to him. It must be evident to the hon. Member that he has been for the last half-hour discussing the subject in a manner which it is undesirable to adopt with a measure which has been debated in a Grand Committee.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I bow to your ruling, Sir. In my opinion the measure is a most important one, and I thought I was within my right in discussing it. But as you, Sir, express an opinion that it is not desirable to discuss it—
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
Or, at any rate, that the way in which I was discussing it was not a proper one, I submit at once to your ruling. At the same time, I confess that I fail to see that I have exceeded the ordinary bounds of debate. I had intended to move the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper, but I will do no more than say that the measure is one which introduces radical changes into the system of superannuation; that it adopts in favour of the police a system which is unknown in any other Department; and that we are in danger of passing an ill-digested scheme in a hurry, forced on by the Government majority at a Saturday sitting.
§ (12.56.) Mr. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I beg to move—That, in the opinion of this House, it is not expedient that police pensions in England should be on a higher scale than in Scotland, and that it is desirable that this Bill be re-committed to the same Committee of the Whole House to which the Police (Scotland) Bill has been committed.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
It would be out of order to put that Motion, because it contains two very distinct propositions, which cannot be taken together.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
Then I will move the first part of the Resolution— 1660That in the opinion of this House, it is not expedient that police pensions in England should be on a higher scale than in Scotland.I see that the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Howard Vincent) proposes to move as an Amendment to my Resolution—That the Scottish police should not be placed, as regards pensions, on an inferior scale to the police of England and Wales.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
That Amendment will be out of order, because it is impossible in a discussion upon one Bill to refer to another.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I am much obliged to you, Sir, for your ruling. It is a point which I was going myself to submit. I do not propose to occupy much of the time of the House in moving this Resolution, and it would be most agreeable to me to withdraw it altogether if the Government will consent to postpone the Scotch Police Bill for the present Session, so that, before it becomes law, the people of Scotland may have an opportunity of considering its provisions. After the important Amendment which was effected yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Local Taxation Bill, it will be easy for the Government to withdraw the measure for the present Session, and allow it to go before the Scotch people during the Recess. If there is any hope of the Government accepting that compromise, I will not move my Motion now; but, if not, I am afraid that I shall find myself compelled to move it. Between the Schedules of the Scotch and English Bills, there is a remarkable divergency. I will take that as a basis of fact, and proceed, as I understand the Home Secretary is placing Amendments on the Paper which will have the effect of making this divergency still greater. The proposition which I invite assent to is that it is not desirable that the Police Pension scale should be higher in England than it is in Scotland, for this, among other reasons: that the Members of the Scotch Police, after being trained, are attracted to the English Police Force by the higher pay and the better scale of superannuation. We had thoroughly conclusive evidence to that effect before the Committee from the Government witness, Captain Monro, Inspector General of the Scotch police, who said that it would be desirable to have a uniform scale of pensions between 1661 the English provinces and Scotland. "Why do you say the English provinces?" "Because there must be a superior scale for a part of England other than the provinces." "Do I understand you to mean that the competition comes more from the provinces than from the Metropolis?" "Naturally, because they are nearer." That is evidence so strong, and from a person so well qualified to speak, that I am sure the Home Secretary would not dream, for a moment, of passing it by without an answer. I have had communications sent to me saying that the competition is disastrous to the Scotch Police Force. I wish to refer to the Amendment put down by the hon. Member (Mr. W. F. Lawrence), about which he consulted me, and in reference to which I understand he has official authority. What he proposes is this: that where a policeman removes from a Scotch to an English Force to get the higher scale of pay and pension, the Scotch Authority should have the right of giving him the higher rate. I understand that to be a serious Amendment with official countenance.
§ * MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
The hon. Member has misunderstood me as to having had official authority.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
If I misunderstood what the hon. Member said, I am very sorry for it. But if that is so, I think it adds to the gravity of the proposition which I intend to submit to the House. I wish the First Lord of the Treasury to consider whether he cannot assent to the Motion to re-commit the Scotch Bill, or whether, at all events, he will not purchase some facilities for the passage of the English Bill by withdrawing the Scotch Bill for the present Session, in order to give the Scotch people time to consider it.
To leave out from the first word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words in the opinion of this House, it is not expedient that police pensions in England should be on a higher scale than in Scotland."—(Mr. Edmund Robertson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ *(1.10.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the hon. and 1662 learned Gentleman appeals to me whether we will not purchase facilities for the English Bill by the withdrawal of the Scotch Bill. Undoubtedly it would be a great temptation to the Government and the House of Commons to obtain facilities for the passing of a Bill which must become law. But we have endeavoured, with the assistance of right hon. Gentlemen opposite and the Lord Advocate, to ascertain the views of Scotch Members on both sides of the House, and the overwhelming majority have conveyed an expression of their desire to the Government that the Scotch Bill should be passed this Session. I believe only some three or four Scotch Members took the other view. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will see that, under the circumstances, the Government are bound to meet the wishes of Scotch Members, an important section of the House, on a matter which concerns the security and interests of the Scotch Police Force, and the peace of that part of the United Kingdom. Under these circumstances, I am afraid that I cannot purchase the facilities which the hon. and learned Member offers, and if he and his friends do insist upon protracting the Debate upon this measure, and upon the Scotch Bill which is to follow, I am afraid that the result will be that hon. Members will be subjected to the inconvenience and exhaustion of a further few days' sitting.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The invitation of the hon. and learned Gentleman was of a very clear character, and I think the House will see that it is important, even at the cost of inconvenience to hon. Members, that we should decline the invitation offered to us.
§ *(1.15.) Mr. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
I should like to say a few words in confirmation of what the right hon. Gentleman has said. My right hon. Friend (Sir G. Trevelyan) and I endeavoured yesterday to ascertain the views of Scotch Members. We obtained, as carefully as we could, the views of Scotch Members on this side of the House, and certainly four out of five of them desired that the Bill should proceed immediately after the English Bill. We could only find at the outside about six who held a different view. Under these circum- 1663 stances, and seeing that the Committee has introduced considerable Amendments, and finally put the Bill into a shape for favourable discussion, I hope that the House will not take any steps to postpone unnecessarily the discussion of this Bill.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the House that the question before it is the re-committal of this Bill and the question of making a bargain by giving facilities, for the English Bill is not one which can be discussed, and I hope the House will not pursue that course.
§ (1.12.) Mr. S. STOREY (Sunderland)
I certainly shall not pursue that course further. I am extremely glad that the Government will have no trafficking in the matter. Upon the Motion before the House, I can well understand that we English Members ought not to object to Scotch policemen coming in large numbers to England. In the North of England very good policemen are obtained from Scotland because of the better terms offered. But I want to look fairly at the matter. Some of us are extremely anxious that this Bill should be held over, because we believe that, if the opportunity were afforded, we should be able to introduce into the English Bill economical results similar to those which have been achieved by the Committee on the Scotch Bill. I would put this argument to the First Lord of the Treasury: Supposing the Scotch Bill offered as good terms as does the English Bill, does he think that one out of ten Scotch Members would desire the Scotch Bill to pass? The Scotch Members are satisfied with their Bill in its present form, because they have got a very much lower scale of pensions than is proposed in the English Bill. The right hon. Gentleman stated that we may be kept here a few days longer. The right hon. Gentleman is constantly throwing out threats or innuendos, but it is our business to stay here and to see that Bills are put into proper form; and we can trust hon. Members opposite to give us fair-play if we discuss practical proposals in a practical spirit. Our protest is altogether upon the matter of the scale of pensions; and we are certain that if we get the measure referred to a Committee, common sense and economy will exert an influence upon the provisions of the Bill, and that the Bill would be 1664 more satisfactory than it is at present, I do not say to everybody, but to many of us. I think I may ask the Home Secretary to give some definite reply, and the point I wish to press upon him is this: that if he had brought in a separate Bill for the Metropolis, which is governed by itself, and a separate Bill for the provinces, giving the latter an uniform rate with Scotland, the Bill would have been in a very much more defensible position than it has assumed. How does the right hon. Gentleman justify giving one scale to counties north of the Humber, and then, directly he crosses the Tweed, introducing another scale? I submit he cannot justify it. He is bound, before we go further, to explain why he does this. We wish so to modify the Bill that the provinces may be treated more equitably than is now proposed.
§ (1.22.) Mr. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
I can quite confirm what has been said with reference to the opinion of Scotch Members on this side of the House as to the desirability of proceeding with the Bill; but it is exactly because I desire this Scotch Bill to pass, and think it an exceedingly good Bill, that I support the Motion of my hon. Friend. I believe the scale in our Scotch Bill is exceedingly reasonable, but we do not consider that the scale in the English Bill is of a reasonable character. We desire that the scale in the English Bill shall be assimilated to the scale in the Scotch Bill, and we consider that to be a very reasonable proposal. The Chief Constable for Edinburgh in his evidence stated that the limited form of superannuation in Scotland told very injuriously against the Scotch Police, because men who resolved to make the Police Service a profession were attracted to England by the better terms offered. I maintain that if you create a new system under which the English Police get a higher scale of pensions than the Scotch Police, we shall find the present difficulties in Scotland intensified. For these reasons I support the Amendment of my right hon. Friend behind me.
§ *(1.24.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, E.
I wish to say a few words on this point. It is a little inconvenient to discuss and compare the English and the Scotch scale of 1665 pensions, but I will assume for the purpose of hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Scotch scale will ultimately be lower than the scale of the English Bill. The hon. Member says that will result in the attraction of Scotch Police to England. But, at the same time, I would point out that to propose cutting down the English scale to the level of the Scotch scale is going beyond the province of a Scotch Member. The maximum scale of the English Bill is no more than what the Metropolitan Police receive at this moment, and is actually less than many of the police receive in the North of England and the West Riding. And at the present moment I would point out that competition exists though there is no superannuation in Scotland. Yet, notwithstanding that competition, no difficulty is found in obtaining a sufficient number of men to fill the Scotch police forces and keep them to their proper complement. Does the hon. and learned Member really ask the House to cut down the English scale by giving the same superannuation as is proposed for Scotland? His argument has utterly failed. But inequality of superannuation is inevitable as between forces. In England several police forces, side by side in neighbouring counties, adopt different scales, within the maximum of the Bill, according to the varying conditions of those forces. You would really throw a hardship upon the Police Forces if you insisted upon uniformity of scale.
§ *(1.27.) Mr. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I think the reasons given by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee for stopping the progress of the English Bill are of the most frivolous character. Scotland is not substantially affected by the Bill at present before the House. The existing practice with regard to pensions is different in the two countries; besides, the scale of living and remuneration generally is different in Scotland from what it is in England. The hon. and learned Gentleman complains that policemen are attracted from Scotland to England. But, Sir, it is not policemen alone who are drawn to England by the superior advantages and greater opportunities which this wealthier country offers. The Amendment of my hon. Friend does not meet the difficulty which he has 1666 raised, because, though he might equalise the pensions, there is no proposal under either of these. Bills to equalise the scale of pay; and it is really the superior scale of pay, and not the superior scale of superannuation, which attracts the Scotch Police to England. You cannot have the best men unless you pay the best scale of wages. My hon. Friend proposes to re-commit the Bill to a Committee of Scotch Members, but I can hardly think that he is serious in making such a suggestion. In the first place, such a course would be a gross affront to the Committee on Law, who went most carefully through the Bill; and, secondly, to re-commit an English Bill to a Committee exclusively composed of Scotch Members would be a ridiculous inversion of the principle of Home Rule, to which I thought my hon. Friend adhered.
§ * MR. PICKERSGILL
Then I will only make a very strong protest against the idea that the Bill should be recommitted at all.
§ (1.31.) Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
I am afraid from what the Home Secretary has stated that under this Bill there is to be a distinction drawn between the scale of pensions obtaining in the various provincial forces in this country; and the right hon. Gentleman argued that, as such a difference was to obtain throughout England, there can be no objection to its obtaining in Scotland. The difference in the scale of pensions in different places in England may be very small, but the difference of scale between England and Scotland is very large. There has been an agitation among the Scotch Police for the purpose of assimilating their scale of pensions with that in England. That is a serious matter; and the agitation will be continued, especially as the scale is not hereafter to be fixed by the Local Authorities, but has been fixed, or will hereafter be fixed, by the Imperial Government. The Home Secretary has made a somewhat extraordinary proposition. He says, "I object to a cast iron system," and yet he is the first to propose such a system; he has proposed perfect equality of pensions throughout the provinces.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
Well, I certainly took that to be the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman. I understood there was to be no discretionary power vested in the municipalities; but if that is not so, then, of course, I am mistaken. I will not trespass further on the time of the House. I think that in the circumstances, the Amendment of my hon. Friend deserves more consideration than the cavalier treatment which it has received at the hands of the Government, and I hope it will be pressed to a Division.
§ (1.35.) Mr. JAMES ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
I have listened in vain to hear any justification for the position which the Scotch Members have taken up on this matter. If an English Member had moved such an Amendment with reference to a Scotch Bill, the Scotch Members would certainly have charged him with incurring a serious responsibility, and with paying them a very poor compliment. If such an Amendment to the Bill had been moved by an English Member, the Scotch Members might legitimately have approved and supported it, as we have supported them in the action they have thought best to take on Scotch questions; but it is scarcely for the Scotch Members to take the initiative, especially as they have pretty well secured their own way with regard to their own Police Bill. We are bound to deal in a generous and liberal spirit with our Police Forces; and, therefore, I shall support the Bill, because I conceive that the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member is not conceived in the interests of these most useful bodies of men. The system prevailing in England is entirely different to that which obtains in Scotland; and unless the Scotch Members are prepared to carry their principles still further and say that in all things a common basis shall exist between the two countries, their position is illogical.
§ (1.39.) Mr. JACOB BRIGHT (Manchester, S.W.)
I am not prepared to support this Amendment simply because the pension scale in Scotland is lower than the English scale. If it can be shown that the pensions in England are unnecessarily high, and that there are grave reasons for reducing them, I shall be prepared to listen to such arguments, and to act accordingly; but to move to reduce pensions in England 1668 simply because the Scotch scale is lower-is unreasonable, and I therefore hope that the Government will adhere to their Bill.
§ *(1.40.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)
I do not think the Metropolitan Members can be aware of the increased burden this Bill will throw upon the rates. According to the calculations of Mr. Finlaison, the Actuary to the National Debt Office, the present annual charge for superannuations for the Metropolitan Police alone, is £197,000; but if the Bill is carried, the charge will be according to Mr. Finlaison's calculations £565,000 a year, nearly three times the present amount. I very much regret that the Government should have resolved to press it forward at this late period of the Session when it cannot be fully discussed by the House. Though I am favourable to the general principle of the Bill, yet I would suggest to the Government that the better and wiser course to pursue is to postpone the Bill to next Session, in order that the County Councils may have an opportunity of considering it. I am confident that such a course would result in the improvement of the Bill. A sum of £850,000 will have to be raised out of the rates over the country outside the Metropolis in order to meet these additional police pensions, towards which pensions the Government are only giving £350,000. These figures are startling and alarming, and, therefore, the Government ought not to press the Bill forward at this late period of the Session. This enormous burden ought not to be imposed on the rate payers without the County Councils first having an opportunity of considering the provisions of the Bill.
*(1.43.) Mr. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)
I hope that, as the matter has been thoroughly discussed in the House and afterwards in the Standing Committee, the House will not be put to the trouble of dividing on the Amendment. It is not right that the House should now be delayed by a Second Reading Debate on the Bill. The question raised having been fully discussed ought not now to be revived. The hon. Member for Sunderland was on the Standing Committee, and if his views were not fully considered there it was not his misfortune, but his fault. He generally takes very good care to have questions adequately discussed on Committees of which he is a Member. 1669 I make the same observations with reference to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy. I rise for the purpose of protesting against the obstructive policy and tactics which are being pursued apparently in order to prevent the House from getting to the business for which hon. Members have been called together to-day. I recognise the efforts which the Government have undoubtedly made to deal with the question. There is a strong feeling among Members generally that this police superannuation question should be dealt with and settled as soon and as satisfactorily as possible; and as I believe the Government are acting on these lines in the matter, I shall give them all the support I can to get the Bill passed.
§ (1.45.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I have already expressed an opinion that the Superannuation Bill is required for Scotland. If the Government will drop the English Bill we will give them facilities for passing the Scotch Bill. I do not wish to put any obstruction in the way of the latter, but I wish to point out that if you give the English policemen advantageous terms, you will interfere with the market supply of policemen for Scotland. I think the Home Secretary has placed the matter in a false light. He says that already many provincial forces have better terms than those proposed in the Bill. That may be so as regards the maximum, but it is the minimum proposals to which we object. I shall support the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
§ *(1.48.) Mr. CHILDERS
I, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridge-ton, who acted with me, assumed that the hon. Member was opposed to the prompt discussion of the Scotch Superannuation Bill; but if the hon. Member is not, then that fact further supports the contention that the majority of the Scotch Members are in favour of the Bill following the English Bill.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will say what the question was which he put to Scotch Members?
§ (1.50.) The House divided:—Ayes 137; Noes 20.—(Div. List, No. 220.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered.1670
§ *(2.13.) Mr. MATTHEWS
I have to submit a clause which a few words of explanation will make plain to the House. When the special constables were last called out, they could only act in the City if appointed for the City, or in the Metropolis if appointed for the Metropolis. This clause is to enable the special constables sworn in before the Metropolitan police magistrates to act in the City and in the Metropolitan Police District.
§ A Clause,—Provision as to special constables,—(Mr. Secretary Matthews,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ (2.14.) Mr. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
I cannot say that the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman is satisfactory. It seems to me a very extraordinary thing that such a clause should be proposed in a Bill which has to do with pensions, and only with pensions. ["No, no!"] At all events, this clause ought to have been introduced, if at all, at the Committee stage. I should like to know what is the necessity for introducing this clause. What is the object in view? We have got on tolerably well for centuries without this power, which seems to me entirely unnecessary.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause read a second time, and added to the Bill.
§ *(2.16.) Mr. MATTHEWS
The next clause can be explained in a few words. Under an Act of George IV., the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District is a person through whose hands pass all moneys that go to the Metropolitan Police. The statute requires the giving of a bond. The system of bonds is altogether obsolete, and the Treasury do not require them even in cases where there is responsibility. The money is no longer paid as it was, and the bond has become absolutely useless.
§ A Clause,—Provision as to Receiver of Metropolitan Police District,)—(Mr. Secretary Matthews,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,. "That the Clause be read a second time.1671
§ *(2.18.) Mr. CHILDERS
May I ask the Home Secretary whether ho has concluded his inquiry into the duties of the Receiver, some of which are altogether archaic, and quite unsuited to present financial arrangements. I quite agree that he has no monetary charge or responsibility.
§ *(2.20.) Mr. MATTHEWS
I have been for some time considering these points, and I hope during the recess, and so far as I can without legislation, to introduce a number of improvements.
§ (2.20.) Mr. STOREY
As I understand the matter, the Receiver will be in the same position in London and in the Provinces. So far, that is satisfactory. I note the fact that the right hon. Gentleman takes more time to explain an Amendment of his own than he does to reply to serious arguments.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause read a second time, and added to the Bill.
§ (2.21.) MR. STOREY
In moving my Amendment, I may have to touch upon matters upon which I expressed an opinion on the Second Reading of the Bill, the only opportunity I have had. My objection is altogether one of principle. I object to the whole system and method of pensions as applied to persons who are not the direct servants of the State at any rate. If it were necessary to enter into the larger question whether a system of pensions is good for the country in respect to its officials, I should be prepared to discuss that, but I have not at the moment any intention of discussing other than the precise point to which I take exception. I take the liberty of pointing out to the right hon. Gentleman that in this Bill he is taking a very serious new departure. I am not going at any length into objections I have urged before, but I tell the right hon. Gentleman frankly that, in my judgment, and, I think, in the judgment of any sober-minded man who considers this matter seriously, he is introducing, in a deliberate manner, a precedent of State Socialism in this country with respect to others than the direct employés of the State. It may be wise or not to adopt such a policy, but at any rate it is serious, and, speaking 1672 from my own point of view, it is an extraordinary fact that a Conservative Administration which calls itself the Guardian of the Constitution, should have taken this very serious step. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to put the whole Police Force of this country in a better position, as regards pensions, than even the soldiers in the National Army. He proposes in this first clause that the men who have completed 25 years' service shall have pensions by right; in the second place, that a man who has completed 15 years' service, and is incapacitated by infirmity of mind or body, upon medical certificate, shall be entitled to a pension; thirdly, that before the completion of 15 years' service on being incapacitated he shall receive a gratuity; and fourthly, that if a man becomes incapacitated in the performance of his duty within a month after he has entered the Service, through injury received in the execution of his duty, and not through his own default, then he is entitled to receive a pension for life. Now, it must be admitted these are very serious proposals to make. If they were proposals affecting a limited body of men, they would be serious, but they will affect an army of no less than 38,000 men; in other words, you propose to add to an enormous army of pensioners from the Public Service another enormous army, the majority of whom are in no sense the servants of the State, but are the servants of municipalities. The right hon. Gentleman does more. He not only for the first time commits the State to the pensioning by right of a large army of men other than servants of the State, but he absolutely gives to this favoured class better terms than the State gives to its own servants. Let me refer to the two great classes of pensioners from the Civil Service and the Army. The right hon. Gentleman will not deny that the rate he gives to the policemen under this Bill is considerably higher than the ordinary rate for Civil servants. That, of course, is a matter beyond argument; it is admitted in all considerations of the Bill, and in the voluminous Report of the Departmental Committee this point is particularly dealt with. The police are asked, "Do you know that Civil Servants have neither the same amount of pensions you ask, nor are they pensioned at the same time?" The police 1673 answer, through, their officers, "Certainly they have not, but you must remember what our life is, our service is more serious, more burdensome, more dangerous, and, therefore, we are entitled to larger pensions." Well, I am not disputing facts, I am only bringing out this point, that the right hon. Gentleman, for what seem to him good reasons, no doubt, is distinctly giving to other than public servants larger pensions, on more favourable terms than the Civil Servants of the State get. I put it to the House—or this remnant of the House—that this is a new departure, fraught with infinite risk of expenditure to the country, and which, I think, cannot but result at no distant date in Socialistic proposals against which I should be a strong supporter of the right hon. Gentleman, for I do not believe he is a Socialist to the extent to which this principle of State pensions may be pushed. If we grant to policemen, who are not the servants of the State, larger pensions and better terms than are granted to the great body of Civil Servants, how does the case stand as regards soldiers? It will not be denied that, to put it mildly, the duty of a soldier is more hazardous than that of a policeman. It may not be at certain periods of his life, but I put it to the right hon. Gentleman who, by his manner, rather seems to dispute my proposition, would he say that, taking an ordinary soldier in any of the inarching regiments, with his chance of having to engage in warlike operations and subject himself to all the risks and privations of a campaign—
§ MR. STOREY
And bad climates will he deny that the risks and dangers to life and health are greater than those encountered by an ordinary rural policeman? But the right hon. Gentleman is going to pension an ordinary rural policeman in a country village on much better terms than the soldier whose duty it is to suffer and risk death for the State, in any quarter of the globe! How does he justify that? Now, first of all, you do not grant any pensions to your soldiers at all—no, not the ordinary soldier. I am sometimes inclined to think that when the House sees the sum total of £1,500,000 for military pensions, it does not realise what it means. 1674 I daresay a good many good-natured kindly folks think that every soldier— that the ordinary Tommy Atkins—gets a pension. Nothing of the sort. Your captains, colonels, and majors get pensions; the ordinary soldier is not entitled to a pension. Now, I put the point very seriously: first of all, the soldier is not entitled to a pension; secondly, if he serves for 21 years he brings himself under the Pension List, and the pension you grant him is a mere bagatelle compared to this pension you propose to give to a policeman. What is the reason? Where is the justification for giving better terms to the policemen than to the soldier? Then I put another case, and to me it seems a very serious case. I am not unwilling that you should be generous towards the police, though I say that should be displayed in pay, rather than in pension, but I put this practical point to the Home Secretary: If a man joins the force, and within a month is injured in the execution of his duty, or within any limited period, it may be a month, it may be a day, he is then entitled to a pension for life. Now take the case of a soldier, who has promised to serve for seven years. He goes to war, and if he dies in consequence of wounds received from the enemy, I admit his family are entitled to a pension, but if he comes home, or goes to an invalid station, and dies in pain and anguish, after illness arising from the hard life of the campaign, his wife and children under the law that governs pensions are entitled to nothing but a simple gratuity which may be given or refused. That, I suppose, you think fair to the soldier? That is the point of my argument. ["No!"] But it is. That is what the State by law regards and decrees to be fit and proper treatment for the soldier. It is always an advantage to put a concrete case. I know a case of a man who served in that unhappy Zulu War, and in the fight at Isandula, where one of our regiments was cut up. This poor man was not killed in the action; he escaped and was sent to Port Elizabeth, where he died of exhaustion induced by the hardships he endured in the campaign. His wife was with him, and, at the expense of the State, she was sent home, and, not unnaturally, she expected that her case would receive some consideration at the 1675 hands of the authorities. But no help was given her because her husband was not killed in action, but died of exhaustion that followed, and under the regulations, which are thought sufficient, the widow was not entitled to State assistance. As a matter of fact, she got nothing. A good deal of sympathy was evoked for her, and ultimately this poor woman applied through a Member of Parliament to be sent back in a troopship to Port Elizabeth, where she thought she had an opportunity of getting a living. The circumstances were put before the Government that her husband had died of hardships endured in the war, and the request was made that she might be permitted to go out in a troopship, and the answer given by a right hon. Gentleman who sat on that Bench under a former Government, was that he was sorry that he had no money to do any such thing, and that moreover it was against the regulations. Well, that is the way we treat our soldiers, but the point of my argument is, if you consider this fair as applied to the case of a soldier, how is the case of the policeman? Here is a man who stays at home at ease, and you propose that if he meets with an accident in the carrying out of his public duty he shall be entitled to a pension for life. Now, I put it to the Home Secretary, what business has he to decree to a municipality that it shall carry out such a regulation as that? He does not provide the money; the municipality does that. One part of my objection is, that if we have to pay, as we shall have to pay, we do not want to have Home Office instructions as to what is fair and just in any such case, Why does he want a cast-iron system? Cannot he trust a municipality to deal with its own servants? Your proposed pensions to policemen are to be on a more magnificent scale than the best of their countrymen in the Civil Service. Of course, I do not mean to say that you are going to treat the police better than a certain pampered class of the community—it would be too much to expect that. If I were to enter into this controversial matter, I should provoke heat I desire to avoid, but I am within my right if I say that it would be instructive were I to show the methods the right hon. Gentleman, and such as he, pursue in dealing with a certain pampered useless class of 1676 officials. But I pass from that. I maintain that it is now proposed to treat policemen on more liberal terms than the Civil Service, and to give them better pensions than we give our soldiers. I was amazed to see the right hon. Gentleman's sign of dissent as I contrasted the life of a soldier and a policeman, and said the duties of the former are more dangerous. Now, if the right hon. Gentleman were dealing with the London policemen alone, I should not be disposed to indulge in any controversy with him. I can realise the bitter hardness of the life of a London policeman. I know what it means perambulating these huge and monstrous streets, spending nights and days in what is very serious duty. If the Home Secretary had said owing to the exceptional position of the Metropolitan Police, the character of the duties they have to discharge, the wear and tear of body and mind, he proposed exceptional pension arrangements, then, although I am very much opposed to the whole system of pensions, I confess I do not think I should have the heart to oppose him. But I complain that the Home Secretary will persist in allowing his experience of London to govern his settlement for the whole force of the country. Now, I speak to many Members who live in the country, and I ask them: What is the position of the rural policeman? He lives in a village; he has, perhaps, now and then a drunken man to look after; he is looked up to by the villagers as a little god; he is held in the greatest respect by all the decent, quiet people, and even the well-to-do people, if they do not feel an awe of him, treat him with respect. I know, in my electioneering experiences in Durham, in village after village I found the local policeman a sleek, rubicund, comfortable-looking sort of man, evidently not over-worked in body or mind, and better known in the locality than anyone else. Does anybody say that he leads a life of exceptional hardness? And this man, in the prime of a healthy, comfortable existence, the Home Secretary decrees shall be pensioned by the public! The proposal is so utterly unreasonable that I believe if the right hon. Gentleman had taken the time and trouble to ascertain the opinion, not of the big-wigs of localities, not of Magistrates, who 1677 are mad after pensions, but the opinion of representatives of ratepayers I think he never would have made such a proposal. If this Bill passes, this is the position we shall have in Sunderland within a brief period of time. We shall have some 100 or 120 ex-policemen of ages between 50 and 55 walking the streets of the town, each one in the possession by right of a pension of £50 or £60 a year. This may not appear a very serious matter to hon. Gentlemen around me, it is not a large sum, but think of the fact that in that town of Sunderland at the same time there will be 10,000 men, each earning no more upon an average than these policemen get for a pension, and each one contributing towards those pensions. Will not every intelligent man among the working community of Sunderland ask himself the question, "What is it that these men have done for the State more than we have done that we should pay them £1 a week or more for life? He has served the State by doing duty to his employers for wages paid, and we have served the State by doing our duty to our employers." And the demand will grow to be imperative upon the successor to the Home Secretary and this House that if we carry the system of pensions out of the Public Service and into private service then the system should extend beyond policemen to all the working-classes in the country. That is the inevitable and logical result of this proposal. If this were January or March instead of August, and the right hon. Gentleman were compelled to deal in argument with this question, I think there are a great many hon. Gentlemen nearer to him than I am now would demand some more satisfactory reasons from him than he has yet given. I admit that in August it is very difficult to induce hon. Gentlemen opposite to apply themselves to the consideration of the legitimate outcome of their own action, the creation of a system of pensions for the whole of the poorer classes of this country. How, in the day when the demand is made, can we conscientiously resist it, having conceded the principle here? So long as I live I must remember that it was this quiet self-contained Home Secretary to a Conservative Government who, with little opposition, induced the State to adopt this system, 1678 of State Socialism in the matter of pensions for the poorer classes. Now, I am pleading all this time for some separation between the Metropolis and other parts of the country. I confess I was very much struck in reading, as I have done very carefully, the notes of the evidence given before the Departmental Committee of 1889, with the following question and answer:—Since then," said one gentleman questioning a witness, "the Government of which he was Home Secretary (that is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby) brought in a Superannuation Bill?" "Yes," said the witness, "but the Metropolitan Police were very much disappointed with that Bill." (That is the Bill of 1872.) "It did not apply only to the Metropolitan Police, as the men fully expected it would do. It applied to every borough and county throughout the country, and the men, rightly or wrongly, believed that if the Bill had been brought in for the Metropolitan Police only it would have passed.I agree that the Metropolitan Police have reason to complain that their claims were mixed up with those of the police all over the country. In my judgment the Home Secretary would have been wiser if he had introduced a Metropolitan Police Superannuation Bill, and if he had I do not think he would have been sitting there on the first Saturday in August listening to my voice, or any other voice, in opposition to his proposal. I say, giving up the point whether there should be superannuation or not, if he will have superannuation then he ought to separate London from the rest of the country. I will not labour this, because I have an Amendment to propose on the point, which I shall have to briefly present to the House; but there is one point I forgot to mention in dealing with the superannuation of policemen. I should like the Home Secretary to furnish me with an answer to a question which will be put to me by my constituents. I shall have to tell them we have pensioned the police. Now, I shall have to put in an appeal, representing a shipping community, for the sailors of the country. If you superannuate the police, and provide for their old age, as of right, why not do the same for sailors? The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that is a horrible proposal, yet I can convince his judgment that he ought to do it, by legitimate argument, and one with great force in it. Why pension the police? Because, he says, they are the servants of 1679 municipalities, and maintain order. That is the right hon. Gentleman's reason, he can give no other. Well, I plead for the sailors of the Mercantile Marine. It will not be denied that their lives are as hard, and their risks as great, as the lives of policemen. What does the right hon. Gentleman reply? "Oh, but they do not serve the State, nor do they serve municipalities." Sir, the point I enforce is that they serve the State much more directly than policemen do. Whence do you draw your men for your Royal Naval Force, when war breaks out, if not from the Mercantile Marine? If the Mercantile Marine should go down in numbers and efficiency, where is your reserve of men when you engage in warfare with another nation? On that ground it is hard to say what class has a better claim to pensions than the class I venture to say a word for, and shall have more to say for in the next Session of Parliament. Here is what a police witness said before the Departmental Committee, and it is well worth notice. The witness is asked why the police have a special claim for pensions, and he replies—I have seen a great deal of night work myself, and I say there is only one class of men at all to be compared with policemen, and that is sailors in the Merchant Service, I have seen sailors in many ports, and you will find that sailors at 50 are old men, and the reason is exposure at night to all weather, and want of rest at night.That is evidence in support of a Bill I hope next year to introduce to provide for the superannuation of sailors of the United Kingdom. Their life is hard, and they are absolutely necessary for the defence of the country. As briefly as I could, I have put the reasons why we should not accept this clause, and I venture a further reason. I have read the evidence before the Departmental Committee. The questions were numerous and searching, and the answers give an enormous amount of information to those who wish to master the facts, but can the Home Secretary toll me why every one of the witnesses summoned was an officer high up in the Police Service? Look through the list, you find Head Constables, Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors, and Superintendents, but not a single witness from the rank and file. If we had the evidence of the rank and file, I think we should give a very different 1680 idea of what the wishes of the London police are. From what I can gather, what the ordinary policeman of London wants is not pension but increased pay. The witnesses called before the Committee were in the position of officers in the Force, old men whose lives were running out, and who, naturally, would think of pensions. Therefore, it comes to pass that the Committee, in attempting to get the opinion of the police of London, really succeeded in obtaining the opinion of the old men, and so the stress is laid on pensions at a certain age. But I believe, in fact I think I may say I know, that if the younger men had been summoned, they would have said, "To us pensions are a secondary matter; the main thing is a considerable increase in pay." Those who think this Bill will settle the matter are greatly mistaken. I must pay the right hon. Gentleman the compliment of saying he does not think it will be a settlement. He has honestly told us the inevitable result from an economical point of view; he has warned us. From the moment we settle this matter of pensions, an agitation will arise for increase of wages. It is not the time for me to argue if this will be a fair demand or not, but if the Metropolitan Police are dissatisfied with their present wages, and if they do ask for an increase and obtain it, every penny of that increase will have a direct bearing upon this Bill which we are passing, because increase of pay means a larger burden for pensions on the ratepayers. I, for my part, have been extremely thankful to the right hon. Gentleman. I belong to an old-fashioned economical school, and I have never once taken part in putting any pressure on any Government, or any Member of a Government, on behalf of Government servants, as against the public at large. Neither the late Government nor the present Government can charge me with that. I stand here as the guardian of the public purse as against private interests. I do not stand here as the champion of the police. I say our duty is not to involve the public in burdens unless we are righteously convinced that they are proper burdens, and when we are so convinced it is our duty to make those burdens as light as possible to the taxpayer. It is on that principle that I raise opposition to this Bill. I have 1681 only one thing to resent in the discussion this afternoon. My hon. Friend, who is now sitting' above me, has talked about obstruction. Sir, there has been no obstruction, and there will be no obstruction, but if right hon. and hon. Gentlemen think that there will not be honest and fair discussion, with due regard to the gravity of every point of the Bill, they are very much mistaken. My hon. Friend was unjust to us, and if he does not rise in his place and publicly apologise, I shall not have the same opinion of him that I have entertained hitherto. May I ask him what are the facts as to this Bill?
* ME. SPEAKER (interrupting)
The hon. Member is dealing with the whole principle of the Bill, and, in pursuing that course, is not in order. The question before the House is that the clause stand part of the Bill, and I must request the hon. Member to confine himself to that.
§ MR. STOREY
I am afraid I was going beyond the question immediately before the House, because it is extremely difficult to deal adequately with a whole clause like this, involving, as it does, the principle of the Bill, without being somewhat profuse. I have given reasons why we should omit the clause altogether, and if the House—as I am afraid will be the case—willingly, and with its eyes open, embarks in a scheme of State Socialism, I can only say I have made my protest; I can do no more. I shall then move my Amendment to exempt from the operation of the Bill those municipalities that wish to be exempted.
§ Amendment proposed, in pages 1 and 2, to leave out Clause 1.—(Mr. Storey.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'Subject to the provisions of this Act every constable in' stand part of the Clause."
§ (3.5.) Mr. MATTHEWS
I hope the hon. Member will not think me wanting in courtesy if, in answering his speech, which has lasted three-quarters of an hour, I content myself with a very few remarks. The hon. Member on his part was wanting not only in courtesy, but in humanity, to the House, in inflicting on a Saturday morning—
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I did not interrupt the hon. Member. I said he was guilty of even inhumanity, in inflicting on the House, on a Saturday morning, a speech which was a Second Reading speech on topics which have been discussed three or four times, and which have been re-introduced because the hon. Member's hostility to the Bill induces him to have recourse to every method he can adopt in order to stay its progress. I will content myself with saying that every proposition on which the hon. Member based his argument is totally inaccurate. He seems to assume there is an amount of ignorance on this subject of police superannuation which passes the bounds of credibility. The hon. Member talks about introducing, for the first time, a system of superannuation of an extravagant character, which he assimilates to State Socialism. Does the hon. Member not know that since the Police Force began there has been a system of police superannuation in force, under which, by the permission of Parliament, larger superannuation has been given to the police in many parts of England than this Bill proposes? In talking about State Socialism as he does the hon. Member is trifling with the House.
§ Mr. STOREY again rose.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I must decline to give way. I did not interrupt the hon. Member, although he spoke for three-quarters of an hour. I say that the hon. Member has trifled with the patience and indulgence of the House.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I must decline to discuss again matters which have already been debated twice in the House and once in the Standing Committee.
§ MR. STOREY
The right hon. Gentleman has misrepresented what I said. I said that for the first time the State 1683 was introducing a compulsory system of police superannuation in the Municipalities, and that is true.
§ (3.11.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The hon. Member for Sunderland has put his case so forcibly that I will not go into it, even though there is a conspiracy of silence on the part of the Government, to which conspiracy expression has just been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. The hon. Member for Sunderland has compared the case of the policeman to that of the soldier; that there seems to be a doubt whether the risk of the policeman is not greater than that of the soldier. Perhaps the risk of being killed in battle is as great to the policeman as to the soldier; but the fact is that soldiers, unlike policemen, have to go on foreign service and face tropical climates. [Cries of "Divide!"] The life of a private soldier in India is one of extreme hardship. [Renewed cries of "Divide!"and interruption] Military Members will bear me out when I say that it is the rarest thing in the world for a soldier to get through his 21 years' service without being invalided for a time; and when he has done that he only gets 1s. a day, or one-third of the amount it is proposed to give the police. [Renewed cries of "Divide!"] I see the Home Secretary adopting the tactics of hon. Members behind him—
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I think we have reason to complain that the Home Secretary refused in Committee to do that which, has been done by the Scotch Committee, and that is to define the word "constable." [Laughter.] The Home Secretary may laugh, but the word has a popular and technical meaning, and the evidence shows that a mere constable, as distinguished from an officer, rarely serves for 25 years. In many cases he gets promoted and ceases to walk the streets, and in many other cases he retires on a medical certificate. [Renewed cries of "Divide!"] Under the present system a man, under ordinary circumstances, cannot retire until he has reached the age of 60; but under this Bill he may retire at the age of 43. Though I know the case is hopeless, I feel bound to make this protest.
§ (3.14.) Mr. CONYBEARE
I am not surprised at the impatience of the 1684 right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, seeing that this is Saturday afternoon; but, so far as I myself am concerned, no one can accuse me of having unduly trespassed upon the time of the House. This is the first occasion on which I have ventured to open my lips on the Bill in the House, and I had not an opportunity of speaking on it in the Standing Committee. Therefore, the taunt the Home Secretary addressed to the hon. Member for Sunderland will have no application in my case. I am expressing the sentiments of my constituents in opposing the policy of the Government in this matter. I have received from my constituents a direct mandate to oppose this measure. I do not think that the manner in which the Home Secretary met my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland reflects great credit upon the right hon. Gentleman. It was discourteous to the House, and we have in a matter of this moment a right to look for a little more courtesy from the occupants of the Treasury Bench. The Homo Secretary has refused to answer the very weighty arguments which have been advanced in this matter, and it is a new departure when Ministers of the Crown, whose duty it is to listen to and meet arguments, simply sit in their places and cry out "Divide" when hon. Members are speaking. The right hon Gentleman has the assurance to accuse the Member for Sunderland of trifling with the House because he spoke for three-quarters of an hour. Well, the right hon. Gentleman himself trifled with the House in misrepresenting the arguments of my hon. Friend and refusing to allow my hon. Friend to correct him. As to this clause I object to its principle on two grounds. I am not going to argue whether this is a departure to State socialism, for I am willing that we should have State socialism if it is to the interest of the community at large. But I think this clause ought to be hotly opposed by every Radical and Liberal Member, because it embodies the principle of the control of the police of the country by the State, which principle we fought against most vehemently during the passage of the Local Government Act in 1888. If there is one principle more than another dear to Radicals and Liberals it is that the Representatives of 1685 the people should have the control of their own police. What was it that gave so much importance to the action of Sir Charles Warren in Trafalgar Square? Why, the burden of our cry was that the elected Representatives of the people on the County Council should have control of the police. One strong argument advanced in favour of the Metropolitan Police being released from the control of the Home Office was that the City Police were entirely under the control and management of the elected Representatives of the City.
§ * MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)
I rise to a point of order. Is the hon. Member now addressing himself to the Motion before the House?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
No, I cannot say that the hon. Gentleman is addressing himself to the question before the House.
(3.22.) Mr. CONTBEARE
I am supporting the Motion to omit Clause 1 on the ground that this clause establishes the principle of pensions to the police, and my reason for objecting to pensions being given to the police under this clause is that it involves the principle of control of the police by the State. I merely introduced the question of the City Police as an exemplification of my argument. Another reason why I object to the clause is that pensioned policemen will be able to compete on unfair terms in the labour market with other citizens in a similar position to themselves. I do not care whether the age is 46, or 50, or 55. I imagine that, unless a man can be shown to have sustained either mental or bodily injury in the course of his duties in the force, no one will venture to assert that a man of 55 is necessarily a decrepit old man, who should retire from the public service in receipt of a pension. If such a rule were applied to Members of this House, I should like to know how many of us would be regarded as capable of transacting the business of the State. Well, men with pensions will be able to take at merely nominal remuneration those posts which require trustworthiness and honesty, and so be able to undersell others. The fact that the system of pensions will necessarily establish control by the central Government over the police constables throughout the country may lead to very grave friction and discontent among the force. We will 1686 suppose that a great strike question has arisen in London or elsewhere. I do not say that it may not be the duty of private employers, or of the State itself to call on the authorities to provide the necessary Police Force in case of an emergency; but I do say that as the pensions to be given to the police under this clause would be granted to the Police Authorities of this country, they will very much depend on the satisfaction given to the Home Secretary and the Government by the way in which the police are managed and controlled; that is to say, that practically the Police Force will not be under the control of the Local Authorities, but will, to a large extent, be controlled from head quarters. I maintain that, in case of the police being called upon to take part in any such crisis as I have indicated, there would necessarily be considerable resentment on the part of the workpeople who were interfered with by the Police Force. There would be, on their part, a strong feeling of dissatisfaction and discontent, arising from the fact that the Police Force, controlled to a great extent by the Government, was being used adversely to their interests, and in the interests of their employers. It seems to me not unlikely that, if any such combination of circumstances should arise, there would be a strong feeling of dissatisfaction and resentment against the Force, and, consequently, that the moral power which should reside behind the Force would lose its effect, so that the authorities would eventually have to fall back upon that group of Military Forces which every Government can, on an emergency,. call into requisition. Hitherto, we have been proud to rely on the assurance of the moral power which backs up the Executive Authority—a moral power created by the belief that they are acting in harmony with a feeling of the great body of the citizens. It is this which has controlled public opinion in times of great excitement, and I venture to say that if it were felt that there was nothing behind the bare use of physical force, and that the moral power which has hitherto supported the authorities was wanting, we should be in danger of very serious disturbances in this country. It has been argued that the police discharge more arduous and dangerous 1687 duties than are performed by any other body in the community. They have been compared with our soldiers and sailors. I am not going into the arguments that might be used on this point. But I must say, from my own knowledge of the conditions under which another class of our fellow-subjects have to labour—I allude to our miners in particular—the accidents and incidents of danger to which they are constantly exposed render their peculiar calling much more difficult and dangerous than that of the police. I need hardly appeal to the recollection of hon. Members in order to awaken their sympathies with a class of men who are subjected to the terrible calamities which constantly overtake the men beneath the surface of the earth. I believe I am right in saying there is not a day that passes without some grave accident, involving either loss of limb or loss of life to the poor fellows employed in our mines. Therefore, I say that, if you ask for pensions for the police on the ground that their calling is more dangerous than to our soldiers and sailors, you will have to face the question of extending the pension system to other classes who are, as I have shown, engaged in much more perilous occupations. But I will take another case—the case of the dock labourers and gas stokers employed throughout the country. What answer would you make to these men, who are employed a larger number of hours, and in much more arduous work, than the police, if they also claim a right to be pensioned? With regard to the gas stokers, I may mention the case of one of my constituents who is employed during 84 hours in every week, and who is bound to work fully six months in the year at night. If that man were working for the State his claim to a pension could not possibly be resisted if the claim urged on behalf of the police employed on night duty is to be accepted. Mention has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, with whom I quite agree, of the light character of the duties performed by the rural police. The only duties of a dangerous or arduous character performed by these men is when they are told off by the Magistrates and landowners of the district to protect their game against 1688 the inroads of the poachers, and I un hesitatingly assert that at least 19 out of 20 of the injuries sustained by the rural police occur during the time they are acting as gamekeepers to the landowners. This is a consideration we are bound to keep in mind when asked to grant large pensions to the police, on the ground that their occupation is more dangerous than that of other people. Beyond this it has been clearly shown that this Bill has been drafted not in the interests of the rank and file of the Constabulary, but in the interests of the police officers. I have good grounds for saying that it is not the rank and file, but the officers, who are anxious for these pensions, and this introduces the larger question, whether it would not be a better policy, in the interests of the State, to give a fair rate of wages to those employed in the service of the State and to leave them the responsibility of making provision for their old age, thereby encouraging those habits of thrift and industry which hon. Members on both sides of the House are constantly endeavouring to enforce.
§ Mr. HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ *(3.42.) Mr. SPEAKER
Although I do not feel called upon to put the Motion just made by the hon. Member, I feel bound to say that after the discussion which has taken place I look with grave apprehension to future Debates in this House if hon. Members are to exercise their right of addressing it at the extreme length which has characterised several speeches made on the present occasion. The same arguments have been repeated over and over again. I have hitherto refrained from giving effect to the Standing Order which I have the power to enforce, namely, that if a Member indulges in tedious repetition, either of his own arguments or those of other hon. Members, he should be silenced. I have preferred to leave it to the good sense and self-restraint of hon. Members to avoid needless repetition; and I trust that now, after what has been said in the interests of Debate, Second Reading speeches will not be delivered on every clause of this Bill. 1689 At that rate real and pertinent discussion would become utterly impossible. If I now decline to put the Motion for the Closure, it is not that I think it to be made without reason, but because I do not think that time would be saved by the Motion being put at this particular point in the Debate.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
After what you, Sir, have stated I do not wish to continue my remarks, but I would remind the House that this is the first and only opportunity I have taken advantage of in order to say what I wished to put before the House on this important question. I should not have spoken now but for the fact that I have received a distinct mandate from my constituents to oppose this clause.
§ MR. STOREY
In asking for leave to withdraw my Amendment, I may say that, having listened to what you, Sir, have just said, I wish the House to understand that this is the only clause dealing with the main principle of the Bill to which my Amendment could be directed. Those who think with me have felt it their duty to raise this question on a clause which contains the substantial principle of the Bill. I now ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (3.44.) Mr. STOREY
I now wish to bring before the House the precise question on which I shall ask a Division. The series of Amendments I have placed on the Paper would, if adopted, cause the clause to read as follows:—Subject to the provisions of this Act (a) every constable in the Metropolitan Police Force.this being intended to cover not only the Metropolis, but the police of all the boroughs and counties in the Kingdom(b) "and any Police Force without an adequate pension fund, and (c) Any Police Force with an adequate pension fund, the Local Authority controlling, which shall now or hereafter signify in writing its willingness to come under the provisions of this Act.This, I think, will explain exactly what I propose. With regard to the boroughs and counties having an existing Police Force with an adequate pension fund, I 1690 claim that in that case, and in that case only, the Bill shall not apply unless the authorities who are in that happy condition shall signify their wish to come under its operation. I made a suggestion on the Second Reading of the Bill which has since been reinforced by the action of the Government in exempting one Police Authority, namely, that of the City of London from the operation of the Bill. As the Home Secretary told us yesterday, they have done this on the ground that the City of London Police Force has an adequate and sufficient pension of its own. If the Government make this exemption in the case of the City of London, I think I am not asking too much in claiming a similar exemption for the borough I represent. I ask that that and other boroughs as well as counties having adequate pension funds should be not absolutely exempted from the Bill, but should be exempted unless they signify their willingness to come under its operation. In the case of Sunderland, the County Council has petitioned against the Bill, and I think it is the only Petition of that kind that has been presented. [An hon. MEMBER: No!] At any rate, I was asked to present that Petition to this House. The Petition asked that the Bill should not pass, but that if it did pass, they, the County Council of Sunderland, and similar bodies with adequate pension funds, might be exempted from its operation unless they chose to come under it. Of course I know that in the present temper of the Home Secretary, it would be idle for me to speak, even had I the tongue of an angel, because the right hon. Gentleman would go into mock heroics, instead of using an argument for an answer. It may be very easy to browbeat the minority, but the minority may be right. I say that Sunderland wishes exemption from this Bill. We have never been in the unhappy position of having to supplement our Pension Fund by our rates. We have a fund amounting to £4,900, and with that the police are satisfied. It may be that many counties will desire to come under the operation of the Bill, because the County Police are not managed by the chosen Representatives of the people, but in the boroughs the Town Council 1691 and Watch Committee represent the ratepayers, and if they have already adequate pension funds, and wish to be kept outside this Bill, I do not see why the House should refuse their request. Although we are in a minority—nay, because we are in a minority—this concession ought to be made, because our request is founded on reason and common sense. In conclusion. I beg to move to omit the word "a" in order to insert the words "the Metropolitan."
§ Another Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 7, to leave out the word "a," and insert the words"(a.) the Metropolitan."—(Mr. Storey)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'a' stand part of the Bill."
§ (3.55.) Mr. MATTHEWS
The hon. Gentleman proposes to exempt from all the operations of the Bill all those Local Authorities which have adequate pension funds. My answer to his demand is twofold. In the first place, I say that, as far as I am aware, not a single Police Authority in the country has an adequate Pension Fund. As long ago as 1887 all the County Police Pension Funds were exhausted and the Borough Police Pension Funds were rapidly approaching that condition. As far as I am enabled to ascertain at the present moment, the Borough Pension Funds have, for the most part, attained that unhappy position; and in answer to what the hon. Member for Sunderland has said with regard to his own borough, I would remind him that the balance in hand on account of the Police Pension Fund is not now £4,900, which was the amount last year, but is at the present £4,504, showing a decrease of nearly £400.
§ MR. STOREY
The right hon. Gentleman is misinformed. [Cries of Order!] The friends of the right hon. Gentleman will not hear me, and while the right hon. Gentleman exhibits so much temper I will not give him the information I was about to have afforded.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
This is not a matter of temper. But, nevertheless, I think it right to remind the House that a period has arrived at which the pro- 1692 longation of the Debates in this House has reached an almost unendurable limit. I did not interrupt the hon. Member during the whole of the 40 or 45 minutes he was addressing the House, and I have not yet occupied the time of the House for five minutes. I think, therefore, I ought to be allowed a very brief period in order to explain my views upon this question. I have stated that the Return I have quoted shows that the Sunderland Police Pension Fund is approaching the verge of insolvency, but, even assuming that I am wrong in that statement, although I have no doubt that I am right, I ask the House to consider the extraordinary proposal the hon. Gentleman has made, namely, that the Police Authorities, having the management of the pension funds, can afford to pay the pensions. For the last 13 years, as shown by the Report of the Committee of this House, pensions for which the police have been waiting, have remained unpaid, and yet the hon. Gentleman asserts that the Police Authorities have sufficient money in hand to discharge these obligations, and consequently asks this House to exempt the Police Authorities from the operation of this Bill, leaving to those exempted Authorities the arbitrary discretion of paying or refusing the pensions to which the police have become entitled by a length of service. A more incongruous, illogical, and preposterous suggestion it has never been my lot to hear brought forward in this House.
§ (4.0.) The House divided:—Ayes 139; Noes 33.—(Div. List, No. 221.)
§ (4.6.) Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
In the Amendment I have to move I hope I may obtain the support of Members opposite, and that the Home Secretary will at any rate treat it as an open question. Under the Bill policemen in the Metropolis are to receive a pension of two-thirds of their pay after serving for 25 years, whatever their age may be. The last Police Bill introduced was that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), and I take marked notice of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is absent to- 1693 day. His knowledge, experience, and judgment would have been of infinite value to the House in this discussion. In previous Police Bills the provision was that a constable must reach the age of 50 or 55 years before he received a pension. A provision has been put in the Schedule of this Bill, that outside the Metropolis the age must be not less than 50. It is preposterous to say that a policeman who has served 25 years and left the force at the age of 45 should be entitled to receive a pension for the rest of his life. A man at 45 is perfectly well able to perform all his physical and intellectual duties. It is urged by the Home Secretary that the wear and tear and the hardship of the London policeman's life are greater than of the provincial policeman; but I have been unable to find from statistics that the one is more rapidly incapacitated than the other. But even if that were so, wherever a police officer is incapacitated through infirmity of mind and body, ample provision is made in the Bill to meet his case. What I propose is the limit of age should be 50 or 55. Experienced police officers tell me that the result of the Home Secretary's proposals will be to increase vastly the number of men remaining in the force for 25 years. Thus the future pension fund of London would be enormously augmented. At present it is under £200,000, but under the proposals of the Home Secretary it will soon reach £500,000. That is an enormous increase in the burden proposed to be placed on the ratepayers, and it is a burden which is not justified. In almost every case the men who leave the Force can take employment elsewhere, even if they have not a pension. I am not opposed to reasonable pensions, but in the interest of the ratepayers of the Metropolis I object to the imposition upon them of the burden of maintaining a body of men in absolute idleness, when they are perfectly competent to maintain themselves. I do hope that there will be found hon. Members on the other side of the House to join with me in pressing the Home Secretary to revert to the lines of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolver- 1694 hampton, and establish the same standard of age for earning pensions that you would have in the provinces of England and Scotland.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 10, to leave out from the word "and," to the word "shall," in line 12, and insert the words "is not less than fifty years,"—(Mr. Atherley-Jones,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ (4.17.) MR. MATTHEWS
The hon. Gentleman's statement was correct so far as it went, but it was not complete. Mr. Hibbert brought in two Bills when the late Government were in office—in 1882 and 1883—and neither of these contained a limit of age. Those Bills were stoutly opposed by the Representatives of the ratepayers' interest, and it was in consequence of that hot opposition that the limit of age was first introduced. In Mr. Hibbert's first Bill the limit of age was 50 years, but in the second Bill it was fixed at 55 years. In the next Bill of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton there was a limit of age, but with power of exemption. The police all loudly protested against that. It was somewhat more severe, but was to conciliate conflicting interests. But through the whole of the controversy there was no suggestion as to contribution from public resources. In the present Bill I have endeavoured to steer a middle course. The Bill allows each Local Authority to fix a limit of age if it thinks fit.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The Secretary of State has the same authority in the Metropolis, and though I have stated that I have no intention of fixing a limit, it will be open for my successor to do so. ["No."] The Bill will enable the Secretary of State to empower the Local Authority to impose whatever limit of age they desire, both outside and inside the Metropolis. It ought also to be borne in mind that if no men are allowed to enter the force until they are 25 years of age, they will have reached the sug- 1695 gested age of 50 years before they are entitled to a pension, and such a course may have its advantages. I trust the hon. Member will not think it necessary to press the Amendment.
§ (4.20.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I look on this as a very important Amendment, as it goes to the very root of the question. I will not discuss the point as to what ought to be the limit of age. All I want to provide for is that there shall be some limit of age, and that you should impose on the Local Authority the responsibility of saying what the age shall be, be it high or low. The right hon. Gentleman has said that there will he no limit of age in the Metropolis if the Bill passes, and I say that the proposal is an entirely new one, which your House never had made before in connection with public rates. In connection with all the branches of the police, whether in the Metropolis or in the country—save in the City itself—the limit of age is 60 years. It is impossible for a man to retire before that age, unless he is broken down and obtains a medical certificate. What is the rule of the Civil Service? Why the age is 60 years. What is the rule of the great companies and railways? Why that no pension is attainable without a medical certificate below the age of 60. The pensions are not paid on the maximum salary received at the age of 60, but on the whole pay during the period of service. The Representatives of the ratepayers rebelled against the scheme propounded by Mr. Hibbert. They would not have it, and I maintain that if the Representatives of the ratepayers had time to consider the present Bill they would rise against it just as they did against that of Mr. Hibbert. If we are to go by precedent, we see that in the matured draft of the Bill of the late Government the limit of age was put at 55 years; and we cannot help seeing that without a limit of age a great many constables will be able to retire at the age of 43, a great many at the age of 44, and a great many at the age of 45, for large numbers of young men enlist into the 1696 force at the ages of 18, 19, and 20. It is proposed to allow the policemen of the Metropolitan district to retire into civil life, carrying with them these large pensions—three times the amount received by our soldiers. I hold that the result will be that your best men will retire into civil life, carrying these high pensions with them, and you will be left with the dregs. The retiring age for men in the Metropolitan Police Force should not be less than 50. I do not object to that age in London, but consider it very reasonable. The Committee on the Scotch Bill has struck out the provision my hon. and learned Friend proposes to strike out in this Bill. I am quite willing to make the limit of age elastic, in order to enable constables to retire at 50 and officers at 60. Under these circumstances, I shall be glad to support my hon. and learned Friend in his Amendment. There is only one other argument I wish to advance. I think that if you make no limit in the Metropolis you will have an agitation in the provinces that they should have no-limit also. They will say we will bully the Government until we have got what has been given to the men in the Metropolis. I never will support an agitation on the part of the servants of the State. There has been agitation, and now we are reaping the fruits of our action in regard to it.
§ *(4.34.) SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
The principle of this Amendment seems to me to be whether it is necessary to add to the condition of 25 years. We have a limit of age, and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Atherley-Jones) contends that an addition is necessary in the case not only of the provincial forces, but also of the Metropolitan Force. I think the cases the hon. and learned Gentleman cited of constables being able to leave the Force at 45 or 50 were very extreme. That is by no means the general rule. The general rule is, that even 20 years' service has exhausted the energy of a constable, and that he leaves the Force after such service. The practical result of the figures I propose to give is that it is not necessary to make any further addition to the 1697 condition as to the limit of age. In 1885, in the Metropolitan Force, out of 11,514 constables, only 1.2 remained after 20 years of age and up to 25. In 1888 the number was somewhat increased. Those remaining amounted to 1.3 of the whole Force, and in 1889, out of 14,315 constables, only 329 were remaining up to 25 years' service. [Sir G. CAMPBELL: What about the officers?] I am dealing with the whole Force, including officers. The last figures I have cited only give 2 per cent. as remaining up to 25 years. What is a fair inference to be derived from the figures? It is that, at any rate in London, the demands on the constables are such that they cannot generally fulfil even the condition of 25 years' service. If that be so, I ask, is it right to attempt to add an additional limit of age? Is it not our proper course to endeavour, by a system of superannuation, to retain as long as possible in the Force those men of experience and character who have remained for a very considerable period. As a Metropolitan Member, I shall strongly oppose this Amendment.
§ (4.38.) MR. E. ROBERTSON
The hon and learned Gentleman has rather mistaken the question raised by the Amendment. The clause proposes to leave it to the Local Authority to prescribe what shall be the limit of age, and the question raised by the Amendment is whether or not there should be a uniform limit of age in all places. The Home Secretary told us earlier in the Debate that a Scotch Member was travelling out of his province if ho presumed to express an opinion upon this English Bill. That seems a startling statement to come from a Unionist Minister, and I can only attribute it to the Home Rule principles with which the right hon. Gentleman began his political career. As a matter of fact, we Scotch Members have a direct interest in the provisions of this Bill. Whatever provisions may be agreed to in the English Bill, there will be Scotch Members and English Members also who will insist on the Scotch Police having as good terms as the English Police. We therefore have a direct interest in seeing 1698 that no extravagant conditions are imported into this Bill. As to whether the limit should be universal, I will again recall to the attention of the House the important evidence laid before the Scotch Committee on the question. Captain Munro, a police expert, laid it down as a governing principle that between one Police Authority and another there should be uniform treatment as to pension. As to the question of the limit of age, this same expert, the only one called before the Committee, gave it as his opinion that in all forces the limit of age should be 55 for constables and 60 for officers. Unless the Government can give us some stronger reasons than those already adduced for the rejection of this Amendment, I shall be compelled to support the Amendment.
§ *(4.43.) Mr. PICKERSGILL
AS the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Atherley-Jones) has made several references to Metropolitan Members, and has mentioned me by name, I should like to say a very few words. I suppose I have no right to complain that I and my Colleagues have again and again been charged by the hon. and learned Gentleman with being actuated by the most sordid motives in the position we have taken up. I do expect, however, from a learned Member of the House that his statements shall be coherent and intelligible. I submit that the hon. and learned Gentleman's statements against us were neither coherent nor intelligible. He says we are neglecting the interests of the ratepayers. If we are neglecting the interests of the ratepayers we stand to lose very much more than we can ever hope to gain by conciliating a mere handful of policemen. In the great popular constituency like that which I have the honour to represent the police vote is absolutely inappreciable; and even if it were not, I am not hard up for a few scores of votes or even for a few hundreds. Again, the hon. and learned Gentleman is, I think, wrong as to his information. He says that upon the statistics of the past a policeman is not worn out sooner in the Metropolis than in the rest of the country. That is directly contrary to the information 1699 afforded by the Parliamentary Paper I hold in my hand. This Paper shows that the average period of service of men pensioned in the Metropolitan Police Force is 21 years. Taking the 10 boroughs which precede the Metropolis in the list, the average length of service performed by constables before they are pensioned is over 27 years. I have only to add that the position of my constituents, and I think of the Metropolitan ratepayers generally, is this: They know, as every Member of the House knows, that for years—for nearly 10 years past—certain promises, of which this now before the House is one, have been held out to the Police Force by both Political Parties, and they desire that the public faith, having been in this way pledged, should be kept; and, moreover, they are quite willing to bear the burden of additional cost, if any, in order to secure the incalculable advantages which spring from a contented Police Force.
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
The question has been debated at great length on this and other occasions, and, therefore, I trust the House will now come to a decision.
§ MR. STOREY
My hon. and learned Friend has just left the House. I do not think he wishes to divide on this point in view of the suggestion which has been made to him.
§ (4.47.) The House divided:—Ayes 114; Noes 47.—(Div. List, No. 222.)
§ (4.55.) MR. E. ROBERTSON
I wish to move an Amendment in line 15. It is to omit the word "receive" and insert "thereupon the Police Authority may if it thinks fit grant him." This point was carefully considered by the Committee on the Scotch Bill. The object of the Amendment is to leave it to the Police Authority in each case to say whether or not a constable shall have a pension.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 15, to leave out the word "receive," and insert the words "thereupon the Police Authority may if it thinks fit grant him."—(Mr. Edmund Robertson")
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'receive' stand part of the Bill."1700
§ (4.56.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART WORTLEY,) Sheffield, Hallam
This is a question whether the police shall have a right to a pension or not. If we accepted this Amendment, we should really surrender the principle of the Bill.
§ (4.58.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I think it is a wrong principle, and one that ought not to be adopted in regard to any branch of the Public Service. I shall, therefore, vote with my hon. and learned Friend. I admit I moved this Amendment in Grand Committee, and got no support for it. The Liberal Government accept, to a certain extent, this principle; but, then, two blacks do not make a white.
§ MR. STOREY
I think policemen ought not to be pensioned by order of the State when they are paid by the ratepayers. The ratepayers ought to have some option in regard to pensions, and, in order to give effect to that principle, I shall vote with my hon. and learned Friend.
§ *(4.59.) MR.CHILDERS
There seems to be an impression in the minds of the Committee that this Amendment was adopted in the Select Committee on the Scotch Bill. The question as affecting the ordinary pensions where no medical certificate was necessary was discussed at great length on the Scotch Bill, and the Motion was rejected by a majority of 14 to 4.
§ (5.0.) Mr. CONYBEARE
I consider it is fundamentally wrong in principle to destroy local control and to make the Home Office the operative authority all over the country. I am glad the Amendment has been proposed, and however large the majority against us may be, I think we ought to support that Amendment to a Division. The right hon. Gentleman says it would practically destroy a policeman's right to a pension altogether, but I do not agree with him. You may adopt the principle that every constable shall have a right to a pension, and you may embody that in an Act of Parliament, but still you may leave the Local Authorities, the representatives of the ratepayers, to act up to that principle and to put it in force. I do not see that there is any conflict of 1701 principle in the position. But whether that be so or not, it is material to the view I take that we should make every effort in our power that the locality, through its representatives, should have the controlling power, and not the Home Office.
§ (5.5.) The House divided:—Ayes 133; Noes 22.—(Div. List, No. 223.)
§ *(5.11.) Mr. W. H. SMITH
I appeal to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy not to press the other Amendments standing in his name. The hon. Member must have gathered from the Divisions what the view of the House is, and I hope that the hon. Member will not put the House to the trouble of considering Amendments which he knows the House will not approve. The hon. Member has already expressed his views on every possible aspect of the Bill.
§ (5.12.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
I should be glad if I could accede to the wish of the right hon. Gentleman. I feel that it is rather hard upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should be kept sitting here, at an inconvenient time, because his Colleagues have made such a mess of the Session. I quite admit that I have expressed myself at length upon my objections to the Bill, and, therefore, I shall now be brief. Still there are some matters of principle to which I must allude, though I will not take the House through the Lobbies unless I have a prospect of reasonable support. I was not a Member of the Committee on the Scotch Bill, but I have great faith in the wisdom of my own countrymen, and I find they have made an Amendment in their Bill not on a local but a general question, which is this: According to the English and the Scotch Bill, any man who is incapacitated from injury received in the execution of his duty is entitled to retire on a pension for life. We none of us want to alter that, but Clause 3 is very different. Where a man is incapacitated not by the performance of his duty, but because it turns out that he is unsound in mind or body, and incapable of the work required from him, in consequence of that infirmity, the question is: After what period of service should he be pensioned? The Scotch Committee decided for 20 years, and I 1702 think they are right. If you adopt 15 years the result will be that for five years the man will be trying imperfectly to learn his duties, for the next 10 years he will be doing his work badly, and the end of that term he will receive a pension for the remainder of his life. Well, I do not think that is desirable. It will always be in the power of the Police Authority to award a gratuity. I should like to give the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity of expressing his view why we should not here adopt 20 years for the term of service instead of 15.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 17, to leave out the word "fifteen," and insert the word "twenty."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ Question, "That the word 'fifteen,' stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.
§ (5.17.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The next Amendment is a very necessary one, and I scarcely know how the Under Secretary can resist it—
§ (5.17.) Mr. CONYBEARE
I desire to propose an Amendment which arises before the Amendment of the hon. Member, that is, to add after the words "infirmity of mind or body," the words "arising from his duty." It appears to me desirable to limit the right to receive a pension in this way, because it is clear infirmity may arise from causes altogether outside his duties as a constable.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 19, after the word "body," to insert the words "arising from his duties."—(Mr. Conybeare.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (5.18.) Mr. STUART WORTLEY
If the hon. Member will look lower down in the Bill, he will find that cases of infirmity brought about by vicious habits are abundantly provided for by a discretion given to the Police Authority.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I really think the Under Secretary will not resist this Amendment. What I now propose is to provide that where a constable has not 1703 been subjected to a deduction from his pay for a reasonable period the amount of his pension shall be in proportion to such exemption. I know it has been said that no such case will arise, because by law every constable is obliged to allow some deduction from his pay to form a fund. But then a difficulty arises from the refusal to insert the definition of a "constable." Proceeding further, we find that chief constables do not now contribute to the fund; no deduction is made from their pay. I say it is a monstrous job to give chief constables full pensions, while they, unlike other members of the Force, are not required to contribute by deductions from their pay. I cannot see why there should be this exemption. In every Bill brought before the House there has been some proviso of this kind. There was such in the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler); in the Scotch Bill there is a complicated set of rules for the same purpose. If I am right, as I think I am, that chief constables do not have to submit to deductions, then I do hope that the Government will, in fairness, accept my Amendment. It is, indeed, an important matter of principle, and I do not think I could have put it more briefly.
Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 5, at the end of Clause 1, to add the words—
Provided that, if a constable has not been subjected to the deduction from his pay hereinafter provided, as a contribution to the pension fund, for at least two-thirds of his whole service, the pension awarded to him shall be diminished to such an extent as to the Police Authority may seem reasonable under the circumstances."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *(5.22.) Mr. STUART WORTLEY
So far as chief constables are concerned the Police Authorities have power to attain the same object as is secured by the deductions from the pay of ordinary constables; they can fix the salary of the Chief Secretary pro rata as vacancies arise.
§ * MR. STUART WORTLEY
The hon. Gentleman will allow me to proceed. 1704 The same object is secured by the fixing of the amount of the salary. My argument applies to the past as well as to the future. So far as ordinary constables are concerned the Amendment ought not to be entertained. To insert the Amendment would be to introduce that element of uncertainty and possible caprice which it is the object of the Bill to avoid.
§ (5.23.) MR. STOREY
I submit that this is not a reasonable answer to a reasonable Amendment. The case we put is this: Is a constable who has made contributions to the fund from his pay to receive no advantage in his pension over the man who has made no such contribution? Really, what the Under Secretary has said is no more than an argument against any system of pensions at all, for the Local Authority, on engaging a man, can arrange for a scale of pay that shall prevent the question of pension arising. My hon. Friend has put the case of men who are to receive pensions of hundreds of pounds a year, making no contributions, as ordinary constables are required to do. Really, we have had no reply to justify this.
§ *(5.24.) MR. CHILDERS
I would strongly urge the Government to accept the Amendment. The question has been discussed before and was considered in the Committee on the Scotch Bill as satisfactorily settled. As it is a matter of great importance, I hope the Government will consider whether some Amendment could not be introduced into the Bill which would remove the apparent injustice to the common constables.
§ *(5.25.) MR. W. H. SMITH
Such an appeal coming from the right hon. Gentleman certainly deserves the fullest consideration from the Government. The proper place, however, for the Amendment suggested would be in a later clause of the Bill. Though I can give no definite pledge, I will certainly undertake that the point shall be re-considered.
§ (5.26.) MR. CONYBEARE
I should like to know how it is the suggestion acquires such importance when repeated from the Front Bench? Before we divide, I would just mention as a reason why chief constables should be put on the same footing, at least, as ordinary constables, that they are usually men 1705 who are in receipt of pensions for service in the Army.
§ (5.27.) MR. J. ROWLANDS
I certainly feel that there is every reason for some such an Amendment, and that chief constables should not escape those deductions to which constables have to submit.
§ (5.27.) MR. E. ROBERTSON
I would suggest to my hon. Friend that he should accept the specific promise made and withdraw his Amendment now.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (5.28.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
The point I have now to raise is also an important one, it is whether any discretion is to be allowed to Police Authorities in the amount of pensions. The House has decided, I think wrongly, that a man shall have the right to claim a pension after a certain period of service, but the question arises, whether a man having completed his term shall receive the same pension, whether his conduct has been good, bad, or indifferent. The words I propose have good authority, they are taken from the Civil Service Superannuation Act, and they run as follows:—Provided also, that the Police Authority may grant to any constable a pension of less amount than he would have been entitled to receive if his defaults or demerits in relation to the public service appear to them to justify such diminution.
§ It being half past Five of the clock, Further Proceeding on Consideration, as amended, stood adjourned.
§ Consideration, as amended, to be resumed upon Monday next.