§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
The Bill which I have the honour to introduce is intended to remedy what has been felt ever since the passing of the Police Act of 1890 to have been an injustice and an anomaly so far as the police force of Scotland is concerned. In that year the then Lord Advocate 705 brought in a measure for the superannuation of constables in Scotland, and in introducing it he laid great stress upon the arduous nature of their duties, and upon the importance of attracting to the force a good class of men and pointed out that the prospect of a suitable retiring allowance, depending as it did upon good conduct and on a good record, would undoubtedly have the desired effect. So far so good, but unfortunately this Act, though a step in the right direction, placed the Scottish police in a position of considerable inequality as compared with their English brethren. The English Bill passed with very little alteration, whereas the Scottish Bill was very much changed, to the serious disadvantage of the Scottish police.
And now I must ask the patience of the House while I endeavour to explain the difference between the two Police Acts. The English Act gives very large discretionary power to the local authorities in determining the qualifying periods of service and the rates of pension. It gives the option of adopting any scale of pension between the maximum and the minimum scales fixed by the Act, and it gives the option of adopting an age qualification for a pension. The result is that the police authorities in connection with the larger forces, where many years experience had been acquired in the working of superannuation funds, have adopted the maximum scale of pensions without an age limit, and the authorities which had adopted an age limit and a medium scale of pensions gradually abandoned that position, so that at present the maximum scale of pensions in the English Act, without an age limit, is the rule generally throughout England. What is now proposed for Scotland by this Bill is that the conditions of service and rate of pension should be the same as in England. The English Act gives power to a police authority to fix an age limit and also any scale of pensions between the following minimum and maximum limits. If a constable has completed fifteen, but less than twenty-one, years approved service he gets, in ease of infirmity of mind or body, an annual sum of not less than one-sixtieth nor more than one-fiftieth of his annual pay for every completed year of approved service; from twenty-one to twenty-five years 706 service, a pension of not less than twenty-sixtieths nor more than twenty-fiftieths of his annual pay, with an addition of not less than two-sixtieths nor more than two-fiftieths for each completed year of service, above twenty, always, of course, upon a medical certificate of infirmity; above twenty-five years an annual sum of not less than thirty-sixtieths nor more than thirty-one-fiftieths of his annual pay, with an addition of not less than one-sixtieth nor more than three-fiftieths for every year above twenty-five years service, so that the pension shall not exceed two-thirds of his annual pay. But in the Scottish Bill these discretionary powers were deleted, and the period of service when a constable could retire on pension on a medical certificate was fixed at twenty years, and the fixed scale of pensions war reduced below the minimum in the English Act, and an age and length of service limit fixed, which make the prospect of a pension so remote as materially to lessen its value, seeing that only a small proportion of the men are likely to earn the maximum pension. Previously to the passing of the Act the police authorities, in many cases, granted better ex gratia allowances to men who were forced to retire through infirmity than the pensions under the Act. In England a constable is entitled, under a medical certificate, if incapacitated for the performance of his duty by infirmity of mind or body, to a pension after fifteen years service. In Scotland no pension can be granted under twenty years service. In England, after twenty-five years service, a constable may, without a medical certificate, retire and claim his pension; bur m Scotland he can only do so on condition that he is fifty-five years of age, or sixty years if above the rank of a sergeant. The English constable, on completing twenty-six years service, may receive two-thirds of his annual pay, while the Scottish constable, after the same service, only receives twenty-six-sixtieths, or considerably less than half pay. For instance, an English constable, whose weekly pay is 27s. would receive, after twenty-six years service, 18s. per week, while a Scottish constable with the same service would receive only 11s. 8d. per week, making a difference of 6s. 4d., and he would only 707 receive, that if incapacitated for duty, or if he had attained fifty-five years of age. The English constable has thus the advantage not only of receiving a higher rate of pension, but of having a shorter period to contribute to the fund, notwithstanding the fact that the rateable deduction from the pay of both for the pension scheme is the same—namely, 2½ per cent. per annum. Nor does the difference end here. The Scottish constable is tied down by the age limit. He must commence the service before he is twenty-five years of age, and cannot retire under fifty-five years of age, and consequently he must serve thirty years before he is entitled to even a limited proportion of his pension. Compare this with the English constable's twenty-six years of service, which enables him to obtain a pension five years before the Scottish constable can claim one. The Scottish constable can only earn the maximum pension of two-thirds of his annual pay on completing thirty-four years service.
Such, briefly stated, are some of the inequalities and anomalies to which the police force of Scotland is subjected as compared with England, and the Bill now before the House would put an end to this state of matters, and is a measure of justice to which they are fully entitled. As a mere question of policy, and apart altogether from the merits of the case, it would be wise on the part of the Government to take up the question and to give facilities for the passing of the Bill. The duties of the police in Scotland are as onerous and exacting as are those of England, and the difference of treatment in respect of pensions is tending, and will tend more and more, to weaken the efficiency of the Scottish police by inducing the most energetic and promising men to seek the better treatment and pay existing in England, and also in preventing the retiral of officers who have met with injury, or who have reached an age when they are unable satisfactorily to perform the arduous duties imposed upon them.
Now, I am at a loss to understand why such an assimilation of the law of Scotland to England should not take place, and why the Scottish police should not be placed upon the same level. No further contribution is asked from the imperial funds (I am sure the Chancellor of 708 the Exchequer would smile at that), nor is it at all likely, judging from the past experience of all the most important centres of police authority in Scotland, that anything will be required from the local rates. I say that it is not at all, likely, as the House will see from the published and official statements of the amount of accumulated funds arising from the Exchequer grant, and from the deductions from the pay of the constables and other sources. From the published official statement of the Corporation of Glasgow Police Department, employing one-fourth of the whole police of Scotland, I find that no less a sum than £11,037 6s. has been added to the fund in the one year ending 15th, March. 1900, and to show that this is no solitary year, there has been since the passing of the Act in 1890 an accumulation of no less than £117,993 17s. 3d. Edinburgh has an accumulated fund of £15,305; Dundee, of £18,973; Aberdeen, of £12,207; Ayr, of £2,394 is. 3d.; Hawick, of £1,370; Hamilton, of £1,879; Stirlingshire, of £7,040; Ayrshire, of £13,841; Aberdeenshire, of'£7,847. I need not go through every police fund in Scotland, but I make the statement that not a single police authority in Scotland has ever had to put its hand in its pocket in connection with the fund, nor is it likely that, if the Bill passes, they will require to do so. It is, of course, impossible to calculate exactly what may be the additional burden thrown upon the fund if the terms of the English Act are given to Scotland, as it has to be borne in mind that the Bill is so permissive that the police authority may give anything above the minimum; but assuming that they give an average between the maximum and minimum. I do not anticipate that it would involve a very large additional sum, probably not more than 25 per cent. For instance, the amount of pension paid by Glasgow for the year ending 15th March, 1900, was £5,474 19s. 5d., and, if this Bill pass, probably the additional cost might be estimated at £1,400 to £1,500 per annum, still leaving a very large surplus of not less than £4,000 per annum. It has now been seen that nothing is asked from the imperial Exchequer, nor yet is it likely that anything will be required from the local rates. This is, 709 perhaps, the most important point, but in addition the terms of the Bill are heartily approved of by almost all the best authorities on the subject. His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland has for many years past urged the desirability of the amendment proposed. The Convention of Royal Burghs of Scotland, consisting of ninety-four burghs, having 187 representatives, almost entirely provosts and other members of their respective town councils, and having lengthened municipal experience in the administration of the police force, are in favour of the amendments proposed by the Bill. Last, but not least, three-fourths of the Scottish Members of Parliament support the principles of the Bill, and no doubt many of them will take an opportunity to-day of saying so.
In conclusion I would ask the kindly co-operation of the English and Irish representatives, seeing that tin Bill imposes no new burden upon the taxpayers, and only seeks to have the law established in England assimilated to that of Scotland. For these reasons I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I only rise formally to second the motion of my hon. friend. It seems time that the case has been put forward so fully I that really there is nothing more to be said. The case for the Bill is that we only ask for Scotland what the English have in their own local authorities, and which, so far as I know, has worked very well up to the present time. I do not think that in this country there has been a single complaint by any of the local authorities. I would further point out that ill this matter Scotch opinion is almost unanimous, so far as this Bill is concerned. I think we are entitled to a dash of Home Rule in proposing this measure, this afternoon. I think that three-fourths of the Scotch Members at least on both sides of the House are pledged to vote for it, and I appeal to Irish Members that that is a strong reason why tiny should give us their support on the present occasion. I notice on the Paper a motion by the hon. Member for Mid Lanark to the effect that this Bill he read a second time this day six months. I am nearly always glad to follow the leadership of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark, but I am sorry 710 that I cannot do so on this occasion. I cannot conceive, myself, why any Scottish Liberal or Member should oppose this Bill. In Scotland we believe in decentralisation, and in giving local bodies charge of their own affairs, and surely we ought to be in favour upon a question of this kind of safely trusting to their good judgment and their good sense. It seems to me that the mere fact that we are proposing to give them this power does not necessarily mean that they are going to exercise it. They can deal with the question, as they think best, and the ratepayers will he the masters of the situation, for they can elect men who will carry this question out in accordance with the wishes of the ratepayers. It seems to me that we are advised to take a very safe step this afternoon, for we are asked to endorse a certain permissive principle which they will have power to exercise it they wish it. Many of the local authorities even in, England have not exercised this power. We say that the Scottish policeman is as good as the English policeman, and he ought to have the same benefits given to him if the local authorities consider he deserves them. I have much pleasure in seconding this proposal.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
It is perfectly true, as has been stated by the mover and seconder of this motion, that over three-fourths of the Scotch Members are pledged in favour of this Bill; but that fact makes it all the more necessary that this House should be made aware of the merits of the Bill which the Scotch Members have so suspiciously pledged themselves to support. The police are an organised body in Scotland, and at the last election they took the precaution of using their influence by putting certain questions to the different candidates, pointing out that it was simply a matter of putting them on an equality with England, and they got promises of support from Scotch Members who did not then sufficiently understand the merits of this case. I am perfectly willing that the hon. Members from Scotland who are pledged in favour of this Bill should get whatever benefit they may de- 711 rive from their support of it, but I think that they should at least give an opportunity for the ease against the Bill to be presented to the House. What I object to is that, at an election, people with private and personal interests of their own should take advantage of that opportunity to force certain subjects upon their Members and exact pledges from them. I have always taken up the position that I will never give any pledge upon a matter which personally concerns any of the voters. I consider that it is downright bribery to say that you will vote for a Bill by which certain people will get certain pecuniary advantages. The hon. Member who moved this Bill said that Glasgow contained one-fourth of the whole police of Scotland. I may point out that the Corporation of the City of Glasgow are unanimously opposed to this Bill.
§ MR. CALDWELL
You may question it, but it is a fact. This Bill is supported mainly by officers who are at the age of retirement, and they are more interested in the retiring allowance than the rank and file, who are more interested in the matter of pay than in pensions. It is obvious that in considering pensions you must also consider the question of pay. An increase of pay is better for the rank and file of the constabulary, because it is an immediate advantage, while the pension is deferred, and might never be reached; and even if it were reached it I would always be improved by an increase in the pay. With regard to the question of the efficiency of the police, I maintain that it will be best promoted by having a moderate pension scheme, such as will enable the local authorities to give the largest possible pay, and in that respect there is no room whatever for complaint with regard to the local authorities in Scotland. The rate of pay varies in different localities, and if the local authorities think it is too little they can make it up in regard to the pay in such a way that the remuneration of the police would not be affected one iota in Scotland any more than in England. I intend to show that it is absolutely necessary that the pension fund for Scotland should not be interfered with, and that this matter 712 of pay is one which is always open for a local authority to undermine.
We are told that the sole reason for this Bill is that England has got certain things, and that Scotland also should have them. That seems to represent the whole argument in favour of the Bill, and scarcely any other argument has been introduced. It has not been maintained that the system in England is superior to the system in Scotland. Now what is the difference between the two Acts of Parliament in the case of England and Scotland? In 1890 both these Acts passed through the House at the same time, based upon the same lines, except in regard to the variation of the power given to the local authority. The age at which a policeman may retire in Scotland is fifty-five, and he can retire with two-thirds of his salary after thirty-five years service. So far as that pension is concerned, it is better than is now given to civil servants as a rule. What is the difference in the case of England? In England the pension is rather less favourable than in Scotland. The hon. Member told us that there were a great many cases in England where they did not take advantage of the latitude given by the Act. According to the English scale they are required to serve up to the age of fifty-five before they can claim two-thirds of their pay. The only difference in England is that a certain latitude is allowed to local authorities in the adoption of the maximum scale. I notice that there was no attempt made to defend this power of variation in the case of local authorities in England as regards the pension fund. What is the result in England? In Manchester and some other places a man can retire after twenty-six years service.
We talk about removing grievances. Are there not grievances in England at the present moment as regards the powers of the local authorities to create differences?—and yet the contention is that Scotland should be put on an equal footing with England, although England is not on an equal footing itself, one part with another. That is a contention which is, of course, overlooked altogether. England has got the power—and this is the whole point of the Bill—to let its local authorities give whatever sum they think proper 713 within certain fixed lines. What you I want to do now is to give Scotland the same power of varying the pension fund, to which every man has an equal and moral right. The public money belongs to one man as well as to another, and they all pay equally into the fund, and yet you want to give the local authorities power to vary the rights of men which are absolutely and morally equal. We know why it is that you want this power of variation. This Bill is an example of it. We know perfectly well that the influence of the police on Members of Parliament has been such that they have practically got a unanimity in their favour which I venture to say would not he displayed towards any other proposal. What would be the result if this Bill were passed? The police would begin to squeeze the local authorities, if they were allowed variation in this matter, on the subject of pensions, and the result would be that one local authority would give way and the others would follow like a flock of sheep through a hole in the hedge. The principle of the Scottish Act is that the pension fund is a fund to which each policeman pays equally. He has an equal right to the, public money, and of course he is entitled to an equal share corresponding to his pay. Yet we are told that this Bill is to create equal rights in Scotland; that is to say, equal rights to the local authorities to produce variations and grievances. If this Bill were passed, local authorities would begin to be squeezed in the same way that Members of Parliament have been squeezed, and there would probably he difficulty with the working classes, who have no pensions themselves and who would feel aggrieved if the local authorities granted pensions to the police. If there is any subject on which there is no room for local fighting at nil, that subject is the subject of the police, and for this reason—that unless the police have got the goodwill of the public at their hack their usefulness is gone. Once raise questions of conflict between the workers on one hand and the police, on the other, and you destroy the usefulness of the police force. Why was a fixed scheme provided in the Scotch Act? For the very reason that there should be no variation between the different localities; and yet we are 714 now told that because England has the power of variation. Scotland should necessarily follow her example. Have we anything else in Scotland that England has not got? I think we pay school teachers in Scotland better than teachers are paid in England. Undoubtedly they are entitled to it, and no one proposes to bring down their salaries to the level of English salaries. The answer always given in connection with this Bill is that we are doing an injustice to the policemen of Scotland. Before the Act of 1890 they had no pension fund at all. In that year they got that Act without paying a penny into the pension fund, so that there is no room for the contention so far as the police are concerned that they have really any grievance. Reference has been made to the case of Birmingham, where the local authorities have adopted to the full extent the powers of the. Act. I have got excerpts to show that in all eases where, local authorities have gone to the full extent of the Act, the effect has been to create a deficit in the, funds. A man retires on his pension whenever he is qualified, because it he continues to serve he may commit some fault and lose his pension, and the result is that in some places not more than ten per cent. of the men remain in the service after twenty-six years service. Will anyone say that a man of forty-seven or forty-eight years of age, after twenty-six years service, is a man who ought to he compulsorily pensioned at two-thirds of the highest pay he has ever earned? So far as the Scotch Act is concerned, we have always treated the police as a purely local matter, because we have divided our police fund into localities, and we look to the police as purely local. But there is no variation as regards pensions. If you give power to exercise an option, and if it is exercised, it is this House that will he responsible, and ratepayers will look into the question as to whether they were protected by their representatives when the local authorities I were given such a power. Of course it may not be compulsory, but that is the evil of it, because you will have in each district any amount of variation, and you will destroy the efficacy of your police force.
715 I daresay the Lord Advocate knows perfectly well the Act of 1890, and it is with reference to that that I wish to point out some circumstances to show why it was that this Act for Scotland was deliberately made different from the English Act. The House of Commons had the English Act before it, and yet they deliberately, and for reasons which shall give, made the Scotch Act different. In Scotland, of course, no pension fund practically existed, and there was no power to get compulsory pensions before the Act of 1890. Various attempts were made by both Liberal and Conservative Governments to establish a pension fund which would fall upon the rates. These Bills were opposed, and the result was that neither a Liberal nor a Conservative Government could create a pension fund which would fall upon the rates. In 1890 an opportunity was offered, and the Government created a pension fund which does not fall upon the rates at all. That pension fund consisted of £40,000 taken out of the Custom and Excise grant which was given to Scotland, and of course if that money had not been given for police pensions it would have been available for some other Scotch purpose. It is Scotch money, to which all Scotchmen have practically an equal right, and it was devoted to this pension fund. Then there was some other money handed over for the fund, such as fines from the police and the proceeds from the sale of old clothing; and in addition each policeman was to contribute two and a half per cent. of his salary. The portion contributed by the police themselves to the fund amounted to about £10,000 a year out of £64,000, or a little less than one-sixth, so that I take it over five-sixths has been practically contributed out of public money, which belongs to the ratepayers of Scotland, and which if not applied to the pension fund would at least be available for the benefit of the rates. The object of the Government was, and it was stated at the time, to create a pension fund from which the police would be able to draw their superannuation without there being any possibility of a claim on the local rates. And it was on that footing that the Bill was carried through. To show how carefully the scheme was prepared, I may say that the Bill was submitted to a 716 Select Committee of the House, and that the Committee had before them Mr. Finlaison, actuary to the National Debt Commissioners, secretary to the Commutation Board of the Metropolitan Police, and the best expert actuary in the country. After careful investigation he gave it as his opinion that the pension scheme would so work out that for thirty years at least there would be no possible chance of any burden, falling on the rates, and that after that provision should be made in some other way. The hon. Member who moved the Second Beading of the Bill gave us his calculations. The facts stated by the hon. Member were right, but his deductions were absolutely wrong. The actuary's argument was that when the pension fund was begun there would be very few pensions at first; but when you brought in a number of men to the force with the idea of pensions they would remain in the service, and gradually the scheme would work out in such a way that in thirty years it would begin to come down the hill. The capital sums to the credit of the local authorities are getting on every year, but it must be borne in mind that according to the best expert authority in the country the pension fund would certainly remain solvent for thirty years, but after that it would probably be a burden on the rates. So far matters have gone much worse than when the scheme was actually propounded. What, the actuary told the Committee was that he based his figures upon a force of 4,055 men he did not make any allowance for an increase, because he said if they got rid of a lot of old men a few younger men would be able to do the work, and that therefore the force would not be likely to increase. He took the average pay at £71 5s. 9d., whereas the average pay now is £72 10s. He did not allow for that increase in pay, or for the increase in the number of men from four thousand to five thousand. What insurance company at the present moment would say that the pension fund was in a solvent state? The actuary also based his calculations on the assumption that fifty-five years was to be the age at which a policeman was to be retired, and that he should serve thirty-five years before he got his pension. But now a policeman need not wait for thirty-five years to get his 717 pension, because if he is incapacitated in body or mind he can be pensioned after twenty years service. If, therefore, were to introduce a new pension scheme that will enable men to be retired after twenty-six years instead of thirty-five years, after only having made twenty-six instead of thirty-five years contributions to the fund, it will soon be absolutely insolvent. I would therefore point out to the Lord Advocate that it we are going to introduce variations into the pension scheme, and if we are going to keep it on the lines of the Act of 1890. We will require to introduce some new source of revenue to meet the increased burden which will be imposed. Where are we to get this increased revenue? The money cannot be obtained from Imperial funds, and where therefore, is it to come from? The Bill states that any deficit in the money is to be paid out of the local rate. That is where the money is to come from.
The Government scheme of 1890 was dealt with in a most careful manner. It was submitted to a Select Committee, evidence was taken from experts, and the Bill was afterwards discussed on Report, and also on the Third Reading. It was a most carefully prepared Government measure, but now it is proposed to sanction a Bill which will upset that scheme, but which makes no provision whatever for the additional money which the new obligations will require. It is most important that as regards the question of policeman's pensions there should be no possible risk of criticism on the part of the ratepayers. In this Bill you are going to open the door to criticism, not only because yon propose to provide a new burden of taxation, but because vim propose to allow the local authorities to exercise an option which, as I have pointed out, they have no right to exercise, as regards a fund to which each man contributes his share, and to which every man has an equal right.
It will be seen that this subject is not quite as simple as hon. Members think. It is not a matter in which we in Scotland should do what England does. That is no answer at all. We do our own business according to our own ideas, and it is no answer to say that because England does a thing therefore we should do it also. That argument is brought forward because it suits this particular 718 case. I am interested in this matter because I am a county Member. To whom is entrusted this power of making a variation in the pension scheme? The power is entrusted to the police authorities. Who are the police authorities in Scotland? They are the standing joint committees, only a minority of whom are representatives of the ratepayers who will have to pay this burthen of taxation. In the ease of poor rates in Scotland, half is paid by the owner and half by the occupier, but in the case of the police rate the whole is paid fry the occupier.
§ MR. RENSHAW (Renfrewshire, W.)
I should like to correct the hon. Member. Half the police rate is paid by the occupier and half by the owner.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I may be wrong as regards the rate, but I am not wrong as regards the joint committees, so that the principle for which I contend is exactly the same. Why should we give this power to bodies which are not fully representative of the ratepayers? Why should we entrust to them the power of putting an increased burden on the local rates. We have always objected to the standing joint committees. We have always contended that in the county districts the ratepayers should have tin same opportunity of dealing with the police as they have in the boroughs. To my mind, that is a sufficient objection for county Members to take as regards this Bill. If this Bill passes you will throw into a vortex the police on the one hand and the ratepayers on the other. There is a working class population in my own county. They work harder than the police, and they have been tempted by the prospect of old-age pensions. All that is, it appears, in the distance, and yet this House is now asked to increase the pensions of the police. If this Bill is passed. I venture to say it will succeed in creating irritation, and that the effect will be most disastrous as far as the efficiency of the police force is concerned. The promoters of the Bill say that they have got the opinion of the Convention of Royal Burghs. Who imagines for a moment that the Convention of Royal Burghs has any weight in Scotland? It is more susceptible of being got at by 719 the police than any other body. It is not said that the promoters have the consent of the trades unions in Scotland. Why, it was the power of the trades unions in 1885 that prevented a Liberal Government from introducing a pension scheme. Have the trades unions been consulted, and have they given their consent to this Bill?
§ MR. CALDWELL
Why, they are the parties who have always objected. The police are organised, and they have been able to capture the Scotch Members in favour of this Bill. Do you imagine that this matter will rest at this stage? What has become of the Municipal Workers' Association in Glasgow? Did the promoters of the Bill get the consent of that association, which has influence enough to return members on the town council? Hon. Members know many of the leaders of that association—one if the greatest being Mr. John Ferguson. He is opposed to the Bill; the Corporation of Glasgow and the Police Board are opposed to it. I candidly confess that I have been unable to get any Scotch Member to second my motion for the rejection of the Bill, so completely has the situation been got at. At the same time. I am not alarmed, and even alone I will stand up against this Bill, and hon. Members will find that greater interest is taken in the question than they imagine when they again come before the people of Scotland. I am not in a position to move my Amendment, though at the end of the discussion I will challenge a division. I acknowledge the poverty of the situation, but I may say that I shall be astonished if the Government accept this Bill. Mark you, this Bill is either a good Bill or it is not, and therefore should be accepted or rejected in its entirety. Its object is to assimilate the law in Scotland to the law in England, and there is no room for any compromise. Why not therefore pass the Bill in its entirety or reject it?
MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanarkshire, Partick)
I disagree with the hon. Member who has just sat down, after a full and interesting examination of 720 the question, is saying that there is no room for compromise. I think—and many Scotch Members will agree with me—thatis the reason why the hon. Members has not been able to find a seconder for his not been able to find a seconder for his motion. The question undoubtedly is one which wants looking into, but at the same time I am by no means ready to accept all that my hon. friend behind me has advanced. No question is involved of any charge on Imperial funds. It is simply a question of what we are to do with our own money, which ten years ago was devoted to this special purpose of police pensions, and also whether money is to be taken out of the rates in order to assist the fund. The hon. Member who introduced the Bill said he did not anticipate that the Bill would include any charge on the rates. I do not agree with that, but I think in any case it would he absolutely necessary to have full actuarial evidence on the subject, and I confess I would be extremely astonished if Mr. Finlaison, or any other actuary, would endorse the view of the hon. Member. No one nowadays—whatever may have been the case ten years ago—grudges the provision of pensions for the police in Scotland. The bulk of the fund is mainly made up out of £40,000 a year, which was the Scotch grant under the Act of 1890, the deductions from the men's salaries forming a very small part of it. The question is one between the ratepayers and the police. Hitherto hon. Members have only heard the police, who, I believe, approached every Scotch Member at the last election, and did so with so much propriety and modesty, and in such a more reasonable spirit than other bodies of civil servants are in the habit of doing, that they found hon. Members very willing to listen to them. Still, I think there is a very great danger likely to arise from the fact of such a large number of civil servants having the franchise and approaching Members. It is calculated to lead to the exercise of unfair and undue pressure. In the grosser eases, of course, such pressure is rightly resented. But there are so many shapes of it that it is impossible to draw the line firmly. There are so many shapes of the desire to use influence on behalf of a man for improving his posi- 721 tion, that when that position depends on what he receives from the Government there is, I repeat, very great danger to individual Members for the intervention in electoral proceedings of civil servants, But with regard to the police, I certainly think they have put forward a prima facie case. Of course, there is no question whatever that there is a considerable difference between their position in England and Scotland. The only question is, whether there is a conclusive argument for making the position the same in the two countries.
I will turn for a moment to the history of the Act of 1890. I take especial interest in that Act. Because it happened to come before the first Committee on which I had the honour of sitting—the first Committee composed exclusively of Scotch Members. The proposals of the Bill were fully and thoroughly discussed by that Committee. It will be remembered that in that year two Bills were brought in at once—one for England and the other for Scotland. The terms of the two Bills were, I think, identical, and the view of the Government in bringing them in was that there should be uniformity in the two countries. But what happened in the two Committees? The Scotch Bill was referred to a Scotch Committee and the English Bill to an English Committee. The views of the English Committee were pretty liberal and generous, and were very favourable to policemen; in fact, the Bill was extended in one direction and another so as to benefit the police more than was proposed in the original scheme. But in regard to the Scotch Committee, its anxiety was to produce a solvent scheme. We took, evidence from Glasgow and other places, in addition to listening to the police witnesses. We restricted the scheme in various ways, and we took the strongest precautions to ensure that it should be solvent. Of course, there are two ways of looking at this matter. The English scheme undoubtedly involved dipping into the pockets of the ratepayers. You have a fixed Exchequer contribution both in England and Scotland, and. Of course, there is no question of applying to the Exchequer for an enlargement of that contribution. Then you have other sources of revenue, and both in England 722 and Scotland the balance is guaranteed by the Police Fund. If there is any deficiency it has to be made up by tin local ratepayer. Ten years ago the view of Scotch public opinion undoubtedly was in favour of a solvent scheme, and while a guarantee was given to make up any deficit in cases of accident, it was insisted that the scheme should be one in which the risk under the guarantee should be infinitesimal. They got such a scheme. But in England it was not, so, and the English ratepayers have to make good the deficiencies of their scheme. They will presently have to make good a great deal more than the do now. In England, as things stand at present, each county and borough has its separate fund. Some pay their way, others do not; and the deficiencies in many cases of the annual income is very considerable. The whole income at present, however, is £363,000. The expenditure is £370,000, and thus there is a deficiency at the present moment for the English counties and boroughs of £7,000. Of course, the charge is an increasing one and it will continue to increase enormously. While the capital is increasing but slightly, the income almost stationary, and the English ratepayers will have consequently to make good a very considerable deficiency in coming years. In London the case is a much stronger one. The deficiency each year is very large. It is increasing with what seems to he alarming rapidity. In the year 1896–97 the deficiency was £80,000, in the following year it was £93,000, in 1898–99 it was £109,000, and in the next twelve months it rose to nearly £121,000. I have not tin slightest idea for how many years that rate of increase is going to continue, but it certainly will for some time. In Scotland our position is quite different. There we have an Exchequer contribution of £40,000, and in the last ten years the funds for the counties and boroughs have accumulated so that we get an in come of £9,400 by way of dividend. The stoppages from the men's pay come to about £10,300 and the income from other sources to about £4,500. In only one or two instances—thoseof small authorities—has there been any deficiency; indeed, the total amount which has to be made up from the rates 723 is less than £500, and that will, of course, be repaid in a short time. We have an income at the present time of £64,500, while our expenditure is only about £22,500; therefore a large fund is being laid by from year to year. As the result of nine years working we have accumulated a sum of £388,000 for the benefit of the pension scheme. That does not in the least prove that we can afford to pay away a large part of that £388,000, because, as has been pointed out already, year by year the expenses are increasing, and the maximum outgoing will not be reached for at least another thirty years. By that time it will be necessary to have a very much larger fund laid up than we have at present. These questions were gone into most carefully by the actuary whose name has been several times mentioned in the course of this debate. But, on the whole, our position, I think, is rather better now than it was anticipated it would be. We thought that after eight years working we should have accumulated £318,000; we have, in fact, accumulated a great deal more. But, on the other hand, we anticipated that at the end of that period our expenses would be £18,000, whereas they are now £22,500. I do not agree with the hon. Member opposite that the actuarial position, on account of the circumstances he mentioned, is necessarily worse than it was when Mr. Finlaison drew out his estimate. But it must be borne in mind that various changes favourable to the fund were made in the Bill when it was before, the Committee, although I cannot say exactly to what extent those changes improved its actuarial position. On the other hand, other changes were made which involved greater expense. I think it would be perfectly reasonable, after ten years experience of the fund, that we should set Mr. Finlaison, or some equally competent actuary, to examine the position, and tell us how we stand in regard to it. If we are able, with financial safety, to give any better terms to the police. I am sure there will not be the slightest opposition to our doing so for we have no desire to heap up money for the benefit of posterity. But I confess I do not think there is room for very much alteration in that respect.
Other questions must, of course, be considered. Hon. Members, in dealing 724 with this matter, ought to have properly before them the question whether they can, with safety, give any further advantage to the police out of the fund as it at present stands. Can we modify the terms on which the police receive pensions? Beyond that, there is a further question on which, for my part, I confess I have as yet quite an open mind, and that is: do the ratepayers consider the advantages of a fund on a similar scale for Scotland as that which prevails in England are so great that they are willing to incur some expenditure for the sake of getting it? It is clear that the greater temptations in England do, to a certain extent, injure the Scotch police force and its power of getting thoroughly good men. We do not pay the same rate of wages in Scotland, as in England. But we have to consider whether the ratepayers and local authorities believe that the effect of paying a different scale of wages does injure them to an extent which can be appreciated in money. Are they willing, in order to get rid of that damage to the police force, to undertake certain further liabilities, and to give a more generous scale of pension to the police, with the knowledge that in future years there may be a call on the ratepayers' purse? That is a question which the police cannot be expected to consider. But we do want to have the views of the local authorities upon it. Again, I very much desire to have the views of the different local authorities upon the question whether they wish that we here should establish a uniform scale, or whether they desire that there should be that local option which is given to the English police authorities. Of course, if they tell us that they desire the amount of choice which the English authorities have, I should feel absolutely prepared to support the change. But my belief is that they would rather not have it. I think we should find they would say that it is for this House to lay down what it thinks is right, and that there should not be an opening for local pressure from people who have the work to do, and for whom one may have the greatest liking and respect, because if there were such an opening it would produce on each locality exactly the same difficulty that my hon. friend was so cautious about in regard to the views of Members 725 of this House. These are the questions which have to Be decided before we can either pass or reject this measure. They cannot possibly be decided on the floor of this House. They cannot possibly be decided without hearing evidence, and therefore, I hope that the inclination of the Government will be to accept the Second Heading of the Bill, and then to refer it to a Select Committee upstairs, which can take full evidence. That Committee, of course, should be mainly Scotch. But I confess that I would rather it was not purely a Scotch Committee, as was the case ten years ago. We have got an alternative system, and there are in this House a good many gentlemen familiar with the merits and disadvantages of that system. I think that on our Committee we should be very much benefited by having the assistance of two or three English gentlemen who would be willing to give attention to that subject; and therefore, under the circumstances, I hope the Bill will be allowed to pass its Second Heading, and will be sent to a Committee upstairs for consideration.
§ *MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness-shire)
said he desired to associate himself with the remarks which fell from the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark in regard to the peculiar danger of public civil servants or police or constables banding themselves together to intimidate timid and nervous candidates for Parliamentary honours. But he supported the Second Reading of the Bill on account of the experience he had gained as the chief magistrate of one of the Scotch cities. It was of the very greatest importance for the efficiency of the police force that the law of Scotland should be assimilated to that of England, because of the constant drain of the best men from Scotland to England for the sake of the benefits which they received in the latter country. He did not see why a Scotch policeman in Glasgow should work under different conditions from a Scotch policeman in Liverpool or Manchester. He was one of those who thought that a Scotchman should not get worse treatment than an Englishman, even if he were a policeman, and he saw no reason why a Scotch policeman should be better paid or better pensioned in an English city or county than in a Scotch city or 726 county. In the interests of the police force it was absolutely necessary that the law of England and Scotland should be assimilated, because in Scotland under present conditions they did not get or retain the best class of men. He believed that last year there had been no fewer than 390 resignations of good and efficient policemen who were dissatisfied with the conditions of service in Scotland, and a very large proportion of them had, he believed, come to England and joined the police force here. The Bill had been supported by the great majority of the Scotch constituencies, although it had been opposed by the Glasgow Town Council—whether unanimously or not he could not say. It had also been supported by the Convention of Royal Burghs. He did not associate himself with what had been said by an hon. Member regarding the Convention of Royal Burghs. The hon. Member had declared that that was a body that was held up to ridicule; but some people laughed at Parliament, and even some Members of Parliament were held up to public ridicule. It should be remembered that the Convention of Royal Burghs was composed of representative magistrates and councillors of the burghs all over Scotland, and surely their wishes should be respected. He supported the Bill also because it was permissive, and the local authorities could adopt it or reject it as they liked.
§ SIR WALTER THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
supported the Bill as a simple matter of justice to a very deserving class, than whom, morally and physically, a better could not be found either in England or Scotland. He could not understand the objection of his hon. friend the Member for Mid-Lanark, who suggested that hon. Members on both sides of the House had been pressed or influenced to support this measure from some political motive. He could say for himself that, with the exception of a sergeant, not a single policeman had ever mentioned the Bill to him. He supported the Bill simply because it was just and fair to the police force of Scotland. It was a purely permissive Bill, and if any local authority objected to its provisions it need not adopt it. The Bill was supported by many of the public bodies in Scotland, and undoubtedly by the vast majority 727 of the Members for Scotch constituencies. The only exception was the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark, and he hoped that the hon. Member would withdraw his objection and allow the Bill to be read a second time without a division. He also hoped that the right hon. the Lord Advocate would show a friendly interest in the Bill, so that it might become law during the present session.
§ *MR.THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
said that, while he supported the Second Reading of the Bill, he was not to be held committed to the style of drafting its varied provisions, which indeed were very complicated and involved. He did not think that the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark in his emphatic and somewhat diffuse argument had really touched the main principle which underlay the provisions of the Bill. That principle was that the police force in Scotland, which was not inferior in ability, character, or efficiency in discharging their duties, should be put, on the point of emoluments, and, quoad pension, on the same footing as the English police. Who could object to that? A good deal had been said in the course of the debate as to the application of the screw; but a practice of that hind required two parties. They might have the screw applied, but the person to whom it was applied must be considered; and be was slow to think that his colleagues in Scotland were so soft as to be squeezable in that particular. Surely experience was that if a man took his stand in opposition to a demand, whether of a political or religious kind, and gave a reasoned explanation for his dissent to his constituents, these did not undervalue him on account of the manly attitude he had taken up. His reasons for supporting the Bill were slightly different from those given by hon. Gentlemen who had preceded him. He had had experience in regard to the working of the police in Scotland from an official point of view. For some years he had had a share in superintending the whole system of public prosecution in that country, and nothing during his entire term of office struck him more than the manner in which the Scotch police discharged the delicate duties committed to their supervision. Under the system of public prosecution in Scotland, the police were to a large extent, and of 728 necessity, the agents in advance of the Crown in all criminal prosecutions. The Crown officials had, therefore, daily reports from the police in regard to their responsible duties, and these showed most vividly the extreme tact and great efficiency with which the constables discharged their duty. Why, then, should these men not be put on a footing of equal right in point of emolument with their colleagues south of the Tweed?
There was one other point in regard to the police in Scotland which he wished to emphasise. He did not believe that there was any part of His Majesty's dominions, certainly no part of the United Kingdom, in which the police were more truly peace officers than in Scotland. The law in Scotland was so administered that it was only in the rarest instances that the policeman was looked upon as an oppressor of the people; he was uniformly regarded as a protector. The policeman was truly a guardian of the peace, and considered himself better employed in the prevention of crime than in its detection after being committed. These were his reasons for supporting on principle the Second Beading of the Bill. But the House ought to be grateful to the hon. Members for Mid-Lanark and Partick for making allusion to the actuarial considerations which should be kept in view, although in regard to these he felt no great alarm. The measure was, after all, permissive. He hoped his hon. friend opposite, in indicating his assent to this application of the principle of local option, would not object to its being adopted in another department which was closely allied to police administration—namely, the liquor traffic. There would be two considerable advantages in the appointment of a Select Committee to consider this Bill. In the first place the members of the Glasgow Corporation, the ablest and most powerful in the kingdom, would be able to show to the Select Committee what was their view of the finance of the measure, and if their view was supported actuarially it would serve to emasculate or to extinguish the Bill altogether. He himself had no fear of such a result. His other point was that the Select Committee would be useful in furnishing a guide to the local authorities in adopting tin-option conferred upon them by the 729 Bill. In conclusion, he hoped that the which Select Committee would not protract their investigations so long as to kill the Bill, but that their efforts would he directed to making it, from an actuarial point of view, a sound measure.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Buteshire
Perhaps it will be convenient to the House, as the subject has been fully debated, that I should state now I he view of His Majesty s Government on t he Bill. We are entirely in sympathy with the object proposed by the Bill. I have certainly great pleasure in corroborating from an even longer official experience than the hon. and learned Member for Hawick Burghs what he said in regard to the conduct of the police in Scotland. I can only say that I do not think I ever had to make a complaint about the police in Scotland. The peculiarities of the police force and the services required of them make them undoubtedly proper subjects of a pension, because it is quite obvious that a policeman to be efficient must be in the full vigour of life, and it would be unfair to turn him adrift the moment that vigour ceased as the result of the faithful discharge of his arduous duties, although he had still many years to live, and was too old to enter into another employment. But the question of superannuation ought also to he looked at from the point of view of economy. A policeman is much more valuable after he has had a certain amount of training; but the body which pays for the training should have the advantage, of the trained article. Undoubtedly it is the case that, under the present system, Scotland is to a great extent used as a training ground for the English police; and I entirely corroborate, from what I myself know, the statement made in that respect by the hon. Member for Inverness, on whose first intervention in the debates of this House I may be allowed to congratulate him. Holding these views. I am entirely favourable to the objects sought to be effected by the Bill.
The hon. Member for Mid-Lanark, in one of his least impassioned utterances his morning, asked me if I did not wish to pass this Bill. I am personally quite willing that the Bill should pass, but I must give the reasons for an attitude 730 which I am almost sorry to take up—namely, that the Bill should not go I through the ordinary procedure, but should be remitted to a Select Committee. It is all very well to say that the change proposed to be imposed by the Bill is merely permissive, and that consequently no burden is necessarily put upon the rates. That is an argument which may be carried too far. It has not been the practice of Parliament to give unlimited powers to local authorities without knowing at least what is the worst that a local authority can do. This is a burden which, if I may use the expression, is a very insidious one, because if the authorities in any locality adopt the higher scale and put on the burden, they may do so with the very comfortable feeling that that burden will not fall on their shoulders in their own time. It is rather straining the consciences of some people to ask them to adopt a measure which will impose a burden, when they know perfectly well that the burden will fall only on their successors.
It is absolutely necessary from a business point of view to remember how this movement for police superannuation originated. In 1890 two parallel Bills wore brought in by the Government dealing with police superannuation in England and Scotland. In England police superannuation was an old story. It began with an Act as long ago as 1840 for the counties. There was a borough Act in 1848; and then both boroughs and counties were put on an identical footing in 1859. Accordingly there was an actual system in England which had been running for fifty years, and to a certain extent for a longer period. From a practical point of view let us see, then, what was the state of affairs in which Parliament legislated in 1890? I hold in my hand a Return of the Home Office relating to police superannuation, dated 20th May, 1890. In that Return I find that there was practically a capital fund available for police superannuation purposes in England of £1,172,969. At the same time there were available resources statutorily ear-marked for the same purpose amounting to over £80,000 odd per annum. So that the problem to be faced in England at that time was to put these various police funds upon a thorough working footing in order to 731 give the constables an absolute right to a pension. That object was effected by an Imperial contribution of £300,000 a year. In 1888 the deficiency which had to be met out of the rates was £ 182, 460, and in 1898–09 I find that the deficiency to be met out of the rates was £154,000. That is, I think, evidence that the scheme which was started in England was a sound one. But what had you to do in Scotland? You had to inaugurate an absolutely new system. There was not a pension fund in Scotland at all, except that the burgh of Greenock redeemed the reproach by the possession of a fund with the modest capital of £800. Therefore there had to be a creation of the fund in 1890. May I remind the House what the creation of the fund really means? If you start a fund for the first time with a contribution of £40,000 a year you will have plain sailing at the beginning, because the great body of the men will not have served their time for a pension. But the stress and burden will come in the future. The purpose of the Bill is the assimilation of Scotland to England in the matter of police, superannuation; but it is to be noticed that although the English Act is textually copied in the matter of scale, nothing is said of the ear-marked funds which appear in the English Act. In 1890 the Government felt that it would be necessary to make an investigation as to what was needed to establish a fund for Scotland, and the matter was remitted to a Select Committee. What the Select Committee did was to take the funds as they found them. They took £40,000 of an Imperial contribution, and the contributions statutorily devoted under the amended Section 16 to the police force, and they arranged a scale on a proper actuarial basis in which there would be a state of equilibrium. In this they were assisted by Mr. Finlaison. In the course of his evidence that gentleman assumed that the retirement from the police force would take place at the age of fifty-five, that the average salary would be £80, and that the pension would be £46 13s. 4d. He also assumed that the capital would be invested and accumulated at two and a half per cent. per annum. On these assumptions he found that up to the thirtieth year 732 there would be no stress; that in the period between the thirtieth and forty-fifth year there would be a certain call on the rates; and after the forty-fifth year the number of new pensions would he exactly balanced by the number of deaths of pensioners, and that the fund would reach a proper state of equilibrium. Mr. Finlaison assumed that the force would number 4,100, which was modified to 4,278, that the ultimate number on the pension list would be 1,730, and that the ultimate charge would he £80,750 a year. But take the returns of last year. The police force was then not 4,278, but 5,114. If you take 5,114, that would involve an extra ultimate pension charge of £16,000. Without saying that Mr. Finlaison was wrong, I think I have shown enough to make it clear that there have been such increases that we cannot count too much upon the safety of a margin.
What would happen if you introduce the new scale under this Bill? It is said that not only is its adoption optional, but that it may fluctuate between the minimum and maximum; but if there was a fluctuating scale the last state would not be much better than the first. From the paper issued by the chief constables of Scotland, I find that in 1895, in England, 166 police forces adopted the maximum scale, twenty the inter mediate scale, and only one the minimum scale. In other words, practically the whole police force of England adopted the maximum scale. The hon. Member for Mid-Lanark said that some local authorities would adopt the maximum scale, and that the others would follow like a flock of sheep through a hole in a hedge. The hon. Member might have put it in a more Parliamentary way—like Radical Members following him into the division lobby. Well, if the maximum scale were adopted, and the eon-stables retired at forty-seven years of age, that would increase the number on the pension list from 1,730 to 3,300 or more, and the pensions would he increased from £46 13s. 4d. to £53 6s. 8d., which would make the ultimate pension charge More than double the pension charge calculated by Mr. Finlaison.
I think I have said enough to show that really we cannot adopt this Bill, as it stands, in the dark, without further 733 inquiry. We cannot ask the Scotch local authorities to accept the Bill unless we show them what the ultimate charge is to be. I do not agree with the anticipations of the hon. Member who moved the. Second Reading of the Bill, that there would be no charge on the rates; but I do not myself see why the rates should not he called upon to assist this very proper fund. The local authorities, however, should know how much they have to he called upon to pay. If you take the English figures (including the metropolis) you find that, so far as the rates are concerned, they bear 11.2 of the total expenditure; but if you take the Scotch figures—of course we know we have not yet reached the period of stress—the rates only bear.7 of the total expenditure. Taking the English figures, the Exchequer grant—I give merely the percentages—was 39.7; the total revenue of the pension funds, dividends and interest, 13.5; deductions and stoppages from pay, 14.8; other receipts, 20.8; rates. 11.2; Taking the corresponding percentages in Scotland they are: Exchequer grants, 61.8; dividends and interest, 14.6; deductions and stoppages from pay, 16.1; other receipts, 6.8; rates 7. I have now shown that the Scottish ratepayers would not pay very much if called upon to the same extent as their English brothers; in other words, I do not adopt what was said by the hon. Member for Partick when he indicated he did not think the scheme should go on unless it was in that state of financial solvency that an insurance company would consider it. From the speech of the hon. Member I gather that the scheme should be financed from sources other than the rates.
MR. PARKER SMITH
said his statement was that the ratepayers should be made acquainted with the financial position of the scheme, so that they should know where they were.
§ *MR. A.GRAHAM MURRAY
I entirely agree with that. Holding these views. I propose, on behalf of the Government, to accept the Second Reading of the Bill upon the understanding that it will be sent to a, Select Committee. When it gets there, the Government will be willing to give such assistance as they can, so that the precise actuarial position may 734 be ascertained, and then if, in the full light of day, the Scottish Members wish to pass the Bill, the Government will offer no objections.
§ *SIR LEWIS M'IVER (Edinburgh, W.)
wished to remind the House that the question before them was the granting of a permissive power—a discretionary power—to local bodies in Scotland equal to the power enjoyed by corresponding bodies in England. But it was most important on a Second Reading for the Hon e to know with what it was dealing. He viewed with alarm the ready acquiescence of the Government on condition that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, as he had always understood that in this House such a proposal was a polite form of infanticide What he wanted to understand from the Lord Advocate was whether the Government were in earnest about giving the Bill all reasonable facilities. If they were to understand the Select Committee to which the Bill was to be referred would be appointed with no loss of time, and that facilities would be afforded to get through the necessary work that would put the House in possession of the actuarial facts, he would advise the promoters of the Bill to accept the offer of the Government.
§ MR. RENSHAW
said the debate had been of very great interest, and the matter which was under discussion was a very important one to the local bodies of Scotland. The question had been discussed mainly from the police point of view, rather than from the point of view of those who had charge of the police arrangements. It was a matter of satisfaction to him that the hon. Member for the Border Burghs had commenced to have more confidence in these authorities than he appeared to have in the past. He was aware that the local authorities in Scotland had realised that the differences in the system of pensions in England and Scotland militated against their retaining the best of their forces in Scotland. From that point of view, he thought every local authority in Scotland would welcome the opportunity of redressing any real grievance, that could be proved to exist at the present time. He hoped, however, they would not fall into the evil that accompanied the existing 735 English system, because the permissive and optional system appeared to him to he a very dangerous one. The Lord Advocate, in his figures, slated that something like 16.6 per cent. of the English force, had adopted the maximum principle under the provisions of the English Bill. His opinion was that they should take great care to avoid the evils in the English Bill, and have one uniform system; and he hoped the result of the consideration of the Bill in Committee would be to produce a useful measure that would enable them to give the police that to which they were entitled—namely, quite as good a pension as was given to the police in England.
§ *MR. WALLACE (Perth)
said that he only rose to ask whether he properly understood what the Lord Advocate put before the House. Hon. Members were perfectly disposed to see this Bill sent to a Select Committee, if such a course did not mean the death of the Bill. If he understood the hon. Gentleman to mean that if, after examination before the Select Committee, it was found that the Bill was a working Bill, the Government would assist the House in passing it, not merely by abstaining from any active opposition, but by giving the assistance by which alone a Bill could be carried through the House—if that was a part of the proposal, there would be no objection to the Bill being referred to a Select Committee.
§ MR. WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)
thought that the mover of the Second Reading of this Bill had acted wisely in bringing this question before the House. English police enjoyed superior advantages not because they were a superior body of men, but because it was the custom in England to pay larger salaries than were usual in Scotland. Small salaries were a relic of the old times when Scotland was poor, but in late years the prosperity of Scotland had been progressing by leaps and bounds. He quite concurred with the remarks of the Lord Advocate that even if there should be a small addition to the rates, the people of Scotland were quite able to afford such an increase. Therefore that should not be any hindrance to their acceptance of the Bill. He repudiated the accusation which had been made as to bribery of the Scotch Members 736 by the police; he at any rate had heard nothing of such a thing.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
said this which all Scotch Members, with the distinguished exception of the Member for Mid-Lanark, took the same view, and they did not want a nominal Second Reading which would be equivalent to the extinction of all hopes of further procedure. He ventured to ask the Lord Advocate to tell them whether, if the Select Committee to which the Bill was referred approved of it, the Government would give such facilities as would enable the sense of the House to be taken on the measure.
§ *MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
"My intentions are strictly honourable." There is no idea of shelving the Bill. I distinctly undertake, so far as in me lies, to see to it that the Committee is properly appointed, and that the Report of that Committee shall be submitted, if possible, to the House. Of course, it must be understood that I am not master of the time of the, House, and cannot give an absolute guarantee. The, starring of a Bill, while exempting it from the operation of any Order which cuts down all but Government business, does not give a guarantee that sufficient time to pass that Bill against any obstruction which might arise in the House, would be, afforded. If hon. Members will look after obstruction, I shall be able to look after the starring of the Bill.
§ MR. HEYWOOD JOHNSTONE (Sussex, Horsham)
said, though it might not be thought in good taste for an English Member to intervene in a Scotch debate, he, thought he was justified in doing so in order to draw attention to two or three matters which the mover of the Bill might take into consideration when the Bill made its appearance before the Select Committee. They would have to be prepared for a very large increase of the pension fund, and there was also the question of the waste of men which took place under the English system. Many men of thirty-five years of age who were entitled to a pension, but who could go on well to the age of fifty, took their pensions at that age to protect them, because if they staved longer in 737 the service the pension might be lost, possibly through some breach of discipline. The promoters of the Bill would also do well to put in some additional sum for extra pay. Those were a few questions which they would do well to consider when the Bill got before the Select Committee.
§ MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)
declared that the people of Scotland wanted an efficient police force. They could not have it if the best men were taken away by the competition of English counties and boroughs. This Bill would tend to check that competition, and it was for that very purpose that this Bill was introduced.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a, second time.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Falkirk Burghs)
said that, in view of the attitude taken by the Ford Advocate, he proposed that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee. He trusted that the Government would do all they could to help the measure.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said he was astonished that the mover of the Bill should be I asked to have it referred to a Select Committee. He saw no reason for such a course being adopted; the Bill had better be passed at once. It had I passed the Second Reading unanimously, and had he been one of its promoters he would have advised that the opportunity should be seized to pass it into law. Let it be sent to a Grand Committee, pass it through Grand Committee, put it down as the first Order after Whitsuntide, and the Bill would certainly pass. He warned the mover that he was adopting a dangerous course and, as he thought, a wrong one, and if the Bill failed to pass he hoped he would I not be blamed.
§ Bill committed to a Select Committee.