§ (1) All officers and constables of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and of the Royal Irish Constabulary who are serving on the day of transfer shall after that day continue to serve on the same terms and conditions as theretofore, and shall be liable to perform the same duties as theretofore, and while performing those duties shall not receive less pay than they would have received if this Act had not passed.
§ (2) Any existing enactments relating to the pay or pensions of officers and constables of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and Royal Irish Constabulary shall continue to apply after the transfer to any officer and constable serving on the day of transfer with the substitution of the Lord Lieutenant for the Treasury and for the Chief Commissioner or Inspector-General as the case requires.
§ (3) The provisions as to compensation contained in the Fourth Schedule to this Act shall apply with respect to the officers and constables of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and of the Royal Irish Constabulary who are serving on the day of transfer.
§ (4) Any pensions and other allowances and gratuities which may become payable to officers and constables of the Dublin Metropolitan Police after the passing of this Act or to officers and constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary after the date of trasfer (being in either case officers and 285 constables who are serving on the day of transfer) under the existing enactments applicable to them, and any compensation payable to any of those persons under the provisions of this Act, shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Parliament of the United Kingdom but any sums so paid shall be made good by means of deductions from the Transferred Sum under this Act in accordance with regulations made by the Treasury.
§ (5) The Pensions Commutation Acts, 1871 to 1882, shall apply to any member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or Royal Irish Constabulary to whom an allowance is granted in pursuance of the provisions of this Section in like manner as if he had retired from the permanent Civil Service of the Crown on the abolition of his office, and any terminable annuity payable in respect of the commutation of an allowance shall be payable out of the same funds as the allowance.
§ (6) In this Section and in the Fourth Schedule to this Act the expression "day of transfer" in relation to the Dublin Metropolitan Police means the appointed day, and in relation to the Royal Irish Constabulary means the day on which the control and management of that force are transferred to the Irish Government.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
I beg to propose, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "performing those duties," and to insert instead thereof the words "so serving."
This Amendment is being made in consequence of representations made to me by committees representative of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police. It and the other Amendments which I have put down, are concessions which I have been very glad to be able to make to the members of these forces. With regard to this Amendment it has been represented to me that the words "performing those duties" might be confined, and would not take into consideration possible small alterations that may be made in the duties, and that the members of the forces would prefer the words "so serving" to be substituted. It is only a drafting Amendment, but it makes it perfectly clear that their rights should be secured to them while they are so serving, whatever that service may be, and not merely performing duties which they are at present performing. I commend the Amendment to the Committee as it meets their views, and they think it secures their interests.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I do not in the least object to either of these Amendments, which, I understand, have been arrived at after consultation between the right hon. Gentleman and the representatives of the two bodies of police affected; but I wish to point out that there have been considerable negotiations since the Bill was introduced with these two bodies outside of the House of Commons, and the House of Commons, as a whole, has no cognisance of these negotiations, which are, quite properly, confined to the Government and the parties interested; and, in view of that fact, it is only proper that the right hon. Gentleman should take an opportunity, which will arise when we come to the question that the Clause stand part, of making a statement as to how the matter stands.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I beg to propose to leave out the word "pay," and to insert instead thereof the word "salaries."
This Amendment follows the corresponding Amendment made yesterday in dealing with the Civil servants. The word "salaries" is a better word than the word "pay," because it is defined in such a way as to include, not merely the actual salary, but also increments and additions which they are very anxious to secure for themselves.
§ Mr. REMNANT
Is it in order to ask the right hon. Gentleman to make the general statement now on this Clause, because it is a matter in which the whole House is deeply interested?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I propose to allow it on the Question that the Clause stand part. I cannot allow it on a detailed Amendment.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell me whether the definition of salaries is wide enough to cover allowances which are made in addition to ordinary pay?
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I beg to move to insert the following new Sub-section:—(3) Where any such officer or constable, being qualified under the enactments aforesaid to retire on pension for length of service on or before the day of 287 transfer, continues to serve after that day he shall, on retiring at any subsequent time, be entitled to receive a pension not less in amount than that to which he would have been entitled if he had retired on that day, and his right to receive such pension shall not, while he continues to serve be liable to forfeiture, except in cases in which a pension when granted is liable to forfeiture under those enactments.We are dealing now with officers who have already acquired certain rights to a pension but continue, as we hope many of them will continue, to serve under the new régime. The Committee will remember that six years is the period before transfers in the case of the Royal Irish Constabulary, but still the question will arise at the end of that period. An officer who has earned his pension will continue to serve under the new Parliament, and it was thought that under the new masters some new conditions might arise. The Force looked at the matter from a most reasonable point of view, and they did not like to think that by remaining on they might sacrifice, by incurring the censure of their new masters, rights which they had already acquired. They put that before me with great earnestness, and I thought that they ought to have that pension secured to them, except, of course, in cases of gross mis-behaviour which are specified, when they are guilty of a criminal offence; and the object of this Amendment is to secure that nobody who has already acquired a right to a pension and remains on can have the amount of that pension interfered with or his position made worse with regard to it by the fact that he has continued to serve unless he has been guilty of the offences specified.
§ Sir E. CARSON
In the event of an officer remaining on and taking duty under the new régime, with whom is the decision of the forfeiture of his rights for committing certain offences to rest? This is a matter which makes a very great difference.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The cases specified in the enactment are of such a very clear character that there could not be any doubt as to whether or not a person had incurred those penalties. They are three in number, and all of them are matters about which there could not be any possibility of dispute as to whether a constable had or had not incurred a forfeiture of his 288 pension under existing enactments. I do not think indeed there is any case to adjudicate upon, because the enactments already are so specific in their terms. As the Clause stands, no provision is made on the point mentioned, and undoubtedly the decision will rest with the Irish Government.
§ Mr. REMNANT
It has been stated that negotiations were going on in reference to the rights claimed by the men serving at the present time, and——
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
Can the Chief Secretary tell us what are the three offences for which he says men may be dismissed?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
When a pensioner commits an indictable offence or associates with criminals—it is part of his business to associate with criminals, but what is meant is associating with them for criminal purposes—or is guilty of illegal or disgraceful conduct. It is unreasonable to suppose that there can be any doubt as to a cause of forfeiture of this kind should it arise. Forfeiture is for an indictable offence, or association with criminals for criminal purposes, or illegal or disgraceful conduct, and I really do not think that there is any possibility of a difference of opinion as to these conditions.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and I will tell him why. As I understand the pension would have been earned under the Imperial Government by the officers or constables serving all the time under the Imperial Government. Therefore, what would have accrued to them is the right to receive that-pension under the Imperial Government, and subject to their jurisdiction. If you are preserving to them that right, as an encouragement to their going into the new force, they ought not to forfeit it without, having adjudication on the matter made by those who grant the pension, from whom they earn the pension, and by loyalty to whom their pension has accrued. I should have thought it was perfectly clear that the Irish Executive ought to have nothing whatsoever to say in regard to it. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there is no difficulty. There may be a great deal of doubt and difficulty as to what may be illegal and disgraceful conduct. We all know very well that that is a very moot subject. I should have thought that if a man had earned his pension under the Imperial 289 Government the decision as to forfeiture ought to be the decision of the Imperial Government.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
The police force apparently have been very careful in this matter, and I am very glad indeed that the Government have seen their way to put this Amendment on the Paper. For my part I entirely welcome the official protection which they give to a very admirable force, to which so many of us are so much indebted. They are probably the most respectable body of men in the country; they are always civil, obliging, and good natured, and certainly anything the Government does, within reason, to reasside them, will, I think, be cordially supported in every part of the House, I only rise for the purpose of asking whether these Amendments, as now drawn, embody the reasonable, I do not say the full, requirements which have been put forward on behalf of this force. I do not think anyone would object to reasonable provision being made. Most of these men are in sympathy with us; they are nearly all Catholics, and nearly all Nationalists, and certainly it would lie very badly in our mouths to do anything in any way to distress or alarm a force of this nature. I do not think for a moment there is any ground for the apprehension which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College has just expressed—none whatever. The committee which was formed by the police themselves, I understand, has been in touch with the right hon. Gentleman, and apparently that committee are reasonably satisfied with the Amendments now proposed.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have not been asked by the committee the question put to me by the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson). The committee who were constituted put forward their arguments and claims, and I think in almost every particular their requests have been gratified, and all their points, in substance, have been completely met. This is a new point which has been made, and it was not suggested to me at all on behalf of the police. I cannot help thinking that the statutory provisions which are to be found in the Royal Irish Constabulary Act of 1874 makes quite clear the position in regard to the forfeiture of pension. Subsection (4) of 37 and 38 Victoria, Cap 80,says:—(4) Such pension shall be granted only upon the condition that it becomes forfeited, and may be withdrawn by the 290 Lord Lieutenant, in any of the following cases:—I cannot help thinking that if any member of the force does really entertain a conviction of the impossibility of his receiving fair and rational treatment under these provisions of the Act of Parliament, he had much better avail himself of the ample provision made in this Bill, and retire on the payment of compensation to which those provisions would entitle him. I do not think the Irish Government or any Irish Government would like to have in their service those who did not wish to serve them as new masters; that is really why we are providing that they may voluntarily retire with compensation. Of course, in ordinary circumstances, compensation is not given in the case of voluntary retirement. I cannot help thinking that if a member of the constabulary force has the suspicion that the pension might be taken away from him improperly, he had much better avail himself of the provisions of this Bill.
- 1. On conviction of the grantee for any indictable offence;
- 2. On his knowingly associating with suspected persons, thieves, or other offenders;
- 3. On his refusing to give information and assistance to the police whenever in his power for the detection and apprehension of criminals, and for the suppression of any disturbance of the public peace;
- 4. If it shall be discovered that the pension or retiring allowance of such person was granted upon statements or pretences which were to his knowledge false, or if he enter into or continue to carry on any business, occupation, or employment which shall be in the opinion of the Lord Lieutenant disgraceful or injurious to the public, or in which he shall make use of the fact of his former employment in the constabulary force in a manner which the Lord Lieutenant considers to be discreditable and improper."
§ Mr. CHARLES CRAIG
I beg to move to leave out the words at the end of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, "except in cases in which exemption when granted is liable to forfeiture under those enactments."
I am sorry to say that I cannot see eye to eye with the Chief Secretary in the view he takes of the comments on this Clause 291 made my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Carson). It was a perfectly reasonable question which he asked. At a certain moment the Irish constabulary are to be handed over to the Irish Government by the Imperial Government, and they are to have, so to speak, a clean slate from that moment. Anything they have earned as members of the Royal Irish Constabulary should go to them absolutely. Anything may happen when you have got a new set of circumstances, when the masters are new, and the whole situation is different from what it is now; and as to anything that may happen after the time of the transfer of the force let the Irish Government deal with it, if it can. All sorts of difficulties may arise; there may be friction or differences of opinion between the new Government and the Royal Irish Constabulary when a Home Rule Parliament is set up. I do not think that it is at all probable, in many cases, that this Amendment would ever come into operation, still cases might arise, and it is only fair to the members of the force that any pension, wages, or emoluments they have earned under their present masters should be assured to them absolutely, without any possibility of their being taken away under the provisions of the Rill. I think the Committee will agree, after what has fallen from my right hon. Friend the Member for Trinity College, that it is really a very reasonable thing that these men, having earned fairly and squarely their pension under the Imperial Government, should be absolutely certain that they are going to get that pension, and that there shall not be constantly hanging over their heads some new conditions which they could not possibly foresee, even after two or three years tinder their new masters, and which would deprive them of the pension which they had fairly earned while serving for a long number of years under their present masters.
§ Captain CRAIG
I support the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and I think the Chief Secretary will see how reasonable it is that if the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary have served the Imperial Government faithfully for many, long years, and have earned their pension without any flaw on their character, and without having contravened any rules or regulations laid down by the authorities, at all events up to the appointed day of transfer after six years, from Imperial control to 292 the control of the Nationalist Parliament in Dublin, they ought to be protected, as far as their prospects of pension are concerned, and should not be deprived of what they have earned under the Imperial Government. This would leave a free hand to the new rulers to consider any increase or decrease of pensions whilst serving under the Nationalist Parliament. It is just possible that advantages might be taken by those who would have the control of the constabulary in the future of the rather loose wording of the rules which have been read to the Committee by the Chief Secretary. I do not think any Member of the Committee would like to define what is meant by "illegal or disgraceful conduct" as applied to anybody in the public service. What might appear disgraceful to some persons possibly might be overlooked by others, and loosely framed rules of this sort contain a real danger which it is impossible for this Committee to overlook. I cannot possibly conceive the Chief Secretary taking up the attitude and saying, first of all, that this new authority would never dream of using a technicality to penalise the police force in any way, and, secondly, saying that if any members of the Royal Irish Constabulary had fears in regard to their pension under their new masters, all they had to do was to retire with the compensation provided under the Bill. I think that is dangerous advice to give. I do not think it is at all fair. The Royal Irish Constabulary have a most delicate and difficult task to perform, and that delicate and difficult task, it is admitted by all parties in the House, they have carried out with unflinching and full loyalty all through their long record. Now, says the right hon. Gentleman, if you have any fears, you good men and you best men, then you had better retire in spite of your long service. The very men whom the Chief Secretary has addressed his remarks are the very men whom it is most desirable to retain as long as possible in the force. Surely, in starting this new class of government proposed by the Chief Secretary, those men who will have had all the experience necessary are the very men whom the Chief Secretary and everybody else should wish to retain as long as possible, rather than run any risks of putting them away. If those men take the Chief Secretary's advice, nothing will be more dangerous than to have a force deprived of its best and most experienced men at such a critical period in the history of Ireland.
293 I would hardly be in order in picturing the duties those men would have to perform, but everybody who knows Ireland knows that you would require men of long standing who have faced critical periods in Ireland before, and who did their duty in the counties and districts in a way which hitherto on many occasions has reflected nothing but the highest credit upon that magnificent force. I think it would be a very grievous mistake indeed if, acting on the rather loosely worded threat, if I may call it so, of the Chief Secretary, those men were to clear out rather than run any risks, if that is really to be taken as the message to those long trusted officers and men of the force, to go about their business. I think that would be very damaging to the force, and very alarming to those who have the peace and quietude of Ireland really at heart. On those grounds, and for many more which I need not enlarge upon, I think the Amendment to the Amendment is one that ought to appeal to the sense of justice of every Member of the Committee. After all, it means very little so far as £ s. d. is concerned, unless it is intended to work this Clause unfairly in the future. If it is intended to do so, the Committee have the opportunity by accepting the Amendment of stopping immediately any unfair action on the part of the authorities. On the other hand, if the Clause works in the ordinary way, as the Chief Secretary has expressed the hope that it will, then, of course, it will not cost this country or Ireland one penny-piece more. It simply means that it will be still possible to hope that the same treatment will be accorded to the constabulary in the future as in the past. Again, and this is an important point, many men in the force have the right to retire on pensions when they are really in the very prime of life. Those of us who know these men recognise at once that the whole value of the district inspector or county inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary is the experience that he has actually gained in the districts to which he has been allotted. Therefore, looking at the matter from that point of view, I think that the Amendment of my hon. Friend should commend itself to every quarter of the House, and at all events I shall certainly support it.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
This proposal, as I understand it, is that the new Irish Executive shall be deprived of the power which the present authority have. In other words, it is a proposal that if a policeman 294 turns out to be a known consorter of thieves, a common reprobate and ruffian, and a man who has been guilty of infamous conduct, that the Irish authority is not to have the same power as is now vested in the English authorities. Thereby you not only deprive them of power which it is necessary and reasonable they should have, but you convey the most ingenious form of insult against the new authority you set up, because, if this Amendment were accepted, you could say this: "Oh, what did the British Government and the Liberal party themselves think of the new Home Rule Government? Why, they would not entrust them with the question of withholding a pension from a known blackguard!" In other words, they would not give them the ordinary jurisdiction that is exercised in every Government Department in every country in the wide world. And that is the class of Amendment which hon. Gentlemen, in the supposed interests of the police, desire that this House should pass. The very existence of such a power in the hands of the Government is the very best safeguard for the police themselves, for its esprit de corps, for its good conduct, and for the knowledge that every man who conducts himself will be fairly and honourably treated.
§ Mr. BRADY
I think I shall be giving expression to the feelings of most persons in this House, save hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway, and certainly of those who sit on these benches when I express regret that this Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has been opposed. We certainly thought from the remarks——
§ Mr. BRADY
Or rather I should say that an Amendment should have been moved to the Amendment by hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. We are the more surprised because, when the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson) spoke earlier in the Debate, he gave us to understand that he and his friends were going to accept all these Amendments which were introduced at the instance, as I am credibly informed, of both the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary. It happens to be within my personal knowledge that a committee of both of those forces was set up to consider the position of the men under this Bill, and that that committee had the great advantage of being advised throughout by one of the 295 most eminent members of the Irish Bar, and who is indeed also an eminent member of the English Parliamentary Bar and a Unionist. I certainly learnt with a great deal of surprise, if indeed it be the fact, that the men either of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or of the Royal Irish Constabulary are anxious that the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman should be moved at all. Be that as it may, I desire very briefly to indicate the attitude which the party with which I sit and vote regard these Amendments. We are anxious that every possible safeguard should be given to every officer, whether he be policeman or High Court judge under the new Irish Parliament—(An HON. MEMBER: "Or sub-sheriff"]—or sub-sheriff, certainly. What was said by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) yesterday, speaking in reference to the large and important class of Civil servants in Ireland, is quite as true regarding the class with which we are dealing under these proposed Amendments to-day. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford said yesterday:The success of the working of the new Irish Government and the new Irish Parliament will depend almost entirely on those who are responsible for the government of the country, having at their back an efficient, contented, loyal Civil Service.I venture to suggest that the Government of the country will, to almost as great an extent, if not indeed to a greater extent, depend on the loyal co-operation of the forces of the Royal Irish Constabulary and of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. A Government will be set up, as we all hope and believe at an early date in Dublin, and there in the Metropolis of Ireland will be the Executive Government carrying out, of course, the functions and duties of the Government. What more natural and more necessary than that they should have the support and goodwill of the police of all classes. Therefore I think that to move an Amendment such as that we are now considering is not alone to insult those of us who sit on these benches, but to insult the police themselves, because, after all, if those forces are quite satisfied with the Amendments which have been drafted, as the result, I am informed, of long and patient and courteous consideration on both sides, then I say hon. Gentlemen have no right to come in here and move Amendments without the authority of those who are concerned. Of course I should not say they have not got the right, but I take leave to say that it would be desirable before they move such Amend- 296 ments that they would ascertain the wishes of those who will be principally affected by them. If I may, I would like to say one word from the standpoint of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The relations, as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) has pointed out, which have always existed between the citizens of Dublin and the Dublin Metropolitan Police have been of the most cordial character——
§ Sir E. CARSON
I cannot at all accept the proposition put forward by the hon. Gentleman, that we have no right here, because the Government settle something outside the house with certain classes of people, to investigate the matter If I were to do that I might begin by making a speech to show what gross distrust the constabulary have in the new Irish Government. Of course, questions will arise that may not have been considered, and when these parties were engaged with the Chief Secretary I think it is very unlikely that this point did occur.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I think that is very likely, but I was just going to say that I consider the Amendment of my hon. Friend is open to the objection that we always grant pensions, as I understand the matter, on the condition that a man should behave himself in the future, and if he is convicted of some disgraceful matter, some indictable offence, then the law does not, as far as I remember the pension Sections here or even in Indian pensions, provide that the pensions should be continued when he has turned out badly. Therefore, I myself would ask my hon. Friend not to go on with this Amendment, because I think there, ought to be power in some body to regulate the pension in the future if a man misbehaves himself, or, at any rate, to adjudicate upon the matter. I suggest, however, that as the pension is granted by the Imperial Government, it ought to be the Imperial Government that regulates it.
§ Mr. C. CRAIG
In deference to my right hon. Friend I will withdraw the Amendment. But I still think it is unsatisfactory that this right should be left to the Irish Government. If it is left at all, it 297 should be left to the people who are granting the pension at the present time.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
As I read the Bill, the Government are taking different courses for what are practically the same kind of cases. There may be two officers each entitled to retire on pension on the day that the police force to which they belong is transferred to the new authority. One of them exercises the option and retires; the other continues to serve. It is the desire of the Government to guarantee to both the pensions that they have earned up to that time, subject to the condition that they shall be forfeited in the ease of gross misconduct on the part of the officer. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman make the same authority the judge of the misconduct in both cases? In both cases the pension is earned while the force is under the Imperial Authority. In both cases the pension is granted by the direction of the Imperial Parliament. Yet, as I read Sub-section (2), if a man retires on the day the force is transferred, the judge of the misconduct will be the old Imperial Authority; while if he does not retire, it will be the new Dublin Executive. I can quite understand that if the pension is earned under the new authority, the new authority should be the judge; but if you think it right, as you do, to guarantee the pension earned up to the date of the transfer under the Imperial Authority, is not my right hon. Friend's contention absolutely indefeasible that the Imperial Authority should be the judge of whether or not the pension is forfeited? Is it not shown to he the right course by the action which the Government have taken in Sub-section (2), which makes the Imperial authority the judge in the case of a man who retires on the appointed day, though not in the case of a man, whose pension up to the appointed day is at stake, who serves after the appointed day.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
It might be better that the question should be decided by the Treasury, but the right hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact that the officer who goes on has to that extent altered his contract, and has gone on under a new service. I think the observations of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) are unanswerable on that point. If you have an officer continuing to serve under the new Irish Government, having earned a pension 298 under the old Government, and having had his right to that pension secured to him, so that he is not to lose the benefit of his past services under the old Government, except by reason of any misconduct which would have deprived him of it before, to say that his new employers are to have no voice in that matter would put him into a position outside the discipline of the force, which, I think, would be unreasonable. I think that the Amendment does go beyond the necessities of the case.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I confess that I had some difficulty in regard to the matter, but I, personally, thought that I was meeting them quite fairly and fully on the point. They put the case that they had earned the pension, and whatever happened they ought to continue to enjoy it. That was a view they were quite entitled to put. They do not get their pensions very readily; they have to serve a long period, and twenty-five years of good conduct might be a justification for a little excess after the period was over. But I quite thought I was meeting them fairly and fully in the matter. To suggest that whilst remaining in the service, continuing to draw the full emoluments of that service, and hoping to rise to the highest ranks in it, they should be able to say, "You are only my masters to a certain extent, and if you choose to say anything about me I shall appeal to an outside authority," would be, I think, to interfere with the discipline of the force.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
As I understand, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) wishes to deprive the new Irish Government of the right of determining whether or not under the provisions of this Amendment an officer has committed such an offence as to destroy his right to a pension. I think that that would deprive these officers' employers, whose service they have freely entered, of a right of discipline of which I do not think they ought to be deprived. It is not a kind of case that is at all likely to arise. As the hon. Member for Cork has said, the cases contemplated by the Act are gross cases; and nobody who knows anything about Irish administration would assume, unless the character of Irishmen changes altogether under Home Rule, that they are 299 going harshly, tyrannically, and by excesses of interpretation, to say that a man has disgraced himself and lost his right to a pension which he had acquired by twenty-five or thirty years' service because of some mere peccadillo instead of a gross and serious offence such as the language of the Act clearly indicates. I am sorry that one hon. Member should have thought fit to say that I used a threat to the men who had earned their pensions by saying, "Oh, you had better clear out at once." I never contemplated any of them clearing out unless they had already had enough of the service in their twenty-five years, and saw an opportunity of doing better for themselves elsewhere. There is really no difficulty to be anticipated in that way. While I should be very glad, if I could see my way to do so, to give these excellent officers an appeal—I do not know to whom, whether to an Irish Court, or to the English Treasury—I really feel that to do that would be to inflict an injustice upon the Irish service, and to interfere with the discipline of the force.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not think that we need argue this matter—indeed, it has not been so argued—in any heated spirit. The whole object of the Government in moving the Amendment is to give full and complete confidence to the Irish Constabulary. The members of the force very naturally desire to have a complete and indefeasible title to their pensions. The right hon. Gentleman did not see his way to grant that; he considered that they were sufficiently protected by the Amendment in the form in which he has moved it. But he did not make it clear to us whether the point raised by my right hon. and learned Friend was in the mind of the Committee or in the minds of the representatives of the Dublin Police or of the Royal Irish Constabulary when they came before him. I rather inferred from what he said that the point put by my right hon. Friend was a now one to him, and probably therefore a new one to the constabulary. If the Government desire, and it is most proper that they should, to give complete confidence to the Irish Constabulary, I think they ought to give a little more consideration to this admittedly new point. I, personally, do not in the least contemplate that there will be a regular general vendetta against the Irish Constabulary after they have been handed over. But while I do not think that under 300 any circumstances it will work out in that way, I think it is possible that individual members of the force here and there may say that for some reason or another they have incurred or think they have incurred—it may be a delusion—the ill-will of some very powerful gentleman holding high office in the new Irish Government. They may have lived through periods of stress and conflict, and have come into direct collision with very important persons in the new Irish Parliament. It may make all the difference to them as to whether they stay on or not if they think that, at all events, what they have earned under the British Government is absolutely secured to them unless the Imperial Government decides that they have forfeited it by disgraceful conduct. Why should you not give that security? It is no reflection on the new Irish Government or on the Irish Constabulary. It does not suggest that the new Irish Government are going to behave in any peculiarly treacherous or cruel manner towards the force. It is a means of giving confidence to gentlemen whose pensions the Chief Secretary desires should be on a secure basis, and I cannot see any difficulty in carrying that out.
May I say why I do not see any difficulty? Apparently the person who is to decide whether or not a pension should be withdrawn is the Lord Lieutenant. It is the Lord Lieutenant during the first six years; it is probably the Lord Lieutenant after the six years unless there is some statutory change. During the first six years the Lord Lieutenant will act on the advice of British Ministers. After the six years he will act on the advice of the Irish Executive. All the right hon. Gentleman has to do is to put in some provision that when a pension earned under the old system comes under consideration the Lord Lieutenant shall act in that case, and in that case alone, on the advice of the British Ministers. That seems to me to be the whole question. I think it is an extraordinary thing to say, as the right hon. Gentleman did say, that the discipline of the force would be affected by the change desired by my right hon. Friend. Surely the Irish Government have complete power to dismiss the man. He cannot take the pension until he has loft the force! All that is suggested is the absolutely logical proposition that the power which grants the pension should be the power to decide whether it shall be forfeited. That is an 301 absolutely logical conclusion, which reflects, not upon the Irish Government, not upon the constabulary, not upon the British Government. All that is asked is that the right hon. Gentleman will consent to say that the Lord Lieutenant, after six years, being called upon to adjudicate as to whether or not a constable has forfeited, shall act on the advice of the Imperial authorities.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
In this country Irishmen are sitting on the watch committees of many boroughs. It is proposed to deny, not merely the Irish in Dublin, but the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, under the Home Rule Government, the power which a humble Irishman, as alderman or town councillor, enjoys in the cities and towns of England—namely, to decide whether a policeman has consorted with known thieves or not.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The right hon. Gentleman is always very persuasive, and I certainly am anxious to do all I can for the police. I would very willingly accede to his view if I reasonably could, but I am very much obsessed by the nature of the question that may have to be adjudicated upon. It is not a nice question, not a question affecting the personal opinion of those adjudicating as to whether they like a particular officer or not, whether he consorts not with thieves, but Unionists, or anything of that sort. It is not the kind of question at all. It is exactly the kind of question which the hon. Gentleman suggested; it is really a question of villainous behaviour. To suggest that the Irish Government is not competent, that the Lord Lieutenant responsible to the Irish Government is not just as likely to do his duty in that matter as if he were a Lord Lieutenant responsible to this House, is a little outrageous. Therefore I do not think that it is a real grievance of the police at all. It is a question capable of being p\it with force and ingenuity by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it does not affect my mind as one likely to affect the position of the police at all. The constable lives on in the Irish service after twenty-five years of the British connection. I do not think for a moment that he, having elected to serve with the new Irish Government, is the sort of man at all who need be under any apprehension that the Lord Lieutenant or the Irish Government will unjustly, in the very rare cases that may possibly arise, find that he has been guilty of an indictable 302 offence if he has not been found guilty that he knowingly associated with villainous characters when that is not so, or, if it is not the case, that he has been guilty of a disgraceful and scandalous offence calculated to bring Ireland and the Irish police service into disrepute. In such an extreme case, if we were to deprive the Irish Government and the Lord Lieutenant of their responsibility, I really think it would be an imputation upon them. If I gave way in this case it would really be very difficult for me to resist similar appeals in the case of other members of both forces and other Civil servants who have to trust to the justice of the Government of the country. Therefore, although I am most anxious to meet a real case made by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in this case I am bound to stick to the Amendment.
§ Mr. BARRIE
I exceedingly regret the decision of the Chief Secretary. We, I am sorry to say, who sit on these benches are not quite so hopeful as to the future of the Irish Parliament as the right hon. Gentleman so repeatedly tells the House he is. I presume he has put down this Amendment with a view to encouraging members of the Royal Irish Constabulary to remain under the Irish Parliament. I think we may lake it now that the resignations in the Royal Irish Constabulary will be very much more numerous than at present thought. We cannot share the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman, so often expressed by him from the opposite bench. As has already been said, where we lack confidence is in the administration of the future more than legislation. We have no faith whatever in those who have authority to deal with the record of the police in the unfortunate position mentioned. The constable who may have a clean record for twenty years under the Imperial Government when he enters the Irish service may forfeit his pension because some new tribunal set up by the Irish Parliament will be able to say that he has forfeited it by some sudden act, some sudden misfortune, some sudden lapse from what they conceive to be his duty. He is to forfeit the fruits of over twenty years' service; that is the net effect of the refusal to make this concession. I can only regret it, and say I believe sincerely that it will cause the number of resignations from this force to be much greater than even the figure that we have had suggested so repeatedly outside the House.
§ Mr. REMNANT
I cannot help feeling that if we had had the statement at the commencement of these proceedings which we understand we are to have from the Chief Secretary when the question of the Clause standing part is discussed, we should have been helped considerably in the decision which we are likely to come to on this Amendment. If these men had, been granted the right which they claim to retire during the six years, then if they had continued, they would have had their eyes opened to the new conditions of the future under which they were serving. No one wishes to be thought to offer insults to the representatives of Ireland. Some think, however, that any criticism of this Clause is necessarily an insult to them. But I know, as a fact, that there is a great feeling of uneasiness amongst the members of this force in Ireland as to the way in which they are likely to be treated at the end of the six years. One suspicion seems to be well founded, judging from what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford has said. That suspicion is that any pretext will be seized upon to reduce the force and the cost of the force in Ireland.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid we are getting rather away from the particular question of the Amendment.
§ Mr. REMNANT
With all respect, Mr. Whitley, I do not know how we are to discuss this Amendment unless we touch on the question which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford has given expression to of his intention to reduce the force. This is a question of pensions. Surely that will come under the head of future economies, if future economies are sought for by the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his party. I was merely going to say as to what these men have to go on. I am sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman has not thought fit to take part in this discussion, and tell us from his point of view what he intends to do in the future. All we have from him is the statement he made at the commencement of this year that any economies they can make they will make—for the benefit of Ireland—out of the fund which will be handed over to Ireland. The majority will have to administer the police force in Ireland. It is not a question of insulting either him or his party. What we are anxious to do is to attend to the simple matter that where these pensions have been paid by the Imperial Authority that 304 they in future shall be forfeited or not by the word of the same authority that pays them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, even at this hour, will see his way to accept the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London that this should be done. By this you will allay the great feeling of suspicion on the part of the deserving body of men who represent the Royal Irish Constabulary.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I beg to move, in Subsection (4), to leave out the words "passing of this Act" ["Dublin Metropolitan Police after the passing of this Act"], and insert instead thereof the words "appointed day."
§ Mr. CASSEL
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman as to this matter, for it seems to me that the Clause in the Bill which deals with existing Irish officers sometimes has the words "passing of this Act" and sometimes "appointed day," without any rhyme or reason. I do not think it matters very much which you put in, but you ought to be consistent. You are dealing in this Clause with three sets of officers. You are dealing with established officers and judges; you are dealing with unestablished officers; and you are dealing with the police. With reference to the words "passing of this Act" and "appointed day," the interval between these two periods must be eight months, and it may be fifteen months if the Order in Council extends the period. With reference to the pensions, all these people have the same period; not one period in the case of one set of officers and a different period in the case of another set of officers. If the right hon. Gentleman will turn to Clause 32 he will see that this deals with established officers. I have looked at the OFFICIAL REPORT to see that nothing was done under the guillotine of which I am not aware, and have satisfied myself that the words "after the passing of this Act" were left in. What is the result of that?
The position is this. With regard to the established officers, their pensions become chargeable on the Transferred Sum as from the moment of the passing of the Act. For the eight months or fifteen months which may intervene between the passing of the Act and the "appointed day" the pensions and salaries of the 305 judges and of the established officers are chargeable on the Transferred Sum. That is intelligent. Now we come to the other sets of officers. An entirely different procedure obtains with regard to unestablished officers. Their pensions become chargeable to the Transferred Sum, not as from the passing of the Act, but as from the "appointed day." As between those periods, as I have said, there must be a difference of eight months, and there may be a difference of fifteen months. I do not know whether I make my point clear, but why should the pensions and salaries of judges and established officers be deductible from the Transferred Sum during the eight or fifteen months which intervene between the passing of the Act and the "appointed day," when the pensions both of unestablished officers and of the police of the Royal Irish Constabulary and of the Dublin police are only deductible as from the appointed day? I merely raise the point because for the moment I see no reason for the distinction. I invite the right hon. Gentleman to explain the reason why in some instances the words are retained "after the passing of the Act" and in the case of others the words are "appointed day." I think I am right that there is no change in the case of Section 32. In the case of the other Section, I have not verified it, but I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that he has made this change. Under these circumstances, and as these Clauses are, I think they are entirely illogical and unintelligible.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have quite followed the lion, and learned Gentleman, and I will consider his point. My information is this, that when the status of officers is referred to the words "passing of the Act" are used, not when we are going to do something by way of payment. This Clause reads:—Any pensions and other allowances and gratuities which may become payable to officers and constables. … and any compensation payable to those persons under the provisions of this Act shall be paid," etc.There it is "the appointed day," but where we refer to status we use the words "on the passing of the Act." When we come to the question of payment, we prefer, as I said yesterday, the expression "appointed day," which is obviously a later date than the passing of the Act. It is the day when something happens, which 306 is referred to as the "appointed day," that should be fixed as the day for the payment of pensions. I have taken a note of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, and if it be that we have such powers under Clause 32, and have done something that is inconsistent with the rule just laid down, I will consider it.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The point I wanted to put is this. With regard to the charge and the Transferred Sum, if the right hon. Gentleman will look at Clause 31, Sub-section (1), he will find in that case as from "the passing of the Act" salaries, pensions of all appointed officers become deductable from the Transferred Sum and if he will look at Clause 35 I think he will find he altered that under the guillotine to "appointed day." Now in that case the pensions and so on only become chargeable as from the appointed day which may be fifteen months later. I submit that these forms cannot both be right. It cannot be right to have in one case "from the appointed day" and in the other "from the passing of the Act." There must be a period of eight months, it may be fifteen months which would mean quite an appreciable sum. So far as that point is concerned, I think the right hon. Gentleman, when he sees my point, will find that the Bill as drawn is wrong. With reference to the further point, I cannot see any reason for altering the words as to the status of people at one time and then altering the way they are to receive their salaries at another. It seems to me hardly intelligible, and it seems to be without rhyme or reason. I think the right hon. Gentleman has given some reason in one case but not in the other. I venture to say, from a financial point of view, this may be a substantial matter as to what falls upon the Transferred Sum and upon what is borne by the revenue of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am not quite sure whether in Clause 32 we ought to have the words "passing of the Act" or "appointed day." I am advised there is some doubt about that, but I will look into it and I am very much obliged to the hon. and learned Member for reminding me of it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I ask whether transferring the payment of these pensions to the appointed day adds any further liability to the English taxpayers?
§ Question, "That the words 'passing of this Act' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Question, "That the words 'appointed day' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I think I had now better make a statement corresponding very much to the one which I made yesterday with regard to the condition of Civil servants under the Bill as amended. I now assume that the Amendments, all of which are in the nature of concessions will receive the sanction of the Committee, and I will therefore in the observations which I am about to make proceed on the assumption that the Bill is amended in the manner which is proposed. The objects are exactly the same in regard to the police—the Royal Irish Constabulary who will not be transferred for six years and the Dublin Metropolitan Police who will be transferred at once—as with regard to the Civil servants. We want to offer every inducement to the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Metropolitan Police to remain where they are and to secure for those persons who do not wish to undergo the alteration the right to retire on pensions, and therefore we have in the Amendment we have made in the Fourth Schedule secured to the police force as we have already secured in the Third Schedule to Civil servants, the right to retire voluntarily on terms corresponding to the terms of pension. That is the first thing we have done, and the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Remnant) will notice that concession with gratification, he being always interested in the police, whether in this country or in Ireland. We have also sought to secure a continuance of the existing terms of service to the people who elect to remain on. We deprecate any serious change, or, indeed, any serious addition to their duties, that would make their new work distasteful or of a nature that they did not bargain for, or perhaps they were not fit for. The scheme provides for voluntary retirement. Then the assessment of compensation in the case of the police is simpler than it is in the case of Civil servants, because the salaries and retiring pensions of police officers and men are already fixed by Act of Parliament.
The compensation which will now be found in the Fourth Schedule as amended 308 is this: On retirement the officer or constable adds ten years to his actual service if calculated one way, and twelve years if calculated another way. We provide that on voluntary retirement the officer or constable will add five years or six years, as the case may be, instead of ten or twelve. As pensions are at the present moment, a constable is entitled to retire on pension after twenty-five years' service. He enters comparatively young in life, so that after twenty-five years' service he will, owing to his habits of life, usually be a man of good build and good bodily health, and in a condition which will enable him to carry his pension with him into other active services of life. If he joined since 1908 that period is extended to thirty years' service, because it was really found he was retiring too early in life, or at least the Treasury found it so, and the twenty-five years was altered since 1908 to thirty years. That docs not prevent retirement at twenty-five years, but he does not earn what is called his maximum pension until in the case of officers after forty years, and in the case of constables after twenty-eight years. Now these are the points which have been conceded by the Government. First of all, there is the point we already discussed in the Amendment passed, whereby the rights to pension already earned are not to be interfered with except for statutory reasons in the case of grave misconduct. That is the law as it already stands, and anybody who has earned his pension cannot have that pension interfered with because of any trouble in getting on with his new masters unless he is guilty of conduct which exposes him to forfeiture of his pension under the law as it at present stands. We also give the power of voluntary retirement to all officers and constables serving at present. When I come to the Schedule, where the matter is stated at more length, I will read it out.
We have, in addition to the provision about pensions, secured the right of voluntary retirement; and we have also secured, and this is a considerable concession to agree to, a basis of inclement in the case of officers and constables for the period of the added years, just as if they had served for that period. In considering the increment a person is to receive we have assumed and imagine that the person has served the added years and behaved in such manner during those years as to secure to himself certain increments, and 309 therefore in considering his compensation we do not deprive him of the increments which in ordinary circumstances as a good officer he would have earned in these five years. We add the five years, and attribute to those five years all the benefits that would accrue had they actually been served in such a manner as to earn the increments which good officers and constables would earn in that period. These concessions have been pressed upon us, and we have considered what should be the just and reasonable provisions to be made in the case of these services. We cannot take this opportunity of remedying all the grievances which have been pressed upon the Treasury from time to time, and which the Treasury have not seen their way to assent to, nor were we able to give the same conditions for voluntary retirement as for compulsory retirement. It has been contended that they ought to get just as much retiring voluntarily as compulsorily, but that view did not recommend itself to my mind, because there seemed to be a real distinction between the two. I will now ask hon. Members to turn to the Fourth Schedule as it will be amended by me, and in reading it I will leave out unnecessary words. It will read:—Provision as to compensation of members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Force.Any officer or constable who, after the day of transfer, retires voluntarily under the conditions hereinafter defined, or is required to retire for any cause other than misconduct, and is not incapacitated for the performance of his duty by mental or bodily infirmity shall, unless he is qualified for the maximum pension that can be granted to him for length of service only under the enactments aforesaid, be entitled to receive such compensation as may be awarded to him by the Lord Lieutenant in accordance with the rules contained in this Schedule.The conditions of voluntary retirement are: (1) Notice of the intention must be given within one year after the day of transfer. That is to say, we cannot allow this state of voluntary retirement to continue indefinitely, and we therefore think it is fair to say that the notice of the intention to retire ought to be given within a year after the day of transfer. Then they will have had six years as acute and intelligent observers of the conditions of social life in Ireland in which to see how things are going.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
But that does not apply to the Dublin Metropolitan Police, because they have to make up their minds at once.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Of course, I am now speaking of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Both forces get these conditions, one of them after the appointed day and the other after the date of transfer. Notice must be given in the manner prescribed by the Lord Lieutenant. There are two conditions which are important. The retirement must not take place until at least six months after the notice of retirement has been given, and it may be postponed by the Lord Lieutenant if he thinks fit to any later date not being more than three years after the day of transfer. In matters of this sort so vitally affecting this large force and the conditions of order and good government in Ireland, we have to consider the possibility of a considerable disappearance of these men from the force, and that cannot be allowed to happen all at once. Therefore we have provided that the retirement should not take place for at least six months, and may be postponed by the Lord Lieutenant for two years. I do not think that involves a hardship upon these men, because they get their salary and other advantages during that time; but we make this provision in order to guard against the depletion of the force to a greater extent than would be desirable in the interests of the country. The retiring constable has to show, to the satisfaction of the Lord Lieutenant, that he is not incapacitated by mental or bodily infirmity, and he will not be entitled to retire on pension for length of service before the expiration of two years from the day of transfer. I think those conditions secure in a manner satisfactory to the police force the conditions of voluntary retirement. Notice, according to form, has not to take effect certainly for six months, and if the Lord Lieutenant thinks fit, it may be postponed for two years. The constable must not be incapacitated from the performance of his duty by any bodily or mental infirmity, and there is a provision as to retirement on pension and length of service. Now we come to the rules. The first is:—(1) The compensation which may be awarded to officers or constables shall be an annual allowance; and (2) where the officer or constable is required to retire, the allowance shall be calculated in like manner as the pension which the officer or constable would have been entitled to 311 receive under the enactments applicable to him if he had retired voluntarily.There are certain conditions which give them ten to twelve years on the retirement which I first contemplated, and there are certain other subsidiary provisions. I am very glad that we were able to meet the police with regard to voluntary retirement, and I think the conditions are reasonable. With regard to compulsory retirement there never was any question of any kind. The general provisions of these Clauses will, I think, be clear to any hon. Member who chooses to read them. I can only say that the result of my communications with the police have been of the most satisfactory character as to the discipline and good temper of the force. I do not say that they are not interested, and deeply interested, as to what the effect of these proposed alterations may be upon them and their status in the future. They would be unlike any other body of men in receipt of salaries if they were not anxious, and they would have been disappointed if any disciplinary rules had prevented them from stating their case frankly and freely to those responsible. That privilege was granted to them by the Inspector-General, and in the most orderly manner they constituted a committee which made representations in writing, and they also presented their views in interviews.
Although I am not going to say that the Amendments we have put upon the Paper meet every point of view, I can say that they are perfectly satisfied, and if these proposals obtain the cordial support of the House, I think these various Amendments will meet their views to this extent: that if they are passed they will be satisfied members of the force. Each individual will consider his own case when the day of transfer arrives, and they will, I am sure to a very large extent indeed, place their services and their experience at the disposal of the Government to be set up in their native land, where they have gained a very peculiar and intimate acquaintance with the habits and customs of their own people. I approach this question with every feeling of confidence that there will not be, when these provisions become law, any of those angry feelings which unhappily, in other countries, have arisen when there has been a change of master and a change of employment, and necessarily a change to some extent of the habits of their lives. I believe we have avoided difficulties of that 312 kind, and although the financial obligations imposed by these concessions are not inconsiderable, I am very glad indeed that Ireland is only too anxious to secure the goodwill and good temper of a very remarkable body of men. It is not for me to predict the future. I do not know whether an Irish Government in time to come will localise its police in the manner we have done in this country, not always without difficulty, as we have recently had opportunities of witnessing in the case of strikes and the like, where we have an enormous number of police authorities, and where it is not always easy to have exclusive jurisdiction over their own domains. Whether the Irish people will ever fit in with the local police, or whether they will be prepared to retain in future this fine body of men—I do not know whether they are soldiers or policemen——
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman is going rather into a general discussion.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think it was understood that the discussion was to be confined to certain questions such as compensation to the members of the police force and their conditions of service, and it is on those lines that I propose to keep the discussion.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am so accustomed to the exuberance of my own vocabulary being checked that I have no doubt whatever, Mr. Maclean, that you are more or less right. However, I have said all that I want to say, and I wish to plead on behalf of those who follow me that they will not be prevented from approaching the subjects which I have dealt with. The conclusion I was arriving at was that in all probability the genius of the Irish people will probably lead to their retaining for a very long period of time a centralised force. It is, therefore, all the more incumbent upon me, and upon the Government to which I belong, to secure that the terms offered to the existing force should be of such a character as to secure their goodwill. That is the only point I wish to emphasise. No doubt criticism will be directed to points of detail in this scheme, and I hope to be able to satisfy any hon. Member as to the provisions contained in this Schedule as amended by me.
§ Colonel BURN
I put down this Amendment to omit the Clause because, unfortunately, I am not in the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman and I did not know what negotiations had been going on between himself and the constabulary. Many constables look with considerable apprehension on their future under an Irish Home Rule Parliament. They joined the Imperial service knowing full well the conditions of their service, the pensions they were likely to earn, and the duties they would be called upon to perform. Now apparently all that is to be changed. When they entered the service each individual on signing his contract felt the other and high contracting party was the Government of the United Kingdom, and that whatever happened to him, whether his behaviour was as it should be or otherwise, his case would be laid before the fair and impartial court of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. He felt perfectly secure. It is now proposed to entirely change all this. On the respective days of transfer he is to be brought under an entirely new controlling authority with which he has entered into no contract, and with which in all probability he would never have elected voluntarily to serve. I have never heard that it has been contended, and I do not believe even the putative father of this bastard Bill, the right hon. Gentleman himself would contend, the new controlling authority is likely to be biassed or prejudiced in favour of the police. In my opinion, the inference to be drawn is all the other way. There is many a man in the constabulary and in the police who feels very grave apprehensions as to his future under an Irish Parliament, and I think he has very good reasons to fear the future. We have to remember that in the past he has been brought constantly into collision with representatives of the Hibernians, the Sinn Feiners, and the other societies in Ireland. He has had to prevent their meetings being held.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I must ask the hon. and gallant Member to confine himself, as I have already indicated, to the specific point which arises on this Clause and not to discuss the general policy in connection with the police.
§ Colonel BURN
I of course bow to your ruling, but we know and have every reason to anticipate—it has been adumbrated in Debate in this House—that a large number of compulsory retirements may be ordered by the Irish Government and that an 314 enormous number of men who have gone into the police force as a profession and who have no other occupation to fall back upon will be compulsorily retired, and I think, if anyone deserves fair and just treatment, they do. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has made some concessions with regard to the voluntary retirement of constables who may elect to retire, but I think he has only followed the course of the Bill of 1893 and also the Irish Local Government Act under which the old grand jury officials, whose interests were recognised, were allowed to retire voluntarily. There are many reasons for fearing the future of these men may not be very secure. They have been brought into contact with those who will be their new controllers, and it is more than possible the man who has done his work best and who has given himself up entirely to his work may be a marked man and may lose his life vocation. If they are to be retired, then I say give them fair and even generous treatment. Surely the Government does not want to see men who have been loyal and faithful to the Crown thrown on to the scrap heap, there to make the best existence they can for themselves.
There are many anomalies regarding the pensions which want to be cleared up. Members of the Metropolitan Police and also of the Constabulary expected provision would have been made giving to all officers and men the right to voluntary retirement with five years added on similar conditions as officers and constables who may be compulsorily retired. I think that is not the case. I want to put a concrete case before the right hon. Gentleman. Retirement, I understand, is only given to men under twenty-three years' service. A man with twenty-two years and seven months' service on the day of transfer can retire with five years added after the lapse of six months—that is to say, he retires with twenty-eight years on a pension which is thirty-three-fiftieths of his annual salary—whereas a constable who has actually done twenty-three years' service has no option to retire on a pension until he has completed twenty-five years' service, and then he is only entitled to a pension of thirty-fiftieths, or three-fifths of his salary. That seems to me very unjust. The man with more service is not allowed to gain the same pension as the man with considerably less service. Again, a constable with nineteen years and seven months' service can retire after six months on the same 315 pension as a man with twenty-three years' service on the day of transfer would be entitled to receive after compulsorily completing twenty-five years' service. That is a matter which the right hon. Gentleman ought, to consider. I should like the right hon. Gentleman's attention.
§ Colonel BURN
I think it is a point that needs attention. If the right hon. Gentleman considers it, he will see some Amendment must be made in order to secure equity and justice for the policeman and constable. The position of these constables is a delicate one. They have certainly come into contact with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on many occasions, and they cannot feel their position is safe or that they will receive equitable treatment under an Irish Parliament. Possibly some suggestion may be made from the opposite benches that will meet the case and help the constables to feel their position is being safeguarded and that they are not of necessity to be thrown out of the positions they hold without any future before them. I certainly hope something may be done so that these constables may not feel they are to be put on the shelf or left in the hands of men who might very well be opposed to them and their interests.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
The concessions or Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman have been put before us very fairly, but I have not knowledge enough to know whether they are received with that amount of gratitude he expects from the Royal Irish Constabulary, particularly after what has fallen from my hon. and gallant Friend. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken perfectly candidly, though whether satisfactorily or not I do not know, about the salaries and pensions. I want to call his attention to that part of the Clause which deals with the duties constables have performed hitherto, and which they will still be liable to perform. We raised this matter on Clause 2, Subsection (11), and the right hon. Gentleman then said he would discuss with us when we came to Clause 27 the duties to be performed under what he calls the new regime by the Royal Irish Constabulary. The duties to be performed in return for these salaries and pensions are very multifarious, and are not such as generally fall within the category of police duties. 316 There are such duties as those of Inspectors of Weights and Measures, of Officers of Excise, and of inspectors under the Childrens Act; and they are being bound to do military duties. All these have hitherto fallen under the duties of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Under the new regime, if it ever comes into existence, such things as the Children Act, and for all I know twelve, thirteen, or fourteen other things would come within the category of internal affairs. Such matters as Excise, Weights and Measures, and military duties would certainly be reserved services, and payment for such duties would have to be in some proportion to the services performed. We should be glad to know whether those services are to be performed to the same degree in the future as they have been in the past, or whether they would be confined to officers and men of the Royal Irish Constabulary; the other duties regarding the administration of Acts governing the internal arrangements in Ireland being dealt with possibly by some other body than the Royal Irish Constabulary of that day. That is the only question which I rose to put to the right hon. Gentleman, and I trust that, when he comes to reply, he will be able to say something about it.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I am glad that there is a general agreement in the House that my right hon. Friend has treated these men, who have rendered such excellent service in Ireland, with considerable liberality, and I am sure he ought to be pleased with the measure of acceptance his suggestion has received. The point I rose to call attention to is not so much the effect of the Clause itself on the men—although I rejoice that the men are entirely satisfied—as the money obligation that will be placed on Ireland, and the great contrast presented by the provisions of this Clause to those contained in similar Clauses in the two former Home Rule Bills. The general tenor of the Clause may be described in a very few words. It provides for all the existing enactments which apply to this force shall continue to apply when the force is handed over after the passing of the Act, and that they shall continue to discharge all the duties and receive the same consideration as they have at the present time. But after the day of transfer, when the Royal Irish Constabulary are handed over, all these obligations are to be placed on the back of Ireland, and no assistance is given in meeting the 317 obligations from the Exchequer of the United Kingdom. This presents the most extraordinary contrast to the provisions of the two former Home Rule Bills. In the Bill of 1886 £1,000,000 was conceded from the British Exchequer as a contribution towards the Royal Irish Constabulary, and in the Bill of 1893 there was also a liberal contribution made to the extent, I believe, of one-third of the cost of the force. It is an astounding thing that, under existing circumstances, there should be an entire omission from this Bill of any contribution of that kind. This is one of two Clauses. The other Clause refers to land purchase, and that Clause and this one place a burden upon Ireland which it will be totally impossible for Ireland to bear. The extent of this will be realised by the Committee if I recall the cost of another force. The total cost of the force amounts to £1,400,000 per annum, and this Clause makes it exceedingly difficult for any new Irish Government to bring about any economies in the administration. No doubt such economies will be made gradually, but it will be extremely difficult for expenses to be reduced. If we contrast that with the cost of the police either in this country or in Scotland, where the population is little more than that of Ireland, we find that the cost of the police force in Scoland in 1911 was nearly £5,000,000.
§ The CHAIRMAN
We cannot go into that question again. The only question before the Committee has reference to the conditions on which these men shall continue in the service or retire.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Clause 5 of the Bill deals with the transfer of the force at the end of a certain period. This is really a consequential Clause, saying on what terms the force shall be transferred.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I only want to raise a question as to the terms of the transfer. As the Clause is constructed the transfer terms are most extravagant; the force will cost three times as much as the police force costs in Scotland, a country where there is more crime. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Certainly not less crime. [An HON. MEMBER: "There is no cattle driving there."] I wanted to point out that no contribution is given, as was proposed in previous Acts, and I hope my right hon. Friend will take the matter into 318 his consideration and deal with it at a later stage. I do not know why this point was not considered earlier in the Bill. What I would like to impress upon the Committee is that the cost of this force will represent one-seventh of the whole Irish revenue, and no one country can afford to pay that in order to maintain a police force. In Scotland the corresponding figure is 1.38. We have this extraordinary position. We all agree that these men are most worthy of consideration, and this fact was recognised in the two previous Home Rule Bills. I think it is a great pity that this point has not been considered. It involves an obligation on Ireland far greater than Members of this Committee generally have taken into account. It will make the whole finance of the new Irish Government extremely difficult. Remember the matter is not left in their hands. They are ordered to go on paying the same salaries and pensions and to do everything done by this House out of the plenitude of its wealth. A small Government like that of Ireland, struggling with a financial difficulty of this nature, will have a burden cast upon it which is greater than it can bear. Look at Sub-section (4). The Clause is printed in italics until it comes to the last two lines, and those two lines indicate that whatever burden is thrown on the Exchequer the money shall be deducted from the sum transferred to Ireland. I think there is a want of liberality in all this. My right hon. Friend dealt with this Clause from one point of view, but we ought to think of it from another point of view, and I appeal to the Government to consider the matter from the Irish standpoint, and to give to the Government they now propose to set up in Ireland some such consideration as it was proposed to give under the Bills of 1886 and 1893. That could surely be proposed with just as much force now as in those years. Some such assistance should surely be given by this great Parliament to the young Parliament to be set up in Ireland.
§ Mr. REMNANT
While as strongly opposed as ever to the handing over of this Imperial force to the new Parliament in Ireland, I am bound frankly to admit that the right hon. Gentleman has made in this case a real concession, and I have much pleasure in thanking him for so doing. The right hon. Gentleman has asked hon. Members not to press him further until the result of the negotiations 319 now going on is known. The right hon. Gentleman has gone a long way towards meeting the question raised—questions backed up by a very strong force in Ireland. There is one matter as to which I should like to ask for further information. Officers and men as he knows claim the right to retire on full pension on the abolition of office and they ask that they should be allowed to retire on those terms during the six years. I gather from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that the intention is that the retirement must take place within the six years. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot make a further concession to these men. I do not think it would seriously affect the Amendment, but it certainly would remove a grievance which the men feel very strongly. Could he not allow these men to exercise the option of retiring at any time within six years without naming a particular year? Can they not be allowed to hand in notices so that they may not have to serve under a Government with which they do not happen to agree. The right hon. Gentleman says we need not worry ourselves about a large number of these men not being anxious to serve under the new rulers. I have strong views on that matter, and I believe there are a large number of men who would much sooner retire at once and so save themselves the disagreeable task of performing duty under a Home Rule Government. I believe the right hon. Gentleman will see that there is considerable reason in my request and I hope he will be able to meet it. There is only one further matter to which I wish to refer. We heard with considerable satisfaction the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the men, or their committee, were perfectly satisfied with the terms at which he and the committee had arrived, and personally I am very glad to learn that from him.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lough) told us that he thought the Chief Secretary ought to have provided for some contribution from the funds of the United Kingdom towards the payment of the Irish Constabulary because a sum of £1,000,000 was provided as a contribution under the Bill of 1886, and a certain contribution was made under the Bill of 1893. He went on to establish, to his own satisfaction, that because that sum or some sums were contributed in those years they ought to be contributed now. 320 The right hon. Gentleman entirely forgot that under the Bill of 1886 there was a contribution from Ireland to England of a sum amounting to £1,750,000, and a somewhat similar contribution from Ireland to England under the Bill of 1893, whereas now there is to be a contribution from England to Ireland of a sum of about £2,000,000. I see the Postmaster-General is looking at me, but I think my facts are correct.
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
I was protesting against the use of the word "England."
§ The CHAIRMAN
I called the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lough) to order on that point. We are not discussing the finance of the Bill, but the retiring allowances.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not think you called the right hon. Gentleman to order upon the point that under the Bill of 1893 and the Bill of 1886 certain contributions were made. It is that point that I am endeavouring to meet. I do not want to go into the question as to whether or not the sums which are being paid to the Irish Constabulary are right, except in regard to pensions which are mentioned in the Clause. I merely wish to answer the point made by the right hon. Gentleman, which seemed to be received with considerable satisfaction by the hon. Members who are sitting around him. I want to point out to him that he omitted to state that very relevant factor in his argument, namely, that this country has to contribute a sum of £2,000,000 to Ireland which she did not have to contribute before. The right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend (Mr. Remnant) said that the Irish Constabulary were entirely satisfied by the concessions made by the Chief Secretary under this Clause. The Chief Secretary very carefully guarded himself. My recollection of what he said is that he fully recognised all the good qualities of the Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and that while doing so, and while being fully aware of the necessity of coming to terms with such a body of men so that they should be contented and willing to carry on their duty, he said he had not got illimitable funds, and, although he had met them to a very great degree, he had not met them altogether.
§ Mr. BIRRELL indicated assent.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Then that is the position we are dealing with. It is not quite the position taken up by the right 321 hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lough), who said the men were entirely satisfied, or the position taken up by my hon. Friend (Mr. Remnant), who was apparently misled by the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. The whole Committee are thoroughly agreed that the Royal Irish Constabulary is one of the finest forces that ever existed in this or in any other country. I am not quite certain whether I am at liberty to speak for hon. Members below the Gangway, but everyone except those hon. Members—and I am not sure that I am right even in excepting them—is desirous of doing not only what is right and just, but what is generous to this fine body of men. No one will deny that I have always taken up the role of economist in this House, or that I am the last man who is desirous of spending money unnecessarily, or that I am also desirous of obtaining a sovereign for a sovereign.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
My right hon. Friend seems to think that I wish to obtain a little more than the sovereign. That is not so. I wish to be just in all my dealings. All I wish to obtain is full value for my money, and nothing more. That being my character, I rise this evening to plead with the Chief Secretary for a little more generosity.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Yes, but we contribute £2,000,000 to Ireland; they could take it out of that, and it would be a very good object to which to devote the money. Whether Ireland pays it or not does not touch the point. It is this Parliament which is giving to Ireland Home Rule, and this Parliament which is creating the situation which arises at the present moment. If Ireland desires that this situation should arise, it is only fair that Ireland should treat these people, who may be injured under that situation, with great generosity, especially as she is to get £2,000,000 from us. It is evident that the officers and constables and the force generally are not absolutely contented with the arrangements which have been made for them by the right hon. Gentleman. So far as I have been able to gather from the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which I admit was extremely clear, the difference is this: They think that if in their own interest it should be desirable to retire from the force—I will not go into the rea- 322 sons, or whether they dislike hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway or not—owing to a change in the position and owing to the people who will ultimately have control of them, if they think it advisable or necessary in their own interests to retire from the force, they should be entitled to the same pension to which they would have been entitled had they retired at the end of their full service. I think that is a reasonable proposition. The right hon. Gentleman will agree with me—he is conversant with banking—that when in the interests of the shareholders two banks amalgamate, the officers of those banks are treated in a more generous way than they would be if they had remained in the service of the original banks. In these circumstances, why should we not apply the same rule to the Royal Irish Constabulary, who are being put in the same position as the officers of the two banks which amalgamate? It is done for the advantage of the shareholders, and this is done for the advantage—although I do not think it is an advantage—of the inhabitants of Ireland. In these circumstances it is only fair and right that the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who are to suffer, should receive no worse pensions when they retire than they would have received if they had remained on and served under the right hon. Gentleman. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give me some faint hope that between now and the Report stage he will consider what I have suggested, with a view of meeting me in some degree. The only other question which I wish to ask him arising out of this Clause—I do not know whether it has been asked before; if it has I apologise for putting it again—is in regard to Sub-section (2), which says—with the substitution of the Lord Lieutenant for the Treasury and for the Chief Commissioner or Inspector-General, as the case requires.Why the Lord Lieutenant?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Then I will not say anything further, except that I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is most important, first, that these people should 323 be treated in a generous manner, and, secondly, that they should have no feeling of injustice in their minds which might rankle during the six years they are still to remain servants of the United Kingdom. I think the right hon. Gentleman to a certain extent recognises the great importance of this matter, and I hope he will consider before the Report stage whether he cannot go a little further and meet the representations which have been made to him by the officers of the force, which I think are very reasonable. I asked the right hon. Gentleman across the Table a short time ago whether the alteration of the date from "the passing of the Act" to "the appointed day" would not throw an additional burden upon the taxpayers of the United Kingdom, and he said, "No." I rather think it will. The appointed day being eight months later, during those eight months it will not be possible to obtain anything from the Transferred Sum. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will answer that point.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am rather obliged to the hon. Baronet for making the point he did about the general satisfaction of the police, because, of course, he will readily understand that I have been in constant communication with those gentlemen, who, I have no doubt, will read the report of our Debates to-night with more attention than they usually bestow upon them. I should not like them to think that I had misrepresented the point of view they have presented to me. I do not say for one moment that these Amendments represent the Amendments which they themselves would have put upon the Paper, had the Constitution allowed them to do so. Therefore, the hon. Baronet is quite right. Although I have not been able to give them all that they wanted, still I did meet them in such a spirit that they left me, I will not say full of gratitude, for that is not a word I ever care to use, but after I had listened and entered into their joint of view and done the best I could for them, they were satisfied to that extent. I think I was perfectly right when I said that if the Bill becomes law in its present state, so far as these police are concerned, they will view the matter with satisfaction and feel that their interests have been fairly met. I do not go further than that. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Burn) raised a particular point, and I think he made it good. It is a little difficult, but it is no doubt the case that under 324 the Government Amendment as it stands a man has not the power of voluntarily retiring if he is qualified under the existing law to retire on a pension within two years after the date of transfer. That in itself seems a reasonable proposition, but it nevertheless has the effect which the hon. and gallant Gentleman anticipated, that a man with twenty-three years' service who waits on and retires at the end of two years gets twenty-five years, whereas if at the date of transfer he had twenty-two years' service and then retired he would add five years. Then he gets his pension calculated on a service of twenty-seven years, although at the date of the transfer itself he was junior in service to the other man. It is purely an accident that it should work out in this way, but I have considered the point, and I think it is an anomaly and that it would be better to exclude from the voluntary power only those men who are able to claim their maximum pension, and the simple insertion in the Fourth Schedule of the word "maximum" will get rid of that particular though not necessarily isolated grievance, and it will prevent the rule working arithmetically with any degree of unfairness. Therefore, I am able to meet the hon. and gallant Gentleman on that point.
The hon. Member (Mr. Malcolm) reminds me of a point which I am conscious was raised before. He wants to know about the duties of the police force. On a former occasion we had a Debate in which the very varied nature of the services rendered by the police was gone into. They were a very considerable list, but not an unusual list. I think in England itself the police force is utilised under Statute for the discharge of duties which are certainly extraneous to those of keeping the peace, and in Ireland they have had cast upon them at different times duties of that character. The hon. Member mentioned a good many of them and he might have mentioned others. He wants to know what will happen with regard to these. So far as the duties are imposed upon the police by Statute, until such time as those Statutes are altered, if they are alterable, by the Irish Parliament, the police will be bound to discharge them. So far as they have been cast upon them by arrangement, as has sometimes been the case, the course to be taken also will be a matter of arrangement. They might be relieved of some of those duties, but I am not in a, position to say that they will not be required to discharge such duties as are at present imposed upon them by Statute- 325 The language is that they perform "the same duties as heretofore." They cannot be required to discharge entirely new duties. I include in these words "same duties," such duties as at present are imposed upon them by Statute.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
I only meant that they would have to be separated and that some duties would in future fall as reserved services and others as duties falling within the Irish Parliament.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I follow the point and I am afraid I must give the hon. Member the answer that under Clause 40 these matters are matters of arrangement between the different departments and the duties will have to be divided and separated. Then the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lough) took the opportunity of reminding us—and I think he did well to remind us—that we are generous with money which is to be expended by the Irish Parliament, and that the funds at their disposal not being excessive, one does require to look at this matter with some degree of caution. I do not think those observations were strictly relevant to the present Amendment, and therefore, particularly as he is not here, I will pass them over. Then the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) put some questions to me. I think the concession which I have already made to the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Burn) shows that I recognise that it is eminently desirable to secure for the members of this force voluntarily retiring from the service the best terms I can make for them, but I am afraid I cannot promise to extend the terms which I have arrived at. I should like to if I could, but the hon. Baronet himself is so eminent an economist that he will understand that I have had some difficulty. Nor can I quite appreciate the simile about the amalgamation of banks. I have retired from the banking business now. I have known a good many cases of amalgamated undertakings where persons have only served a very short time as directors, and perhaps have not had their fees for more than a couple of years, and the amalgamated concern, not wanting their services any longer, proceeded to endow these fortunate gentlemen with £400 a year for the rest of their lives. That is done because they are all making a rattling good business out of it. I do not think that, financially, it can possibly be said that the new Irish Government is making such a marvellously good thing out of it, and we cannot, therefore, deal 326 with national funds in the same lavish spirit as is often displayed when two commercial concerns amalgamate and desire to get rid of certain directors or other supernumeraries from the amalgamated concern. I do not think we could genuinely and honestly apply to such a case as this the system which prevails in the City of London. With regard to the last question he put to me, about whether the alteration of the date from the passing of the Act to the appointed day imposes any obligation upon the British taxpayer, I have already stated I do not think that is so, but I am always somewhat shy of expressing absolutely an opinion of that sort. I do not see why it should, but I will inquire into the matter and communicate the result of my inquiry to the hon. Baronet, so that he may make such use of the information in the course of the Debate as may recommend itself to him. I am very much obliged to the Committee for the spirit in which they have received the concession, and I gladly recognise that in every quarter of the House, whatever happens and whatever views there may be upon Home Rule, there is every desire that this great service should receive, at, the hands of this House, the fair consideration to which their claims entitle them.
§ Mr. REMNANT
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question: Whether he can extend the right of these men to retire during the six years?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
No. That is a matter which I have carefully considered. It is a matter regarding the difference of standing between the police force and the Civil Service. I am afraid I really cannot.
§ Mr. BARRIE
I think this may prove to be a bad financial bargain for Ireland, and it is therefore most desirable that we should deal very carefully with these concessions, now that we are practically for the last time dealing with what is, after all, perhaps the most important great change which Home Rule will bring to Ireland. This great Imperial force, which is now passing into the hands of a subordinate Parliament, is entitled, if ever any British force was entitled, to receive extremely generous terms from the master who is about to part with it. A reference was made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lough) to the fact that this was simply a change of masters. We regard it as something far greater than that. We regard it not only as a change of masters, but as degrading a great Imperial force.
§ Mr. BARRIE
I heartily endorse all the good things which have been said with regard to this force from all sections of the House. While I wish these proposals had been more generous, I am bound to say that, occupying the difficult position which he does, the Chief Secretary has gone a very great way towards meeting the objections which have been presented to him on behalf of that important force. We are bound to remember, although we are told that a committee representing this force has interviewed the Chief Secretary on several occasions, that it would have been against discipline for the members of the force to have communicated their grievances to any Members of this House except those occupying an official position, as the Chief Secretary does. Reference has been made to these Amendments. The Chief Secretary has pleaded that he has gone as far as he can actually see his way to do. May I recall to him a question I put some few weeks ago dealing with the fund over which the British Treasury has still control? I refer to the Constabulary Benefit Fund. In the course of that question and answer it transpired that the total accumulated fund in 1902 stood at £374,000, and in the succeeding nine years, with a steadily diminishing demand upon it, it has grown to £394,000. This fund, having no fresh demand made upon it, will in a very few years exhaust all possible claims, and if it is allowed to remain where it is, the residue will flow back into the British Treasury. I suggest that between now and the Report stage the right hon. Gentleman might consider the wisdom—nay, the need—for considering an Amendment which would enable him to add to the terms he has outlined to-day, and which we shall deal with in detail on the Fourth Schedule. I venture again to impress upon him that although these services in his judgment are generous, they are not adequate to the full injury which is being inflicted under the Bill on men who have joined this force. The average constable has joined the force meaning it to be his life profession under the Imperial guarantee. Now he loses that guarantee, and he loses the security that flows from it. If he elects under these provisions to retire rather than take the great risks he would run under the Irish Parliament, surely he 328 is entitled, so far as the residue of this fund would enable the Treasury to meet his desires, to have the sacrifices he will be called upon to suffer made somewhat less than they will be under the proposals of the Chief Secretary. I will take an early opportunity of handing in the exact wording of the Amendment I propose to move when we reach the Report stage, and I shall be glad if the right hon. Gentleman will give this matter very full and special consideration. I hope, when he has done so, he will be able to make an additional concession to those he has announced, and for which I beg to thank him. I think the Chief Secretary has gone a long way to meet the reasonable claims of this force in the unfortunate circumstances in which they find themselves.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On a point of Order. I understand an Amendment has been made which postpones payment until the "appointed day" instead of the date of the "passing of this Act." I believe that puts a charge on the taxpayers of the United Kingdom, because it is perfectly clear that as the Clause originally stood the payment which would arise after the passing of the Act would be taken out of the Transferred Sum. By postponing the payment until the "appointed day" it will have to be met by the taxpayers of the United Kingdom. I do not intend to go back on the terms of the Financial Resolution, which were amended, but I think it would be out of order to increase any charge under this Bill on the taxpayers of the United Kingdom. I submit that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman is out of order.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
It was the Amendment substituting the words "appointed day" for the words "passing of this Act."
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think the hon. Baronet is correct as to the effect of that Amendment. I do not think it will put an additional charge on the taxpayers of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. CASSEL
It will increase the charge for this reason. As the Bill originally stood these pensions were payable out of the Consolidated Fund, but 329 they were to be deducted from the Transferred Sum. Now during the period between the passing of the Act and the "appointed day," they are no longer to come out of the Consolidated Fund, so that during that period they will fall on the taxpayers of the United Kingdom instead of falling on the Transferred Sum.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I submit that it will make no difference to the Exchequer whether the money is deducted from the Transferred Sum or whether it is included in the Transferred Sum paid to the Irish Government. The charge will come out of the British Exchequer in the one case and the other.
§ The CHAIRMAN
My impression was the same as that stated by the Postmaster-General, that it would not make any additional charge. As hon. Members have raised the point, I will give it further attention when I have an opportunity.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
May I point out, further, that in any case the Financial Resolution would be quite adequate to cover it?
Mr. JOHN GORDON (Londonderry)
I am very glad the Chief Secretary has made the concessions which he has announced with regard to the Royal Irish Constabulary. We are all agreed, I think—at all events, those who represent Ireland in this part of the House—as to the desirability of protecting these persons. There is one thing I should have liked to hear, and that is, what concessions were asked by the Royal Irish Constabulary which the right hon. Gentleman has not granted. He obviously has only granted some of them, and I think it would be a very useful thing for the House to know at first hand what concessions were asked and not granted. I know that there are very good grounds for apprehension on the part of the police force in Ireland as to the treatment they would receive under the new Government about to be set up. Therefore I think we are all anxious—at all events, those who appreciate the services they have rendered to the country—to see that they should be thoroughly protected. I am not speaking in this matter the opinions formed by myself and those who think with me, but there was a statement made in a Court of Justice by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) with reference to the course that will be adopted 330 in regard to the police force. When asked if it would be a duty to disorganise and break up the Royal Irish Constabulary, his answer was, "Yes, and I trust to do it." He was further asked if he would disorganise and break up the Royal Irish Constabulary, and to that he answered: "No, I have not the power yet, but when I have the power I trust to do it." Therefore I think the Royal Irish Constabulary has very good reason to very much distrust the gentlemen who will in future have charge of their destinies, as well as the destinies of other people in Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman would let us know what the police force wanted, I think we would be in a very much better position to form a true estimate of the concessions he has made. He has had before him this afternoon the question of eliminating the power to deprive men of their pensions in respect of offences against the Statutes. That has been disposed of, but it seems to me that the whole matter is left open for any body hostile to the police force to exercise power under the cover of these provisions in the Bill which might be very disastrous to the police. There is also the important question whether, if they were forced into the position of having to accept lower pay, they will be deprived of the status they occupy at the present moment or will that be regarded as a breach of the contract they have with the present authorities? The police force have naturally a distrust of the position they will have to occupy in the future. They have done their duty well in the past, and it would be a very poor recompense for their services if they were to be deprived of the benefits and advantages to which they were justly entitled to look forward.
§ Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.