CAPTAIN BALFOUR (Middlesex, Hornsey)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will consider the expediency of revising the scheme of rent-aid for the Metropolitan Police, in view of the inequalities which arise under the present system, and of the difficulty experienced by constables in finding suitable accommodation for themselves and their families within convenient reach of their stations.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Akers Douglas.) This subject has engaged the special attention of the Home Office (luring the recess, and after prolonged inquiry and consideration I have, on the recommendation of the Commissioner of 1242 Police, decided on a revision of the existing system. The result of the inquiries which I directed to be made was to prove clearly the existence of the inequality which the present system endeavours to remedy—the rents paid by the police for poor accommodation in the centre of London being considerably higher than those paid for good accommodation in the outer district; but it also appeared that the boundary within which the rent-aid is now given is not satisfactory and gives rise to striking anomalies and cases of hardship. I came to the conclusion that it would be fair to fix a certain proportion of pay which an officer might reasonably be expected to afford for rent, and to allow rent-aid to all who have necessarily to pay a rent in excess of that proportion. I propose, therefore, to give rent-aid to all constables and sergeants (below the rank of station sergeant) who are occupying suitable quarters near their station and who are necessarily paying rents exceeding one-fifth of the average pay of their rank, i.e., rents of 6s. or more in the case of constables and of 7s. 6d. or more in the case of sergeants. On this basis the rent-aid system will be extended to the whole Metropolitan Police area, and nearly all the married men in the force will receive an allowance. At the same time I propose to increase the rent-aid allowance in the centre—giving an allowance of 2s. 6d. a week in the four congested central divisions, and 2s. in certain other districts where the prevailing rents are high. For the rest of the police area, including all the outer districts which have hitherto been excluded, the rate will be 1s. 6d.