HC Deb 10 June 1910 vol 17 cc942-53

(1) Where a constable of a police force to which the principal Act applies has, in pursuance of a Royal proclamation, been called, into actual service as a member of any Royal Naval Reserve force, or been called out for permanent service as a member of the Army Reserve, his period of service under that proclamation may, if the police authority think fit, be reckoned in the computation of approved service.

(2) Sub-section (5) of section 4 of the principal Act (which relates to the computations of approved service of constables who belong to the Army Reserve or Naval Reserve) shall apply to constables who belong to any Royal Naval Reserve force, with the substitution of "required for training or called into actual service" for "called out for training of for permanent service."

(3) The Police Reservists Act, 1902, is hereby repealed.


I beg to move to omit from Sub-section (1) the words, "if the police authority think fit."

This is one of the many instances where the police authority have control. It may be a very proper provision to a police constable who is serving in the Royal Naval Reserve or Army Reserve should have his period of service reckoned as approved service, but why should it depend on the choice of the individual police authority? No doubt that is a proper body to deal with matters of discipline, but this is a question of general policy, and the policy should be the same all over the country or you might have the service count in the case of the Glasgow police and not in the case of the Edinburgh police. The police should be the same all over the country, and therefore I suggest the matter is one of national significance, and has no local bearing whatever. I therefore move the omission of the words "if the police authority think fit." I want to have a uniform rule throughout the whole country.


I beg to second the Amendment. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy that on this occasion Scottish Members were more or less unanimous in wishing to get the Bill passed. We differed on certain points, and I do not think we had a proper chance of discussing them. It would be impossible to discuss a Bill of this sort in two hours, and my hon. Friend knows that while there was a mechanical majority upstairs there is an even still greater mechanical majority here. As to this particular point, I think that it would be very hard on certain very good individuals in the police force who have served their country before in the Army or Navy, if because they are Reservists and are called upon by their country to serve on mobilisation and to go and fight they should suffer in regard to their pensions in respect of the time for which they are so called out and over which they have no control at all. It would be extremely hard upon them and upon their wives and families, and it is an invidious thing that a man who has served in the Army or Navy should be put in a worse position than the man who has not done so. For this reason I shall support the Amendment, and I cannot see why it should be a question for the police authority whether they think fit or not. It is a question of fact, and it is a question of the honour of the nation that we should not put a man in a worse position as regards pension because he has been called upon to fight again. I hope the promoters of this Bill will accept this Amendment, because it is made in perfectly good faith, and it is pre-eminently a fair thing to ask. It would only leave out a few words. It is a pity that although Scottish Members are unanimous on this measure more of them are not here It shows the enormous interest they take in the matter, that the first time we have a chance of discussing a Scottish measure the promoters are unfortunately not present. This Bill affords one example that the Scottish Members when acting together upstairs have been able to agree together, and I think we may act together in regard to other measures which are more necessary to Scotland. I support the Amendment.


I think that the case made out by my Noble Friend is a very good one, and I am very much impressed by the arguments which have been so ably and clearly laid before the House by the Noble Lord beside me (Marquess of Tullibardine). The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir Henry Dalziel), tried to make out that the fact that this Bill went through the Committee stage in the Scotch Committee in two hours, was a reason why these words should be retained, but the fact is that it is drafted in such a slovenly manner because it went through in two hours.


All the distinguished colleagues of the hon. Member were on that Committee, and they would not have allowed it to go through if it was badly drafted.


I do not know who the hon. Member alludes to as my distinguished colleagues, but if he alludes to the right hon. Gentleman who leads the Opposition I do not think he was on the Committee. At all events I have never seen him on the Scottish Committee. As far as I am concerned I allowed this Bill to go through because I thought it was a good one, and it is a very great shock to me that, when I have allowed this Bill to go through the House, it is to be rushed through the Scottish Committee upstairs without due and proper consideration. There is only one objection that I have to the Amendment of my Noble Friend, and that is that this is a State matter. We are going to legislate that the local authority shall count the time which has been devoted to the service of the State in reckoning the pension, and the local authority is going to pay. The proper persons to do that, however, are the State, and they should pay that portion of the pension which has accrued from the fact that a certain amount of the time has been spent in their service. I feel quite certain that if I attempted to move an Amendment to that effect you, Sir, would rule me out of order, because on the Report stage no Amendment of that character can be moved. I should like, however, to point out to my Noble Friend that though an Amendment to that effect would be out of order, I think I am right in saying, that we can recommit the Bill before the Third Reading in order to put in an Amendment to that effect. Therefore, if this Amendment is agreed to, then I would suggest to my Noble Friend that he should move to recommit the Bill before we come to the Third Reading in order to put in an Amendment that the pension so earned should be paid by the State. I do not know whether that is in order, but I throw it out as a suggestion. If the Clause is allowed to remain as it is you may have the police of Dumbarton in one position and those of Sutherland in another, and what is more likely to foment discontent in the force? I feel that either these words must be left out or the Clause must be omitted altogether.


It would, I think, be well to leave discretion to the local authority. I, for one, believe in administration by that authority wherever possible, rather than by a Department. I think that the local authority is perfectly competent to decide matters of this kind. It must be remembered that local authorities in Scotland at the present moment are obliged to look with extreme suspicion upon measures for adding to the emoluments or improving the position of the police, not because the interests of the police do not hold the very foremost place in the minds of the local authorities but because, owing to the very small proportion paid by the State under the pay and clothing allowance, the burden of the force is now getting a very serious one in Scotland, and until this question is taken up and re-opened again, and until the State makes a fair contribution the attitude of the local authorities will be very suspicious towards measures of this kind, and I think it is well that the local authorities should have this discretion in this particular case. I think that is a good reason which may not be in the mind of some hon. Members who are now discussing the Bill. When the Noble Lord refers to any lack of interest shown by Scotch Members in the Bill I would say that those who are interested in the passage of the Bill might well have brought up their points in the earlier stage of the discussion, but I think the best way to show a real interest in the Bill is not to lend countenance to the extension of the discussion at this stage, seeing that the Scottish Members are practically agreed as to the necessity of its passing.


I brought up both these points on the Committee myself, and discussed them with the hon. Member.


I agree largely with the hon. Member, but I think there is a certain hardship, because, unfortunately, only a fixed sum is allocated for this purpose, and it is unfortunate that that should be used as an argument against placing the whole of the police in Scotland in exactly the same position. There are local authorities who are generous and others who are stingy—I have had experience of both—and I know that the pensions, as a general rule, are very narrowly looked at by many members of local authorities who see no chance of getting a pension themselves, and continually feel that they are being obliged, year after year, by the operation of Parliamentary laws, to provide pensions for other people. I do not think this is a matter which ought to be left to the local authorities to decide, for that reason, and also for the reason that it seems to me that the whole force in Scotland, particularly when you consider that there are frequent transfers from one force to another, should not be placed in precisely the same position in regard to pensions. I do not think that in serious circumstances, such as calling out the reserves, any local authority would desire to punish any of their Civil servants in consequence of their performing a duty to the country. I did not myself think of moving any Amendment of this kind. While I know in most cases they would be liberally and generously treated, in others they would probably not, and it seems unfair that there should be any disability of that kind resting upon any public servant. The question of the contribution by the Treasury is a very vexed one indeed and it ought to be put right. I am bound to admit that my own side is responsible for that arrangement—it appeared in the Bill of 1899—but I rather think the other side contributed to that mistake, and equal responsibility and blame, if there is blame in the matter, rests upon them, but I do not think that ought to be advanced as an argument. If the Noble Lord goes to a Division I shall certainly support him


I am just as anxious to promote the interests of economy as the hon. Member (Mr. Munro Ferguson) and the hon. Member (Mr. Younger), but I think it is very hard that this economy should be practised at the cost of so deserving a service as the police. The hon. Member (Mr. Munro Ferguson) spoke of this as a question between the Department and the local authorities, but it is really a question between this House and the local authorities. Ought the House to lay down a general rule with regard to these pensions, or ought they to leave it to the tender mercies of various local authorities? Of all questions as to which there ought to be certainty, even in the interests of economy itself, that of pensions is one. A pension is no use at all if it is uncertain. It does not increase the efficiency of the Service. It does not give him any more reason for eager service. No money can be so much wasted as the pension which is given at the end of a service by the chance mercy of some local authority. The man serving must know exactly what he is to expect. If he goes abroad or gives up his time to serve in His Majesty's Forces it ought to be known as a certainty, and not as a mere contingency, that this will be accepted as part of his regular service. There may be particular local authorities with fads of their own—we know that such things do exist in every part of the country—who will rather look with aversion upon any such service by a policeman and will resolve to punish him rather than reward him for giving up his time in such a way. This is no hindrance to the Bill. We are as anxious as hon. Member's opposite that the Bill should pass. It may easily pass if you have the ordinary feeling of compromise which is now in the air, I suppose, and yield to a reasonable argument such as this. I trust the Noble Lord will give us an opportunity of expressing our opinion by taking a Division on the Amendment.


Like other Scottish Members, I am open to the accusation no doubt that this question was pushed in Committee, but, as a new Member, it is one of those points which was not perhaps brought so particularly to my notice as it has been during this discussion. It would be no loss to the Bill if these words were dropped, and it would be a very great advantage. We are, I think, all agreed that a man who serves his country in the capacity of a soldier or in the Reserves should not be placed under any disability, and there is no reason to suppose that if these words are dropped out you would do anything more than assure to every man who so served his country that he will not be placed at that disadvantage. The hon. Member (Mr. Munro Ferguson) referred to the fact that it would be much better to leave these matters to the local authorities. My own opinion is that the local authorities can be trusted to a very large extent, but in the experience which I have had of local authorities I have often noticed that there is extraordinary difference in getting uniformity in dealing with matters even in various districts of the same county, and when that is the case, and when it is patent that we are not doing anything more in leaving out these words than putting it beyond dispute that a man in the Service who serves his country and is undoubtedly entitled to receive recognition of that service should I have it, I think on those grounds, if on no others, hon. Members might do well to drop them. I have taken a considerable interest in this question of the police. I certainly regard the police in Scotland as being placed at a disadvantage with those in the rest of the United Kingdom, and I am very strongly desirous to see this Bill passed and to see something done to better the position of the police in Scotland. I think the promoters of the Bill would do well to drop out these words in the interests of the police themselves.


I sympathise to a great extent with what has been said in support of the Amendment. The Noble Lord in moving it spoke of it as being a national and not a local matter. But when the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) rose to bless the Amendment, I am afraid he rather knocked a hole in it by pointing out that the contribution to the police and the police pensions was largely local. I think the contribution to the police, and particularly to the police pensions, is largely local, and to a great extent the local authorities must be allowed discretion. As regards the use of the discretion, the hon. Baronet took the instance of the police in the county I represent. Certainly in such a case, and in any other case, I should be in favour of a general rule, and I think I can say that every county in Scotland without exception would be in favour of that same general rule. But it is possible that particular circumstances in particular cases might arise in which they should still be allowed to exercise a modified discretion if it seemed good. It is on that account that I support the words in the Bill. I myself think that all our Scottish local authorities recognise that the discretion will always be exercised well and generously. I certainly would not be a party to the restriction of a power which I am certain would only be exercised in special cases. I would like to point out to hon. Gentlemen opposite that in framing this Bill the promoters have followed the exact lines of the Police Superannuation Act of 1906, which applies to England. If hon. Members will look at Section 4, Sub-section 1, of the English Act, they will see that the words in this Bill are in the precise form of that Subsection. It does seem to me that on the national principle to which the Noble Lord has referred there should be the same law for Scotland as for England, and I claim that the Scottish local authorities should be put in precisely the same position as the English local authorities were put in several years ago. In these circumstances I venture to say that, as this already is the law in England, it would be in the general interest if the Noble Lord would see his way to withdraw the Amendment.


The lion. Member opposite (Mr. Dundas White) referred to the fact that many special cases might arise, but he has not given the House any examples of the special cases which might arise.


I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I did not intend to say that many special cases would arise. I only said it was conceivable that they would arise, and that for the purpose of dealing with them it was desirable these words should be retained.


The hon. Member used the words "special cases." I took them down when the words left his lips. I hope the Noble Lord will carry this Amendment to a Division. Perhaps it is hardly realised that reservists at the present time are under considerable disadvantages in connection with some of the police authorities. Perhaps hon. Members opposite think that they can absolutely trust the local police authorities. I suppose that of all police authorities the Metropolitan Police authority stands as high as any, and yet even there reservists suffer under considerable disadvantages as compared with other members of their community. The number of reservists in the Metropolitan Police is not only strictly limited, but it is kept at a very small number indeed, so that when reservists desire to find service in that force they are very much handicapped. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that if such an authority as the Metropolitan Police authority exercise their power against the interest of reservists, it might also be done by others. I and my Friends on this side of the House contend that those who have served in the Army or Navy have a special claim for employment in the police force. Surely it is not wise to give the wide latitude contained in the Bill.

1.0 P.M.


At first I had considerable sympathy with the Amendment proposed by the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil), and as there seems to be some disposition on this side of the House to vote with him I get up to state the reasons why I cannot support the Amendment. I agree with the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Dundas White) that it is undesirable to take away the discretion from the local authority unless very good cause can be shown. I have not heard as yet during the course of the discussion any good cause why this discretion should be taken away from them, and I can conceive circumstances in which, if it were taken away, the position of the constable would be worsened rather than otherwise. If you leave it open for local authorities to pay a pension in respect of time served in the Navy or the Army, I think that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred probably the pension would be given. Therefore the question which remains is whether that would affect the chances of Reserve men being taken on as constables. If you put in the Bill a compulsory provision that when a man is called away from local service, and notwithstanding that he is not serving a local authority, he must get a pension for the time he is not serving the local authority, is it not probable that a local authority, having that in their mind, may prohibit in some way or another the employment of a man who has served in the Army or Navy? Therefore, if you pass the Amendment, you will probably in that way make the position of the Reserve man worse than it is now. I think that probably at present the Reserve man has a preference for being taken on as a constable by a local authority. I do not know, but I say that it is very likely that the methodical habits of a man trained in the Army or Navy may induce a local authority to engage him because these habits may be of service to him as a policeman. If you pass the Amendment, I think it is probable that the preference may be converted into, if not a prohibition of employment, at all events into a preference for the man who is not a reservist. I venture to suggest to the Noble Lord that there is something in that aspect of the matter. It is all very well to say that the man is called upon by a higher authority to go and serve in the Army or the Navy instead of the police force, and that therefore, inasmuch as he is serving the public in any case, he should not be prevented from getting his pension from the local authority. But, after all, if he is called away to serve in the Army or the Navy, is it not logical and just that the higher authority should pay him? It seems to me that is so, and, as a matter of fact, he is already paid. If a man is already in the Reserve I suppose it is very improbable that he will be called upon for service. He only gets a sort of retaining fee for a number of years on the chance of being called upon. It is reasonable, therefore, to say that in respect of the time he has served in the Regular Forces he has already been paid. If he has not been paid sufficiently, and if the Noble Lord will bring forward a Motion at the proper time that he should be paid sufficiently when called away, I can promise him whole-hearted support. In the meantime I favour the Bill as it is because I believe in leaving to the local authorities as much discretion as possible. I think the local authorities will take a generous view of things of this sort, and therefore I see no reason why I should vote for any Amendment of this character, which will put the police force of Scotland in a worse position than the police of England.


The hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes), in his concluding observations, it seems to me, has argued inconsistently with the first part of his speech, because he says it might be better for the constable if we did not press this Amendment, as the pecuniary loss which might be involved might operate to prevent the local authority from engaging reserve men. If we are to suppose that the police authority have so little patriotic feeling that they would allow a consideration of that kind to handicap men of good character who are otherwise fit, how can we possibly trust them with this or any other discretion? To exclude altogether from the service those who have served their country in the Army or Navy simply because of a remote contingent expenditure that might fall upon a local authority would show that that body was too much out of touch with patriotic feeling to be trusted with discretion on this or any other matter. Therefore, I do not think that that argument can be maintained, nor do I think that what is indicated is in the least likely to come about. No doubt you can never tell whether any particular cantankerous

body might not at a given moment say: "We are left a discretion. We are entitled to exercise it. If Parliament wished to decide this matter once for all, it could have made the matter all right. But it did not say so. Why should we be left a discretion if we are never to exercise if?" But this is a matter of general national policy. It is not a matter of local optional consideration. The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Dundas White) said that in England you can have different rules in different places. We are not accustomed to finding Scotch Members take such a modest view of their country that they cannot possibly improve on what is done in England. They are accustomed to tell us that things are done much better in Scotland. Here is an opportunity of making that boast true. You must begin somewhere. This is a Scotch Bill. Perhaps in a future year we may have an English Bill before us. If you are always going to allow the worst precedent of each part of the United Kingdom to govern you will never make any progress at all. The hon. Member for Blackfriars, when he said that after all the local body paid the men and should therefore have the discretion, overlooked the fact that there is an Exchequer contribution to the fund with which we are dealing. Certain Customs and Excise duties are set aside for the purpose under the principal Act. Therefore it is reasonable that Parliament should have some voice in determining how the money is spent. How can it use that voice better than in securing that servants of the State shall not suffer in respect of pensions by reason of time spent in the service of the State? In all the circumstances of the case I think the question is one on which we should have a Division.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 64; Noes, 50.

Division No. 69.] AYES. [1.10 p.m.
Allen, Charles Peter Ferguson, Ronald C. Munro Leach, Charles
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) France, Gerald Ashburner Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Fuller, John Michael F. Lyell, Charles Henry
Banner, John S. Harmood- Grenfell, Cecil Alfred Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)
Barnes, George N. Gulland, John William Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Beale, William Phipson Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) M'Arthur, Charles
Bowles, Thomas Gibson Hancock, John George M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lines., Spalding)
Buxton, C. H. (Devon, Mid) Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Markham, Arthur Basil
Cameron, Robert Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.) Menzies, Sir Walter
Chappie, Dr. William Allen Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Millar, James Duncan
Crossley, Sir William J. Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire) Montagu, Hon. E. S.
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Mooney, John J.
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Edwards, Enoch Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Muspratt, Max
Esslemont, George Birnie King, Joseph (Somerset, N.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Soares, Ernest Joseph Walters, John Tudor
Parker, James (Halifax) Strachey, Sir Edward Whitehouse, John Howard
Pringle, William M. R. Summers, James Woolley Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Radford, George Heynes Thomas, James Henry (Derby)
Rainy, Adam Rolland Thome, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln). Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. J. D. White and Sir H. Dalziel.
Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Wadsworth, John
Scanlan, Thomas Walker, H. de R. (Leicester)
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Goulding, Edward Alfred Rawson, Col. Richard H.
Adam, Major William A. Grant, James Augustus Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan
Arbuthnot, Gerald A. Hamersley, Alfred St. George Ronaldshay, Earl of
Baker, Sir Randoil L. (Dorset, N.) Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M. (Bootle)
Balcarres, Lord Hickman, Colonel Thomas E. Seddon, James A.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Horne, William E. (Surrey, Guildford) Stewart, Gershom (Ches, Wirral)
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven) Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)
Bridgeman, William Clive Kirkwood, John H. M. Thorne, William (West Ham)
Butcher, S. H. (Cambridge University) Llewelyn, Venables Tryon, Capt. George Clement
Calley, Col. Thomas C. P. Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Walsh, Stephen
Carlile, Edward Hildred Mackinder, Halford J Williams, Aneurin (Plymouth)
Cawley, H. T. (Lanes., Heywood) Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Newman, John R. P. Wood. John (Stalybridge)
Craik, Sir Henry Nield, Herbert Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)
Croft, Henry Page Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Falle, Bertram Godfray Perkins, Walter Frank TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord
Fletcher, John Samuel Peto, Basil Edward Hugh Cecil and Marquess of
Gilmour, Captain John Quitter, William Eley C. Tullibardine,

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.