HC Deb 17 December 1908 vol 198 cc2161-3

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

MR. BARRIE (Londonderry, N.)

thought he was only doing his duty when he said that, in his opinion, this was a measure which fell very short indeed of that generous treatment, long overdue, to which the Constabulary were entitled. The wages of the Constabulary in Ireland had not been improved since 1883, and now in the expiring days of the session a measure had been rushed through the House which proposed to improve the position of only a portion of the force. Constables of seven years service got no increase, those between nine and eleven got nothing, those between twelve and thirteen got nothing, and all those of from twenty to twenty-five years service were left with a slight increase of 1s. a week, and yet they were told that the total increase was £15,000 per annum to the Treasury. The claim of the constables was admitted by the Chief Secretary who said that if they were met it would mean a further burden of £4,000 a year. He expressed his regret that in increasing the wages these important sections of the force had been left without the slightest alteration. He complained that under the Act of 1883 constables who were entitled to have a pension after twenty-five years service had another five years added to that term. Many might say that twenty-five years service was too short to entitle a man to retire on a full pension, but they had to remember that men enlisted upon that understanding, and it ought to be fully carried out. He realised that at this period of the session it was hopeless to discuss Amendments which would alter this state of things. There was no provision in the Bill to ensure promotion to constables with special talent. They had been promised that this provision should appear in the Bill and they regretted that it was not contained in the measure. He regretted that merit did not receive its proper reward. Other constabulary forces within the last twenty years had not only had their wages increased more than 1s. a week but there was an increasing tendency to make it more possible for constables to get promotion. The Bill in its present form was not likely to allay the feeling in the Force, and he feared that the result would make the condition of affairs generally more unsatisfactory.

MR. C. E. PRICE (Edinburgh, Central)

looked with extreme regret upon the increased cost which was placed upon this country for the maintenance of the constabulary in Ireland, which was the most extravagant constabulary in the world. He regretted that the increased cost was not provided for by some reorganisation of the superior grades. The Member for Newry gave some extraordinary figures the other night as to the number of superior officers and the small number of men. He much regretted, therefore, that while improving the status of the rank and file, the Government did not reorganise the superior grades and obtain from that source the money required for the improvements in the position of the men. He also regretted that a complete change had not been made in the constabulary of Ireland. It was a force to which there was nothing analogous in this country, and he thought the sooner it was put under the control of the local authorities the better. From his own experience he knew that one could not stir a yard in Ireland without being shadowed by a policeman. While he was glad that the pay of these men should be increased still he regretted it was at the cost of this country.

Bill read the third time, and passed.